Saturday, May 30, 2020

American history lesson

In the 1770s, American colonialists were dissatisfied with British rule.

They took to the streets to protest. The result: several of them were killed by the forces of order. (Boston Massacre)

The killings fueling their anger, the Americans escalated their resistance to vandalism. (Boston Tea Party)

When the British refused to budge, the Americans resorted to armed violence. (Revolutionary War)

The Americans did issue a strongly worded press release (Declaration of Independence) but did not halt the violence.

Americans only resumed peaceful dialogue AFTER they seized autonomy following the British military surrender. (Treaty of Paris)

Friday, May 29, 2020

Rioting, as seen by Dr. King

"When I give food to the poor, I'm called a saint. When I ask why they are poor, I'm called a communist." -Archbishop Dom Helder Camara.

Dr Martin Luther King said this over 50 years ago. Still relevant today.

"I think America must see that riots do not develop out of thin air. Certain conditions continue to exist in our society which must be condemned as vigorously as we condemn riots. But in the final analysis, a riot is the language of the unheard. And what is it that America has failed to hear? It has failed to hear that the plight of the Negro poor has worsened over the last few years. It has failed to hear that the promises of freedom and justice have not been met. And it has failed to hear that large segments of white society are more concerned about tranquility and the status quo than about justice, equality, and humanity. And so in a real sense our nation’s summers of riots are caused by our nation’s winters of delay. And as long as America postpones justice, we stand in the position of having these recurrences of violence and riots over and over again. Social justice and progress are the absolute guarantors of riot prevention.”

Tuesday, May 19, 2020

Distance learning is not real education

there's an assumption by adults that kids are so enraptured by technology that distance learning would be a snap. It's easy to see kids glued to their phones and think that.
But although I've heard from countless who hate it, I've yet to hear from one kid who actually prefers this set up, though I'm sure a small minority do. Even the kids who normally whine they hate school are complaining about it.
Nor a teacher, for that matter. The clueless idiots claim teachers are lazy or glorified babysitters but every teacher out there wants to be doing more than they are permitted to do now.
And that's not even factoring in the digital divide and unequal access that implies.
This is something to consider as our governor and others hand over education design to big tech. I'm a bit skeptical that the plight of homeless students is going to be high on the radar of tech CEOs.
Tech can enhance traditional teaching methods and already have. But it should be done thoughtfully and with serious input from educators, something that 'education reform' attempts rarely include.
Any attempt to replace school learning with distance learning should be resisted with the fervor of armed white men demanding their right to poison wait staff.

Saturday, May 09, 2020

Why Germany succeeded where the US failed

The German soccer leagues are the first in the world to re-open, albeit without fans. I was listening to an interview with a German soccer announcer. He said that part of what helped is that Germany "got lucky." 

He explained that they watched on TV what was happening in Italy and were quick to take action to mitigate the spread of the virus. 

Rather than choosing a national leader who rejects science and surrounds himself with the same, they chose as their national leader a trained scientist. Even in a decentralized federal republic, this was critical in setting the tone.

Little about this is "lucky."

It is the result of conscious choices made by Germans and their leaders to act decisively and proactively to prevent a crisis from becoming much worse. They saw what happening elsewhere and didn't sit on their hands and/or scream MSM sheeple Nazi Hitler hoax plandemic. They took action.

Over the decades, they've also consciously chose to develop a decent social safety net to reduce inequality and to establish a rational health care system designed to serve citizens.

The results of serious leadership: they had one of the lowest per capita death rates in the western world. And now the country is slowly re-opening.  

Friday, May 08, 2020

The fundamental divide in America is not between left and right

I'm coming to believe that the fundamental divide in this country is not between left and right. It's between those who accept the need for credible public institutions and those who don't. 
"Accepting the need for" does not mean "automatically and mindlessly trust." Those who accept this need try to repair failing (or sabotaged) institutions. Those who don't accept this need add to the breakdown in social cohesion.

It has nothing to do with education or intelligence. I see many smart, educated people parroting the nihilistic rage. They know what public institutions are saying very well. They just knee-jerk disbelieve the institutions unthinkingly.
My recent essay on the difference between skepticism vs cynicism is instructive here. Because many of them are smart, they are good at making their disbelief sound just pseudo-intellectual enough.

It's not just the fascists and Trump cultists. Many on the harder left are no different and it's causing a real breach between those who want to re-fortify sabotaged institutions and those who want to burn everything down and replace it with who knows what and who knows how..
I'm not sure how to resolve this breach. Once you reject the notion of anything public or common, even a set of facts (upon which opinions and strategies can be based), I'm not sure where you can go from there. 

Thursday, May 07, 2020

The Death of the Liberal Class foreshadowed our current collapse in social cohesion

Some years ago, I started reading but did not finish Chris Hedges' book The Death of the Liberal Class. (liberal of course meaning classical liberalism, not left-of-center politics)

Published in 2010, it described the collapse in credibility of the public institutions that long served as the foundation of western liberal democracy. This collapse has led to the comprehensive pan-ideological breakdown in social cohesion that we've experienced the last several years, which has been laid even more bare by the pandemic. 

This breakdown was accelerated by the Trump presidency, who exploited it mercilessly to get (s)elected in the first place. But the unraveling did not start with Trump's inauguration and will not end with his long overdue eviction from the White House. I think it's time I picked the book back up.

Wednesday, May 06, 2020

Cuomo's scheme to "re-imagine" education

One of the dumbest catchphrases you often hear is, "Those who can't, teach." It'd be more accurate to say that, "Those who can't teach develop education policy."
The last two press conferences, Governor Cuomo has mentioned about working with Bill Gates to "re-imagine" education. Today, he introduced a Google executive who would aid the effort.
He was very vague and nebulous. No hint as to what direction it might take, other than the inclusion of Microsoft and Google honchos. This is something people needs to watch carefully. 
With everyone distracted by the pandemic and dazzled by his coherent complete sentences and his ability to sound like a vaguely functioning adult (in contrast to you know who), this is a very opportune time to pull one over the public.
Major education "reforms" are almost always developed without meaningful consultation of the folks who actually have to implement those changes on the ground. The typical result of such "reforms" is the state buying more stuff from for-profit companies. 
As much as the education system does need to re-imagined, the idea of oligarchs heading the effort in a time whether those who might ring the alarm bells are distracted does not really inspire confidence that it will be done in a way that will benefit children.

Sunday, May 03, 2020

The risks of not voting your conscience

Remember the countless Democrats who said they were going to vote for Joe Biden in the primary without much enthusiasm, even though they liked another Democratic contender better, because Biden "clearly" had the best chance of beating Trump and "no one" with a clue could dispute that self-evident fact.

Although it's not surprising that the fascist party would nominate an admitted sexual predator, it would've a lot easier if the party that patted itself on the back for supporting #MeToo and who went after both Brett Kavanagh and Al Franken had chosen to avoid nominating someone credibly accused of sexual assault. Cue predictable double standard rationalizations.

People often talk about the risk of voting your conscience. Well, not doing so can have consequences too.  This one's not on the DNC. It's on rank and file Democrats. They made this bed.