Friday, May 15, 2009

Surfs up

Today at alternet Fred Branfan had an article that touched on something that Woody at the well armed lamb mentioned the other night when we got together with private buffoon.
In Is Humanity Suicidal? E. O. Wilson, one of Earth’s leading biologists, wrote: "People place themselves first, family second, tribe third, and the rest of the world a distant fourth. During all but the last few millennia of the two million years of [their] existence ... a premium was placed on close attention to the near future … So today the human mind still works comfortably backward and forward only a few years." This is a precise description of how America and the world have reached its present crisis. Powerful elites have preyed upon the poor and gullible to destroy national economies and even their own companies, enriching themselves at the expense of others. Now, only a dramatic transformation without precedent in human experience—changing from modes of competition to cooperation, consumption to investment and short- to long-term thinking—can save the species.

Woody repeated that thought from the other night on his blog.
Depressions are useful to the Elites: they provide the legal cover for them to recover from the proles all the goods and other forms of wealth that have escaped them, so that it can be recycled and resold when there is a turn-around.
Worked every time so far, so there's no particular doubt that it'll work now, too...

I really love his header quote: "Democracy is two wolves and a lamb voting on what to have for dinner. Liberty is a well-armed lamb contesting the vote." --(Attributed to) Benjamin Franklin

In today's Huffington post Naomi Klein and Avi Lewis talk about how people all over the world are fighting back. The process of sit-ins and protests about being laid off started in Argentina a decade ago, but it is now world wide with much of the same successes. Here's an  example of what's happening in America (we're calling it populism):

And then there's the famous Republic Windows and Doors story: 260 workers occupied their plant for 6 world-shaking days in Chicago last December. With a savvy campaign against the company's biggest creditor, Bank of America ("You got bailed out, we got sold out!") and massive international solidarity, they won the severance they were owed. And more - the plant is re-opening under new ownership, making energy-efficient windows with all the workers hired back at their old wages.

And this week, Chicago is making it a trend. Hartmarx is 122-year old company that makes business suits, including the navy blue number that Barack Obama wore on election night, and his inaugural tuxedo and topcoat.

The business is in bankruptcy. Its biggest creditor is Wells Fargo, recipient of 25 billion public dollars in bailout money. While there are 2 offers on the table to buy the company and keep it operating, Wells Fargo wants to liquidate it. On Monday, 650 workers voted to occupy their Chicago factory if the bank goes ahead with liquidation. 

Russ over at private buffoon is optimistic about changes in our drug war policy.  Arianna's article in today's Huffington complains that the new Drug Czar is talking the right way, he's still walking with hobnail boots.

Michael Prescott ventured back into the realm of politics confident that Obama's creating such a huge national debt will bring the Republicans back to life. He may be right. Americans have only a fifteen second memory. The fact that almost all of the mess Obama is trying to clean up was caused by Bushco may be forgotten by 2010.

Anything Adirondac echoed private buffoons thought from the other night that Obama is biding his time and strategically setting up the issue of investigations and prosecutions for torture so as to seem to be responding the public demand. The fact that he's keeping kangaroo courts (military tribunals) for our terror detainees doesn't give me the same optimism.

Damian Whitworth has an article entitled, Is History So Horrible? The website is from England so the arguments deal with a different educational system, but some of his arguments make sense here too. 1. History needs to be taken more seriously, that the emphasis on math, science, basket weaving, feeling good about yourself, etc has shoved history out of the elementary and middle schools, by the time students encounter history classes they don't have a solid basis for understanding. 2. It needs to be presented in an interesting manner 3. There needs to be hands on, field trip, real world instruction.

My only complaint with the article is that outsiders always think the panacea for improving education is more technology. Makes you wonder how Socrates, Plato, Aristotle, Jesus, Confucius, and all the other great teachers over the centuries educated without smart boards, DVD players, and Sesame Street. The problem with technology is that it gets old very fast. In the 1950's there was a movie called Black Board Jungle. A teacher who had trouble getting his students to pay attention shows a cartoon with a 16mm projector, and miracle of miracles the kids are interested. By the 1960's all schools had 16mm projectors and many teachers only function was to turn them on and fix the film when it broke. By the 1980's all those old reel to reel films were transferred to video. In the 1990's it was computers. Today we have DVD players for movies and documentaries, computers to surf the web, power point presentations provided by the book publisher so you don't have to come up with your own lecture, and many other new gadgets. And for each of the new technologies ( all of which I gladly use) the students were interested in for about one or two years, and then it becomes routine and they shut down. Isn't it time we stopped treating students like a baby in the crib that has to be pacified with rattling car keys?

 By the way I'd like to have a copy of the DVD on the battle of Hastings and a link to the video game.

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