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I can generally understand why the media has to report it when Trump calls for crazy things like “total and complete shutdown of Muslims entering the United States” or says things like “the truth is that men are tired of liberty.” (Oops, that last one was someone else.)

But really, newspeople?  

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I have a pretty typical party-line view of most vehicles for female objectification in pop culture.  I.e., I think it’s shameful how women are held to ridiculous standards of beauty.  However, I sometimes come across a feminist critique of something or other that makes me wonder whether any praise for female beauty is objectionable because we’re not appreciating someone in the same breath for other laudable qualities.  Check out this article.  Am I off-base in being puzzled?

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63573269907666568474535520_baby-with-ipad1.imgopt1000x70Call me a skeptic but I’m still not convinced that giving iPads to young kids will improve educational outcomes.  Quite the contrary.  I’m seeing a lot of stuff suggesting that the whole endeavor has been, in many ways, worthless.*  More troubling are the potential counterproductive effects:

I placed an iPad into the outstretched hands of each of my third-grade students, and a reverent, tech-induced hush descended on our classroom. We were circled together on our gathering rug, just finished with a conversation about “digital citizenship” and “online safety” and “our school district bought us these iPads to help us learn, so we are using them for learning purposes.” They’d nodded vigorously, thrilled by the thought of their very own iPads to take home every night and bring to school every day…

That was the first of many moments when I wished I could send the iPads back.

Some adult ears might welcome a room of hushed 8-year-olds, but teachers of young children know that the chatter in a typical elementary classroom is what makes it a good place to learn. Yes, it’s sometimes too loud. These young humans are not great conversationalists. They are often hurting someone’s feelings or getting hurt, misunderstanding or overreacting or completely missing the point. They need time to learn communication skills — how to hold your own and how to get along with others. They need to talk and listen and talk some more at school, both with peers and with adults who can model conversation skills.

The iPads subtly undermined that important work. My lively little kids stopped talking and adopted the bent-neck, plugged-in posture of tap, tap, swipe.

Check out this study by the OECD:

The Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development looked at school tech initiatives in more than three dozen countries (although not the United States) and found that while students who use computers moderately show modest gains over those who rarely do, heavy technology use has a negative impact. “Students who use computers very frequently at school do a lot worse in most learning outcomes, even after accounting for social background and student demographics,” the report concluded.

In a country locked in the grip of paranoid helicopter parents who spray Lysol on toys and keep kids off the playground, doesn’t anyone else find it a bit odd that we’re so predisposed to continually experiment on our children-turned-guinea-pigs without first having a strong body of evidence to support larding on the newest education fad du jour?

* Leaving aside the obvious enticements to bribery and graft inherent in enormous technology procurement contracts…


f4b4c944b8be152236ddfbafcc9da630Click over to a must-read post from James Hansen, one of the top climate scientists in the field.  This bit got me to thinking back to something:

The scientific community agrees on a crucial fact: we must leave most remaining fossil fuels in the ground, or our children and future generations are screwed.

I thought back to Chris Hayes’ brilliant 2014 piece in The Atlantic, The New Abolitionism.  It described how asking oil companies to abandon $20 trillion+ of oil reserves was basically what we asked slaveholders to do in the lead-up to the Civil War, with slaves/slavery at that time worth around $10 trillion, in adjusted terms.

The leaders of slave power were fighting a movement of dispossession. The abolitionists told them that the property they owned must be forfeited, that all the wealth stored in the limbs and wombs of their property would be taken from them. Zeroed out. Imagine a modern-day political movement that contended that mutual funds and 401(k)s, stocks and college savings accounts were evil institutions that must be eliminated completely, more or less overnight. This was the fear that approximately 400,000 Southern slaveholders faced on the eve of the Civil War…

In order to get a true sense of how much wealth the South held in bondage, it makes far more sense to look at slavery in terms of the percentage of total economic value it represented at the time. And by that metric, it was colossal. In 1860, slaves represented about 16 percent of the total household assets—that is, all the wealth—in the entire country, which in today’s terms is a stunning $10 trillion…

Given the fluctuations of fuel prices, it’s a bit tricky to put an exact price tag on how much money all that unexcavated [oil in the ground] would be worth, but one financial analyst puts the price at somewhere in the ballpark of $20 trillion. So in order to preserve a roughly habitable planet, we somehow need to convince or coerce the world’s most profitable corporations and the nations that partner with them to walk away from $20 trillion of wealth. Since all of these numbers are fairly complex estimates, let’s just say, for the sake of argument, that we’ve overestimated the total amount of carbon and attendant cost by a factor of 2. Let’s say that it’s just $10 trillion.

The last time in American history that some powerful set of interests relinquished its claim on $10 trillion of wealth was in 1865—and then only after four years and more than 600,000 lives lost in the bloodiest, most horrific war we’ve ever fought.

The underlying point is pretty unassailable.  We’re screwed.

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Something that needles me to no end:

Trump and Carson … received similar “trust” ratings for several questions in the Reuters/Ipsos survey.  Only on economic issues did Trump take a commanding lead, earning 59 percent for his ability to manage the economy.

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Further to Lev’s post, even though I know there are always deeper depths of depravity to which Republicans will inevitably sink, sometimes I really do get blindsided by how much worse it’s gotten:

GOP presidential front-runner Donald Trump believes that the war on terror will require unprecedented surveillance of America’s Muslims.

“We’re going to have to do thing that we never did before,” he said during a Yahoo interview. “Some people are going to be upset about it, but I think that now everybody is feeling that security is going to rule,” Trump said… “We’re going to have to do things that were frankly unthinkable a year ago.”

Trump would not rule out warrantless searches in his plans for increased surveillance of the nation’s Muslims, Yahoo reported Thursday. He also remained open toward registering U.S. Muslims in a database or giving them special identification identifying their faith, the news outlet added.

We’re so used to hearing about the insane things these sociopaths say. But things like this are really horrifying. Why not a scarlet letter? Yellow armbands? Internment camps? How far can we go?

It’s awful enough for Republicans to say these things, it’s even worse that they aren’t a fringe far-right party with poll numbers in the single digits. We Americans can be a truly awful people sometimes.


Just too awesome:

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