In the past year — from May 2018 through April 2019 — the PDD Calendar published 7,925 Duluth-area events. Each one was edited by a human being before the “publish” button was pushed. We intend to keep up the good work, but (believe it or not) we could do better. There are still events we are missing. And we have a few assistants standing by who jump into action when donations roll in to pay for their future carpal tunnel surgeries.
So that’s why once a month we set our dignity aside and remind readers how much we appreciate their financial support.
Changes to broadcast television channel offerings used to be rare. From 1966 to 1999, Duluth had four channels. From 1999 to 2009, there were five. In the ten years since the switch from analog to digital channels, the total has climbed to 18.
“The truth knocks on the door and you say, ‘Go away, I’m looking for the truth,’ and so it goes away. Puzzling.”
— Robert M. Pirsig, from Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance: An Inquiry Into Values
I understand why a lot of teachers lust after “best practices.” I get why so many of us grasp at supposedly foolproof methods for making students do exactly what we want them to do. A lot of us have been taught that assigning work then rewarding or punishing students according to how they do it is the gist of teaching. (A lot of students, understandably and heartbreakingly, believe those rewards and punishments are the gist and evidence of learning.) From a certain perspective it makes sense for us to seek information about how to reward and punish as effectively as possible. It also, in some ways, makes sense for administrators to dictate practices they believe will create consistent punishments and rewards throughout a particular course, major, college unit, school, district, or state. The actual of process helping fellow human beings learn — as opposed to the process of meaningless, faux-rigorous punishing and rewarding — is a task of privilege that’s incredibly difficult to do well. I know my own version of feeling desperate for some method or approach that just works.
Tig Notaro famously did a stand-up routine in which she announced she had cancer. It was lauded as one of the most incredible moments in stand-up history, and she was extolled as a pioneer in comedy for really working the fine edge of the tragedy + time = comedy equation many comics venerate as the best method of joke construction. I’ve listened to the routine — it’s as good as it’s rumored to be. Better, maybe, because of Notaro somehow putting into the fewest possible words the absurdity of human life in an undeniable way. A laser cut around the heart, but in the shape of a fart.
In this magnificent routine, Notaro jokes that people always say that “God never gives you more than you can handle,” and then goes on to imagine the angels watching God handing down Notaro’s few months of life, questioning God’s sobriety: in just a few months, Notaro almost died from an intestinal infection, her mother died in a household accident, and then she was diagnosed with advanced breast cancer in both breasts. The space between these events was long enough for her to make the phone calls necessary to tell anyone that one of the things had just happened. It’s preposterous. And inexplicably shitty.
“As the West burns, the South swelters and the East floods, some Americans are starting to reconsider where they choose to live,” writes New York Times climate reporter Kendra Pierre-Louis in an article suggesting people might someday migrate to Duluth to escape global warming.
[Editor’s note: For this week’s essay we’ve once again pulled out a relic from the archive of Slim Goodbuzz, who served as Duluth’s “booze connoisseur” from 1999 to 2009. Few people will remember Score Sports Bar & Grill; it existed for a brief period spanning 2008 and 2009 at 21 N. Fourth Ave. W. in Downtown Duluth. The location is best known for Duluth Athletic Club Bar & Grill, but six different bar/restaurants occupied the space during a 15-year span at the turn of the millennium. Ol’ Slim paid a visit in April 2009 to file this report for the weekly Transistor.]
Considering the proximity to Duluth Police headquarters, not to mention the cops actually working right inside the door, it’s a bit surprising to see the sidewalk outside Score Bar slippery with a fine, fresh spray of urine, and littered with an array of beer cans. Then again, I’d bet that none of the kids sucking on Michelob Golden Light inside the place are attending the University of Minnesota Duluth on a scholarship.
And sure enough, as I walk in the door, some sorry tyke is leaning against the wall and mopping tears from his cheeks as one of Duluth’s finest writes him up. The crime undoubtedly has something to do with pulling out his trouser snake right there on Fourth Avenue West, which will be his claim to fame in the newspaper’s “Matters of Record” column, his greatest achievement before flunking out of business school, hopping into the 2009 Chevy Silverado his proud parents bought for him and driving back to Anoka or wherever the fuck sorry losers like this spring from.
The middle of Donald Trump’s presidency might be a strange time to make a pitch for establishing a new cabinet position. Or it might be the perfect time. Either way, I have little to lose by suggesting the new job is needed and insisting I’m the best person to fill it. A more rational and reputation-conscious president might not give my ideas serious consideration. The Trump Administration is likely the best hope I have for acquiring short-term autocratic power.
I’m not interested in any of the existing cabinet positions. Those jobs are pretty much filled anyway, although some are “acting” cabinet members — and it’s understood the door is figuratively revolving at the White House and heavily treated with WD-40.
The various secretaries, directors, ambassadors and administrators who serve at the pleasure of the president are already busy at work to make America as great as it was at some undefined point in the past, and they aren’t really clamouring for my help, but I do have a few simple ideas that could improve America and the whole planet Earth for that matter, and I feel like it would really only take me until noon on my first day at work to sort those things out. That would leave plenty of time for cleaning out my already empty desk after hearing on the news about the tweet announcing the termination of my employment.
Duluth politicians can keep bragging about keeping Lake Superior free of sharks, but what about the “enigmatic lake monster”?
What about the “giant and ferocious serpent”? The “underwater panther”? The “lizard like fish around 10 feet long” with “a head like a turtle”? The “hideous” thing “cruising through the water with a 15-foot long neck and a huge jaw”? The “immense humped creature” with “huge horse shaped head and large dark left eye” with a nose bearing “a visible catfish type whisker, maybe two feet in length and wiggling”? The “gigantic serpent with 3 to 5 humps” rising out of the water?
Well, for those into myths, legends and stories short on attribution but with the words “supposedly” and “apparently” repeated throughout, there’s a new article that has it all.
Before delving into this month’s pitch for donations to keep the PDD Calendar chugging along, we’re taking a moment to offer a little tip on a different way to use it.
There are numerous ways to sort, filter, view and search events on the PDD Calendar. By default the calendar shows a list view in chronological order. That’s obviously the best way to look at what’s happening in the moment and scroll to the future. But there are three other view options — day, map and photo. We’ve never taken time to explain that before, because it’s always seemed obvious to us that list view is the best option. But our traffic statistics are starting to show more and more people using map view, so perhaps it’s time to mention it.
Carl Rogers was a significant psychologist and teacher. He was 85 when he died in 1987. The humanistic approach he’s known for gets applied across a variety of fields including therapy and politics. In education the approach is the basis of a process often called “learner-centered” teaching. Rogers describes its basics in five hypotheses that start with, “A person cannot teach another person directly; a person can only facilitate another’s learning.” He wrote a bunch of books including Freedom to Learn: A View of What Education Might Become, which spends 300 or so pages discussing learner-centered teaching. I have two hardcover copies of the 1969 edition. I revere what they say to a probably unwise degree. I also cherish them as objects, partially because they smell exactly as books of their vintage ought to smell. They also contain a version of the short essay “Personal Thoughts on Teaching and Learning,” which has been published in various forms in a lot of venues since the 1950s.
A recently published study in Scientific Facts Daily has scientists around the world shaking their heads in befuddlement and dismay. Marshaling the combined data from more than 50 years and 73,000 scientific papers summarizing more than 100,000 scientific studies, the work concludes that scientific studies on the efficacy of consuming more or less of certain food types, adding nutrients or nutritional supplements to one’s diet, or using certain medicines to treat disease are all “pretty much wrong.”
“Like, almost completely wrong, every time,” chief researcher Dr. Martina Ferkes-Boothe, an international expert on hypertension, indicated. “Seriously,” Ferkes-Booth continued, “If I wasn’t a scientist myself, I’d think someone was making this shit up. First, we tell everyone not to eat fat or cholesterol, or they’ll have a heart attack and die. People were choking down those cardboard Lean Cuisine low-fat pizzas for like a decade. Totally wrong. Could have been eating real cheese, instead of that weird soy snot, the whole time. And don’t even start in on butter made out of yogurt. So many fucked up mashed potatoes. I feel just awful about it now.”