What’s in a Name Like Harvard, Yale, Princeton?

31 01 2010

Classic snooking around that seems timely again:

What IS in a name like Harvard, Yale, Princeton? Entitlement, privilege, status, the life lesson that wealth and leisure define success? At best a sense of noblesse oblige to all the little people left behind? What do whole generations learn from the culture of aspiring to be accepted by such a name, literally from wanting and then being found wanting?
(Compare that universal lesson to the very best learning Harvard could hope to give the few, the chosen, the accepted and enrolled — does the effect balance out in society’s favor, or not so much?)

See “School Socialization Should Shame Us All”:

Everything about college campus life — from getting in to getting along, to getting through, to getting a job through those social contacts — imposes this same lesson by institutional design and with institutional support, and college presidents must’ve learned it as well as any silly sorority girl or rejected chubbette.

Maybe better! – some university presidents are in practice shamelessly playing for institutional reputation, recruiting by rankings, weeding and culling and shuffling students like playing cards for the next bet, grasping for the top and misrepresenting the truth, all for institutional glorification bigger to them than the import of any individual students underserved, unserved or downright devastated by the “lesson” –

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Why Do Voters Oppose Their Own Interests?

30 01 2010

“It’s like a French Revolution in reverse in which the workers come
pouring down the street screaming more power to the aristocracy.”

BBC NEWS

Why do people often vote against their own interests?

. . .Political scientist Dr David Runciman looks at why is there often such deep opposition to reforms that appear to be of obvious benefit to voters.

. . . it is striking that the people who most dislike the whole idea of
healthcare reform – the ones who think it is socialist, godless, a step
on the road to a police state – are often the ones it seems designed to
help.

In Texas, where barely two-thirds of the population have full health
insurance and over a fifth of all children have no cover at all,
opposition to the legislation is currently running at 87%.

. . .In his book The Political Brain, psychologist Drew Westen, an
exasperated Democrat, tried to show why the Right often wins the
argument
even when the Left is confident that it has the facts on its side.

It’s not facts. Here’s a hint: POWER OF STORY!!!





Nobody Does It Better: Unpacking Political Corruption

28 01 2010

Before she knew Barack Obama much less Sarah “Pallin’ around with Terrorists” Palin and Joe “You Lie” the Plumber — um, Wilson — JJ once wrote:

I feel like we’ve been fighting each other so long that it’s not about fighting for competing goals or visions any more, as much as it is the fight itself. . .

I’m not in the hole alone, and dirt is flying all around me.

IF it’s really completely hopeless, and we always must be at war among ourselves just because we’re human, then progressive thinkers can at least admit it to ourselves and figure out how to integrate THAT into our world view. It would be more honest.

She concluded much later by asking, “So — now what?”  None of us could answer that then, beyond another shift in party power.  Can we (any of us) do any better now?

In October 2006, Culture Kitchen was hosting serious, honest good-government talk among Thinking Citizens.  Remember way back then? The GOP was in authoritarian command and control (government as god and guns for private profits) but an election was on the horizon and Scientist-Democrat-blogger Mole wrote a post making the case that

“Democrats Stand for Honest Government
The Republican Party is imploding because of corruption. Their corruption has already sent Randy Cunningham to jail and forced the resignation of Tom DeLay and Mark Foley. In Ohio and Missouri and Kentucky their corruption is shocking. And voters are tired of it.

The Republicans try to cover up their corruption, lying for each other. They even protected a sexual predator for six years! When faced with corruption in their ranks, Republicans lie and cover their tracks. Their final defense is to whine pitifully, “but the Democrats do it too!”

Well, Democrats have indeed been known to be corrupt. But there are differences.  .  . We attack Republican corruption and on the rare occasions it comes up we attack Democratic corruption as well. I see no comparable reform movement within the Republican Party. All I see are more lies, more sleaze and more greed. All I see are Republicans and companies like Halliburton and Exxon and Enron in an orgy of greed and profit, looting America and sacrificing American troops for profit.

. . .Republicans wallow in corruption. Democrats are fighting corruption.

So Nance (longtime Democrat) and JJ (longtime independent non-partisan) engaged this argument, in ways disconcertingly relevant this morning in January 2010, knowing what we know now and having just watched the State of the Union last night — President Barack Obama (longtime Democrat) appealing to GOP power brokers and especially to us longtime independent non-partisans.

I recommend you go to Culture Kitchen and read the whole conversation because we weren’t the only ones thinking and talking, but here are some excerpts just from JJ and Nance:

Just Can’t Buy It

Submitted by JJ Ross on 11 October 2006 –

That ship has sailed, hopefully for the last time with a majority of American voters innocently at the pier waving goodbye and welcoming in the new.

However earnest and sincere individual candidates and operatives may be, polls and personal observations persuade me neither Rs nor Ds will be able to dump a load of “purity and honesty” cargo on us to just buy on faith and pay for later, and maybe that’s a good thing.

Some new third party for the same old system isn’t my idea of change, either. The system is corrupt, nobody does it better, and we’re just not in the media mass market for any more cheap and peeling tricks with a fresh coat of paint slapped on,peddled as progressive government.

I suffer from chronic liar,liar, pants on fire exhaustion, like nearly everyone I know in ordinary family life. Say we ARE collectively in the mood for real change, toward something that really is more honest and productive than we’ve constituted as government in our lifetime. What would we suggest, without the union (or any other) label I mean? There ought to be ideas other than soundbite-slogan partisan ones we can at least start imagining and working toward, building new frames, having new conversations . . .

Unpacking Corruption

I’d unpack the sins and slogans a little differently is all (I am not R or Green or any other festive party color.)
😉

Yes, of course, honesty is the right direction, so great for us all if some Dems are heading that way or at least acknowledging it’s the right direction. But it’s not just because they ARE Dems though, is it, really? And they aren’t all alike, nor are all R pols or us independents.

And are they really the only ones you see moving that way? That’s all I’m saying, not throwing out rhetoric, honest!
The poll says I’m not alone in seeing dishonesty in too many places and all the wrong faces . . .

I think your case can be made reasonably to the public but ironically, Read the rest of this entry »





“We’re the Smart Ones. . .”

27 01 2010

We’re the smart ones.
We’re the ones who are “reality-based.”
We can win without being counterproductive.
We can figure it out.

Put it on t-shirts, embroider it on pillows, whisper it to teeth-gnashing, garment-rending fellows as needed . . .





ACORN Pimp Video Wunderkind Arrested by FBI in New Political Break-in

26 01 2010

And he made his bail appeal court appearance today with his co-conspirators in a red prison jumpsuit —

James O’Keefe ARRESTED In Landrieu Phone Scheme, 3 Others Also Charged
MICHAEL KUNZELMAN | 01/26/10 04:37 PM | AP

Now I’m recalling all the law-and-order conservative posturing when the Cambridge professor was arrested in his own home and the president dared to suggest the arrest might have been a stupid overreaction on the part of the arresting government employee.

Obama's Beer Garden NYT

Will we hear the same thing from them now, or the opposite, poor things.
(It’ll be interesting to hear how this was different than Watergate too — only in being even more spectacularly psychopathic? And whether the Congressional Republicans will continue to pretend the CIA would never lie . . .)





Unschooling Passion Play From Apple Computer “Buccaneer-Scholar”

26 01 2010

Unschooling on FaceBook thanks Mitrik Spanner for posting:
“Great audio interview of James Marcus Bach, the author of Secrets of a Buccaneer-Scholar: How Self-Education and the Pursuit of Passion Can Lead to a Lifetime of Success on Wisconsin Public Radio November 13, 2009. He’s a software testing manager at Apple Computer and [pro]ponent of unschooling.”

[Also son of author-poet Richard Bach]

Stream the audio here.





Read Their Lips: Some SERIOUS Mental Mistakes Out There!

25 01 2010

Here are three connected “what’s in a name?” rants from today:

Rant One
So the Dickensian SC Lt Gov has just ruined the whole freedom storyline about the GOP No-Go to any human services for anyone (Haiti too?) He let the cat out of the bag literally, when he compared people in need to stray animals that need to be left to starve — and without health care, no doubt — so they won’t breed.

“You’re facilitating the problem if you give an animal or a person ample food supply,” Bauer continued. “They will reproduce, especially ones that don’t think too much further than that. And so what you’ve got to do is you’ve got to curtail that type of behavior. They don’t know any better.”

Somebody in this story doesn’t know any better all right, but to me, it sounds like him! America as Animal Farm, and some pigs are more equal than others? Maybe his pack of alpha wolves deserve credit for shrewd animalistic survival instincts at least. No wonder they need all those guns guaranteed by their piggy view of the Constitution, rather than the human services by which all living animals could be treated humanely. So many strays are starving and sick these days that they might turn on their overlords and start fighting back . . .

***************
Rant Two
I just saw a nice conservative Christian school and homeschool teacher, well-educated, longtime advocate for home education — with whom I collaborated to oppose mandatory universal preschool among other things — use a puzzling term completely new to me:TOTUS. She linked it to a news story about the President giving a speech in these dire times, followed by her comment: “The TOTUS speaks to children.”

Treasury head maybe?

I was determined to figure it out for myself, ran through various possibilities as if I were doing a crossword puzzle, but no luck. The thumbnail looked like it could be the President? — maybe among themselves they sneer at him as Teacher or Totalitarian of the US?

Sigh, finally I Googled it. Maybe I am the last person to hear this for the first time or maybe you don’t know either. If you do know, have you really thought about what this label packs in its punch?

These are people agitating to change the constitution to define all human life as fully human even before birth, even when it is just a potentiality — in the same breath they politically dehumanize this extraordinary (and certainly living, breathing) human being who represents all Americans and leads our humanitarian efforts throughout the globe.

At least when their derision insisted he wasn’t American-born and wasn’t black enough or too much like Hitler and was palling around with terrorists, he was still presumably — if barely — “human!”

And at least when Limbaugh snatched away that humanity to call him a giant alien cockroach, he was still a LIFEFORM. But this new political derision is more damning and dismissive even than that: now the President Barack Obama is not only not human, but not even animal life like the stray cats and dogs we must harden our hearts against and not feed, to prevent them from breeding more unfortunate lives to clutter up our conscience (see Rant One): now he’s not even animal or insect, not even ALIVE. Only a machine.

And not even a learning machine that can think for itself and help humankind in valued partnership, like say, Data on “Star Trek: Next Generation.” A stupid machine we should junk. (Alternately, evil enemy technology.)

They are crowing this week that it’s a triumph for American values that suddenly even CORPORATIONS are human and guaranteed individual human rights — but not the Teleprompter?
Think about it. WWJD?

See The Lucifer Effect for more.

***********
Rant Three
Sean Hannity said today on his radio program, and I quote: “I think it is wrong to plan your life.” (Really, then surely it’s wrong to plan other people’s childbearing and marriages and sexual expressions and access to human food, shelter, medicine and health care through government, much less raise armies to fight wars to reshape lives and nations and whole regions of the globe to suit YOU. And if it’s wrong for anyone to plan this life, surely it’s even wronger to spend a moment’s effort trying to plan the next one??)

Meanwhile, back on earth, in reality, among sentient beings, Hannity’s broadcast stance against the morality of human volition, of planning and pursuing life goals, surely devalues every individual’s hard work, savings, initiative, education. All missionary work and politics. All commitments such as friendship, marriage and raising a family. All these are by his simple pronouncement that planning is wrong, rendered worse than pointless — actually wrong!

These are stupid, exasperating and poorly thought out ideas, dangerous even — still I wouldn’t call him not human or not alive, for spouting them.