How a Skeptical High School Teacher Learned to Take Teenagers Seriously – Belle Chesler Apr. 22, 2018 6:00 AM

And so should you—especially after Parkland.

Mingo Nesmith/ZUMA

This article first appeared on

During the first week of May 1963, more than 800 African-American students walked out of their classrooms and into the streets of Birmingham, Alabama, to call for an end to segregation. Despite frequent arrests and having dogs and high-pressure firehoses turned on them, they kept marching. Their determination and ceaseless bravery—later called the Children’s Crusade—was captured in photographs and newspaper articles across the country. Through acts of peaceful and defiant civil disobedience, these students accomplished what their parents had failed to do: sway public opinion in support of the civil rights movement.

Fast forward to March 24, 2018. Naomi Wadler, a fifth grader, is standing at a podium in front of hundreds of thousands of protesters at the March for Our Lives in Washington, DC. Young as she was, Wadler, who organized a walkout at her elementary school to honor the 17 victims of the Parkland massacre, delivered a searing and heartfelt speech about the countless gun-related deaths of black women in America. Her steely resolve and the power of her message brought me to tears. I wondered: Is this what it will take? Will a new generation of fearless student leaders be the agents of change that America so desperately needs?

As a teacher, it took me a while to begin to see just what my students truly had in them. During my first two years of high school teaching, I’m not sure I loved, or even liked, my students. If someone asked me about my job, I knew the right things to say—working with teenagers was challenging yet inspiring—but I didn’t believe the lip service I was paying the profession. Much of my initial experience in the classroom was emotionally draining, engaged as I was in power struggles with the students, trying to assert my influence and control over them.

It seemed so clear to me then: I was their teacher—they were my students. So I set out to establish a dynamic of one-way respect. I would provide information; they would listen and absorb it. This top-down approach was the model I’d observed and experienced my entire life. Adults talk, kids listen. So it couldn’t have been more unsettling to me when certain of those students—by sheer force of spirit, will, or intelligence—objected. They caused friction in my classroom and so I saw them as impediments to my work. When they protested by arguing with me or “talking back,” I bristled and dug in deeper. I resented them. They posed a continual threat to my ego and my position as the unassailable owner of the classroom stage.

Still, I knew something was wrong. In the quiet hours of the early morning I’d often wake up and feel a discomfort I can’t describe. I’d run through exchanges from the previous day that left me wondering if I was doing more harm than good. Yes, I continued to assert my right to the ownership of knowledge, but was I actually teaching anyone anything? I was—I could feel it—actively disregarding the emotional and intellectual capacities of my students, unwilling to see them as informed, competent, and worthy of being heard. I was, I realized, becoming the very kind of person I hated when I was in high school: the adult who demanded respect but gave none in return.

The best decision I ever made in a classroom was to start listening to my students.

As I slowly shifted the power structure in that room, my thinking about the way we look at youth and how we treat adolescents began to change, too. We ask teenagers to act like adults, but when they do, the response is often surprise followed by derision.


Perhaps some people take inspiration from the mythical creatures in Game of Thrones, captured here in the show’s seventh season.
EACH YEAR SINCE 2011, the security firm SplashData has released a list of the most commonly used passwords, based on caches of leaked account credentials. The annual list, intended as a reminder of humanity’s poor password practices, always includes predictable entries like “abc123,” “123456,” and “letmein.” But one entry, finishing in the top 20 every year, has stood out since the beginning: “dragon.”

But why? Is it because of the popularity of the television adaption of Game of Thrones, which first premiered the same year as the popular passwords list? Is it because so many Dungeons & Dragons fans got their accounts pwned? Well, maybe, in part. But the most convincing explanation is simpler than you might think.

Chasing the Dragon

The “dragon” phenomenon does not appear to be a quirk of SplashData’s password analysis methodology. The creature took the 10th spot last year on another top passwords list, this time created by WordPress platform WP Engine, using data compiled by security consultant Mark Burnett. Dragon doesn’t show up on a 2016 list created by Keeper Security, but that one took into consideration accounts likely created by bots. And the top 100 passwords have stayed relatively stable through the years, largely ruling out a Game of Thrones spike.

“I believe in my book I even listed hundreds of passwords that contain the word ‘dragon,'” says Burnett, whose Perfect Passwords came out in 2005. “People often base their passwords on something that’s important to them; apparently dragons fall into that category. And between D&D, Skyrim, and Game of Thrones, dragons have played a big part in our culture.”

Article continues:


TWO MURDERS ROCKED Noxubee County, Mississippi, in the early 1990s. In each case, a young girl was abducted from her home, raped and murdered, and then dumped in a nearby body of water. Although the cases were startlingly similar, a different man was accused of each crime. Even though he had an alibi, Levon Brooks was pegged for killing 3-year-old Courtney Smith, based on the fact that he’d previously dated Smith’s mother. Kennedy Brewer was charged with the murder of 3-year-old Christine Jackson, whose mother he was dating.

The state’s case against each man was based on the findings of Steven Hayne, Mississippi’s de facto medical examiner, and Michael West, a dentist and self-styled bite mark expert. In each case, Hayne identified what he believed to be bite marks on the victim’s body and referred the evidence to West. This was not unusual. For decades, Hayne and West worked in tandem as the go-to experts for police and prosecutors in Mississippi.

The doctors were unequivocal in court about the medical evidence. At Brooks’s trial, West told the jury that “it could be no one but Levon Brooks that bit this girl’s arm.” In Brewer’s case, West pulled out one of his signature lines, saying that marks found on the victim’s body were “indeed and without a doubt” made by Kennedy Brewer. Brooks was sentenced to life in prison. Brewer was sent to death row.

But Hayne and West were wrong. Brooks and Brewer were innocent. Instead, a man named Justin Johnson, who had a history of committing similar crimes, was responsible for both murders. Eventually, DNA would tie him to the murder of Christine Jackson and he would confess to killing Courtney Smith. He denied biting either victim.

Article continues:

How Rhiannon Giddens Reconstructs Black Pain With The Banjo – by MICHEL MARTIN DUSTIN DESOTO

Rhiannon Giddens Claire Harbage/NPR

Rhiannon Giddens isn’t afraid to carry the weight of history in her music. The North Carolina singer-songwriter and banjoist is a founding member of the Grammy-winning group the Carolina Chocolate Drops which won both critical acclaim and loyal fans for their revival of the African-American string band tradition.

2017 was a big year for Giddens. She released Freedom Highway, a solo album of haunting songs inspired by slave narratives. She also received the prestigious MacArthur Fellowship, colloquially known as a “genius” grant, awarded to individuals who have shown exceptional creativity in their work.

She’s on tour now, and stopped by NPR’s headquarters in Washington D.C. to talk to NPR’s Michel Martin about her work and perform two songs from Freedom Highway. Hear their conversation at the audio link, read an edited transcript below and listen to two a live performance of two songs from Freedom Highway.

Michel Martin: Well, first of all, congratulations on the MacArthur grant. I have to ask: Where were you and what were you doing when you found out?

Rhiannon Giddens: I was on tour, as usual. I think. Or maybe I wasn’t. I don’t know [laughs]. I don’t even know anymore what my life is. But I was out somewhere; I wasn’t home. I was working and I got a phone call. I was at a cafe and this woman I didn’t know said, ‘Are you somewhere we could have a private conversation?’ It’s like, ‘I guess, I’m in a cafe…’ And you know, the bomb dropped and I was just completely floored.

Do you remember what went through your mind when you heard?

Article continues:

Investors’ New Headache: It’s Getting Harder to Buy or Sell When They Want – By Gunjan Banerji and Sam Goldfarb Updated April 22, 2018 10:22 p.m. ET

Worsening liquidity comes as banks have reduced inventory of riskier assets and investors more closely track bond indexes

In the options market, liquidity has deteriorated as new exchanges and more products have diluted trading.

Investors are having a tougher time trading in a number of financial markets, a development that is weakening their ability to raise cash or to protect against big stock declines.

The capacity to get in or out of an investment, known as liquidity, was rarely tested during the long stretch when stocks and bonds rallied with little volatility. Now as inflation concerns, trade anxiety and tension in Syria roil markets, investors notice it is getting harder to trade as easily.

Chris Retzler, who manages the Needham Small Cap Growth Fund, tried to buy a small-cap tech stock in February, only to find that trading was thin and prices unattractive. Rather than paying up, he decided to wait for a couple of weeks until he found someone offering the stock at a reasonable price.

“There is very little you can do at that point other than be patient and not overpay,” Mr. Retzler said.

The liquidity problem has been worsening for years. Investors say it began nearly a decade ago, when post-financial-crisis regulation prevented banks from trading for themselves, and forced them to hold larger amounts of capital—thereby shrinking their inventory of riskier assets. This, in turn, reduced banks’ ability to serve as intermediaries between buyers and sellers.

“It’s like going into a grocery store and there’s nothing on the shelves,” said Jeffrey Cleveland, who said liquidity is a hot topic among the traders he confers with regularly as chief economist at Los Angeles money manager Payden & Rygel.

‘There is good reason to worry about how well liquidity will be provided during episodes of market duress.’

—Goldman Sachs economist Charles Himmelberg

In the U.S. stock market, half of the more than 8,500 listed companies trade less than 100,000 shares a day—a tiny sliver of what big stocks trade, according to an April 10 report from the Securities and Exchange Commission. The SEC is weighing changes to create more liquidity in small-caps, such as potentially concentrating trading in such stocks to a single exchange.

“Thinly traded securities and their investors deserve a market structure that fits their particular needs,” Brett Redfearn, head of the SEC’s Division of Trading and Markets, said at a conference in New York last week.

Even in the world’s deepest bond market, U.S. government debt, liquidity has worsened as trading activity can’t keep up with booming supply. The Federal Reserve’s network of primary dealers, which are required to bid at government bond auctions, reported $455 billion of daily Treasury debt trades for the seven days ended April 11. That figure has declined since 2007—even though since that time, tradable Treasury debt has more than tripled.

Article continues:

We Met The Founder Of Ethereum, VICE on HBO, Season 6 (Bonus Scene) – VICE News Published on Apr 20, 2018

Bitcoin’s emergence as a global digital currency has been as revolutionary as it has been erratic. But while fledgling investors obsess over every fluctuation in the cryptocurrency market, nation states are more interested in the underlying blockchain technology and its ability to revolutionize how business is done on the internet and beyond. VICE’s Michael Moynihan travels to Russia with Vitalik Buterin, inventor of the Ethereum blockchain, to get a front row seat to the geopolitical tug of war over Internet 3.0.