Why Is This GOP Candidate Dressed as a Nazi?

11 10 2010

“This is art designed to improve humanity,
but it has the opposite effect because — it’s a lie.”
— The Furious Energy of Liberty

Is this the story of parental involvement, a good-sport dad just connecting with his son through wholesome historical theatre?

An election year already notable for its menagerie of extreme and unusual candidates can add another one: Rich Iott, the Republican nominee for Congress from Ohio’s 9th District, and a Tea Party favorite, who for years donned a German Waffen SS uniform and participated in Nazi re-enactments.

What about said exculpatory son btw, and whatever he learned from his dad as Nazi in their family time together? (I’ve wondered the same about father-son bonding over guns meant for killing life, especially in the name of pro-life politics.) Is it fair game for citizens and voters to ask ourselves such questions as we get to know more about a person in private family life?

Or maybe nothing personal should be the pivotal point when we’re evaluating the candidacy Read the rest of this entry »

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2010 TED Talk Video: The Child-Driven Education

10 09 2010

Just posted tonight: The Child-Driven Education featuring Sugata Mitra





Can a Dog Receive Communion or Would You Complain? WWJD?

23 07 2010

“[I]n my opinion, Christ would have thought it was neat. It was just being human. And it made everyone smile.”

We’ve talked before about potential human life, about animals and even robots, how in the end the way we treat any of those is all about OUR humanity, not theirs. Not to mention how we treat each other, as enemy rivals or extended family and friends . . .
Read the rest of this entry »





The Dismal Taste of High-Yield Corporate School: Shakespearian Tragedy

29 05 2010

What’s in a name? Substitute “kid” for “tomato” and “school” for “plant” — you get the idea. Substitute individual creativity for “sugar” and “flavor” and other nutrients given short shrift by factory farm schooling in service of corporate-backed political controls.

Sacrificing Flavor

The pressure for high-yield plants is responsible for the dismal taste of the supermarket tomato. Harry Klee, a plant biologist at the University of Florida in Gainesville, says it’s a simple matter of economics.

. . .”The grower is paid for size and yield — and flavor is irrelevant, unfortunately,” Klee says.

In fact, the yield is so great for some tomato varieties that the plant can’t keep up. Because the plants have been bred to produce so many fruits, they can’t produce enough sugars and other nutrients.

“And so what happens is you start to dilute out all of the good flavor compounds, and you get a fruit that you bite into it and it largely tastes like water,” Klee says.
“Because that’s mostly what it is.”

That which we still call a tomato wouldn’t smell or taste as sweet after we’ve diluted its flavors and aromas, dumbed it down and bred out all its delights. That which we still call an education suffers more yet from its name . . .

I don’t care for tomatoes myself but I love the fruit of another kind of vine. That’s another good play on the same school tragedy: Read the rest of this entry »





Guess What Bill Gates Is Talking About

22 01 2010

Can you guess what complex challenge vital to our life, liberty and pursuit of happiness, he’s referring to here?

There just isn’t enough work going on today to get us to where we need to go.

The world is distracted from what counts on this issue in a big way.

Education? Equality and human rights?
War and terrorism, jobs and the economy, hunger, health care, helping Haitians?

I might answer “all of the above” except this sweaty-palm panic we’re feeling isn’t multiple choice anymore, if it ever really was. Time is expiring on our high-stakes academic exercise, and maybe the only answer that matters now is knowing these two things whatever the question, that no choice left is right, and no choice left just isn’t right!

The way he’s going about all this btw, sounds like a great model for true public education, the kind that just might save the world if anything can:

I spend a lot of my time learning about issues I’m passionate about.

I’m fortunate because the people I’m working with and learning from are true experts in their fields. I take a lot of notes, and often share them and my own thoughts on the subject with others through email, so I can learn from them and expand the conversation.

I thought it would be interesting to share these conversations more widely with a website, in the hope of getting more people thinking and learning about the issues I think are interesting and important.

p.s. If you still want a literal right answer to the original question about which issue he’s referring to in the quote above, check the answer sheet here.





Who Cares About Haiti?

16 01 2010

I am pleased to have been the recipient of the Ordre d’Honneur et de Merite, Haiti, 1934 —
JJ’s great-uncle, Henry D Barker, born more than 100 years ago in America, recounting his impoverished boyhood and subsequent career

In the here and now, JJ has a mom-friend who cares enough about Haiti that she carried the Christian gospel to children there last year, and is suffering with the Haitian people in the earthquake’s aftermath.

She is the mom of Favorite Daughter’s traveling companion to Europe last summer. The November before that, this devout conservative evangelical (but also well-educated medical professional and feminist, for a southerner at least) did a little traveling of her own and took the church mission trip to Haiti.

Here is her FaceBook status update today:

Presidents Team up for Haiti.
Wow, that is the spirit that makes America the great country that it is. It makes me proud to be a naturalized American and to be part of Americans helping Haiti.

So it seems to me we surely share American values and see truth, beauty and goodness much the same way, despite not sharing the same family, politics, religion or profession.

As for me and Haiti, I’d personally still look to education rather than religion to save it. My family history is all about the transformative power of hard work and sacrifice channeled through education, not prayer. My great-uncle D went on his Haitian education mission trip of sorts after growing up dirt-poor subsistence farming in the Blue Ridge Mountains, partly homeschooling in fact, then studying agriculture and textiles at Clemson back when it was an agricultural college and Air Force academy.

From other universities he later earned his master’s of science in agronomy and his Ph.D. — first in our family! — and I was raised on stories from my mother’s mother (Uncle D’s enormously proud little sister) about him and Aunt Pauline living in Haiti for years in what sounded like a tropical paradise, helping to change the world with his education.

In 1928 he wrote a book about it: Éléments du Botanique Général par Henry D. Barker, Ph.D., Chef du Department de Bontanique Service Technique.

In French.

Published in Port-au-Prince, Haiti. Stamped right on the front cover.

I am holding that book in my hand right now because by default I am now the family’s historical repository as was my father before me — both of us also academic doctors, admired throughout the extended family as continuing generational examples of the importance of education, not just to enrich the individual or contribute to the family’s collective well-being but also for all of humanity, because learning and then using it for good is what we are meant to do. . .

Inside his book, it’s inscribed in his feathery old-fashioned fountain pen script:
“To my mother from The Author.”

And I also have here beside me Uncle D’s self-published memoir of his boyhood, inscribed in that same hand, to me! —
“to Jennifer whose grandparents Alice and Ira were born and raised in the Blue Ridge Mountains, Henry D Barker”

Here is what he wrote about Haiti in the epilogue: Read the rest of this entry »





Thinking of Damien Middleton Tonight, With Love

4 12 2009

Brandon on FaceBook reminded us just as we were leaving for the Dance Studio, that this was the day three years ago, that the kids Learned the Hard Way what it was like to lose our dear, dear Damien . . .

Our children are neither schooled nor churched, but they both were drawn to and “belong” within an extended family of artists and performers centered around their dance studio.

This week the learning is especially hard and especially personal.