Fifty-Four Years Ago Today – President John F. Kennedy Was Assassinated!

We remember that on Nov. 22, 1963, President John F. Kennedy was assassinated while riding in a motorcade in Dallas.

Crowds of excited people lined the streets and waved to the Kennedys. The car turned off Main Street at Dealey Plaza around 12:30 p.m. As it was passing the Texas School Book Depository, gunfire suddenly reverberated in the plaza.

Bullets struck the president’s neck and head and he slumped over toward Mrs. Kennedy. The governor was also hit in the chest. 

The car sped off to Parkland Memorial Hospital just a few minutes away. But little could be done for the President. A Catholic priest was summoned to administer the last rites, and at 1:00 p.m. John F. Kennedy was pronounced dead. Though seriously wounded, Governor Connally would recover.

The president’s body was brought to Love Field and placed on Air Force One. Before the plane took off, a grim-faced Lyndon B. Johnson stood in the tight, crowded compartment and took the oath of office, administered by US District Court Judge Sarah Hughes. The brief ceremony took place at 2:38 p.m.

The United States was never the same.


CUNY Chancellor J.B. Milliken Resigns Effective June 30, 2018!

Image result for james b. milliken

Dear Commons Community,

Chancellor of the City University of New York, J.B. Milliken, sent out a letter to the community this afternoon announcing his resignation effective at the end of this academic year.  Below is his entire message.

This is a bit of a surprise and I am sure we will have ample opportunity to wish him well and good luck in all his future endeavors.



Fox News Neil Cavuto to President Trump:  “Last time I checked, you are the president of the United States… Why don’t you act like it?”

Dear Commons Community,

Fox News host Neil Cavuto called out President Donald Trump over his latest Twitter attacks.   As reported by the Huffington Post:

“Over the weekend, in separate tweets, Trump went after Sen. Jeff Flake (R-Ariz.) and LaVar Ball, the father of one of three UCLA basketball players arrested in China on shoplifting charges. Trump took credit for the players’ release, and when Ball refused to thank him, he tweeted that he “should have left them in jail.”

Cavuto wasn’t having it. 

“Forget about either comment not being presidential,” he said. “At what point does the president see such remarks don’t even border on being human?”

Cavuto said Trump’s attacks are like “using a bazooka to respond to a pea shooter.”

Then, he really laid into Trump for demanding “gratitude bordering on groveling,” and urged him to pick his battles. 

“Last time I checked, you are the president of the United States,” he said. “Why don’t you act like it?”

Cavuto has made headlines before for his stinging criticism of the president. 

In October, he warned Trump over attacks on fellow Republicans, telling the president “you are running out of friends.” 

And in June, Cavuto told the president to stop scapegoating the media. 

“Mr. President, it is not the fake news media that’s your problem,” he said. “It’s you.” 

Many news people and reporters have criticized Trump for his boorish behavior since he was elected president.  However, Fox News has generally been the exception in supporting his every move and action.  It is good to see someone from this organization publicly take issue with the president for his lack of respect and honor for the position he holds.


Book Reviews of “Raising Trump” by Ivana Trump and “The Kardashians” by Jerry Oppenheimer!

Dear Commons Community,

The New York Times Book Review yesterday included two scathing reviews of:  Raising Trump by Ivana Trump and The Kardashians by Jerry Oppenheimer.  Written by James Wolcott, a columnist for Vanity Fair, these are possibly the worst reviews I have ever read.  Wolcott was merciless. Here are a couple of excerpts:

“There are those who have fame thrust upon them, and those who thrust themselves upon fame like an invasion force. It is the latter troupe of shameless, relentless thrusters that occupies us here, the Trump and Kardashian clanships. Until fairly recently, family dynasties — whatever skeletons they may have had in their closets — thrived on a mantle of achievement handed down from generation to generation, whether we’re talking about the Adamses, Roosevelts, Rockefellers, Kennedys, Bushes or Flying Wallendas. Such a quaint ideal and needless effort this service obligation seems now, when exhibitionism in the pseudoraw is what gets rewarded, thanks in large measure to the phony theatrics of reality TV, which turned the social theorist Daniel Boorstin’s notion of a celebrity — someone famous for being famous — into a terrarium thronged with dance moms, mob wives and Honey Boo Boos. It has elevated into omnipresence those who would have otherwise played out a normal cycle in public awareness and then disappeared to pester us no more. Without “The Apprentice” and its successor, “The Celebrity Apprentice,” Donald Trump would have remained an egregious real estate self-promoter and gossip-column fixture, and his children minor adjuncts and boardroom props; without “Keeping Up With the Kardashians,” the brood bearing that name would have been living footnotes to the O. J. Simpson murder trial. Instead, one family wields incalculable political power, the other pervades pop culture and fashion like an incurable virus. The two books under review offer peep-show views of preening lives and impostures before they went panoramic…

…Uppermost on the reader’s inquiring mind is how Ivana’s intimate perspective might help us unlock how the slick wheeler-dealer who charmed and courted her when she arrived in Manhattan in the 1970s — “an all-American good guy,” her instincts told her — mutated over the decades into a president so seething with ignorance, malice, prejudice and destruction. Some hints, that is, of how we got into our present predicament of being held hostage by a throbbing blister. And here Ivana is little help whatsoever. The Trump at the center of this mystery melodrama is mostly a phantom, a fitful gust of pique and an offstage rumble.

“Raising Trump” does offer a glimpse into the trivial tyrant power Trump’s father, Fred, exercised, expecting everyone at the lunch table to order steak after he does, miffed when Ivana alone breaks ranks and orders fish. “No, she’ll have the steak,” Fred tells the waiter, but Ivana holds firm. Donald doesn’t back Ivana up then or afterward, but rather is displeased that she didn’t knuckle under: “Why didn’t you just have a friggin’ steak?” “Raising Trump” also provides a window into Donald’s pettiness when he pulls on Ivanka’s ski pole during a family race down the slope in order to win — cheating to beat his own young daughter! Pranks, deceptions and convenient absences come to a head in Aspen, when a young hussy swoops down on Ivana’s restaurant table and introduces herself. “I’m Marla and I love your husband. Do you?”

He concludes his Raising Trump review with “I’vana throw up.”

I could not finish the review of “The Kardashians.”


Sean Hannity Is Skewered in Rejection Letter from Paula Cobia, Attorney for Roy Moore Accuser!

Dear Commons Community,

Paula Cobia, the attorney for Roy Moore accuser, Gloria Deason, sent a brutal rejection letter to Sean Hannity in response to his request for an appearance on his show.  As reported in the Huffington Post:

“A producer for Hannity’s Fox News show invited Gloria Deason, one of the women who have accused U.S. Senate candidate Roy Moore of sexual harassment, onto the show. 

Deason’s lawyer, Paula Cobia, fired back with a blistering response on Twitter.

“Please tell Sean Hannity that I would never submit a survivor of abuse to the inevitable on-camera bullying and persecution by him,”

“Mr. Hannity has belittled, defamed and engaged in an on-air intimidation campaign against the victims of Mr. Moore. He is totally uninterested in discovering the truth.” 

She dismissed Hannity’s infamous interview with Moore as “lazy” and “softball,” and slammed him as “not known for journalistic integrity.” 

“He is merely seeking an opportunity to publicly attack and further defame Mr. Moore’s vulnerable victims,” she concluded. “Well that’s not happening. Not on my watch.” 

Hannity has met his match in Paula Cobia.


David Sax on “Our Love Affair with Digital is Over!”

Dear Commons Community,

Author David Sax has an op-ed piece in today’s New York Times declaring that our love affair with all things digital may be coming to an end.  Here is an excerpt:

“Like most relationships we plunge into with hearts aflutter, our love affair with digital technology promised us the world: more friends, money and democracy! Free music, news and same-day shipping of paper towels! A laugh a minute, and a constant party at our fingertips.

Many of us bought into the fantasy that digital made everything better. We surrendered to this idea, and mistook our dependence for romance, until it was too late.

Today, when my phone is on, I feel anxious and count down the hours to when I am able to turn it off and truly relax. The love affair I once enjoyed with digital technology is over — and I know I’m not alone.

Ten years after the iPhone first swept us off our feet, the growing mistrust of computers in both our personal lives and the greater society we live in is inescapable. This publishing season is flush with books raising alarms about digital technology’s pernicious effects on our lives: what smartphones are doing to our children; how Facebook and Twitter are eroding our democratic institutions; and the economic effects of tech monopolies.

recent Pew Research Center survey noted that more than 70 percent of Americans were worried about automation’s impact on jobs, while just 21 percent of respondents to a Quartz survey said they trust Facebook with their personal information. Nearly half of millennials worry about the negative effects of social media on their mental and physical health, according to the American Psychiatric Association.

So what now?

As much as we might fantasize about it, we probably won’t delete our social media accounts and toss our phones in the nearest body of water. What we can do is to restore some sense of balance over our relationship with digital technology, and the best way to do that is with analog: the ying to digital’s yang.

Thankfully, the analog world is still here, and not only is it surviving but, in many cases, it is thriving. Sales of old-fashioned print books are up for the third year in a row, according to the Association of American Publishers, while ebook sales have been declining. Independent bookstores have been steadily expanding for several years. Vinyl records have witnessed a decade-long boom in popularity (more than 200,000 newly pressed records are sold each week in the United States), while sales of instant-film cameras, paper notebooks, board games and Broadway tickets are all growing again.

This surprising reversal of fortune for these apparently “obsolete” analog technologies is too often written off as nostalgia for a predigital time. But younger consumers who never owned a turntable and have few memories of life before the internet drive most of the current interest in analog, and often include those who work in Silicon Valley’s most powerful companies.

Analog, although more cumbersome and costly than its digital equivalents, provides a richness of experience that is unparalleled with anything delivered through a screen. People are buying books because a book engages nearly all of their senses, from the smell of the paper and glue to the sight of the cover design and weight of the pages read, the sound of those sheets turning, and even the subtle taste of the ink on your fingertips. A book can be bought and sold, given and received, and displayed on a shelf for anyone to see. It can start conversations and cultivate romances….

…Analog excels particularly well at encouraging human interaction, which is crucial to our physical and mental well-being. The dynamic of a teacher working in a classroom full of students has not only proven resilient, but has outperformed digital learning experiments time and again. Digital may be extremely efficient in transferring pure information, but learning happens best when we build upon the relationships between students, teachers and their peers.

We do not face a simple choice of digital or analog. That is the false logic of the binary code that computers are programmed with, which ignores the complexity of life in the real world. Instead, we are faced with a decision of how to strike the right balance between the two. If we keep that in mind, we are taking the first step toward a healthy relationship with all technology, and, most important, one another.”

I agree with some of what Sax is saying but we have gone too far into digital world to abandon it.  I agree that we need to strike the right balance between the digital and analog worlds but I am afraid that our future is tilted to the digital.


President Trump Puts on Hold the Import of Big Game Trophies!

Dear Commons Community,

President Trump tweeted yesterday that he’s putting his administration’s decision to reverse the ban on import of trophies from elephant hunts on hold for now.

“Put big game trophy decision on hold until such time as I review all conservation facts,” Trump wrote. “Under study for years. Will update soon with Secretary Zinke. Thank you!”

The president’s tweet about delaying the decision comes one day after the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service announced that it “will begin issuing permits to allow the import of elephants hunted in Zimbabwe, on or after January 21, 2016, and on or before December 31, 2018.”15 PHOTOSant poaching

White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders on Friday attributed the decision to the findings from an agency study.

 “This is actually due to a review that started back in 2014, under the previous administration, done by career officials at the Fish and Wildlife Service,” Sanders said during a press conference. “This review established that both Zambia and Zimbabwe had met new standards, strict international conservation standards that allowed Americans to resume hunting in those countries.”

However, many prominent individuals and groups have expressed their opposition to reversing this ban. 

“Lifting this ban could endanger gains made by governments and environmental groups to protect elephants from illegal trade in ivory and other body parts,” the New York Times’ editorial board said in an opinion piece yesterday.

Good decision!


A Full Day of Activities at OLC’s ACCELERATE!

Dear Commons Community,

The Online Learning Consortium’s (OLC) ACCELERATE Conference here in Orlando had a full day of activities for attendees.  Dozens of presentations, workshops, and an awards luncheon, made for quite a busy time. 

In the afternoon, I was on a panel (see photo above) entitled, Higher Education’s Digital Future Is Closer than We Think, with Chuck Dziuban, Patsy Moskal, Mary Niemiec, and Karen Swan.   The room was filled and there was good give and take with the audience.  On behalf of my fellow panelists, I thank all who attended our session.

In the evening, I had dinner with colleagues Alexandra Pickett and Peter Shea at Kimonos, a fine sushi restaurant at the Swan and Dolphin Hotel.

Today is a travel day and I will be heading back to New York.



Record 57% of NYC High School Graduates Moving on to College!

Dear Commons Community,

The New York Daily News reported yesterday that more city high school students are moving on to college after graduation and are academically ready for the transition.  A record 57% of students from the class of 2016 enrolled in college, vocational or public service programs after graduation, up from 55% in 2015, according to the new figures from the city’s Department of Education.  As reported:

“The DOE numbers also show 46% of students from the class of 2017 met City University of New York benchmarks for college readiness, up from 37% in 2016 as CUNY eased college readiness requirements.

Mayor Bill de Blasio said educators across the city are working hard to prepare grads for college.

“More of our public school graduates are going to college than ever before,” said de Blasio. “That is great news for our graduates and their families, and for the future of our city.”

Public school students’ college readiness and enrollment rates have been climbing for the past several years, along with the city’s high school graduation rate, which reached a record high of 72.6% in 2016.”

Our colleague, David Bloomfield, education professor at Brooklyn College and the CUNY Graduate Center, was quoted as saying that rising grad rates and college enrollment and readiness numbers are only part of a winning equation.

“It’s good that college acceptance and readiness are moving upward but it’s important that these students are able to succeed in college and not just go to college,” Bloomfield said. 

Congratulations to the teachers, students, and administrators in the New York City public schools.