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robertogreco : 1993   17

Revisiting Mike Davis' case for letting Malibu burn - Los Angeles Times
"During fire season, I always think about Mike Davis, author of one of the most — pardon the pun — incendiary essays in the annals of SoCal letters: “The Case for Letting Malibu Burn.” I return to this chapter from his book “Ecology of Fear” any time that the Santa Ana winds howl and thousands flee raging infernos — a ritual that used to happen every couple of years but now seems to happen every couple of months.

“The Case for Letting Malibu Burn” is a powerhouse of history, science, Marxist analysis — and a certain amount of trolling. Its main point is that Southern Californians will never accept that fire is not only common here, but part of our ecology going back centuries. To spend millions saving homes in areas never meant for neighborhoods and power lines is not just folly, but a waste of public resources.

This time around, as California burned from the north to the south, I checked in via email with Davis, now professor emeritus at UC Riverside. He’s best known for his literary double whammy against Los Angeles exceptionalism: 1990’s “City of Quartz” and 1998’s “Ecology of Fear.” Those books made the Los Angeles of “Chinatown” seem as sinister as Mayberry. Davis’ tales of racism, poverty, corruption and other sins — backed by copious footnotes — inspired a generation of radical historians and writers, including yours truly. He also riled an army of detractors who so hated his apocalyptic warnings that they ridiculed everything from his scholarship to his marriages to the fact that he was born in Fontana.

But as the years go on, Davis’ bleak words read more like revelations than rants. Just as he argued, we build deeper into canyons and foothills, daring Mother Nature to give us her best shot — and then are shocked when she does.

The Woolsey fire has already scorched more than 96,000 acres in Ventura and Los Angeles counties, destroying 435 structures in Malibu and other cities. It’s yet another “fire of the century” for the beach city.

“Maybe 10 or 20 years ago, you stayed in your homes when there was a fire and you were able to protect them,” Ventura County Fire Chief Mark Lorenzen said during a news conference this weekend. “We’re entering a new normal. Things are not the way they were 10 years ago.”

In other words, we now live in Mike Davis’ world. He has ascended to the pantheon of Golden State visionary authors like Helen Hunt Jackson, Upton Sinclair and Carey McWilliams who held up a mirror to us that we have ignored at our own peril.

“The Case for Letting Malibu Burn” depicted Malibu and other wealthy cities built in the boonies as created not for “love of the great outdoors or frontier rusticity,” but rather as “thickets of privacy” against L.A.’s working classes and people of color.

We enable this white flight into the mountains, he argued, by not just allowing development where there shouldn’t be any, but also subsidizing those affected by the inevitable wildfire in the form of cheap fire insurance and squadrons of first responders deployed around the clock at the hint of an ember.

He went through a litany of Malibu blazes over the last century, concluding with the Old Topanga blaze of 1993 — which consumed about 18,000 acres but destroyed 323 structures. Throw in climate change, Davis noted in a version of his essay that appeared in the L.A. Weekly, and the catastrophe “marked a qualitative escalation in fire danger, if not the actual emergence of a new, post-suburban fire regime.”

And, almost exactly 25 years later, here we are again.

Davis’ work on Malibu’s flames has aged far better than the criticism of it. Chapman University urban studies fellow Joel Kotkin, for instance, said of “Ecology of Fear” back in the 1990s that it “basically mugs Los Angeles” and is “truly nauseating stuff.” Yet by 2007, Kotkin told the Economist, in an article about the fires that fall that wreaked havoc from San Diego to Santa Barbara, that “nature still has a lot of power” in the once-unspoiled areas where we build homes — which is what Davis contended all along.

Then there’s former Malibu real estate agent Brady Westwater, who refashioned himself as a downtown L.A. booster. You couldn’t write about “Ecology of Fear” for years without mentioning Westwater, who hounded reporters with screeds and stats about Davis’ real and alleged errors until the press finally began to cite him as a legitimate critic.

In his own 1998 essay (whose titled described Davis as a “purposefully misleading liar”), Westwater predicted that “fire damage will decrease over the years” in Malibu because of better infrastructure and better-built homes. Of the Old Topanga disaster, he plainly declared: “That kind of fire can never happen again.”

And yet here we are again.

Davis remains persona non grata in Malibu, from Neptune’s Net to Pepperdine University. Malibuites took “The Case…” as a direct attack on their beliefs and ways of life.

Davis takes no satisfaction in seeing his analysis come true all over again. But the author, who’s recovering from cancer, stands by what he wrote.

“I’m infamous for suggesting that the broader public should not have to pay a cent to protect or rebuild mansions on sites that will inevitably burn every 20 or 25 years,” he told me. “My opinion hasn’t changed.”"
mikedavis  2018  malibu  losangeles  california  fires  whiteflight  suburbs  nature  wildfires  socal  class  race  racism  development  1990s  1993  1998  bradywestwater  helenhuntjackson  uptonsinclair  careymcwilliams  joelkotkin  inequality 
november 2018 by robertogreco
Bodied | NGV
"These are not silly questions as much as it is silly to ask any question of whiteness. Wherever you and I are in space and time, see my hand wrist-deep inside my body, rooting around for the part of me that would stand in front of an Indiana courthouse and throb for Mike and not for myself, that would call that woman a liar. I would have to tear at that part roughly again and again, although I would like to excise it cleanly. My fantasy is its muffled thud into the tin of a medical bowl: a bloody fibroid, veiny womb-muscle, attached to nothing, growing entirely out of place."
2018  dericashileds  missyelliott  anitahill  desireewashington  billclinton  ronaldreagan  bodies  race  gender  clarencethomas  1997  1991  miketyson  1995  1992  music  hiphop  1993  2001  welfare  lindataylor  1996  saidyahartman  liberalism  us  exclusion  marginalization  citicalracetheory  abuse  hortensespillers  economics  politics  policy  racism  sexism  feminism  body 
january 2018 by robertogreco
Plastic Words — davidcayley.com
"In his book Deschooling Society (1971), Ivan Illich briefly alluded to a class of words "so flexible that they cease to be useful." "Like an amoeba," he said, "they fit into almost any interstice of the language." Two years later, in Tools for Conviviality, Illich wrote that language had come to "reflect the monopoly of the industrial mode of production over perception and motivation." He urged " rediscovery of language" as a personal and poetic medium. But Illich made no detailed analysis of how language had been industrialized. Then, in 1981, he became one of the first group of fellows at the new Wissenschaftkolleg, or Institute for Advanced Studies in Berlin. Among his colleagues was Uwe Pörksen, a professor of German literature from the University of Freiburg. The two became friends, and one of the things they discussed was the empty word husks that Illich had first called amoebas. Pörksen renamed them plastic words and undertook a detailed study of the phenomenon, Seven years later in 1988, he published Plastikwörter: Die Sprache einer Internationalen Diktatur (The Language of an International Dictatorship.)

Pörksen argued that plastic words are not merely the clichés, slogans and hackneyed expressions against which commentators like George Orwell ("Politics and the English Language") or James Thurber ("The Psychosemanticist Will See You Now, Mr. Thurber") had railed. They form a distinct class, numbering not many more than thirty or forty. The list includes obviously puffed up words like communication, sexuality, and information, but also less obtrusive terms like problem, factor, and role. Together, Pörksen says, they compose a Lego-like, modular lingo which bulldozes all the merely local and historical features of language and paves the way to the shining city of universal development.

I learned of Pörksen's work from Illich, when I went to State College, Pennsylvania to record interviews with Illich in 1988. At the time, it had briefly become the playful custom in his household to ostentatiously clear one's throat whenever one found it necessary to pronounce a plastic word. I was intrigued and eager to present Pörksen's research to my Canadian radio audience, but there were several problems: his book wasn't translated, I didn't speak German, and Pörksen had only limited English. My German-born wife, Jutta Mason, solved the first problem by making a rough translation of the German text, and, in time, as we got to know each other, Uwe agreed to attempt the interview. It was recorded in Barbara Duden's house in Bremen in 1992. Jutta joined us, to boost Uwe's confidence and help with translation as needed, but, in the event, the occasion seemed to inspire a rudimentary but powerful eloquence in Uwe, and no translation was needed.

The edited interview, which follows, was broadcast on Ideas early in 1993. Jutta's translation also became the basis for an English edition, pictured above, of Plastic Words. Uwe came and stayed with us for a week in Toronto, and he and Jutta and I together worked over the English text, until it was ready for publication by the Penn State Press in 1995. Good reviews never led to much of a readership for a book that I think deserves to be better known, but it remains available."
davidcayley  deschooling  ivanillich  2017  toolsforconviviality  unschooling  jargon  meaning  language  uwepörksen  1993  1988  georgeorwell  jamesthurber  communication  clarity  conviviality 
may 2017 by robertogreco
California Today: A Chronicler of the State, in His Own Words - The New York Times
"Here are just a few highlights from Mr. Starr’s prose and interviews:

On recurring natural disasters (Los Angeles Times, Oct. 31, 1993)
Southern California has used technology to materialize an imagined society of garden cities and suburbs. Now and then, it must pay a price for its reordering of the environment.

On diversity (San Diego Union-Tribune, Sept. 10, 2000):
Is there any people on the planet, any language, any religion not represented in California this very morning? ... This diversity, then, is the persistent DNA code of California.

On California’s rising Latino population (New York Times, March 31, 2001):
The Anglo hegemony was only an intermittent phase in California’s arc of identity, extending from the arrival of the Spanish.

On the Central Valley (“Coast of Dreams,” 2004):
Mesopotamia, the rice fields of China, the Po Valley: the Central Valley stood in a long line of irrigation cultures which had, in turn, given birth to civilization itself.

On California at the millennium (“California: A History,” 2005):
California had long since become one of the prisms through which the American people, for better and for worse, could glimpse their future.

On the drought (The New York Times, April 4, 2005):
Mother Nature didn’t intend for 40 million people to live here.

On the Golden Gate Bridge (“Golden Gate,” 2010):
Like the Parthenon, the Golden Gate Bridge seems Platonic in its perfection, as if the harmonies and resolutions of creation as understood by mathematics and abstract thought have been effortlessly materialized through engineering design.
"
kevinstarr  california  diversity  socal  demographics  technology  history  identity  2017  2010  2005  2004  2001  2000  1993  drought  environment  goldengatebridge  engineering  infrastructure  mesopotamia  irrigation  civilization  society  latinos  future 
january 2017 by robertogreco
Winds From The East: Sensei and I- Kiarostami meets Kurosawa
"Kurosawa had written a favorable commentary in the publicity leaflet that accompanies the public screening in Tokyo of Where is the friend’s Home? And Life Goes On..., “I believe the films of Iranian filmmaker Abbas Kiarostami are extraordinary. Words cannot relate my feelings. I suggest you his films; and then you will see what I mean. Satyajit Ray passed away and I got very upset. But having watched Kiarostami’s films, I thank god because now we have a good substitute for him. Recently, in the face of the decline of cinema in developed countries, nations with little experience in the area of filmmaking have produced valuable works; and I have to think about this more seriously after seeing Kiarostami’s films. “An unprecedented comment by Kurosawa who seldom talks about other director’s films. In fact, during the past 43 years he has only about the works of Andrei Tarkvosky, John Cassavetes, Satyajit Ray and now Abbas Kiarostami.

Late in September 1993, Abbas Kiarostami and I held a two and a half hour long meeting with the renowned Japanese maestro Akira Kurosawa in Tokyo. Kurosawa’s daughter opens the door and we see a tall and strong Kurosawa approaching in pink and beige. Later on we find out that on the occasion of his meeting with Kiarostami the Japanese master has forget about his beloved colorful T-shirts and consented to put on a more formal pink blouse. All of us seem to be overwhelmed by Kurosawa’s grandeur when he shows us to the second floor study with its black leather furniture, mild lighting and an Oscar statue. Other decorations in the room are some Iranian copper-ware, a photo of Kurosawa’s wife and Japanese painting on the wall.

“I was in Cannes when you too, were there” it is Kurosawa who opens the discussion, “of course, I had not seen your films then. “And Kiarostami continues, “I had the chance to see your Madadayo in Cannes and you were sitting two rows ahead of me. It was a great opportunity to see you and your film at once. You may not know how popular you are in my country. Both the intellectuals and ordinary people like your works. In fact, you and the late Alfred Hitchcock are the most popular foreign filmmakers in Iran. Once one of the officials at the Iranian film industry said that you and Tarkvosky were the only foreign filmmakers whose film compiled with the value system of Iranian arts. I wish I could share the joy of meeting you with others in Iran”.

Kurosawa said, “I was a friend of Tarkvosky. Our friendship started during a visit to Moscow. I was twice invited to Iran more than a decade ago to join the jury of the Tehran International film festival. But I don’t like to judge the films. It’s too difficult a job for me. I understand you were a member of the jury in Yamagata, wasn’t it difficult?”

“Yes, it is always difficult particularly when there are no certain criteria. Every time I act as a juror, I tell myself that I would never do that again. But any new invitation creates a new temptation…and it’s always impossible to resist when you are tempted to set out for a trip. It is always nice to do something contrary to what you used to; and I won’t miss any opportunity,” says Kiarostami

Kurosawa says, “I agree with you, but it is really difficult for me to embark on any trip. My legs are aching and official trips impose limitation on you. You have to accept anything that has been planned for you. In fact you do not travel. They take you from one place to another”, says Kurosawa, but Kiarostami promises to plan his visit to Iran the way he likes it, if he ever sets out for the trip; which is quite unlikely. Yet he is curious about Iran. “I’m sure there are other good filmmakers in Iran. However, what I like about your films is their simplicity and fluency, although it is really hard to describe them. One has to see them. It is strange how you work with non-professional actors. How do you work particularly with children?” asks Kurosawa. “The best answer to your question would be that I simply don’t know”, says Kiarostami, I learned this from you and I use it more easily since I first listened to you saying this at last year’s Tokyo film festival. Sometimes, non-professional actors’ performance surprises me. Of course there are certain rules for everything, but what you gain is not always necessarily the outcome of rules.

Kurosawa believes it is very interesting and at the same time difficult. “Although working with professionals, too, is not so easy. You have to crush them with every film and build them anew. That is why working with professional actors is difficult”. - he says. Kiarostami says that he has heard how Kurosawa has treated the veteran actor who played in his latest film. “Everyone was obviously worried about the old man’s health,” he says.

Kurosawa laughs, “I had no other way but to do that, you have to trim an actor’s personality if you expect an excellent performance. To do that, I have to be a little bit violent and exert pressure on them. Have you ever worked with professionals? ”

“I’ve had a fresh experience with a professional actor in my latest film. As you said, they stick to their previous roles. A peril that threatens us, too. Sometimes, we tend use an idea that we have had for our previous films but failed to actualize. As someone has said, one wouldn’t get old if s/he could forget her or his experiences. If we could forget our experience our film may not be flawless, but they will certainly be fresh. Veteran actors are powerfully experienced, but alas, they are no longer fresh; and it is difficult to make them return to their credo human feelings,” reasons Abbas Kiarostami.

Akira Kurosawa confirms that he too, has to face the same problem. “In order to grasp this feeling of integrity I use long takes using a theatrical style even when what I really want is a brief piece of action. What makes it difficult in the movies is cutting. Sometimes the problem comes from the fact that two actors cannot act in collaboration with each other. When one of them acts really well, this adversely affects the others performance. And when the latter improves, the former is too tired. The most serious problem with an actor is that he does not really listen to the person acting in front of him. He is in fact preparing himself for the next line. You usually see no reaction in an actor’s face of what he is seeing or hearing. So I take long takes with several cameras. Actors usually do not know which camera is filming them, so they lose their sensitivity to the camera that is taking a close up. This makes their acting more natural, “says Kurosawa.

Kiarostami on the other than exclaims that many of his films have been harshly criticized for being natural. “Critics believe that the stage and the screen are sacred, so no one should commit anything ordinary there. In their eyes naturalism is commonplace. They say everything must be exaggerated, as they believe your films are.”

Kurosawa laughs in surprise, “Maybe my actors’ behavior look exaggerated in your country, but they are definitely natural here. Cultural differences must not be taken for exaggeration. I have to say that I honestly enjoyed watching your films. They include appreciation for your working style. How do you work with children, in particular? They do not feel at home in my films and keep watching me in a discreet way”.

Kiarostami explains “Maybe that’s because you are Kurosawa. The children that work for me hardly know me. During the actual filming I try to pretend that I’m not the governor. Usually I ask the crew to judge about their acting. Of course, every needs a special trick, sometimes it is another story.”

“This is the cinema that must be supported and taken seriously. My children and grandchildren never see American films. They have their own boycotting system which rules out violent films. I wish this humanistic cinema could stand against all vulgarity,” says Kurosawa. He adds, “I’m sure good films are being made everywhere. But filmmaking in Europe and the States is going backwards while good films are being made in Asia and finding their way to International film festivals. The global screen is not for the films of only one country. Films make their viewers familiar with the cultural settings of their country of origins. If they are made according to a national culture then they will be welcomed abroad. My grandchildren and I made ourselves familiar with Iran and her people with your films.”

“You have said that films must be made with hearts and seen with hearts,” says Kiarostami. And Kurosawa admits that “ Yes, I did; unfortunately most Japanese people see films with brains and try to find flaws in it . Sometimes, critics ask questions for which I have no answer, because I have not thought about the matter when I was making the film. Films must be rather felt, but there are little feelings in recent films. “ Kiarostami says that maybe filmmakers have built up a kind of bad taste among viewers.” They have misled their tastes, “he says, and Kurosawa believes that maybe the offering of old films on laser disks could make viewers familiar with more healthy cinema.

Kurosawa then talks about the similarity between the opening scene of Madadyo and Kiarostami’s Where is the friend’s Home? “Apparently we have many things in common, “he observes; and Kiarostami once again stressed that Kurosawa is far more famous. And Kurosawa modestly tells Kiarostami that how he painted the shadows of things in Dodeskaden because he was not financially capable of waiting for a brighter day. “Both of us tend to be attached to our locations even after the end of filming our movies,” says Kurosawa. “Every time it is so sad to say goodbye to the protagonists of a film that’s finished.”

Both of the filmmakers agree that those who look for flaws in films deprives themselves the joy watching a film, “ My painting teacher used to tell me to look at the … [more]
akirakurosawa  abbaskiarostami  1993  film  filmmaking  andreitarkovsky  johncassavetes  satyajitray  shorehgolparian 
july 2016 by robertogreco
Education at Risk: Fallout from a Flawed Report | Edutopia
"Nearly a quarter century ago, "A Nation at Risk" hit our schools like a brick dropped from a penthouse window. One problem: The landmark document that still shapes our national debate on education was misquoted, misinterpreted, and often dead wrong."



"Once launched, the report, which warned of "a rising level of mediocrity," took off like wildfire. During the next month, the Washington Post alone ran some two dozen stories about it, and the buzz kept spreading. Although Reagan counselor (and, later, attorney general) Edwin Meese III urged him to reject the report because it undermined the president's basic education agenda -- to get government out of education -- White House advisers Jim Baker and Michael Deaver argued that "A Nation at Risk" provided good campaign fodder.

Reagan agreed, and, in his second run for the presidency, he gave fifty-one speeches calling for tough school reform. The "high political payoff," Bell wrote in his memoir, "stole the education issue from Walter Mondale -- and it cost us nothing."

What made "A Nation at Risk" so useful to Reagan? For one thing, its language echoed the get-tough rhetoric of the growing conservative movement. For another, its diagnosis lent color to the charge that, under liberals, American education had dissolved into a mush of self-esteem classes.

In truth, "A Nation at Risk" could have been read as almost any sort of document. Basically, it just called for "More!" -- more science, more math, more art, more humanities, more social studies, more school days, more hours, more homework, more basics, more higher-order thinking, more lower-order thinking, more creativity, more everything.

The document had, however, been commissioned by the Reagan White House, so conservative Republicans controlled its interpretation and uses. What they zeroed in on was the notion of failing schools as a national-security crisis. Republican ideas for school reform became a charge against a shadowy enemy, a kind of war on mediocrity.

By the end of the decade, Republicans had erased whatever advantage Democrats once enjoyed on education and other classic "women's issues." As Peter Schrag later noted in The Nation, Reagan-era conservatives, "with the help of business leaders like IBM chairman Lou Gerstner, managed to convert a whole range of liberally oriented children's issues . . . into a debate focused almost exclusively on education and tougher-standards school reform."

The Inconvenient Sandia Report

From the start, however, some doubts must have risen about the crisis rhetoric, because in 1990, Admiral James Watkins, the secretary of energy (yes, energy), commissioned the Sandia Laboratories in New Mexico to document the decline with some actual data.

Systems scientists there produced a study consisting almost entirely of charts, tables, and graphs, plus brief analyses of what the numbers signified, which amounted to a major "Oops!" As their puzzled preface put it, "To our surprise, on nearly every measure, we found steady or slightly improving trends."

One section, for example, analyzed SAT scores between the late 1970s and 1990, a period when those scores slipped markedly. ("A Nation at Risk" spotlighted the decline of scores from 1963 to 1980 as dead-bang evidence of failing schools.) The Sandia report, however, broke the scores down by various subgroups, and something astonishing emerged. Nearly every subgroup -- ethnic minorities, rich kids, poor kids, middle class kids, top students, average students, low-ranked students -- held steady or improved during those years. Yet overall scores dropped. How could that be?

Simple -- statisticians call it Simpson's paradox: The average can change in one direction while all the subgroups change in the opposite direction if proportions among the subgroups are changing. Early in the period studied, only top students took the test. But during those twenty years, the pool of test takers expanded to include many lower-ranked students. Because the proportion of top students to all students was shrinking, the scores inevitably dropped. That decline signified not failure but rather progress toward what had been a national goal: extending educational opportunities to a broader range of the population.

By then, however, catastrophically failing schools had become a political necessity. George H.W. Bush campaigned to replace Reagan as president on a promise to confront the crisis. He had just called an education summit to tackle it, so there simply had to be a crisis.

The government never released the Sandia report. It went into peer review and there died a quiet death. Hardly anyone else knew it even existed until, in 1993, the Journal of Educational Research, read by only a small group of specialists, printed the report.

Getting Educators Out of Education

In 1989, Bush convened his education summit at the University of Virginia. Astonishingly, no teachers, professional educators, cognitive scientists, or learning experts were invited. The group that met to shape the future of American education consisted entirely of state governors. Education was too important, it seemed, to leave to educators.

School reform, as formulated by the summit, moved so forcefully onto the nation's political agenda that, in the 1992 presidential campaign, Bill Clinton had to promise to outtough Bush on education. As president, Clinton steered through Congress a bill called Goals 2000 that largely co-opted the policies that came out of the 1989 Bush summit.

After the 2000 election, George W. Bush dubbed himself America's "educator in chief," and until terrorism hijacked the national agenda, he was staking his presidency on a school-reform package known as the No Child Left Behind Act, a bill that -- as every teacher knows -- dominates the course of public education in America today."



"Reform, Not Improve
Bush Sr. launched the idea of a national education policy shaped at the federal level by politicians. Clinton sealed it, and our current president built on this foundation by introducing a punitive model for enforcing national goals. Earlier education activists had thought to achieve outcomes through targeted spending on the theory that where funding flows, school improvement flourishes. The new strategy hopes to achieve outcomes through targeted budget cutting -- on the theory that withholding money from failed programs forces them to shape up.

Which approach will actually improve education? Here, I think, language can lead us astray. In everyday life, we use reform and improve as synonyms (think: "reformed sinner"), so when we hear "school reform," we think "school improvement." Actually, reform means nothing more than "alter the form of." Whether a particular alteration is an improvement depends on what is altered and who's doing the judging. Different people will have different opinions. Every proposed change, therefore, calls for discussion.

The necessary discussion cannot be held unless the real alternatives are on the table. Today, essentially three currents of education reform compete with each other. One sees inspiration and motivation as the keys to better education. Reform in this direction starts by asking, "What will draw the best minds of our generation into teaching? What will spark great teachers to go beyond the minimum? What will motivate kids to learn and keep coming back to school?"

In this direction lie proposals for building schools around learners, gearing instruction to individual goals and learning styles, pointing education toward developing an ever-broader range of human capacities, and phasing in assessment tools that get at ever-subtler nuances of achievement. Overall, this approach promotes creative diversity as a social good.

A second current, the dominant one, sees discipline and structure as the keys to school improvement. Reform in this direction starts by asking, "What does the country need, what must all kids know to serve those needs, and how can we enforce the necessary learning?" In this direction, the curriculum comes first, schools are built around the curriculum, and students are required to fit themselves into a given structure, controlled from above. As a social good, it promotes national unity and strength. This is the road we're on now with NCLB.

A third possible direction goes back to diversity and individualism -- through privatization, including such mechanisms as tuition tax credits, vouchers (enabling students to opt out of the public school system), and home schooling. Proponents include well-funded private groups such as the Cato Institute that frankly promote a free-enterprise model for schooling: Anyone who wants education should pay for it and should have the right to buy whatever educational product he or she desires.

What's Next?
Don't be shocked if NCLB ends up channeling American education into that third current, even though it seems like part of the mainstream get-tough approach. Educational researcher Gerald Bracey, author of Reading Educational Research: How to Avoid Getting Statistically Snookered, writes in Stanford magazine that "NCLB aims to shrink the public sector, transfer large sums of public money to the private sector, weaken or destroy two Democratic power bases -- the teachers' unions -- and provide vouchers to let students attend private schools at public expense."

Why? Because NCLB is set up to label most American public schools as failures in the next six or seven years. Once a school flunks, this legislation sets parents free to send their children to a school deemed successful. But herds of students moving from failed schools to (fewer) successful ones are likely to sink the latter. And then what? Then, says NCLB, the state takes over.

And there's the rub. Can "the state" -- that is, bureaucrats -- run schools better than professional educators? What if they fail, too? What's plan C?

NCLB does not specify plan C. Apparently, that decision will be made when the time comes. But with some $… [more]
anationatrisk  2007  tamimansary  assessment  diversity  class  ronaldreagan  georgehwbush  georgewbush  nclb  policy  education  1983  1990  1993  1989  1992  2000  billclinton  sandiaeport  testing  standardizedtesting  statistics  power  politics  publischools  privatization  curriculum  rttt 
march 2015 by robertogreco
Obsolete Skill Set: The 3 Rs
"I see then a pattern of intellectual development that I shall oversimplify by casting it in three distinct phases. The first phase is one of universally successful learning. All children show a passion for interactive exploration of their immediate world. The diversity of possible activity is great enough for different individuals to find their own styles. The third phase is seen in intellectually awake adults. Here too we see a great diversity of styles. But not everyone gets there. The second phase is the narrow and dangerous passage in which many factors conspire to undermine the continuation of phase one. School is often blamed for imposing on children a uniformity that suffocates those who have developed markedly different intellectual styles; much as it used to suffocate left-handed people by forcing them to "write properly". Most of the blame is well-founded. But in these practices, schools reflect (and amplify) the poverty of media that has plagued society in the past. As long as writing was the only medium in town, schools did not have many choices.

The early and massive imposition on children of what I call "letteracy" carries risk not only because it suppresses diversity of style, but because it forces an abrupt break with the modes of learning shared by the first and third phases. New media promise the opportunity to offer a smoother transition to what really deserves to be called "literacy." Literacy should not mean the ability to decode strings of alphabetic letters. Consider a child who uses a Knowledge Machine to acquire a broad understanding of poetry (spoken), history (perhaps relived in simulations), and art and science (through computer-based labs), and thus draws on this knowledge to conduct a well-informed, highly persuasive campaign to preserve the environment. All this could happen without being letterate. If it does, should we say that the child is illiterate?

The use of the same word to mean both the mechanical ability to read as well as a rich connection with culture is one more reflection of today's paucity of media. As we enter an age in which diversity of media will allow individuals to choose their own routes to literacy, that dual meaning will pass away. For the next generation or two one must expect literacy to include some letteracy, since our culture's past is so connected with expression through writing. But even if a truly literate person of the future will be expected to know how to read books as well as understand the major trends in art history or philosophy, via whatever other media become available, it will not follow that learning the letters should be the cornerstone of elementary education.

My Knowledge Machine is a metaphor for things close enough in the future to demand serious consideration now. Although the software that can be purchased today gives only an inkling of what is to come, it should be seen in the same light as the first flight of the Wright Brothers' machine. Its importance for the future was not measured by its performance in feet of flight, but its ability to fuel the well-informed imagination. There are very few school environments in which the idea of the illetterate but literate child is plausible. The pundits of the Education Establishment have failed to provide leadership in this area. Perhaps the readers of Wired, who can see farther into the future, have a profoundly important social role in stirring up such debate."

[via: http://bengrey.com/blog/2013/10/the-space-between-where-our-role-as-teachers-changes-lives-and-learning/ ]
seymourpapert  literacy  internet  media  learning  children  curiosity  1993  howwelearn  unschooling  deschooling  culture  letteracy  knowledgemachine  illiteracy  canon  understanding  howweteach  schools  education  imagination  childhood  literacies  multiliteracies  multimedia  orality 
february 2015 by robertogreco
High modernist subjectivity gives an extraordinary... • see things differently
""High modernist subjectivity gives an extraordinary privilege … to judgement and especially to cognition…. The modern predominance of reading….

High [modernism] … furthermore … privileges the cognitive and moral over the aesthetic and the libidinal, the ego over the id, the visual over touch, and discursive over figural communication.

…the individual [is] somehow ‘closed’ instead of open; to be somehow obsessed with self-mastery and self-domination."

Lash, S. & Friedman, J. (Eds.). (1993). Modernity & Identity. Massachusetts: Blackwell, pg. 5"

[See also: http://linguisticcapital.wordpress.com/2011/11/05/modernism-in-the-streets/

"High modernist subjectivity gives an extraordinary privilege, for example, to judgement and especially to cognition. It correspondingly devalues the faculty of perception, so that vision itself is so to speak colonized by cognition. The modern predominance of reading fosters epistemologies of representation, of a visual paradigm in the sphere of art [...]. High modernist subjectivity seems furthermore to privilege the cognitive and moral over the aesthetic and the libidinal, the ego over the id, the visual over touch, and discursive over figural communication. It gives primacy to culture over nature, to the individual over the community, As an ethics of responsibility, high modernist personality and Lebensfürung [life-course] it allows the individual to be somehow ‘closed’ instead of open; to be somehow obsessed with self-mastery and self-domination."

Lash, S. & Friedman, J. (Eds.). (1993). Modernity & Identity. Massachusetts: Blackwell, pg. 5]
modernism  highmodernism  bias  cognition  morality  aesthetics  libidinal  ego  id  visual  senses  touch  discursion  figurative  communication  reading  literacy  gutenbergparenthesis  self-mastery  self-domination  modernity  identity  1993 
october 2014 by robertogreco
Wears Jump Suit. Sensible Shoes. Uses Husband's Last Name. (originally titled "Marked Women, Unmarked Men") by Deborah Tannen, NY Times Magazine, June 20, 1993
"As I amused myself finding coherence in these styles, I suddenly wondered why I was scrutinizing only the women. I scanned the eight men at the table. And then I knew why I wasn't studying them. The men's styles were unmarked.

THE TERM "MARKED" IS a staple of linguistic theory. It refers to the way language alters the base meaning of a word by adding a linguistic particle that has no meaning on its own. The unmarked form of a word carries the meaning that goes without saying -- what you think of when you're not thinking anything special.

The unmarked tense of verbs in English is the present -- for example, visit. To indicate past, you mark the verb by adding ed to yield visited. For future, you add a word: will visit. Nouns are presumed to be singular until marked for plural, typically by adding s or es, so visit becomes visits and dish becomes dishes.

The unmarked forms of most English words also convey "male." Being male is the unmarked case. Endings like ess and ette mark words as "female." Unfortunately, they also tend to mark them for frivolousness. Would you feel safe entrusting your life to a doctorette? Alfre Woodard, who was an Oscar nominee for best supporting actress, says she identifies herself as an actor because "actresses worry about eyelashes and cellulite, and women who are actors worry about the characters we are playing." Gender markers pick up extra meanings that reflect common associations with the female gender: not quite serious, often sexual.

Each of the women at the conference had to make decisions about hair, clothing, makeup and accessories, and each decision carried meaning. Every style available to us was marked. The men in our group had made decisions, too, but the range from which they chose was incomparably narrower. Men can choose styles that are marked, but they don't have to, and in this group none did. Unlike the women, they had the option of being unmarked."



"To say anything about women and men without marking oneself as either feminist or anti-feminist, male-basher or apologist for men seems as impossible for a woman as trying to get dressed in the morning without inviting interpretations of her character. Sitting at the conference table musing on these matters, I felt sad to think that we women didn't have the freedom to be unmarked that the men sitting next to us had. Some days you just want to get dressed and go about your business. But if you're a woman, you can't, because there is no unmarked woman."
clothing  fashion  feminism  gender  language  linguistics  1993  via:kissane  women  hair  presentationofself 
january 2014 by robertogreco
The Electronic Labyrinth Home Page
"The Electronic Labyrinth is a study of the implications of hypertext for creative writers looking to move beyond traditional notions of linearity.

Our project evaluates hypertext and its potential for use by literary artists in three ways:

1. By placing the development of hypertext in the context of the literary tradition of non-linear approaches to narrative. This context provides a means of re-evaluating the concept of the book in the age of electronic text. Specific points of investigation include Cortázar's Hopscotch, Nabokov's Pale Fire, Pavic's Dictionary of the Khazars, and Sterne's Tristram Shandy.

2. By investigating literary works created specifically for computerized hypertext. These include Joyce's Afternoon, A Story, McDaid's Uncle Buddy's Phantom Funhouse, and Wilmott's Everglade.

3. By evaluating the hardware platforms and software environments available to writers. Criteria include ease of use, availability, methods of distribution and publication, and the tools available to the writer and reader. Our emphasis is placed on the assumptions each environment makes of the writing and reading processes, the metaphors reinforced by the environment, and the freedom allowed the writer to explore new forms. We have focused on IBM-compatible and Apple hardware platforms, and reviewed such software as Eastgate System's Storyspace, Claris' HyperCard, IBM's Linkway, and Ntergaid's Hyperwriter."
via:litherland  1993  christopherkeep  timmclaughlin  robinparmar  storyspace  linkway  hyperwriter  hypercard  jamesjoyce  hypertext  bookfuturism  ebooks  books  publishing  nonlinear  narrative  rayuela  juliocortázar  vladimirnabokov  electroniclabyrinth  non-linear  alinear  linearity 
december 2013 by robertogreco
Eye Magazine | Opinion | Are you sure you need that new logo?
"Item: Last year, in the remote town of Sylhet, in the north-east corner of Bangladesh, I hailed a cycle-ricksha and asked to be taken to the house of my friend Abdul Khaled Kayed in the district of Ambar Khana. I didn’t even know the street he lived in, let alone the number of the house. ‘No problem,’ said the ricksha driver, though he had never heard of my friend and was not familiar with the district. We proceeded by means of a series of encounters with shopkeepers, cafe waiters and fellow ricksha drivers, each one taking us a little closer to our destination. It was a leisurely, somewhat erratic journey. Each conversation was interesting and enjoyable, including invitations to take tea, to describe my house in Camden Town and to discuss the meaning of life; I was almost sorry when we finally arrived at my friend’s house. If there were any street signs to be seen during the journey I didn’t notice them, nor did my driver consult them.

Item: In her book New Lives, New Landscapes (1970), the late Nan Fairbrother showed two photographs of the main street of Suffolk village of Lavenham. The first is of the street festooned with telephone wires and power cables. The second shows exactly the same viewpoint, taken after a successful campaign to remove the overhead wires. The improvement is startling. The Civic Trust Award, so often given to commemorate the application of lettering to shopfronts and offices, or the addition of suitably designed concrete tubs with suitable plants to enhance the village square, was here given to a scheme whose sole purpose was subtraction."



"Item: When I set up my Graphic Design business 30 years ago, one of our first clients was a prestigious furniture maker who wanted a complete graphic styling job: stationery range, information sheets, showroom graphics, vehicle livery and promotional pieces. When we presented our proposals, the managing director was duly impressed and gave us an immediate go-ahead. Then he said, ‘I particularly like the name style for the company, but perhaps we’ll hold on to that until you come up with your proposal for the symbol to go with it.’ When I told him we considered the name style to be quite adequate as an identity device and had no plans for including a symbol, he was much taken aback. ‘But we’ve always had a symbol,’ he said, ‘and anyway, I thought you would insist on us having one.’ After some to-ing and fro-ing we agreed he would think about it. At the end of a nail-biting week, he phoned back to say he was entirely reconciled to not having a symbol. ‘A much more elegant solution,’ he said. ‘And it kills two birds with one stone. We won’t have to bother about all the problems of symbols – when to use them and when not, how small can they be without becoming mere blobs, how big without looking bloated. And we save the sizeable fee you’d be charging us if you did design it.’

There’s the rub. How do we charge for convincing our clients not to have some graphic indulgence they have set their hearts on? And even more difficult, how do we get them to remove something that is unhelpful, or intrusive, or superfluous, or downright misleading? Who is going to pay for something they are not going to get? And who is going to pay for having something they do not need taken from them?"
legibility  design  wayfinding  kengarland  unproduct  notbuilding  bigidea  1993  branding  logos  simplicity  navigation  cities  graphicdesign 
august 2013 by robertogreco
10 Everyday Acts of Resistance That Changed the World by Steve Crawshaw and John Jackson — YES! Magazine
"The military junta that ruled Uruguay from 1973 was intolerant in the extreme. Hundreds of thousands fled into exile. Political opponents were jailed. Torture was a regular occurrence. On occasion, even concerts of classical music were seen as subversive threats.

But a remarkable small protest took place at soccer games throughout the twelve long years of military rule.

Whenever the band struck up the national anthem before major games, thousands of Uruguayans in the stadium joined in unenthusiastically. This stubborn failure to sing loudly was rebellion already. But, from the generals’ point of view, there was worse to come.

At one point, the anthem declares, Tiranos temblad!—“May tyrants tremble!” Those words served as the cue for the crowds in the stadium to suddenly bellow it in unison as they waved their flags. After that brief, excited roar, they continued to mumble their way through to the end of the long anthem…"
uruguay  via:steelemaley  1973  protest  democracy  freedom  resistance  ireland  us  poland  1982  1880  uk  1984  burma  1990s  liberia  2003  kenya  2009  denmark  1943  israel  2002  words  1993 
april 2011 by robertogreco
Where It All Began: Images From Wired's Early Days: Executive editor Kevin Kelly collates Wired's heuristics from assembled senior staff during Wired's first retreat soon after the 1993 launch
"a place people want to work," "entrepreneurial spirit," "should look like a large home office," "no editorial calendar, not marketing driven," "lead, not follow," "stay lean and mean," and "legendary contributor relations." + "improving constantly"
kevinkelly  wired  history  organizations  leadership  administration  management  workplace  1993  journalism 
may 2008 by robertogreco

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