The Magic of Social Media

facebook-iconJust wanted to take a second to thank all of you who shared yesterday’s post through social media, specifically on your Facebook pages. My decision to share an anonymous NPS employee’s response to some of the most irresponsible accusations re: park closings clearly resonated with many people. I can state unequivocally that yesterday’s post is now the most popular entry ever posted on this blog, which has been running for close to eight years.

Popularity can be measured in any number of ways. Some look for comments, which I think is a big mistake. Yes, it looks good to new readers to know that others are taking an interest, but most comments are written by the same small group of people. If it’s a controversial post than those threads tend to go on for a bit longer, but they still revolve around the same core group.  Continue reading “The Magic of Social Media”

I Stand With the National Park Service

National Park ServiceI have a number of friends who work for the National Park Service. They protect this nation’s most important cultural, environmental, and historical treasures. As a group they are some of the most passionate and knowledgeable public servants that you will find and they are worth every cent of our tax dollars. I am absolutely disgusted at the unwarranted accusations being hurled in their direction during this federal shutdown. Here is one lone voice in response to some of the nonsense that is being spread about the closure of NPS sites across the country.

No one misses the parks more than those who work in them, Kevin. When we were furloughed, a part of the shutdown included closure of park buildings, parks roads and avenues, and memorials for security reasons for protection of the resource itself and visitors. I’ve seen posts and caught some of the “the parks are owned by the American public and we’re taking them back” crowd but as yet have not seen a line of these same persons volunteering to clean the toilets, patrol the roads, provide assistance at information stations or in back country park areas, or sweep the floors after a thousand or more visitors have tramped through leaving behind candy wrappers, et al. FOX news reported that NPS rangers were told to make the closure “as painful as possible”, which is total nonsense. Tea Party reps like Michele Bachman and Randy Neugebauer have used the closure of the WW2 Memorial to grandstand for themselves and gone as far as to dress down an NPS employee simply doing her job – unpaid at the moment- by controlling access to a closed site. Rand Paul has referred to Park Police as “goons” sent to close the memorials from the American public. Continue reading “I Stand With the National Park Service”

No, The Tea Party is Not the Confederacy

On the eve of the 2012 presidential election Andrew Sullivan offered the following analysis:

If Virginia and Florida go back to the Republicans, it’s the Confederacy entirely.  You put the map of the Civil War over this electoral map, you’ve got the Civil War.

And in August Jesse Jackson suggested that, “The tea party is the resurrection of the Confederacy… It’s the Fort Sumter Tea Party.”  Continue reading “No, The Tea Party is Not the Confederacy”

Are Blog Comments Ruining Your Neighborhood?

blogThe staff at Popular Science thinks so, which is why it was announced yesterday that they are turning off the comments option on their blog site. As a blogger who is approaching his 8th anniversary I can certainly appreciate their concerns, but I don’t believe that discontinuing allowing comments is the solution.

The magazine’s online content director builds her case by referring to a recent study, which showed that a “fractious minority wields enough power to skew a reader’s perception of a story.” Even we accept the study’s findings, this at most suggests that the site’s moderating policies need to be tightened. It’s not all or nothing. In fact, a quick perusal through older PS posts suggests that very little was done to moderate and in the few posts I surveyed I saw not one staff comment. Continue reading “Are Blog Comments Ruining Your Neighborhood?”

Why Teach the Civil War

One of the museums that I visited last week was the National Museum of Civil War Medicine in Frederick, Maryland. I didn’t have many expectations going in, but overall I enjoyed my visit and I learned a great deal. What stood out more than anything else was a number of explicit references to recent violence. Executive Director, George Wunderlich, addressed our group by drawing direct connections between developments in medicine and care of the wounded with the recent terrorist attack here in Boston. Even more surprising were the references made by our museum guide to the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan throughout the exhibit.

It was the first time that any such reference was made during our ten-day trip from Nashville to D.C.

During our final debriefing of the trip I asked the teachers to think about how we teach our civil war. Here was a war that affected an entire nation and in ways that few could have anticipated in 1861. We talked extensively throughout the trip about the life of the Civil War soldier, the home front, the horrors of battle, the political aspects of war, and they ways in which individuals and the nation worked to properly commemorate the war. Again, it was a war that few could ignore and yet over the past ten years our students and much of the country have been able to comfortably ignore two wars. Continue reading “Why Teach the Civil War”