Special Education Today Newsletter 3(26)
Did you know that not much appeared on SET the week ending 24 December 2023?
Season’s greetings for all the readers of Special Education Today. As usual, regular readers will find familiar contents. There is (a) a status report, (b) some notes of appreciation to readers, (c) a table listing the posts that appeared over the past week, and (d) a little commentary. Please feel free to read it all on the Web at https://www.specialeducationtoday.com.
Before I get to those contents, though, here’s a holiday-time photo for everyone! This first one is from January, 2003, and it shows my running route about 1.5 miles from my home that morning. I was the first person on the road, so there are no tire tracks or footprints (though there were footprints on the road when I was coming back along the path).
And this second one is much more recent. It’s Gertrude and me on the living room couch. I am the one with the beard and the glasses on his forehead. We both were pretty content.
This past week, SET lost zero and gained three subscribers. If I could report we grew by, say, 100 last week, I would be very excited!
Thanks to everyone who has shared, forwarded talked about, and otherwise promoted SET with your friends and fellow administrators, teachers, parents, and others. Probably very few readers have discovered SET on their own. It’s almost certain that you, colleagues, are the reason that people learn about the newsletter and Web site. Indeed some of you have referred friends to SET, reflected in the Leaderboard on the site. To the extent that you share SET posts and recommend SET to colleagues, you help boost the base. You can recommend readers and give them a discount (plus get a bonus yourself). Substack is experimenting with a new feature to help increase subscribership by rewarding readers for getting their friends to subscribe. Or you can send a gift subscription. Thanks!
All readers can see posts available for free (e.g., this newsletter). They will also see some posts that only show the first few paragraphs before displaying a paywall. Most posts in the archive are only accessible to paying subscribers. Paid subscribers will see everything immediately and continue to have access to it. Although free subscribers get to comment on some posts, paid subscribers get to comment on all posts.
People who read the posts regularly (i.e., as I publish them) will soon see the 800th entry. This is the #797th post.
Recognition (AKA: Flashes of the electrons)
Thanks to Adelaide D., Clay K., Larry M., Tina C., Jangjiwoo, Joel M. , Angelique W., and anyone whom I missed who interacted with the content recently. Create a paying subscription to ensure you can add your own comments.
Table of contents
There was very little activity to report for the past week.
Special Education Today newsletter 3(25): Will you cheer because it's a brief issue?
Olds: Accommodations that don’t?: Are the difficulties described in this old post still happening?
Some Reflections on Accessibility: What does it mean? Where can one learn more?
Make sure you go to the Web site to see the most current content. New posts will drop this coming week. You’ll find a Web-styled version of this newsletter as well as any newer posts.
It’s the season Hanukkah, Diwali, Ramadan, Kwanza, and Christmas. The winter solstice has come and gone. So has analemma, but xyz is still to come
Wait, what? Analemma? I get “solstice” but ana-what? Well, there’s some arcane knowledge about the Sun’s light shining on Earth that make the day of the winter solstice the briefest day in the year, but that fact doesn’t mean that the earliest sunset and the earliest sunrise are on that same day. As Phil Plait (“The Bad Astronomer”) explained in his monthly column for Scientific American, there’s a surprising secret.
To understand, one needs to think about the tilt of Earth as it rotates around the Sun. Just in case you forgot, neither you, I, nor Earth are the center of the universe..so let’s pull back from our egocentric view so that we can look at the Sun and the Earth from a broader perspective. At the time of the winter solstice (about 3:27 AM UTC on 22 December 2023), Earth was tilted to the maximum for the year, with the northern hemisphere getting the least sunlight it receives each year (winter!) and the southern hemisphere getting the most it gets (there’s a name for that season, too. right?).
Got the basic idea? Good. Please allow Mr. Plait to take over from here:
You’d think that if the solstice is the shortest day, then December 21 would have the latest sunrise and the earliest sunset. But—as is always true in the real world—things are more complicated than that.
If you check a table of the sunrise and sunset times for, say, Washington, D.C., you’ll find the latest sunrise around the time of the solstice is not on December 21 but actually on January 5, 2024 (at 7:27 A.M.), and the earliest sunset already occurred two weeks ago on December 7 (at 4:45 P.M.)! That’s a surprise.
What’s throwing off Earth’s timing? The culprit is its orbit—or, more accurately, the shape of its orbit. It’s not a circle but an oval—that is, an ellipse.
But the tilt of the Earth on its axis is only one contributor to the non-alignment of earliest sunrise in early January and latest sunset in early December. There’s also that the Earth’s speed along its elliptical path around the Sun increases and decreases as it makes its annual revolution. So we’re on this spinning top that goes around on its axis once a day and that’s wobbling a bit and getting faster and slower during different parts of the year.
In addition to Phil Plait’s note, you can review similar explanations from post by the Editor of Some Weekend Reading entitled "Tis the Season… of the Analemma” or (naturally) at Wikipedia’s “Analemma.”
What does all this have to do with special education and disabilities? Not much. It’s just another thing that keeps an aged speducator distracted from devoting his entire time, regardless of sunrise and sunset, to writing more posts for you loyal readers. If you’re looking for somewhere to place the blame for your editor being slack, look no farther than Ana Lemma. It’s her fault.
Still remember that I recommend that you wear your seatbelts, be considerate of others by wearing masks in situations that put yourself or others at risk (I understand that there are up-ticks in infection rates in places around this spinning orb we call home), extend holiday greetings to friends and neighbors, take time to gather with loved ones and celebrate whichever holiday you observe (or none), and teach our children well.
SET Editor guy
Special Education Today by John Wills Lloyd is a reader-supported publication. To receive new posts and support my work, consider becoming a free or paid subscriber.
SET should not be confused with a product that uses the same name and is published by the Council for Exceptional Children. SET predated CEC’s publication by decades. Despite my appreciation for CEC, this product is not designed to promote that organization nor should the views expressed here be considered to represent the views or policies of that organization.