My Star Wars Savvy Son Takes Our Political Pulse

23 10 2006

So I’m flipping around the cable news channels as my 11-year-old son and I are playing chess in the kitchen, waiting for the rest of our little family to get home from the dance studio for supper. I switch from MSNBC’s Keith Olbermann to Fox’s Bill O’Reilly, and he remarks that O’Reilly sounds like Rush Limbaugh, who we sometimes hear on the radio in the car. Yes, I say, they do sound alike. I like to hear lots of different voices and ideas, which is why I keep switching around.

This is a child who embraces Stephen Colbert in the same spirit he memorizes Monty Python reruns. I assumed the politics were mostly over his head, so he surprised me tonight when he decided to say something about it all, pretty much for the first time ever.

“They are all the Empire, you know.”

“Huh?” – sorry to say I am not always so profound as I can seem online! 🙂

“You probably don’t need to listen to all the different ones because they are all the Empire. . . what we really need is a Rebellion.”

Chewie and Family

Flabbergasted doesn’t even come close!

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A Thousand Points of Light

23 10 2006

The next Thinking Visitor to Snook will be our landmark one-thousandth! (Maybe it’s you even as you’re reading this, seeing yourself looking at yourself, kinda like one of those infinite optical illusions?)

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They might need to read the libel law if they can’t be bothered to understand the copyright provisions for fair use without seeking permission. . .Yes, that gorgeous image previously included here from FRACTALUS.com was fair use for educational purposes by this personal blog (with no ads or revenue of any kind) but was automatically labeled theft by whatever tech-voodoo they are shooting up the Internets with to scare the townfolk, an accusation published without even contacting us (willful disregard for the truth is a phrase they might want to get familiar with if this is their usual method of responding to those who admire and comment on their work.)
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It’s more exciting than watching my odometer roll over from 99,999 as it did last summer, because:

a) it doesn’t mean the blog is about to fall apart out from under me at obscene cost to replace (does it??) and,

b) was lost dealing with the theft charge published above and that fun moment I was having with the blog statistics is long gone anyway, so it’s just as well.

hubbel lights

Good thing Scott is here though, as my libel-defamation expert — what about publishing theft charges without sufficient legal basis under the law? (Feel free to write me privately with details.)





What professors aren’t paid to profess

23 10 2006

Professor Stanley Fish:

Of course, before you can do your job, you have to know what it is. And you will not be helped by your college’s mission statement, which will lead you to think that your job is to cure every ill the world has ever known – not only illiteracy, bad writing and cultural ignorance, which are at least in the ballpark, but poverty, racism, ageism, sexism, war, exploitation, colonialism, discrimination, intolerance, pollution and bad character. (The list could be much longer.)

I call this the save-the-world theory of academic performance and you can see it on display in a recent book by Derek Bok, the former and now once-again president of Harvard.

Aloof Ivy Tower

Bok’s book is titled “Our Underachieving Colleges” and here are some of the things he thinks colleges should be trying to achieve: “[H]elp develop such virtues as racial tolerance, honesty and social responsibility”; “prepare … students to be active, knowledgeable citizens in a democracy”; and “nurture such behavioral traits as good moral character.”

I can’t speak for every college teacher, but I’m neither trained nor paid to do any of those things, although I am aware of people who are: ministers, therapists, social workers, political activists, gurus, inspirational speakers and diversity consultants.

I am trained and paid to do two things (although, needless to say, I don’t always succeed in my attempts to do them) :

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We must, we must, we must . . .

23 10 2006

While many past education debates have dissolved into intangible issues of school finance, the testing critics believe that the issue may sway larger numbers of voters because the tests are having such pronounced and immediate effects on children.

“We have third-grade children who have been retained so many times they are wearing brassieres in the third grade,” said Florida state Sen. Frederica Wilson, one of the leaders of the anti-testing movement here.

“When parents are dealing with children vomiting on the morning of the tests and seeing other signs of test stress, they’re going to be motivated at the voting booth,” said Gloria Pipkin, the president of a testing watchdog group, the Florida Coalition for Assessment Reform.
“Texas and Florida are the poster children for excessive testing, and we’re seeing an enormous backlash.”