What If I Can’t Make It To D.C.

17 09 2010

for the  Rally to Restore Sanity?

Will there be local rallies? Or is that too radical?

Our normal rallies consist of ten teachers standing on the big bridge demanding sanity. Maybe I could get them to. . . nah. . .

And, sad to say, many of my neighbors might prefer the March to Keep Fear Alive.

But, on the upside, no matter how many people show up, Jon Stewart can apparently claim whatever turnout he wants!





Banned Books Week: Think for Yourself, Let Others Do the Same

1 09 2010

Thinking Parents know how enthusiastically we celebrate Banned Books Week here at Snook, every September. Last year’s theme was “Ideas Are Incombustible” and imo still fits the social inferno some folks are stoking with spittle-soaked frenzy.

This year’s official theme features a robot unplugging his head from the Borg download, happily reading a real book instead. (No technology required, not even a Kindle.)

You can tell the robot is happy from its glowing eyes and smile of satisfaction. If you follow the sequence of robot art through the whole list of books known to have been challenged during the past year, you can see the free-to-read robot’s power of story play out — thinking for yourself and letting others do the same turns into real liberty (and eyes aglow from books) for all.

Who could be against that? Well, this parent for one:

Lee, Harper
To Kill a Mockingbird

Removed from the St. Edmund Campion Secondary
School classrooms in Brampton, Ontario, Canada
(2009) because a parent objected to language used
in the novel, including the word “nigger.”
Source: Nov2009, pp. 203–4.

And this guy — who sounds like he should cut way back on the caffeine and might keep deadly firearms at home but perversely fixates on the threat of library books in his child’s backpack instead. We loved this book when FavD was a kid, read it aloud together and then went on to read several more Read the rest of this entry »





No Rich White Guy Privilege Here!

9 08 2010

The undeservedly wealthy, white Glenn Beck calls President Obama’s America in which workers have dignity and good jobs, “the damn Planet of the Apes” but Tokyo Rush is even richer and whiter and more mindlessly privileged, with even more tough guy bully spewing forth: the beautiful, brilliant and astonishingly popular First Lady and her beautiful little black daughter in bright summer cotton, could never deserve a few days traveling with old friends and luncheon in a Spanish palace on their own merits, nope, nope,it must be white liberal guilt for SLAVERY
and why don’t they slink back to it before they and all the other black apes who support health care and a non-white president, ruin America?

Well, so much for the rich white gal’s Mama Grizzly “leave the families alone!” refrain (will she tweet her fierce defense of little Sasha and threaten to shoot Rush in the face from a helicopter or waterboard him or at least demand an apology as she did from David Letterman, any minute now? Ri-iight.)

The increasingly pissy and disturbingly disproportionate Maureen Dowd was bad enough, implying that even in the third millennium with a law degree and impressive accomplishments of her own, the President’s wife should stay home and do nothing but make him toast (?!) , not have her own life even as a strong mom.

This was btw a mother-daughter trip, the likes of which any First Lady is entitled by the People (of America) to make as she chooses — unlike all those ritzy daughters-in-tow trips Palin herself was making on the public dime from Alaska to NYC and Rodeo Drive WITHOUT the People (of Alaska’s) approval.

But I was ranting about Rush today, not the lipsticked pit-bully bear. Didn’t the childless (there’s one bit of good news!) Tokyo Rush himself vacation in Hawaii last winter, playing golf and then paying out of pocket for his luxury hotel getting him to a world-class hospital, for his non-heart attack heart-attack?

Limbaugh: “I got no special treatment whatsoever.”

And then didn’t he throw a lavish million-dollar-plus wedding with Elton John as bought-and-paid-for slave for a day, compared to the wedding of another First Daughter whose mother and father could have matched him for flash and trash but brought family values to the party instead? Chelsea’s was a real traditional first wedding too, not fourth or fifth or Read the rest of this entry »





This Would Explain Greg LadenBlather and his LadenHosen

2 08 2010

Science writers play rough. They like hoaxes, humiliations and Oxbridge-style showdowns that let them use words like “claptrap” and “gibberish.” There’s a reason people don’t call themselves deconstructionists and pick fights with science anymore.

. . .“The ship is sinking,” mused PZ Myers, the writer of the [ScienceBlogs] site’s top blog, Pharyngula . .

[W]hile I found interesting stuff here and there, I also discovered that ScienceBlogs has become preoccupied with trivia, name-calling and saber rattling. Maybe that’s why the ScienceBlogs ship started to sink.

Greg Laden Blog Full of Unscientific Crap [even PZ Myers Calls It Out]

School Sock Puppets “Laden” with Logic Disorders

Evidence Mounts for Greg Ladenblather as Flame War Flashpoint

Unboxing Our Lizard Brains





What America Needs to Be Free and Fit, Is Diverging and Then CON-verging:

16 07 2010

Cognitive science that says creativity is diverging and then CONverging:

“There is never one right answer. To be creative requires divergent thinking (generating many unique ideas) and then convergent thinking (combining those ideas into the best result). . .

All around us are matters of national and international importance that are crying out for creative solutions, from saving the Gulf of Mexico to bringing peace to Afghanistan to delivering health care. Such solutions emerge from a healthy marketplace of ideas, sustained by a populace constantly contributing original ideas and receptive
to the ideas of others. . .

Creativity isn’t about freedom from concrete facts. Rather, fact-finding and deep research are vital stages in the creative process. . . .

The new view is that creativity is part of normal brain function. Some
scholars go further, arguing that lack of creativity–not having loads of it–is the real risk factor. In his research, Read the rest of this entry »





Bipartisan Anger: Hyperbolic rhetoric threatens to swamp our politics

12 07 2010

(Comparing Britain’s fall from supremacy on the world stage, to America’s now)

“. . .America in 2010 hasn’t reached the self-deprecating Monty Python stage yet, but it’s not much of a stretch to see in Glenn Beck’s tirades, Lou Dobbs’s anti-immigrant screeds, and Sarah Palin’s faux nostalgia for the sunshine days, the nastiness and anger. . .
The offsets that used to restrict rage’s reach have started to break down; the walls sealing the anger off to a specific community or locale, or around a specific issue, have started to crumble. As a result, rage is becoming an ideology unto itself.”

CHRONICLE OF HIGHER EDUCATION
July 11, 2010
Look Ahead in Anger:
Hyperbolic rhetoric threatens to swamp our politics

By Sasha Abramsky





Celebrate 50 Years Full of Learning From “To Kill a Mockingbird”

7 07 2010

“It’s about race, it’s about prejudice, it’s about childhood, it’s about parenting, it’s about love, it’s about loneliness — there’s something for everyone,” Murphy says.

To Kill a Mockingbird didn’t change everyone’s mind, but it did open some. And it made an impression on many young people who, like Scout, were trying to get a grip on right and wrong in a world that is not always fair.

Harper Lee’s powerful power of story has been blogged at Snook through the years:

Happy Birthday Harper Lee

Choose Nine Books for Your Gift Box

Hey Mr. Cunningham a Must_Read at Meming of Life

JJ Makes Another Book Meme Her Own

Number Six : “To Kill a Mockingbird” by Harper Lee, because that was Favorite Daughter’s first love affair with a book as above, AND because Harper Lee supports homeschoolers, and she explicitly wrote Scout as almost accidentally learning to read well at home, which pissed off her officious second-grade teacher, AND also because it’s at least one impeccable cultural choice Read the rest of this entry »





Is Capitalism Consuming Humanism?

1 06 2010

Cock of the snook to COD for this truthout from Chris Hedges:

It does not mean we have to agree with Karl Marx, who advocated violence and whose worship of the state as a utopian mechanism led to another form of enslavement of the working class, but we have to speak in the vocabulary Marx employed. We have to grasp, as Marx did, that corporations are not concerned with the common good.

They exploit, pollute, impoverish, repress, kill and lie to make money. They throw poor families out of homes, let the uninsured die, wage useless wars to make profits, poison and pollute the ecosystem, slash social assistance programs, gut public education, trash the global economy, loot the U.S. Treasury and crush all popular movements that seek justice for working men and women.

They worship only money and power. And, as Marx knew, unfettered capitalism is a revolutionary force that consumes greater and greater numbers of human lives until it finally consumes itself.

The nightmare in the Gulf of Mexico is the perfect metaphor for the corporate state.

See also Blackwater, Google and Whales, Oh My!:

. . .they hurt us over and over and over, incapable of stopping themselves, of caring or even comprehending why we do. Because they are NOT HUMAN!

And we keep letting them! Not funny. So maybe just call it the punch, instead of punchline.





What to Remember About Kent State

6 05 2010

They can’t kill us all. Remember, or if you’re too young, watch and listen and learn, then remember. They can’t kill us all.





Smaller Government Isn’t “Smart”, “Better” or Even Republican

1 05 2010

Today President Obama gave a graduation speech about how we’re fighting over government and how it should change, and whether we should be fighting each other or figuring things out together:

It was the first Republican President, Abraham Lincoln, who said that the role of government is to do for the people what they cannot do better for themselves. He would go on to begin that first intercontinental railroad and set up the first land-grant colleges. It was another Republican, Teddy Roosevelt, who said that “the object of government is the welfare of the people.” He is remembered for using the power of government to break up monopolies, and establishing our National Park system. . .

One of my favorite signs from the health care debate was one that read “Keep Government Out Of My Medicare,” which is essentially like saying “Keep Government Out Of My Government-Run Health Care.”

For when our government is spoken of as some menacing, threatening foreign entity, it conveniently ignores the fact in our democracy, government is us. We, the people, hold in our hands the power to choose our leaders, change our laws, and shape our own destiny.

Government is the police officers who are here protecting us and the service men and women who are defending us abroad. Government is the roads you drove in on and the speed limits that kept you safe. Government is what ensures that mines adhere to safety standards and that oil spills are cleaned up by the companies that caused them. Government is this extraordinary public university – a place that is doing life-saving research, catalyzing economic growth, and graduating students who will change the world around them in ways big and small.

The truth is, the debate we’ve had for decades between more government and less government doesn’t really fit the times in which we live.

We know that too much government can stifle competition, deprive us of choice, and burden us with debt. But we’ve also seen clearly the dangers of too little government – like when a lack of accountability on Wall Street nearly led to the collapse of our entire economy.

So what we should be asking is not whether we need a “big government” or a “small government,” but how we can create a smarter, better government.





Sarah Palin Again: THIS is News?

18 04 2010

Sarah Palin criticized President Barack Obama on Saturday . . .

Not news to me! And certainly this fact about Sarah Palin herself isn’t news, except maybe that she is so freely admitting it?

“I don’t understand. . .”

So this next part can’t be news to anyone!

The Republican criticized Obama throughout her speech –

Btw it also is not news that the other Big O in Palin’s newfound fame, you know, Oprah, famously intones: “When someone shows you who they are, believe them the first time.”

Back on the first of August 2008, when everything about this fascinating new political persona really was news and we couldn’t get enough about her, JJ wrote:

“I never heard the woman’s name until this morning, so I looked around for clues to her character. Is she indeed Saint Sarah, fresh-faced military mom and public corruption crusader? One thing’s clear, she’s working class and no elite intellectual. . .
[And] never mind what happened to the actual men whose careers were damaged by Palin’s self-justifying actions. Winning is the only thing that counts, right?

She showed us the same thing this week, in this story:

Palin said she hopes the November elections will produce winners

John McCain has showed so many different selves as authentic that I can’t believe any of them any more — except that he’s come full circle now, once again pretty compelling as desperate prisoner feeling the pain who will say anything to save himself — and Palin has been showing us exactly who she is from Day One, so it shouldn’t be any news that I believe that’s who she really is.

But I guess it might be news that even some smart conservative kids are seeing who she is, and believing. And criticizing her publicly for it and cashing in, with or without bendy straws.





New Diagnosis of What’s Causing Health Care Political Symptoms

26 03 2010

A couple of lines in the news jumped out at JJ this morning from this piece — maybe you’d already thought of it but she hadn’t!

As doctors move from being employers to employees, their politics often take a leftward turn. . .

Gordon H. Smith, executive vice president of the Maine Medical Association, said that his organization had changed from being like a chamber of commerce to being like a union.

Seems there’s been a dramatic move just in the past five years, from private practice to salaried medicine within hospitals and health care systems. No, not dramatic because it’s been quiet, not part of the high drama-trauma politics of health care reform. Still, HUGE. Imagine a third of all employer doctoring shifting to become employee doctoring, just since 2005! Talk about a revolution.

And it had nothing to do with government force via tea parties or pallin’ around with terrorists.

Individual doctors have been making marketplace choices, not being forced into this shift by government. So by the very definitions of right-wing politics, this reflects individual economic choice exercised by well-educated, hard-working, tax-paying Americans in their own best interest.