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A Middle-School Cheating Scandal | The New Yorker
"In an era of high-stakes testing, a struggling school made a shocking choice."



"The first teacher he approached was Lewis, who was resistant. Lewis told him, “Fuck the test. Our students are doing hot. We know they are learning.” But after several months, Lewis said, Waller “chewed away at me.” Waller reminded him that Parks was a “sanctuary,” a “safe haven” for the community. If the school didn’t meet its targets, Waller explained, the students would be separated and sent to different schools, outside Pittsburgh. Lewis said he felt that “it was my sole obligation to never let that happen.”"



"In 2007, Parks had to score even higher to surpass its falsely achieved scores from the previous year. According to statements later made by teachers and administrators (obtained through Georgia’s open-records act), the cheating process began to take the form of a routine. During testing week, after students had completed the day’s section, Waller distracted the testing coördinator, Alfred Kiel, by taking him out for leisurely lunches in downtown Atlanta. On their way, Waller called the reading coördinator to let her know that it was safe to enter Kiel’s office. She then paged up to six teachers and told them to report to the room. While their students were at recess, the teachers erased wrong answers and filled in the right ones. Lewis took photographs of the office with his cell phone so that he could make sure he left every object, even the pencils on Kiel’s desk, exactly as he’d found them.

Lewis dreaded the process. It felt to him like “a bad date where you’ve had too much to drink.” He woke up the morning after erasing answers and thought, I shouldn’t have gone that far. He worried that, because of the cheating, students wouldn’t develop “the feeling you get when you take a test and know whether you did all right or whether you knocked that shit out of the park,” he said. He also felt guilty that other teachers were deprived of feedback. Lewis never told his wife that other teachers were correcting her students’ answers. One year, she got the highest scores in the building. Lewis said, “I wasn’t going to burst her bubble. I was, like, ‘Good job. Keep going strong.’ ”"



"Of a hundred and seventy-eight educators named in the cheating investigation, Lewis was the first to be fired. “I felt like someone had hit me with the butt end of an axe,” he said. He shaved off his dreadlocks, which, in Rastafarian tradition—a culture with which he sporadically associated—signalled the loss of a child. What troubled him most, he said, was that “I was fired for doing something that I didn’t even believe in.”

He applied for jobs at charter and alternative schools, community centers, and jails, but he didn’t get any of them. “Education let me go,” he finally concluded. He broadened his search, applying for positions that required manual labor. In interviews, he promised employers that he had the “persistence and tough skin of a middle-school teacher to bring to the workforce.” He applied for a job installing cable, and, after getting a nearly perfect score on the applicant test, he daydreamed about how he would use his teaching skills to help employees streamline the process. But a few days later the company told him that he didn’t have enough experience.

His house was foreclosed on and his car was repossessed. Old friends came to him with alternative methods of earning money. “They had some of the most illegal propositions,” he said. “They were, like, ‘Man, remember when we used to take that trip to St. Louis? Don’t you want to take over that run?’ ” He supported his wife, their newborn son, and his daughter from his previous marriage by working as an auto mechanic.

At first, he was glad to see the district attorney bring charges against Christopher Waller, Beverly Hall, and thirty-three administrators and teachers, but he became troubled by the portrayal of their crimes as mercenary. On April 2, 2013, on the evening news, he watched his colleagues, nearly all of them black, report to the Fulton County Jail in an event that was described in the media as a “perp walk.” They were charged under the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations statute—used to apprehend criminal organizations like the Mafia—and accused of conspiring in order to receive the bonuses tied to high test scores. Hall, who earned more than five hundred thousand dollars in bonuses, faces up to forty-five years in prison.

More than half of the defendants, including Christopher Waller, pleaded guilty to lesser charges. Now the senior pastor at a church three miles from Parks, Waller agreed to serve five years of probation, pay forty thousand dollars in restitution, and testify as a witness for the prosecution. He told me that he was offended by the idea that he would cheat in order to get what amounted to five thousand dollars in bonuses. He and other teachers at Parks spent their own money to buy groceries, H.I.V. medications, furniture, and clothes for students and their mothers, and this continued even after he was fired. “It wasn’t because of the money—I can promise you that,” he said.

In lengthy plea statements, Waller and the other defendants provided a miniature history of the past twelve years in education policy, describing how No Child Left Behind, in conjunction with the district’s targets, created an atmosphere in which cheating came to seem like a reasonable option. One principal described a “toxic culture throughout APS where all that mattered was test scores, even if ill-gotten.” Another said that the district’s “primary focus . . . became meeting targets instead of focusing on the needs of the students.”

In statements sent to me through their respective lawyers, Hall and Michael Pitts both denied wrongdoing and said they were confident that a jury would find them innocent of the charges. Hall wrote, “I did not order, request, or condone cheating to meet targets nor did I have knowledge of cheating.” She explained that in setting targets she had “relied on APS educators to behave with integrity.” She also said that, compared with the objectives set by No Child Left Behind, Atlanta’s targets were “decidedly more incremental in nature,” and the sanctions less “draconian.” (Many of her employees disagree; the district was unusual in that it required a certain percentage of students to exceed targets each year.)

Since the investigation, the stakes for testing in Georgia have escalated. Although the state is replacing the Criterion-Referenced Competency Test with a more comprehensive method of evaluation, this fall Georgia is implementing a new teacher-evaluation program that bases fifty per cent of a teacher’s assessment on test scores. The program, along with a merit-pay system, is required as a condition for receiving a four-hundred-million-dollar grant from President Obama’s Race to the Top program. Tim Callahan, the spokesman for the Professional Association of Georgia Educators, which represents eighty-four thousand teachers, told me, “The state is going down the same path as Atlanta, and we are not exactly enthused.” He said that many teachers have become so demoralized that they’re retiring early or transferring to private schools. He told me, “Our teachers’ best qualities—their sense of humor, their love for the subject, their excitement, their interest in students as individuals—are not being honored or valued, because those qualities aren’t measurable.”"

[though I'd bookmarked this when it came out, but doesn't seem to be in my collection]
2014  testing  standardizedtesting  cheating  atlanta  education  schools  schooling  incentives  rachelavivrttt  nclb  high-stakestesting  us  scandal  howweteach  teaching  learning 
6 weeks ago by robertogreco
John Rickford, Sharese King: Full Interview on "Race, Dialect Prejudice, and Literacy in the Zimmerman Trial and Beyond" | Stanford Center for Opportunity Policy in Education
"The testimony of Rachel Jeantel, close friend of Trayvon Martin and the prosecution's star witness in the trial of George Zimmerman, was the subject of considerable public commentary in the summer of 2013. Social media pilloried her for her "slurred" or "ungrammatical" speech and described her as stupid and ignorant.

But as Stanford professor John Rickford and second-year linguistics graduate student Sharese King show from analyses of her use of zero copula, absence of third singular present, possessive, and plural --s, and other features, she follows the systematic grammar of African American Vernacular English (AAVE) quite faithfully.

Rickford and King discuss the evidence of Jeantel's limited literacy that emerged during the trial, and the poor reading performance of African American students at her school, Miami Norland, which did not come to public attention. They ask about the extent to which speakers of African American Vernacular English and other dialects are misunderstood, disbelieved, or otherwise unfairly evaluated in courts, schools, and other settings.

This interview followed the SCOPE Brown Bag Lecture: "Race, Dialect Prejudice, and Literacy in the Zimmerman Trial and Beyond" on February 10, 2014."

[Direct link to video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qH-vshQf2g0 ]
johnrickford  shareseking  2014  trayvonmartin  georgezimmerman  racheljeantel  aave  english  bias  law  legal  justice  race  racism  dialect  literacy  intelligence  linguistics  sociolinguistics 
january 2019 by robertogreco
Stanford linguist: prejudice toward African American dialect can result in unfair rulings
"Linguistics professor John R. Rickford contends justice was not served in the Trayvon Martin shooting, in part because testimony in the African American vernacular was discredited."
johnrickford  2014  trayvonmartin  language  linguistics  race  racism  justice  law  aave  georgezimmerman  racheljeantel  sociolinguistics 
january 2019 by robertogreco
Bay Area Disrupted: Fred Turner on Vimeo
"Interview with Fred Turner in his office at Stanford University.

http://bayareadisrupted.com/

https://fredturner.stanford.edu

Graphics: Magda Tu
Editing: Michael Krömer
Concept: Andreas Bick"
fredturner  counterculture  california  opensource  bayarea  google  softare  web  internet  history  sanfrancisco  anarchism  siliconvalley  creativity  freedom  individualism  libertarianism  2014  social  sociability  governance  myth  government  infrastructure  research  online  burningman  culture  style  ideology  philosophy  apolitical  individuality  apple  facebook  startups  precarity  informal  bureaucracy  prejudice  1960s  1970s  bias  racism  classism  exclusion  inclusivity  inclusion  communes  hippies  charism  cultofpersonality  whiteness  youth  ageism  inequality  poverty  technology  sharingeconomy  gigeconomy  capitalism  economics  neoliberalism  henryford  ford  empowerment  virtue  us  labor  ork  disruption  responsibility  citizenship  purpose  extraction  egalitarianism  society  edtech  military  1940s  1950s  collaboration  sharedconsciousness  lsd  music  computers  computing  utopia  tools  techculture  location  stanford  sociology  manufacturing  values  socialchange  communalism  technosolutionism  business  entrepreneurship  open  liberalism  commons  peerproduction  product 
december 2018 by robertogreco
Why did Nintendo quash a book about EarthBound's development? - Polygon
"When Marcus Lindblom decided to write a book about his old memories of translating a much-loved game from Nintendo, he figured it would be something that the fans would appreciate.

After all, few gaming communities are as passionate and active as those who follow EarthBound, the game that Lindblom translated from Shigesato Itoi's Japanese original, produced by current Nintendo president and CEO Satoru Iwata, almost 20 years ago.

In recent years, Lindblom has been welcomed by the still-active EarthBound fan-base, as he has come forward to share stories about his time working on the game. This interest has intensified with the re-release of EarthBound on Wii U, which has sold well in the console's download store.

Lindblom planned to return the favor by writing a book and launching a Kickstarter that might just about cover production costs. He sent a note to an old pal at Nintendo, "as a professional courtesy" just to let the company know about his plans, just to check in and make sure there would be no problem.

There was a problem. Nintendo did not want this book published.

Although no reason was given for Nintendo's lack of enthusiasm for the project, Lindblom was gently reminded that, as a former employee of the company, he had signed an NDA. Legally, a book about his time at the company might be unwelcome. Reluctantly, he acceded to Nintendo's request.

In agreeing to talk to Polygon, Lindblom is keen to stress that, even though he is disappointed, he doesn't want to come off as someone who is angry with Nintendo.

"I owe a lot to Nintendo," he told Polygon. "They gave me my start in the game business. I don't want to do anything that makes them seem bad. I wanted to just write about the fun bits in the game that I think the fans would enjoy. But I have no desire to rock the boat with Nintendo at all."

Not everyone is quite so understanding of the company's desire to squash a piece of warm nostalgia.

Reid Young runs a company called Fangamer that sells game-related geek-chic clothing and memorabilia. The firm grew out of a dedicated community of EarthBound fans.

"Marcus is a great guy and I am sure they [Nintendo] appreciate his cooperation, but from the perspective of an Earthbound fan it's really disappointing," he said. "A lot of this comes from the culture of an old corporation. They have their own way of doing things. It's like that story about how no-one is allowed to die at Disneyland. They don't want anyone to see behind the curtain."

When it comes to reputation, Nintendo is one of the most ferociously diligent organizations in the entertainment business. Press access is always strictly controlled. Interviews with key executives are notoriously scripted and bland. Case in point; the company declined to comment for this article.

It's interesting though, that even warm and fuzzy memories of such an old game should trigger the firm's ultra-defensive reflexes.

Lindblom (above) joined Nintendo in 1990 and began working on the EarthBound translation in late 1994. He had lived in Japan for four years and was trusted as a solid producer who understood Nintendo games.

Playing EarthBound (Mother 2: Gyiyg Strikes Back in Japan) he admired the game's originality and its wit. Both he and Nintendo understood that it required a detailed translation. The RPG is set in small-town USA but is written from the perspective of an outsider. Many of Itoi's jokes would seem idiosyncratic to an American audience.

Lindblom was given the freedom to rewrite as required. In those days, localization was handled by one person working with a contact at HQ, instead of the departments and hierarchies that are the norm today.

"When I did the localization I went in and gave it some American flavor and humor because that is what the developers wanted," he said. "They didn't just want a straight translation. There were a lot of things that were not easy to translate and so I had freedom to put in weird American humor to flavor things and it worked out pretty well. All these years later people still find it charming which is nice."

Lindblom left Nintendo in 1996 and has spent the intervening years working as a producer for various companies, including Midway, EA and THQ. Five years ago he and some friends set up Partly Cloudy Games, which has mostly been involved in contract work for the likes of Microsoft and is currently working on an RTS for Facebook, called The Robot Apocalypse.

Over the years, he thought occasionally about the work he had done on EarthBound. He'd visit the fan sites and he'd watch as they sent yet another petition to Nintendo for a sequel or for a re-release on a new console.

"I realized there was a large and vocal fan community," he said. "About a year and a half ago I went to PAX and I kind of walked up to the Fangamer booth and said that I had worked on the game. They were really surprised. They wanted to hear about my work on the game."

With Nintendo finally deciding to re-release EarthBound for Wii U (a Wii version had been mooted for years, but never appeared) interest in his work increased, and he was interviewed by reporters and invited to appear on podcasts and at an EarthBound fan convention. "A number of people asked me if I would ever consider writing a book about the game and the process I had gone through," he said. "A lot of EarthBound fans are huge localization fans as well."

Lindblom said that he felt like the fans deserved to hear the full story. EarthBound, the way it was brought to the U.S, its commercial failure and the ongoing devotion of its fanbase, is an interesting story, at least to a particular subset of the gaming audience.

"I was never going to make money from the book. I just wanted to pay for the cost of publication," he explained. "It was just something for the fan community. They seemed so dedicated after all these years. I thought that, in a way, I owed them something."

It is not often that a game translator can command an audience, most particularly for a cultish game from the mid-1990s. "There were a lot of little things I thought they might appreciate hearing about like why a certain character might say something in the game or why something was named the way it was or whatever," he said. "That was my original intention. Just to give the fans some insight into the way the game was localized."

He rejects the idea that Nintendo has something to hide in the story of the translation. While it is true that some games from that period contained dialog or graphics that might seem questionable today, he does not believe EarthBound features anything controversial. The most likely explanation, is that Nintendo is just being Nintendo, which means no-one gets to see how the sausages are made.

"It isn't anything that I can speculate on," he said. "All I will say is I was the one who went and talked to Nintendo because I thought I might as well see if I can get their blessing. I asked them and they came back and said we'd rather you didn't."

He plans to continue talking to fans, for as long as they seem interested, but the book is shelved for good. "My goal was always to honor the game and the fans and Itoi's writing," he said. "I am going to honor Nintendo's wishes that I don't put something down into a book, but I know that the fan community is owed some tidbits of information and I will continue to do that and to talk about it.""
earthbound  mother2  videogames  games  gaming  nintendo  2014  marcuslindblom 
november 2018 by robertogreco
EarthBound by Ken Baumann: New Boss Fight Book on the SNES RPG Classic – Boss Fight Books
"An RPG for the Super NES that flopped when it first arrived in the U.S., EarthBound grew in fan support and critical acclaim over the years, eventually becoming the All-Time Favorite Game of thousands, among them author Ken Baumann.

Featuring a heartfelt foreword from the game's North American localization director, Marcus Lindblom, Baumann's EarthBound is a joyful tornado of history, criticism, and memoir.

Baumann explores the game’s unlikely origins, its brilliant creator, its madcap plot, its marketing failure, its cult rise from the ashes, and its intersections with Japanese and American culture, all the while reflecting back on the author's own journey into the terrifying and hilarious world of adults."
earthbound  videogames  games  gaming  srg  edg  2014  marcuslindblom  mother2  nintendo 
november 2018 by robertogreco
Review: 'Ready to Burst' by Franketienne - Chicago Tribune
"This is the book of an intellectual, French and Haitian style, filled with ideas, politics, snatches of conversations, contemporary retellings of folktales. Zombies, unnamed, stalk through its pages. Engrossing as all this is, it's right to be wary of a book that opens with this declaration: "I no longer worry about what I write. I simply write. Because I must. Because I'm suffocating. I write anything. Any way."

Here, back in 1968, Frankétienne is making his declaration against writing as a trade or business. For him, writing is a mission and a doctrine with a name: Spiralism, which he created in the mid-1960s along with two other highly regarded Haitian writers, Jean-Claude Fignolé and René Philoctète, all of whom were persecuted by Papa Doc's regime, like all members of the intelligentsia who did not come to heel. Described in somewhat ecstatic terms in the novel, both by an unnamed first person narrator and later, at greater length, by Paulin, Spiralism seems, to our contemporary minds, antiquated or wacky, like Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's Spiritualism. But it is much more rigorous than that, and much closer to a literary theory and an aesthetic movement.

"Spiralism," the narrator tells us on the very first page, "defines life … not in a closed circuit, but tracing the path of a spiral. So rich that each new curve, wider and higher than the one before, expands the arc of one's vision." Whenever friends converse in these pages, we get a real sense of the intellectual and political ferment of the 1960s as it touched Haiti, from which the idea of Spiralism grew.

The narrator describes Spiralism also as a kind of "explosive vertigo," and that's how the reader feels as he or she follows Raynand walking to the wharf, or traveling out of the country to the Bahamas (briefly), or as he sails back to Haiti, or coming upon a political rally, or being hurled into prison, or ending upon his sickbed. Raynand walks everywhere because, he says, walking is "his sole and apparent freedom" in a book where Haiti is depicted as a sort of grand, inescapable penitentiary.

The book has the occasional stylistic flaws of its era ("Electricity. Mechanics. Ballistics. And from end to end, the tragicomedy of History. Vast circus of dwarves and clowns"). But the sinewy strength of the rest of the work pushes the reader beyond those fragmentary bits onward to an appreciation of the artistic whole. Frankétienne can bore you with a few paragraphs of blather on Spiralism and then stun you with simple language like this: "(He) carefully sparks the purple flame of a lovely little yellow lighter." Often, when reading a wild, passionate, exotic and surreal passage about a crowd or a scene or a landscape, I felt the pang of surprised recognition. You feel, too, as you will if you've ever been to actual Haiti, that you've gotten lost inside a fantastic and writhing Haitian painting. (Frankétienne is also a painter and a playwright.)

Those Haitian paintings, of markets, of crowds, of Vodou ceremonies, and other aspects of Haitian daily life, are timeless, and so is the Haiti Frankétienne describes, both for better and for worse. Timeless is Haiti's undercurrent of revolution. Timeless are its elite's pronouncements about the dignity of the individual. Timeless, too, is the appearance of the spiritual world in the world of daily life.

Equally persistent, unfortunately, are the untreated malaria, the abandoned children treated as slaves, the terminal tuberculosis, the lifelong unemployment, the degradation of women, the useless and corrupt government, the inconclusive political unrest, the endless ineffective blah blah blah (actually a phrase in Haitian Creole) of the Haitian intellectual class — all liabilities of a country that in the last half century and more has experienced the inroads of globalization as the direst of poverty.

We are so lucky, and Frankétienne is so lucky, that Kaiama L. Glover has come along to translate his works into English and to give Spiralism the international attention it deserves as a historic Caribbean literary movement.

I interviewed Frankétienne in 1986, when I first arrived in Haiti. I had no idea what he was talking about then and couldn't get over the fact that he had put his two names together. Thinking back on it, I'm sure he was talking about regime change and Spiralism. And now, having finally, belatedly, read "Ready to Burst," I know what he meant."
frankétienne  1968  2014  books  haiti  spiralism  amywilentz 
november 2018 by robertogreco
The Radical Tactics of the Offline Library on Vimeo
[parts of the video (from the introduction): "1. Libraries existed to copy data. Libraries as warehouses was a recent idea and not a very good one 2. The online world used to be considered rhizomatic but recent events have proven that it is actually quite arboretic and precarious. 3. A method of sharing files using hard drives is slow, but it is extremely resilient. This reversalism is a radical tactic agains draconian proprietarianism. 4. There are forces and trends that are working against portable libraries."]

[Book is here:
http://networkcultures.org/wp-content/uploads/2014/06/NN07_complete.pdf
http://networkcultures.org/blog/publication/no-07-radical-tactics-of-the-offline-library-henry-warwick/ ]

"The Radical Tactics of the Offline Library is based on the book "Radical Tactics: Reversalism and Personal Portable Libraries"
By Henry Warwick

The Personal Portable Library in its most simple form is a hard drive or USB stick containing a large collection of e-books, curated and archived by an individual user. The flourishing of the offline digital library is a response to the fact that truly private sharing of knowledge in the online realm is increasingly made impossible. While P2P sharing sites and online libraries with downloadable e-books are precarious, people are naturally led to an atavistic and reversalist workaround. The radical tactics of the offline: abandoning the online for more secure offline transfer. Taking inspiration from ancient libraries as copying centers and Sneakernet, Henry Warwick describes the future of the library as digital and offline. Radical Tactics: Reversalism and Personal Portable Libraries traces the history of the library and the importance of the Personal Portable Library in sharing knowledge and resisting proprietarian forces.

The library in Alexandria contained about 500,000 scrolls; the Library of Congress, the largest library in the history of civilization, contains about 35 million books. A digital version of it would fit on a 24 TB drive, which can be purchased for about $2000. Obviously, most people don’t need 35 million books. A small local library of 10,000 books could fit on a 64 GB thumb drive the size of a pack of chewing gum and costing perhaps $40. An astounding fact with immense implications. It is trivially simple to start collecting e-books, marshalling them into libraries on hard drives, and then to share the results. And it is much less trivially important. Sharing is caring. Societies where people share, especially ideas, are societies that will naturally flourish."
libraries  henrywarwick  archives  collection  digital  digitalmedia  ebooks  drm  documentary  librarians  alexandriaproject  copying  rhizomes  internet  online  sharing  files  p2p  proprietarianism  sneakernet  history  harddrives  learning  unschooling  property  deschooling  resistance  mesopotamia  egypt  alexandria  copies  decay  resilience  cv  projectideas  libraryofalexandria  books  scrolls  tablets  radicalism  literacy  printing  moveabletype  china  europe  publishing  2014  copyright  capitalism  canon  librarydevelopment  walterbenjamin  portability  andrewtanenbaum  portable  portablelibraries  félixguattari  cloudcomputing  politics  deleuze  deleuze&guattari  web  offline  riaa  greed  openstudioproject  lcproject 
november 2018 by robertogreco
Peter Senge: "Systems Thinking for a Better World" - Aalto Systems Forum 2014
[direct link to video: https://youtu.be/0QtQqZ6Q5-o ]

"Peter Senge's keynote speech "Systems Thinking for a Better World" at the 30th Anniversary Seminar of the Systems Analysis Laboratory "Being Better in the World of Systems" at Aalto University, 20 November 2014.

Peter Senge is a Senior Lecturer in Leadership and Sustainability at the MIT. He is the founding chair of the Society for Organizational Learning (SoL) and the author of the widely acclaimed book, The Fifth Discipline: The Art and Practice of The Learning Organization. The Journal of Business Strategy (September/October 1999) named Senge one of the 24 people who has had the greatest influence on business strategy over the last 100 years.

Peter Senge:
http://mitsloan.mit.edu/faculty/detail.php?in_spseqno=41415

Other videos from the seminar:
Raimo P. Hämäläinen: Milestones of Systems Analysis
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_a9j4s3ghN8
Harri Ehtamo: Games People Play
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dT_5rbXMUqQ
Ahti Salo: Understanding Systems of the Future
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jCbp18ev48g
Esa Saarinen: Systems Intelligence as Life Philosophy
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Jz061KJ2Xcs
Launch of the book "Being Better Better - Living with Systems Intelligence"
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=c8UtlZwnIhk

More information about the seminar:
http://sal30.aalto.fi

Systems Analysis Laboratory is a major academic institution in Finland in the field of systems and operations research with a team of internationally acknowledged scholars.
http://sal.aalto.fi

Video by Peter Simontschuk & Janne Lummaa / Aalto University IT
Editing by Jussi Tarvainen"
towatch  systems  systemsthinking  petersenge  sustainability  2014 
september 2018 by robertogreco
We Don’t Play Golf Here and Other Stories of Globalization. on Vimeo
"Using Mexico as an example of what much of the Third World has experienced, the filmmakers show how foreign investment in export factories distort both the culture and environment."
mexico  thirdworld  capitalism  globalization  footbal  futbol  golf  film  documentary  culture  environment  2014  inequality 
august 2018 by robertogreco
Oakland Neighborhood Sees Improvement After Buddhist Shrine Moves In - YouTube
"Residents of a once blighted Oakland neighborhood are crediting a Buddha statue installed in a median for a remarkable change."
2014  buddha  buddhism  us  religion  oakland 
august 2018 by robertogreco
How Red Is Dragon’s Blood? | Arts & Culture | Smithsonian
"Color dictionaries were designed to give people around the world a common vocabulary to describe the colors of everything from rocks and flowers to stars, birds, and postage stamps. They afforded scientists and naturalists a means of descriptive biological precision that could be easily shared—so naturalists in Kalamazoo and Germany could communicate effectively about a family of birds found in both places in related (but different) forms. They typically consisted of a set of color swatches, each assigned a name (usually rendered in several languages, to facilitate international use), an identifying number, and an often-lyrical description of the color (“the color of the blood of a freshly killed rabbit,” or “mummy brown.”)

Other important color dictionaries were published at the start of the 20th century when Ridgway published his work—some of them strange and wonderful. The French Society of Chrysanthemists, for instance, created a two-volume set of swatches and names in 1905 for their own botanical uses. Holly Green was described as “the ordinary color of the foliage of the common holly, viewed from 1 to 2 meters away, and without considering reflections.” And despite the fact that the work was meant for international consumption, its soul remained French. “Sky Blue,” for example, was described as “The color reminiscent of pure sky, in summer (in the climate of Paris).”

But Ridgway’s work stood out. Shy, retiring, and nerdy in the extreme, he was an astonishingly talented identifier and user of colors. This gift was key in a field where distinguishing among subspecies of birds with slight color variations was essential to understanding the mechanisms of evolution, speciation, and other scientific aspects of the natural world. Ridgway wrote a short color dictionary in 1886, just as he finished work on a groundbreaking set of rules and guidelines for naming birds. He worked quietly on his color project for decades, until 1912, when he self-published a work with 1,115 named colors: Color Standards and Color Nomenclature.

The book is filled with color swatches with names like “Dragons-blood Red,” which makes me think of blood dripping from a sword; or “Light Paris Green,” which seems like a holiday; or “Light Squill Blue,” which somehow sounds like a cross between “squash” and “quill” and “thrill,” though a squill is in fact a coastal Mediterranean plant."
color  history  2014  dictionaries 
august 2018 by robertogreco
The logic of Buddhist philosophy goes beyond simple truth | Aeon Essays
"When Western philosophers look East, they find things they do not understand – not least the fact that the Asian traditions seem to accept, and even endorse, contradictions."



"An abhorrence of contradiction has been high orthodoxy in the West for more than 2,000 years. Statements such as Nagarjuna’s are therefore wont to produce looks of blank incomprehension, or worse. As Avicenna, the father of Medieval Aristotelianism, declared:
Anyone who denies the law of non-contradiction should be beaten and burned until he admits that to be beaten is not the same as not to be beaten, and to be burned is not the same as not to be burned.


One can hear similar sentiments, expressed with comparable ferocity, in many faculty common rooms today. Yet Western philosophers are slowly learning to outgrow their parochialism. And help is coming from a most unexpected direction: modern mathematical logic, not a field that is renowned for its tolerance of obscurity."



"Functions give a unique output; relations can give any number of outputs. Keep that distinction in mind; we’ll come back to it a lot."
buddhism  science  philosophy  language  logic  2014  grahampriest  contradiction  betweeness 
august 2018 by robertogreco
Earl Sweatshirt and Vince Staples - Inside the Beat - Ep. 1 - YouTube
"In the first episode of Inside the Beat we explore the sonic imaginations of Earl Sweatshirt and Vince Staples. Earl explores the trippy possibilities of producing sound, while Vince takes us on a lyrical journey of inspiration through his hometown, Long Beach, CA.

Noisey teamed up with producers from all over the world in a seven part original documentary series to investigate the genesis of their music through their own personal stories. This is Inside the Beat."
earlsweatshirt  oddfuture  2014  music  ofwgkta  vincestaples  rap  hiphop  thebenerudakgositsile 
july 2018 by robertogreco
Prison Culture » Thinking Through the End of Police…
"Many people are more afraid of imagining a world without police than one without prisons. This seems especially true for people who consider themselves to be progressive. I don’t have the time, energy or inclination to write in depth about abolishing the police right now. But I’ve been asked a lot for ‘resources’ on the topic. To be honest, I’m crabby about offering those too. This is because what people usually mean by “resources” is a step-by-step guide or program. Well, that doesn’t exist because building a world without police is actually a collective project that will also mean that many, many other things will need to change too. That’s not a satisfying answer for people who don’t actually want to think and most importantly who think it’s “other people’s” responsibility to come up with “alternatives.”

Rinaldo Walcott offers a start for those looking for the right questions to ask about abolishing the police:
“We need broad based discussions about the future of modern policing and what it is really for.

We need to imagine a time when police are not needed. In the interim we need to disarm the police.

We must require police to work in communities they live in and make them accountable to communities they police.

We need to work towards forms of being in community where conflict is resolved within communities and where resolution is not necessarily oriented towards punishment.

These ways of being are not beyond us, indeed these ways of being are shared by many among us.

We need only recognize and acknowledge that such knowledge exists and the practice is doable.

In essence, any moral and ethical society willing to confront the deeper reasons why policing exist at all would be working towards its abolition.”


On another day when I am feeling less tired and more generous, I might write something that summarizes my ideas and thoughts on the matter. But not today…

So for now, here are a very few readings to help those who are interested in abolishing the police to think more deeply about the possibilities…"

[See also: https://www.facebook.com/luna.syenite/posts/2186195438292031

"I can't tell you how many messages I'm getting about these posters. I can't respond to all of them so I am going to comment on the biggest critiques (that are so important to acknowledge and address) and then refer back to this status.

1. "X solution can be oppressive" - Absolutely true. Any of the solutions named in the graphics could be enacted in oppressive ways. In order for these solutions to be implemented in the way they were imagined, the people implementing them must do so with an anti-oppressive (empowering) lens, outside of the systems and institutions currently oppressing people. I highly recommend anyone considering replacing policing, study Transformative Justice and its principles, study the work of anti-oppressive community organizers, especially those who are or have been marginalized.

These posters require us to imagine a better world, one in which the resources people need in order to address the root causes of violence and harm (oppression, exploitation) are collectively provided: free housing, free healthcare, and the preservation of our planet; and white supremacy is eliminated.

2. "Sometimes we need police in situations of life threatening violence" (or, "This would only work if you weren't directly experiencing violence in the moment) - There may be times of immediate life threatening violence in which a defensive organization is necessary to save lives (such as mass shootings, for example). Those people do not need to be the police, and we can envision all kinds of organizations that would be dedicated to liberation, self-determination, preservation of life, and using force as an absolute last resort. Such organizations would ideally be controlled / organized / held accountable by the people most impacted by violence.

3. "I have had to call the police to save my life." - Yes. Same. And this is not condemning anyone for using the tools that currently exist to save their own life. And it is absolutely harmful and violent that in our society the only means we have to save our lives in violent situations is to call the police and initiate a system of incarceration that does not hear our voices, address our needs, seek actual justice, resolve the root causes of violence, or seek to support us as people experiencing violence. It is harmful that our only option is to expose other people to the possibility of having their life or their freedom taken by the police or prisons. We need other options.

4. "Police are people too." - Yes, and their personhood does not mean that their profession, nor the power that is granted to them in that profession, needs to continue in order for their humanity to be recognized. Policing is harmful and violent and therefore must lose its power in society. Taking that power from individual officers is not a denial of their humanity.

5. "Why can't we just reform policing" - Read Alex Vitale's book "The End of Policing" for a detailed answer to this question - it's really good.

6. "What does Taking Accountability mean?" - In Transformative Justice practice, "Taking Accountability" means that the person who has done harm receives support in changing their behavior, takes responsibility for what they've done, takes steps to repair the harm done according to the wishes and needs of the person who was harmed, and changes their behavior. It also means that the community asks why the person caused harm in the first place (what the "root cause" of harm is), such as poverty, lack of access to healthcare, social isolation, or other unmet needs. The community is responsible for addressing the causes of harm that are cultural and social.

Not everyone is willing to take accountability for their actions of course (we need a major cultural shift to make this more likely), and in the case that the person who did harm does not choose to take accountability, it means that the community takes collective action to prevent that person from doing harm again, such as spreading awareness about the harm, doing education about how to prevent that harm, and intervening where and when the harm is happening so that the person can no longer successfully do so. It means protecting each other in ways that reduce harm, rather than produce it.

For more info about Transformative Justice here is a hand out comparing it to other forms of justice: https://docs.google.com/document/d/1oGeWHm8zHKm_31Ng3j5mqKwyiGw02t3ikOh_3UZHD74/edit

Here is a reading list: https://docs.google.com/document/d/1OMAg9P5Ad9vMwnqvguZHDKyqU75ygUKyxDXleIWnC8s/edit

Here is a link every single person should click: http://www.usprisonculture.com/blog/transformative-justice/

7. "Can I share these with x" Yes, you can share the images however you want. Here is a google drive with printable versions: https://drive.google.com/drive/folders/1HUpCPvOwUJElxtUP4mCysAY9GyZrSmUk

8. "I like all of these except the domestic violence one" - see all of the above and I highly recommend that people look into the work of Survived and Punished, an organization that specifically works with survivors of domestic and other violence who are then violently pulled into the policing and carceral system.

9. "Crisis Intervention Teams include police" - In these graphics, I am not using the term in the way it is used related to policing, I am using it as a name for a totally invented kind of team that would not in any way be connected to the police and would be staffed with people who are trained in anti-oppressive means of addressing conflicts. To be as clear as possible: I do not support any measure that would fund, reform, or employ police. And any of these solutions would require that people experiencing marginalization or oppression be empowered to collectively control the resources / services themselves.

These are the resources shared by the person who raised this concern, if anyone would like to look:

Alternatives to Police in Mental Health Crisis: https://www.facebook.com/pg/ACPDMHC/photos/?tab=album&album_id=1596632663793562

The Myth of Awareness Training
https://www.facebook.com/notes/kerima-cevik/the-myth-of-awareness-training-the-danger-of-disability-registries-special-ids-a/1647219461995178/ "

posted here:
https://robertogreco.tumblr.com/post/175793815358/alternatives-to-police-and-punishment-are-real ]

[via:
https://twitter.com/AFSCAZ/status/1015285772994281472
via

"Alternatives to police and punishment are real and tangible. Check out some of the great work from Luna Syenite, who has made them free to share. https://drive.google.com/drive/folders/1HUpCPvOwUJElxtUP4mCysAY9GyZrSmUk … #Harmreduction #treatmentnotprison #communitynotprisons"
https://twitter.com/reclaimuc/status/1015293012555919360

"Imagine a world without police.... posters inspired by the work of @prisonculture and created by Luna Syenite (https://www.facebook.com/luna.syenite/posts/2186195438292031 …) #AbolishICE #AbolishThePolice"
https://twitter.com/regina_tweeta/status/1017097476883582976

"As a follow up see: https://medium.com/@icelevel/whos-left-mariame-26ed2237ada6 …... which also features @projectnia & @prisonculture. We can change the way resources are allocated to change outcomes. Police & prisons aren't the only solutions. #AbolishICE #AbolishThePolice #ServicesNotSentences"
https://twitter.com/regina_tweeta/status/1017099000665821192 ]
activism  police  policing  prison  mariamekaba  rinaldowalcott  2014  reference  resources  publicsafety  lunasyenite 
july 2018 by robertogreco
LIVING LABOR: “COLLECTIVE HEAD” on Vimeo
[See also: https://www.artandeducation.net/classroom/video/66316/fred-moten-collective-head

"Critical theorist, educator, and poet Fred Moten delivers a keynote at the 2014 conference “Living Labor: Marxism and Performance Studies” at the Performance Studies department at New York University. The talk is within the closing plenary at the conference that is dedicated to the late José Esteban Muñoz—a colleague and comrade of many of the conference participants. Accordingly, the last third of Moten’s reflections address Muñoz’s thought on queer futurity and its immanence in the present. In line with the title, taken from Lygia Clark’s 1975 performance Cabeza colectiva, the talk is constructed in the form of a prismatic dialogue. Moten quotes extensively from the writings of Masao Miyoshi and Karl Marx to establish his main lines of inquiry: what would be a materialization of social wealth that was not circumscribed by forms of property and the drive to accumulate? Here, Moten calls on Marx’s description in the Grundrisse of how the contemporary mode of production elaborates human potentiality by, paradoxically, emptying it out: “the complete working-out of the human content appears as a complete emptying-out, this universal objectification as total alienation, and the tearing-down of all limited, one-sided aims as sacrifice of the human end-in-itself to an entirely external end.” How can we imagine the common as that which is “before”—in time and in space, that is, behind as well as in front—and which surrounds us even as our social structures cast it out, as an externality or as a periphery? How could architecture find itself “re-materialized” through the encounter with the “space outside” and all those who inhabit it? As Craig Buckley has written, “the surfaces of daily life [come] to appear as traces of largely unseen apparatuses whose implications architecture still struggles to grasp.” Moten asks what comes after a modernism that strove to accommodate the city’s outside—the poor—however imperfectly, in an era when social housing is seen not “as an object of planning but an object of demolition”?

The aesthetic dimension of anti-coloniality as an ongoing mode of resistance in contemporary life, its “sentimentality,” is developed as counter to critical fascination with power and its bleak anatomies, a thread that could be considered definitive to Moten’s work. The necessity of getting lost, of unmooring from the property-form of subjectivity, is seen as central to queer futurity, which exists by displacement. Loss is the instantiation of another condition of possibility, notes Moten in an affecting tribute to both the work of José Esteban Muñoz and his living absence.

Fred Moten has developed a singular body of work in the terrain of black studies, focusing mainly on African-American literature, music and performance, and weaving that with critical (race) theory and Marxism in the “black radical tradition” (Cedric Robinson). He teaches at University of California, Riverside and Duke University and is the author of In the Break: The Aesthetics of the Black Radical Tradition (University of Minnesota Press, 2003), The Undercommons: Fugitive Planning and Black Study, with Stefano Harney (Minor Compositions, 2013), and numerous books of poetry."]
fredmoten  2014  lygiaclark  comunes  karlmarx  personhood  citizenship  masaomiyoshi  class  barbarabrowning  underground  collectivism  universality  wealth  poverty  cities 
june 2018 by robertogreco
kelly norton: The Pleasant Places to Live
"“pleasant” here means the mean temperature was between (55° F and 75° F), the minimum temperature was above 45° F, the maximum temperature was below 85° F and there was no significant precipitation or snow depth."



"5 Most Pleasant Places
LOS ANGELES, CA 183 days/yr
SAN DIEGO, CA 182 days/yr
OXNARD, CA 166 days/yr
SIMI VALLEY, CA 156 days/yr
SAN FRANCISCO, CA 153 days/yr

5 Least Pleasant Places
MC ALLISTER, MT 14 days/yr
NORTHEAST OF RENO, NV 15 days/yr
CLANCY, MT 15 days/yr
DOUGLAS, WY 15 days/yr
EAST OF CEDARVILLE, CA 16 days/yr"
climate  weather  2014  foreden 
june 2018 by robertogreco
GhostFood on Vimeo
"GhostFood explores eating in a future of and biodiversity loss brought on by climate change. The GhostFood mobile food trailer serves scent-food pairings that are consumed by the public using a wearable device that adapts human physiology to enable taste experiences of unavailable foods.

Created in collaboration with Miriam Songster. Commissioned by the Robert Rauschenberg Foundation for Marfa Dialogues/NY, with additional support provided by Takasago, NextFab Studios and Whole Foods. Marfa Dialogues/NY is a collaboration between the Robert Rauschenberg Foundation, Ballroom Marfa and the Public Concern Foundation. GhostFood was presented by Gallery Aferro in Newark, Rauschenberg Project Space in New York and by SteamWorkPhilly in Philadelphia."
2014  food  miriamsimun  miriamsongster  climatechange  speculativefiction  speculativedesign  physiology  taste  smell  senses  ghostfood  extinction  cod  fish  peanuts  cocoa  flavor  multisensory  flavors 
may 2018 by robertogreco
[Persian Letters] by Solmaz Sharif | Poetry Magazine
"Dear Aleph,

Like Ovid: I’ll have no last words.
This is what it means to die among barbarians. Bar bar bar
was how the Greeks heard our speech —
sheep, beasts — and so we became
barbarians. We make them reveal
the brutes they are, Aleph, by the things
we make them name. David,
they tell me, is the one
one should aspire to, but ever since
I first heard them say Philistine
I’ve known I am Goliath
if I am anything."
solmazsharif  poems  poetry  persian  2014 
april 2018 by robertogreco
Who Needs a Boss? - The New York Times
[via: https://twitter.com/zunguzungu/status/982369655925846016

"Is there such thing as a worker owned cooperative PUBLICATION?

I don't even know the right words to used. Like a publication, but a co-op, worker-owned and operated, etc, all that good stuff?

Somebody must know things, please tell me"

and
https://twitter.com/zunguzungu/status/982389603159105536

"This, but for media
https://www.nytimes.com/2014/03/30/magazine/who-needs-a-boss.html "]

"Arizmendi and its five sister bakeries in the Bay Area are worker-owned cooperatives, an age-old business model that has lately attracted renewed interest as a possible antidote to some of our most persistent economic ills. Most co-ops in the U.S. are smaller than Arizmendi, with around a dozen employees, but the largest, Cooperative Home Care Associates in the Bronx, has about 2,000. That’s hardly the organizational structure’s upper limit. In fact, Arizmendi was named for a Spanish priest and labor organizer in Basque country, José María Arizmendiarrieta. He founded what eventually became the Mondragon Corporation, now one of the region’s biggest employers, with more than 60,000 members and 14 billion euro in revenue. And it’s still a co-op.

In a worker co-op, the workers own the business and decide what to do with the profits (as opposed to consumer co-ops, which are typically stores owned by members who shop at a discount). Historically, worker co-ops have held the most appeal when things seem most perilous for laborers. The present is no exception. And yet, despite their ability to empower workers, co-ops remain largely relegated to boutique status in the United States.

Returns to investors are ever-increasing compared with the returns to labor. For most economists, there’s little question that the former is squeezing the latter.

Continue reading the main story
It’s the Economy
A column about how economics can explain the world.
Art for Money’s Sake
The Case for Legalized Gambling on Sports
Who Wants to Buy a Politician?
How Disney Turned ‘Frozen’ Into a Cash Cow
Will the LeBron James Stimulus Be Good for Cleveland?
SEE MORE »

RECENT COMMENTS
brendan March 31, 2014
Having visited the Working World in Buenos Aires and brought students to some of the co-ops they support in the area, I was happy to see...

miket March 31, 2014
My brother started a organic nut butter business in Nunda, NY 30+ years ago called "Once Again Nut Butter". It mainly specializes in...

Jim m Roberts March 31, 2014
The form of ownership does not guarantee business success. Profits do.Without profit, employee owned co-ops will fail just effortlessly as...

SEE ALL COMMENTS
The blockbuster economics book of the season, Thomas Piketty’s “Capital in the Twenty-First Century,” argues that the great equalizing decades following World War II, which brought on the rise of the middle class in the United States, were but a historical anomaly. Armed with centuries of data, Piketty says the rich are going to continue to gobble up a greater share of income, and our current system will do nothing to reverse that trend.

The oft-proposed remedy for this state of affairs is redistribution — namely, taxing the rich to benefit the poor. Piketty, in fact, proposes a global tax, one that can’t be avoided by private jet. Others want to raise the minimum wage. In contrast to those Band-Aids, worker co-ops require no politically unpalatable dictates. And by placing workers’ needs ahead of profits, they address the root cause of economic disparity. “If you don’t want inequality,” says Richard Wolff, the author of “Democracy at Work: A Cure for Capitalism,” “don’t distribute income unequally in the first place.”

Of course, a workplace doesn’t have to be managed by committee in order to channel more of the capital share to labor. Workers can just be given stock. Thousands of companies, including blue-chip firms like Procter & Gamble, already use stock as part of compensation, with the employee share of the company ranging from the single digits to 100 percent. But even this can be just another management strategy to harness the increased productivity that, studies have shown, accompany employee ownership and profit-sharing.

Support for full-fledged co-ops has inched into the mainstream as communities have grown weary of waiting for private investors to create good jobs — or sick of watching them take jobs away. In Cleveland in 2009, hospitals and a university gave seed money to a new group of businesses, the Evergreen Cooperatives, and now contract with them for laundry, energy retrofits and fresh produce. Last month, a government commission in Wales announced that “conventional approaches to economic development” were insufficient; it needed cooperatives. That same month, the New York City Council held a hearing called “Worker Cooperatives — Is This a Model That Can Lift Families Out of Poverty?”

It is a good question. Research findings about employee-owned businesses are rarely negative — they are either just as good as regular businesses, or they are more productive, less susceptible to failure, more attentive to quality and less likely to lay off workers in a downturn (though they may be slower to hire when times are good). Take, for example, the employee-owned British retailer John Lewis, which has recently threatened to outpace its publicly traded corporate rival, Marks & Spencer.

One perennial criticism of worker co-ops is that they can’t afford the high-flying talent that would help them innovate. But not every company needs to innovate. Many just need to mop floors, sling burgers or clean linens. And it is usually those companies whose workers struggle most. “We’re not trying to create an Amazon that pays Jeff Bezos to do what he does,” says Melissa Hoover, the executive director of the United States Federation of Worker Cooperatives. “We’re trying to remove Jeff Bezos from the equation and have everyone else make a little more money.”

Another persistent critique is that workers don’t have enough experience to make good management decisions. Some co-ops solve this problem just as other businesses do, by buying expertise they don’t already have. In 2008, the owners of a Chicago window factory decided to close it with little notice, and the workers staged a six-day sit-in that made them celebrities overnight. Another owner took over but closed the factory again. The workers bought the equipment and moved it to a new factory, saving hundreds of thousands of dollars with sweat equity. The new company, called New Era Windows, opened last year. Though the workers are still paying themselves minimum wage, they elected to hire a high-priced, experienced salesman to drum up business.

New Era was lucky to find financing, borrowing $600,000 from a nonprofit called the Working World, which started lending to co-ops in Latin America and has branched out to the U.S. The biggest challenge co-ops face is lack of capital, which is why they are often labor-intensive businesses with low start-up costs. Banks can be hesitant to lend to co-ops, perhaps because they aren’t familiar with the model. Meanwhile, credit unions — another form of cooperative — face stringent regulations on business lending.

The founder of the Working World, Brendan Martin, would like not only to fund cooperatives, but to reorder the priorities of investors altogether. Martin says that both times the window factory was shuttered, it was not for lack of business. It just didn’t meet the needs of the owners. The Working World, instead of seeking quick returns, accepts no loan repayment until the borrower is on its feet. “We create the real economy, which is slower but it has less risk,” Martin told me recently, between meetings with the New Era workers in Chicago. Then he proposed something truly radical: “Imagine if Wall Street investors were only able to make money by creating incredibly successful American businesses?” Maybe then we wouldn’t need co-ops."
2014  cooperatives  work  labor  arizmendi  mondragon  josémaríaarizmendiarrieta  sanfrancisco  democracy  shailadewan 
april 2018 by robertogreco
Akala - Knowledge is Power | London Real - YouTube
"18:06 Society is designed by the cultural appetites of the thinkers and maintained by the powerful.

19:22 Difference in expectations for public and state educated children. Benefits of the Saturday morning schools."

[via: https://twitter.com/ecomentario/status/953850955275079680 ]
education  akala  2014  schools  schooling  society  inequality  prisonindustrialcomplex  schooltoprisonpipeline  povery  racism  economics  meritocracy  politics  criticalthinking  criticalpedagogy  power  culture  unschooling  deschooling  music  football  soccer  activism  poetry  reading  writing  alberteinstein 
january 2018 by robertogreco
André Staltz - The Web began dying in 2014, here's how
"The events and data above describe how three internet companies have acquired massive influence on the Web, but why does that imply the beginning of the Web’s death? To answer that, we need to reflect on what the Web is.

The original vision for the Web according to its creator, Tim Berners-Lee, was a space with multilateral publishing and consumption of information. It was a peer-to-peer vision with no dependency on a single party. Tim himself claims the Web is dying: the Web he wanted and the Web he got are no longer the same."



"GOOG, MSFT, FB, and AMZN are mimicking AAPL’s strategy of building brand loyalty around high-end devices. Through a process I call “Appleification”, they are (1) setting up walled gardens, (2) becoming hardware companies, and (3) marketing the design while designing for the market. It is a threat to AAPL itself, because they are behind the other giants when it comes to big data collection and its uses. While AAPL’s early and bold introduction of an App Store shook the Web as the dominant software distribution platform, it wasn’t enough to replace it. The next wave of walled gardens might look different: less noticeable, but nonetheless disruptive to the Web."



"There is a tendency at GOOG-FB-AMZN to bypass the Web which is motivated by user experience and efficient communication, not by an agenda to avoid browsers. In the knowledge internet and the commerce internet, being efficient to provide what users want is the goal. In the social internet, the goal is to provide an efficient channel for communication between people. This explains FB’s 10-year strategy with Augmented Reality (AR) and Virtual Reality (VR) as the next medium for social interactions through the internet. This strategy would also bypass the Web, proving how more natural social AR would be than social real-time texting in browsers. Already today, most people on the internet communicate with other people via a mobile app, not via a browser.

The common pattern among these three internet giants is to grow beyond browsers, creating new virtual contexts where data is created and shared. The Web may die like most other technologies do: simply by becoming less attractive than newer technologies. And like most obsolete technologies, they don’t suddenly disappear, neither do they disappear completely. You can still buy a Walkman and listen to a tape with it, but the technology has nevertheless lost its collective relevance. The Web’s death will come as a gradual decay of its necessity, not as a dramatic loss.

The Trinet

The internet will survive longer than the Web will. GOOG-FB-AMZN will still depend on submarine internet cables (the “Backbone”), because it is a technical success. That said, many aspects of the internet will lose their relevance, and the underlying infrastructure could be optimized only for GOOG traffic, FB traffic, and AMZN traffic. It wouldn’t conceptually be anymore a “network of networks”, but just a “network of three networks”, the Trinet, if you will. The concept of workplace network which gave birth to the internet infrastructure would migrate to a more abstract level: Facebook Groups, Google Hangouts, G Suite, and other competing services which can be acquired by a tech giant. Workplace networks are already today emulated in software as a service, not as traditional Local Area Networks. To improve user experience, the Trinet would be a technical evolution of the internet. These efforts are already happening today, at GOOG. In the long-term, supporting routing for the old internet and the old Web would be an overhead, so it could be beneficial to cut support for the diverse internet on the protocol and hardware level. Access to the old internet could be emulated on GOOG’s cloud accessed through the Trinet, much like how Windows 95 can be today emulated in your browser. ISPs would recognize the obsolescence of the internet and support the Trinet only, driven by market demand for optimal user experience from GOOG-FB-AMZN.

Perhaps a future with great user experience in AR, VR, hands-free commerce and knowledge sharing could evoke an optimistic perspective for what these tech giants are building. But 25 years of the Web has gotten us used to foundational freedoms that we take for granted. We forget how useful it has been to remain anonymous and control what we share, or how easy it was to start an internet startup with its own independent servers operating with the same rights GOOG servers have. On the Trinet, if you are permanently banned from GOOG or FB, you would have no alternative. You could even be restricted from creating a new account. As private businesses, GOOG, FB, and AMZN don’t need to guarantee you access to their networks. You do not have a legal right to an account in their servers, and as societies we aren’t demanding for these rights as vehemently as we could, to counter the strategies that tech giants are putting forward.

The Web and the internet have represented freedom: efficient and unsupervised exchange of information between people of all nations. In the Trinet, we will have even more vivid exchange of information between people, but we will sacrifice freedom. Many of us will wake up to the tragedy of this tradeoff only once it is reality."
andréstaltz  amazon  facebook  google  internet  web  online  walledgardens  marketing  advertising  2014  2017  seo  publishing  amp  apple 
november 2017 by robertogreco
Frontiers | Less-structured time in children's daily lives predicts self-directed executive functioning | Psychology
"Executive functions (EFs) in childhood predict important life outcomes. Thus, there is great interest in attempts to improve EFs early in life. Many interventions are led by trained adults, including structured training activities in the lab, and less-structured activities implemented in schools. Such programs have yielded gains in children's externally-driven executive functioning, where they are instructed on what goal-directed actions to carry out and when. However, it is less clear how children's experiences relate to their development of self-directed executive functioning, where they must determine on their own what goal-directed actions to carry out and when. We hypothesized that time spent in less-structured activities would give children opportunities to practice self-directed executive functioning, and lead to benefits. To investigate this possibility, we collected information from parents about their 6–7 year-old children's daily, annual, and typical schedules. We categorized children's activities as “structured” or “less-structured” based on categorization schemes from prior studies on child leisure time use. We assessed children's self-directed executive functioning using a well-established verbal fluency task, in which children generate members of a category and can decide on their own when to switch from one subcategory to another. The more time that children spent in less-structured activities, the better their self-directed executive functioning. The opposite was true of structured activities, which predicted poorer self-directed executive functioning. These relationships were robust (holding across increasingly strict classifications of structured and less-structured time) and specific (time use did not predict externally-driven executive functioning). We discuss implications, caveats, and ways in which potential interpretations can be distinguished in future work, to advance an understanding of this fundamental aspect of growing up."

[via: https://twitter.com/cblack__/status/924720295465721856 ]
2014  deschooling  unschooling  psychology  executivefunctioning  self-directed  self-directedlearning  learning  education  sfsh  childhood  freedom  children  experience  structure  janebarker  andreisemenov  lauramichaelson  lindsayprovan  hannahsnyder  yukomunakata 
october 2017 by robertogreco
Certad Talks - Dr. Geetha Narayanan's thoughts on Story as Pedagogy - YouTube
"Dr. Geetha Narayanan's thoughts on Story as Pedagogy at the Certad Talks.
CERTAD TALKS is an initiative to bring together eminent educators, artists, designers, thinkers and practitioners to talk with invited audiences about important aspects of education. Our purpose is to engage with powerful questions, provocative ideas and explore opportunities for innovative and sustainable education practice. We envision CERTAD TALKS will contribute to on going discussions and dialogue on what is valuable in constructing learning today."
geethanarayanan  2014  story  storytelling  pedagogy  slowpedagogy  slow  education  learning  decisionmaking  choices  plurality  multilingualism 
october 2017 by robertogreco
Bonobo builds a fire and toasts marshmallows - Monkey Planet: Preview - BBC One - YouTube
"Programme website: http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/p01r52gr Kanzi the bonobo lives in America and has learnt how to build a fire, light it using matches and toast marshmallows on it. It shows just how like us some primates really are."

[via: https://twitter.com/ziyatong/status/890765475688439808 ]
bonobos  apes  multispecies  tools  2014  fire  classideas  animals 
july 2017 by robertogreco
Palestino: A Home Away from Home • Copa90
[See also: https://thefunambulist.net/magazine/racialized-incarceration ]

"THE ONLY CLUB OF ITS KIND

Sport Club Palestino is unique in the world. There is no other club with the same name or which flies the Palestinian flag so freely, and all of this occurs 13,000 kilometres from their “homeland”. The club owes its existence to the fact that the Palestinian community in Chile is the largest in the world, outside of the Middle East. It is believed that the population of Palestinian descendants in Chile is around 500,000, their ancestors arriving approximately a century ago, standing out as successful business people that today are the owners of communication companies, supermarkets and factories.

However, Palestino is different to the other colonial football clubs in Chile, and perhaps around the world, due to their claims for independence, which although hidden, are intrinsic to their very existence. Union Española and Audax Italiano, for example, are also colonial football clubs in Chile, founded by immigrants, but neither of them harbour claims for independence as part of their natural fabric. There are others that may point to Atlanta in Argentina, which has an important Jewish influence, however Atlanta wasn’t founded by Jews and doesn´t have a name or an emblem that evokes images of Israel or the Jewish people. Palestino can also be distinguished from clubs such as Athletic de Bilbao, which is located in the geographic heart of the Basque territory and its claims for independence; Palestino is not located in Palestine, but on the other side of the world.

THE SHIRT AND THE MAP

Palestino is not involved in politics and there is no nationalistic indoctrination for their players or officials. In general, Palestino has taken care to strictly brand the club as a sporting club, steering clear from politics; well, almost always – there were a couple times in recent history where this did not hold true.

The first example was in 2002 where a little controversy was stirred when the goalkeeper, Leonardo Cauteruchi, wore a shirt displaying a drawing of the map of Palestine on his chest. However, the situation in 2014 was different, as it was an institutional decision. When commencing the Chilean Championship during January (which may sounds ridiculous), Palestino released a new playing shirt that replaced the number one with a silhouette of a map of Palestine according to the original boundaries that existed before the creation of the state of Israel under United Nations resolution. Palestino managed to play three games in the new shirt before the Jewish community created an uproar.

The matter reached the international press, causing an enraged Israeli Foreign Affairs Ministry to call and inform Israel and its diplomats in Chile to encourage them to express their discontent with the provocation. The simple symbol of a map on the shirt of a humble – sometimes the most humble – club in the Chilean first division was on the front page around the world.

With much commotion, Palestino was economically sanctioned by the disciplinary tribunal of the Chilean football association (Tribunal de Disciplina de la Asociación Nacional de Fútbol Profesional) and required to replace the map with a more traditional number one. The club president, Fernando Aguad, refused to budge and, rather than replacing the map with the number one he simply moved it to the front of the shirt, where it remains to this day. The decision to replace the number one with the Palestinian map was a complete success. Even though they weren’t able to use that shirt during an official match, they could sell it. Sales of the shirt increased more than 300% and the club received orders from France, Morocco, Turkey, Portugal, Germany, Spain, Brazil, Colombia and, of course, the Middle East.

This incident showed the tremendous symbolic power of Palestino and also justified the club´s institutional decision not to become involved in politics, knowing that if they persisted and became involved in politics the club would quickly find themselves at the heart of a grand conflict. Palestino has the name, the colours and the Palestinian flag, which flies freely at the home stadium (Estadio Municipal de La Cisterna), but the club has decided to not directly involve themselves in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, even though they know that thousands of Palestinians follow them through the internet and satellite television from the occupied territories."



"PALESTINE AND PALESTINO

Roberto Bishara´s whole body was in pain, for 26 hours he had been on a plane that had been delayed in its journey from Santiago to Tel Aviv. We are talking about 2008, in the middle of Palestino´s epic championship campaign, the final which would end up being seen by hundreds of fans in Ramallah on the other side of the world. Bishara was walking through the airport in Tel Aviv, slightly limping with the pins and needles that are typical of those who undertake the transatlantic journey in economy class. It was the first time that he had gone to play for the Palestinian national team. The Faisal Al- Husseini stadium, just 600 meters from the wall that divides Israel and the West Bank, was holding its first game in two years after being destroyed by an Israeli shelling. It was, no less, the first Palestinian national match being played in Palestine. The rival was Jordan, or at least that is what Bishara was trying to explain to the Israeli security forces during two hours of questioning in a dark room at Ben Gurion airport. Bishara, who would one year later became captain of the Palestinian national team, had to leave behind his suitcase and his camera, but finally he was permitted to leave the airport so that he could play in the historic match the ended in a 1-1 draw.

Although there are many Chileans that have played for the Palestinian national team, Edgardo Abdala, Leonardo Zamora, Alexis Norambuena, Patricio Acevedo, Pablo Abdala and Matías Jadue, among others, but none of them are as emblematic as Roberto “Tito” Bishara. Even Roberto Kettlun, who played more than 20 games for the Palestine national team and played with Hilal Al-Quds in the local league, does not match the figure of Tito Bishara. Kettlun told us recently: “many times equipment that was sent to us by FIFA was blocked, together with specialist coaches and sporting manuals. When we tried to bring in coaches and trainers to provide us with support, often they were stopped at the border and prevented from entering. Further, we organised tournaments but were forced to send back half of our opponents as they were not permitted to enter.”

More than rival defenders, the greatest enemy of the Palestinian national team are the Israeli check points that limit the freedom of movement within the Palestinian territories. As Bishara tells, many players miss training as they are detained for hours without reason. However, worse than the restrictions on movement is the ever present threat of death. Bishara recounts a day when a friend of his arrived crying, but it was a quiet sobbing, without outward scandal – his grandmother had been killed when a bomb landed on her house. Bishara couldn´t believe what he was hearing, but the others simply got on with training the following day as if nothing out of the ordinary had occurred. As Bishara states, “I never got over the sensation of playing in the middle of a war zone, but the others seem to be accustomed to it”.

When the Palestinian national team play, the public display a great level of enthusiasm as everyone is aware of the tremendous value in the mere existence of the team, meaning that, sometimes, they celebrate goals with more euphoria than the fans of other nations. A Palestinian goal in our stadium sounds like more than a hundred cannons, once said Bishara. In that stadium, although fragile, in shattered Palestine, you can see – in many places – the shirts of Palestino being proudly worn, with the Palestinian map sitting on the back."
futboll  football  chile  palestino  shuaibahmed  2008  2014  2016  politics  geopolitics  refugees  santiago  sports  nicolásvidal 
july 2017 by robertogreco
CD Palestino: a Palestinian club in Chile
"The Crimean War of the 1850s, World War II and the Arab-Israel Wars in the mid 1900s resulted in many Palestinians taking refuge in neighbouring countries like Jordan and Syria. But, many are not aware of the fact that approximately 500,000 individuals somehow made their way to the Chilean capital of Santiago, to escape persecution and to provide a better life for themselves and their families. Santiago, and wider Chile, soon became home to the largest Palestinian diaspora outside the Middle East.

Fast forward to present times and there’s a unique club that was formed in the 1920s with the intention of benefitting – through sport – Santiago’s growing Palestinian community, fairly similar to the thought process behind Scotland’s Glasgow Celtic was shaped by Brother Walfrid.

In one way, it’s possible to consider Club Deportivo Palestino as the first football club ever founded by refugees globally, with its name intentionally pinpointing their Palestinian roots. Since then, the club had added two national (Primera Division) titles in 1955 and 1978, two Copa Chiles in 1975 and 1977, and a two Primera B titles, in 1952 and 1972. In current times, though the club has not lived up to its exaggerated expectations, the fan base continues to grow – primarily because of their continued devotion and support for the Palestinian cause, now thousands of miles away.

The club’s home colors include the Palestinian colors of red, green and white, and it would not be surprising for a neutral to observe Palestinian flags and Keffiyeh, a traditional headdress, adorning supporters during home games at the Estadio Municipal de La Cisterna stadium.

Roberto Kettlun, an ex-Palestino player of Palestinian origin, and an ex Palestinian national team player and current Hilal Al-Quds star, has only good things to say about his two seasons spent at the club.

“I played for two seasons with Palestino club, it was an amazing experience, professionally and also personally, it brought me closer to my origins, and also to the Palestinian national team which provided a platform for me to move to Greece.”

Every time the players step on to the pitch, there is a feeling of not only Chilean eyes but millions of others abroad watching them play. Twenty-seven-year-old Chilean radio commentator and Musician Sebastián Manríquez says: “CD Palestino stands not only for a football club in La Cisterna, but for a well-respected community in Chile, for the land where their founders and fans’ ancestors came from, and for people who are suffering maybe the most inexplicable consequences of an almost endless conflict in the Middle East.

“Palestino, in opposite to the other diaspora football clubs in our country, plays every match with their minds in the field and their hearts kilometers away, knowing that an even larger and greater amount of fans are supporting them from the distance despite the horror and the sadness that every day Palestinians suffer in their everyday lives. And having that in mind, it’s not uncommon that every match against Palestino becomes a hard, fierce and battled confrontation.”

“Fans are double fans, because despite football, here there is an entire country waiting to here for victories outside the territories in order to bring pride, happiness and pride into this occupied territories,” says Kettlun.

And to this accord, Palestinians across the globe, those with interest in football or without, have a similar and growing appreciation for the club.

“I thought it was really cool to have such an established side be part and parcel of the sporting scene in South America. There are only about 11 million of us in the world so to have a club carry our name on the other side of the globe is pretty neat,” says Bassil Mikdadi, a Palestinian football blogger and creator of Footbol Palestine."



"Today, the national team enjoys the technical elegance of the Chileans through the likes of Alexis Norambuena, Jonathan Cantillana and Daniel Kabir Mustafa. Their style of play directly complements the physical strength of the locally based players. This, along with several other factors, has taken Palestine to their current position of 130th in the FIFA World Rankings.

However, CD Palestino’s rise in the global mainstream can largely be attributed to a kit dispute in 2014, which gained instant PR among the many that show camaraderie with the Palestinians. In January 2014, the team walked on to the pitch wearing kits with the No. 1 depicting the 1947 map of Palestine, before the creation of Israel. It drew loud nuances along with appreciation from various parts of the world.

According to a complaint by Patrick Kiblisky, the club president of Chilean club Ñublense: “The figure 1 was replaced by a map of the historic Palestine, before the United Nations resolution of November 20, 1947, which established a Jewish state and an Arab state. This map, which does not take into account the present state of Israel, is a symbol for the Palestinian people. These circumstances mean that its use constitutes a political matter.”

CD Palestino was eventually fined approximately $1,300 by the Chilean FA and was forced to change the design of the jersey.

“It’s impossible to deny that the Tino Tino [Palestino] – as we Chileans call it – is a club like no other in the league. Most of Chilean fans recognize the contributions of Palestinian diaspora in Chile and the historical background that Palestino seek to represent. The majority of the Chilean population supports the Palestinian cause, and because of that I would say, despite the fact that Palestino is not one of the most popular teams in the tournament, their fans are the most respected and supported ones in the Chilean football.

“This respect comes even by fans of their main rivals: the Spanish diaspora’s club Unión Española and the Italian diaspora’s team Audax Italiano. As an example, in the middle of the controversy about replacing the number 1 with the Palestinian map, followers from almost all Primera División participants expressed their support to the club, including fans of Ñublense – club which denounced Palestino, who expressed their disagreement with the demand made by the club’s president, Alex Kiblisky, suggesting that Kiblisky’s Jewish background was determinant in that decision,” says Sebastián

And to the question if Palestino really aims to support the Palestinian cause? According to Roberto: “Yes it does. Specially this last management, they have been very active in our cause, very brave with certain things, and also very patriotic to be daily concern in what is happening on here.”

Though the club accepted the fine and agreed to change the uniform, the message on the club Facebook page was clear. “For us, free Palestine will always be historical Palestine, nothing less.”

It was a clear message from one of the most interesting, politically-charged and unique clubs in world football."
futboll  football  chile  palestino  shuaibahmed  2015  2014  politics  geopolitics  refugees  santiago  sports 
july 2017 by robertogreco
Meet the Bird Brainiacs: Common Raven | Audubon
[See also:

"Crows and Ravens are Masters of Self-Control: New study shows that corvids know when patience pays off." (2014)
http://www.audubon.org/news/crows-and-ravens-are-masters-self-control-0

"Remarkably Curious and Intelligent, Crows and Ravens Deserve a Closer Look: A new book offers a close look at the lives of these wonderfully smart, charismatic birds." (2013)
http://www.audubon.org/magazine/may-june-2013/remarkably-curious-and-intelligent-crows-and ]
2016  ravens  corvids  birds  animals  alisaopar  2013  2014  nature  crows  intelligence 
july 2017 by robertogreco
Horrible Histories creator Terry Deary says school is a waste of time - Telegraph
"Terry Deary says he is "poisoning the minds of children" by sneaking anarchic messages into his Horrible Histories"



"With titles such as Terrible Tudors, Rotten Romans and the Measly Middle Ages, author Terry Deary has never been one to sugar coat the Horrible Histories of the world.

He has now admitted deliberately littering his books with subversive messages for his young readers, as he condemns school a “waste of time”.

Deary, who has sold around 25 million copies of his Horrible Histories series across the world since they were first published in 1993, said laced his stories with radical ideas in the same way “sneaky propagandists” do, insisting: “I’m poisoning the minds of children.”

Deary’s best-loved books include the Terrible Tudors, Rotten Romans and Vile Victorians, along with the Groovy Greeks, Vicious Vikings and Awesome Egyptians.

Telling history through timelines, quizzes and a series of cartoons, they delight in telling children that “history can be horrible” before unveiling the rude, quirky and amusing anecdotes to bring the period to life.

Calling himself an “anarchist”, he has now disclosed his delight in sprinkling his books with radical ideas, with a profound dislike for authority stemming from his own schooldays.

“The teachers put my back up,” he told the Sunday Times. “They kick conformity into children. Teachers are just bullies and schools are a waste of time.

“They’re an ancient Greek idea that the Victorians borrowed to get kids off the street. It’s fundamentally wrong.”

Dismissing the government as “just a bunch of muppets in Whitehall telling teachers what to teach”, he argued children should instead be offered mentors tailored to their specific needs.

“Every child has an entitlement to be education for their needs,” he said. “The key is to identify talents. Schools can’t do that in classes of 30. Mentors could.

“If you’re a writer then someone attaches you to a write. Art to an artist. Mechanics to a mechanic. What is your skill? Everybody has a skill.”

Speaking of his books, which have been adapted into a popular television series, he attributed their success to the concept of “treating children with respect”.

He added: “Never talk down to children. Their ability to understand human nature has to be respected.”

When asked about the radical undertones of his work, he told the newspaper: “That’s the way snaky propagandists do it. I’m poisoning the minds of children…yes!”

He has previously said of his Horrible Histories: “I think what underlies Horrible Histories is the goodness of ordinary people as opposed to the evil and stupidity of people in power.

“They may start out bright-eyed and bushy-tailed, but in power your mindset becomes hanging on to that power whatever it takes, and if that involves corruption, you’ll use it.”

His 1998 book, Frightful First World War, begins: “History can be horrible. So horrible that some boring old fogies think young people should not be told the whole, terrible truth.”

It goes on to challenge young readers to “try this quick quiz on your teacher and watch as they strain their brain cell to the limit.

“If they get a question wrong you can jeer because they’re a dunce – if they get it right you can jeer because they’re probably old enough to remember the First World War!”

Rotten Romans refers to teachers “droning on”, while Barmy British Empire tells of “brutal Britannia” and the “dreadful deeds down under”. An entire book is dedicated to “Churchill and his Woeful Wars”.

A stage version of Horrible Histories: Barmy Britain is currently touring theatres."
2014  terrydeary  horriblehistories  unschooling  deschooling  education  learning  howelearn  anarchism  government  subversion  schools  schooling  schooliness  society  teaching  howweteach  children  corruption  power 
may 2017 by robertogreco
End of the End of the End: Agnès Varda in Los Angeles
"Once the family settled, the Columbia executive who brokered the contract with Demy, George Ayres, then pursued Varda, commissioning from her a manuscript about American hippies, Peace and Love. Columbia liked the script, but negotiations ended abruptly and the film was never made. Ayres (who also approached Andy Warhol) teases that Varda walked away because an executive pinched her cheek; Varda claims Columbia wouldn’t promise her final cut, and signing on without it was unthinkable. The incident is a minor detail in Varda hagiography, and yet it launched her extended engagement with Los Angeles, a relationship between city and filmmaker that would eventually include two sojourns and five films, all conceived, written, filmed, and edited in California. Of the five, two were shorts—Uncle Yanco (1967) and Huey (1968)—shot respectively in Marin County and Oakland, while the three features, Lions Love (…and Lies) (1969), Documenteur: An Emotion Picture (1981), and Mur Murs (1981), are Los Angeles films inside and out, indelibly marked by Varda’s experience of the city.

By the time of her first visit to Los Angeles in 1967, Varda was already an accomplished filmmaker, having directed four features in France, including the celebrated Cleo from 5 to 7 (1962), a day in the life of a famous singer as she awaits the results of a life-or-death medical test. Her first film, La Pointe Courte, made in 1954, created even more of a stir, at least within a small and influential circle of burgeoning filmmakers. La Pointe Courte is now credited as heralding the arrival of a new movement in film and Varda’s name inextricably attached to the moniker “grandmother of the French new wave.” The compliment carries a whiff of condescension; the age difference between Varda and Jean-Luc Godard or François Truffaut is not a generation but less than five years, and it is premature to assign Varda—who, at 85, continues to make films, teach, travel widely, and speak sharply—her epitaph. It is, however, to the point: Varda’s innovative formal structure and use of natural light and nonprofessional actors in La Pointe Courte predated the earliest work of any of her contemporaries.

Initially at least, Varda influenced film as an outsider. When she made La Pointe Courte, she was entirely self-taught and a film naïf. “I seemed to be there by mistake,” she later remembered of her first meeting with the new wave cadre—Claude Chabrol, Eric Rohmer, Jacques Rivette, Truffaut, Godard, and others—“feeling small, ignorant, and the only woman.”9 Her miasma was unwarranted, as she was the only one of the group to have actually made a film. Her would-be peers were critics and cinephiles first, filmmakers second, while Varda’s background was in art history and her interest in literature. She wasn’t watching films in her early twenties but attending classes by philosopher Gaston Bachelard at the Sorbonne and aspiring to be a museum curator, photographing children on the laps of Santa Claus and dancers for the People’s National Theater. Her touchstone as a filmmaker was not Jean Renoir or Orson Welles, whom she claimed to have never heard of, but the formal strategy of Faulkner’s Wild Palms (1939), a novel told on two discordant tracks that she devoured, dissected, marveled at, and finally decided to try on film.

***


Like all travelers, Varda brought to Los Angeles a suitcase of assumptions and judgments. In the late 1960s, America in general—and California in particular—seemed to many foreign observers a cesspool of violence and imperialism. America’s war in Vietnam, racist cops, and brutal attempts to contain civil unrest were international news. Los Angeles’s reputation abroad was specifically haunted by the 1965 Watts riot. American leftists found little redeeming in the violence, but in Paris, Guy Debord of the Situationist International circulated an essay describing the tragedy as a “rebellion against the commodity.”10 Varda may or may not have known Debord’s work—more likely the former, since he had unfavorably reviewed her films—but she generally shared the politics of her milieu.11 She was openly disgusted by American racism and, like many white European intellectuals (most famously Jean Genet), strongly identified with the Black Panthers. In fact, one of her major coups in California was a commission from French television to shoot a documentary short about the Black Panthers, including a coveted interview with Huey Newton in jail. Varda’s depiction of the Panthers is unusually fair-minded, portraying protests in downtown Oakland as congenial family gatherings.12 Varda’s disgust with mainstream American culture is more transparently obvious in a 1969 discussion with Newsweek editor Jack Kroll, conducted at the New York Film Festival and later televised. Twice, Kroll describes the filmic subjects in the first of Varda’s Los Angeles films, Lions Love (…and Lies), as “grotesque,” and twice Varda recoils. Finally, brimming with disdain, she interrupts to tell Kroll his is a “racist position”—racist in this case summing up all variety of American stupidity.13

In fact, Varda’s California films are devoted to such “grotesque” characters, the marginalized and denigrated types that make of California a hypertrophic variation on America. Varda found in Los Angeles a city of seekers—explorers, refugees, and desperadoes who had pushed westward and westward again, compelled by nothing but dreams, and finally arriving at the edge of a continent. The search that has no object resonated with Varda; she is, by her own admission, a gleaner for whom searching and living are coincident. The natural terminus of such a search—the beach—was where Varda felt most at home. The edge of the sea is both a symbol of dramatic finality and endless expansion, and what happens there is one of Varda’s great themes.14 How to live on a precipice? Having pushed westward until there is no more West, what sorts of searches remain?"



"Varda’s insouciance to Hollywood had scarcely diminished 13 years later, in 1980, when she was again approached by the studios to submit a script. Showing little concern for what was likely to be produced, she wrote a story based on a real Los Angeles event she’d read about in the Paris newspapers. A man was walking down the street naked at 5 a.m. He lived nearby, and his pregnant wife was home asleep. Strolling along on the sidewalk, he encountered an LAPD police officer who shot and killed him. When the officer was questioned why, he simply said, according to Varda’s telling of the story, “Because of his eyes.”16 Her script related the incident through the perspective of a French woman who happened to witness the murder from her window.

As Varda might have guessed, Hollywood refused to produce a film about a police officer’s poor judgment, and the same sequence of events repeated itself. When the script was a dead end and the deal came to naught, Varda chose to remain in Los Angeles to independently produce two more features: Documenteur: An Emotion Picture, about a single mother struggling to make a home, and Mur Murs, a documentary about murals and their creators. Varda conceived of the two films as twins and originally screened them together, though they were later separated when she decided each was stronger on its own."



"The same mural that concludes Mur Murs opens Documenteur: LA Fine Arts Squad’s Isle of California.20 The massive painting depicts a broken concrete highway precipitously perched on an island, dangling above a foamy ocean. Split from the mainland, Los Angeles is in ruins. Without the West, the edge of the West has become a nowhere. Varda once described Documenteur as a film about the “end of the end of the end,” a phrase that also evokes the cataclysm to which this mural alludes, the specter of a catastrophe that will plunge Los Angeles into the sea.21 The ocean reclaims and gifts land at will, such that the end of the end will at some point meet its end. In this respect and others, Varda’s Los Angeles films insist on exposing the city’s secret substratum—the geological precariousness, the outsider’s take on Hollywood, the painful slivers of loss endemic to Angelenos’s propensity for self-invention. If only Faulkner and Fitzgerald and Brecht and all the others had seen Los Angeles as Varda did—as a city of seekers and misfits teetering on the edge of the world—they would not have hated it as they did. Of course, to find that Los Angeles, they would have had to leave Hollywood."
agnèsvarda  film  losangeles  frenchnewwave  françoistruffaut  2014  jean-lucgodard  sashaarchibald  gender  williamfaulkner  fscottfitzgerald  bertoltbrecht  jacquesdemy  georgebeauregard  hueynewton  california  us  thomanderson 
may 2017 by robertogreco
A Weapon for Readers | by Tim Parks | NYR Daily | The New York Review of Books
"Imagine you are asked what single alteration in people’s behavior might best improve the lot of mankind. How foolish would you have to be to reply: have them learn to read with a pen in their hands? But I firmly believe such a simple development would bring huge benefits.

We have too much respect for the printed word, too little awareness of the power words hold over us. We allow worlds to be conjured up for us with very little concern for the implications. We overlook glaring incongruities. We are suckers for alliteration, assonance, and rhythm. We rejoice over stories, whether fiction or “documentary,” whose outcomes are flagrantly manipulative, self-serving, or both. Usually both. If a piece of writing manifests the stigmata of literature—symbols, metaphors, unreliable narrators, multiple points of view, structural ambiguities—we afford it unlimited credit. With occasional exceptions, the only “criticism” brought to such writing is the kind that seeks to elaborate its brilliance, its cleverness, its creativity. What surprised me most when I first began publishing fiction myself was how much at every level a novelist can get away with.

This extravagant regard, which seemed to reach a peak in the second half of the twentieth century as the modernists of a generation before were canonized as performers of the ever more arduous miracle of conferring a little meaning on life, is reflected in the treatment of the book itself. The spine must not be bent back and broken, the pages must not be marked with dog ears, there must be no underlining, no writing in the margins. Obviously, for those of us brought up on library books and school-owned textbooks (my copy of Browning bore the name of a dozen pupils who had used the text before me), there were simple and sensible reasons supporting this behavior. But the reverence went beyond a proper respect for those who would be reading the pages after you. Even when I bought a book myself, if my parents caught me breaking its spine so that it would lay open on the desk, they were shocked. Writing was sacred. In the beginning was the Word. The word written down, hopefully on quality paper. Much of the resistance to e-books, notably from the literati, has to do with a loss of this sense of sacredness, of a vulnerable paper vessel that can thrive on our protective devotion.

The absolute need to read with a pen in one’s hand became evident to me watching my students as we studied translation together. …"



"Aside from simply insisting, as I already had for years, that they be more alert, I began to wonder what was the most practical way I could lead my students to a greater attentiveness, teach them to protect themselves from all those underlying messages that can shift one’s attitude without one’s being aware of it? I began to think about the way I read myself, about the activity of reading, what you put into it rather than what was simply on the page. Try this experiment, I eventually told them: from now on always read with a pen in your hands, not beside you on the table, but actually in your hand, ready, armed. And always make three or four comments on every page, at least one critical, even aggressive. Put a question mark by everything you find suspect. Underline anything you really appreciate. Feel free to write “splendid,” but also, “I don’t believe a word of it.” And even “bullshit.”

A pen is not a magic wand. The critical faculty is not conjured from nothing. But it was remarkable how many students improved their performance with this simple stratagem. There is something predatory, cruel even, about a pen suspended over a text. Like a hawk over a field, it is on the lookout for something vulnerable. Then it is a pleasure to swoop and skewer the victim with the nib’s sharp point. The mere fact of holding the hand poised for action changes our attitude to the text. We are no longer passive consumers of a monologue but active participants in a dialogue. Students would report that their reading slowed down when they had a pen in their hand, but at the same time the text became more dense, more interesting, if only because a certain pleasure could now be taken in their own response to the writing when they didn’t feel it was up to scratch, or worthy only of being scratched."



"Some readers will fear that the pen-in-hand approach denies us those wonderful moments when we fall under a writer’s spell, the moments when we succumb to a style, and are happy to succumb to it, when suddenly it seems to us that this approach to the world, be it Proust’s or Woolf’s or Beckett’s or Bernhard’s, is really, at least for the moment, the only approach we are interested in, moments that are no doubt among the most exciting in our reading experience.

No, I wouldn’t want to miss out on that. But if writers are to entice us into their vision, let us make them work for it. Let us resist enchantment for a while, or at least for long enough to have some idea of what we are being drawn into. For the mindless, passive acceptance of other people’s representations of the world can only enchain us and hamper our personal growth, hamper the possibility of positive action. Sometimes it seems the whole of society languishes in the stupor of the fictions it has swallowed. Wasn’t this what Cervantes was complaining about when he began Don Quixote? Better to read a poor book with alert resistance, than devour a good one in mindless adoration."
howweead  howwethink  reading  annotation  marginalia  timparks  2014  teaching  howweteach  criticalthinking  underlining 
february 2017 by robertogreco
Sutro Tower: From Eyesore to Icon I Science in the City I Exploratorium - YouTube
Looming over San Francisco since 1973, Sutro Tower's antennae transmit and receive radio and television signals to the nine-cou"nty SF Bay Area. Perched above Twin Peaks, the tower has become a local icon, now revered as much as it was abhorred when first built. Visit the tower with us to find out what’s on it, what’s underneath it, and its history, including its transformation from eyesore to icon."
1973  sutrotower  sanfrancisco  history  2014 
january 2017 by robertogreco
POLITICAL THEORY - Karl Marx - YouTube
"Karl Marx remains deeply important today not as the man who told us what to replace capitalism with, but as someone who brilliantly pointed out certain of its problems. The School of Life, a pro-Capitalist institution, takes a look.



FURTHER READING

“Most people agree that we need to improve our economic system somehow. It threatens our planet through excessive consumption, distracts us with irrelevant advertising, leaves people hungry and without healthcare, and fuels unnecessary wars. Yet we’re also often keen to dismiss the ideas of its most famous and ambitious critic, Karl Marx. This isn’t very surprising. In practice, his political and economic ideas have been used to design disastrously planned economies and nasty dictatorships. Frankly, the remedies Marx proposed for the ills of the world now sound a bit demented. He thought we should abolish private property. People should not be allowed to own things. At certain moments one can sympathise. But it’s like wanting to ban gossip or forbid watching television. It’s going to war with human behaviour. And Marx believed the world would be put to rights by a dictatorship of the proletariat; which does not mean anything much today. Openly Marxist parties received a total of only 1,685 votes in the 2010 UK general election, out of the nearly 40 million ballots cast…”"
karlmarx  marxism  capitalism  2014  work  labor  specialization  purpose  alienation  disconnection  hierarchy  efficiency  communism  belonging  insecurity  economics  primitiveaccumulation  accumulation  profit  theft  exploitation  instability  precarity  crises  abundance  scarcity  shortage  productivity  leisure  unemployment  freedom  employment  inequality  wealth  wealthdistribution  marriage  relationships  commodityfetishism  feminism  oppression  ideology  values  valuejudgements  worth  consumerism  materialism  anxiety  competition  complacency  conformity  communistmanifesto  inheritance  privateproperty  banking  communication  transportation  eduction  publiceducation  frederickengels  generalists  specialists  daskapital 
january 2017 by robertogreco
John Berger: ‘Writing is an off-shoot of something deeper’ | Books | The Guardian
[via: http://jarrettfuller.tumblr.com/post/105319669752/language-cannot-be-reduced-to-a-dictionary-or ]

"I have been writing for about 80 years. First letters then poems and speeches, later stories and articles and books, now notes. The activity of writing has been a vital one for me; it helps me to make sense and continue. Writing, however, is an off-shoot of something deeper and more general – our relationship with language as such. And the subject of these few notes is language.

Let’s begin by examining the activity of translating from one language to another. Most translations today are technological, whereas I’m referring to literary translations: the translation of texts that concern individual experience.

The conventional view of what this involves proposes that the translator or translators study the words on one page in one language and then render them into another language on another page. This involves a so-called word-for-word translation, and then an adaptation to respect and incorporate the linguistic tradition and rules of the second language, and finally another working-over to recreate the equivalent of the “voice” of the original text. Many – perhaps most – translations follow this procedure and the results are worthy, but second-rate.

Why? Because true translation is not a binary affair between two languages but a triangular affair. The third point of the triangle being what lay behind the words of the original text before it was written. True translation demands a return to the pre-verbal. One reads and rereads the words of the original text in order to penetrate through them to reach, to touch, the vision or experience that prompted them. One then gathers up what one has found there and takes this quivering almost wordless “thing” and places it behind the language it needs to be translated into. And now the principal task is to persuade the host language to take in and welcome the “thing” that is waiting to be articulated.

This practice reminds us that a language cannot be reduced to a dictionary or stock of words and phrases. Nor can it be reduced to a warehouse of the works written in it. A spoken language is a body, a living creature, whose physiognomy is verbal and whose visceral functions are linguistic. And this creature’s home is the inarticulate as well as the articulate.

Consider the term “mother tongue”. In Russian it is rodnoy-yazik, which means “nearest” or “dearest tongue”. At a pinch one could call it “darling tongue”. Mother tongue is one’s first language, first heard as an infant.

And within one mother tongue are all mother tongues. Or to put it another way – every mother tongue is universal. Noam Chomsky has brilliantly demonstrated that all languages – not only verbal ones – have certain structures and procedures in common. And so a mother tongue is related to (rhymes with?) non-verbal languages – such as the languages of signs, of behaviour, of spatial accommodation. When I’m drawing, I try to unravel and transcribe a text of appearances, which already has, I know, its indescribable but assured place in my mother tongue.

Words, terms, phrases can be separated from the creature of their language and used as mere labels. They then become inert and empty. The repetitive use of acronyms is a simple example of this. Most mainstream political discourse today is composed of words that, separated from any creature of language, are inert. And such dead “word-mongering” wipes out memory and breeds a ruthless complacency.

What has prompted me to write over the years is the hunch that something needs to be told, and that if I don’t try to tell it, it risks not being told. I picture myself as a stop-gap man rather than a consequential, professional writer.

After I’ve written a few lines I let the words slip back into the creature of their language. And there, they are instantly recognised and greeted by a host of other words, with whom they have an affinity of meaning, or of opposition, or of metaphor or alliteration or rhythm. I listen to their confabulation. Together they are contesting the use to which I put the words I chose. They are questioning the roles I allotted them.

So I modify the lines, change a word or two, and submit them again. Another confabulation begins. And it goes on like this until there is a low murmur of provisional consent. Then I proceed to the next paragraph.

Another confabulation begins ...

Others can place me as they like as a writer. For myself, I’m the son of a bitch – and you can guess who the bitch is, no?"
johnberger  2014  translation  language  words  writing  thinking  voice  meaning 
january 2017 by robertogreco
Instagram and Art Theory - artnet News
"Isn’t it striking that the most-typical and most-maligned genres of Instagram imagery happen to correspond to the primary genres of Western secular art? All that #foodporn is still-life; all those #selfies, self-portraits. All those vacation vistas are #landscape; art-historically speaking, #beachday pics evoke the hoariest cliché of middle-class leisure iconography. (As for the #nudes, I guess they are going on over on Snapchat.)"



"Maybe it seems as if there’s a tension between Berger’s enthusiasm for image-sharing and the criticism of the inanity of what technology actually does. But it’s the fact that Ways of Seeing helps square this circle, to break out of the choice between dismissive traditionalism and easy techno-optimism, that I think makes it useful. The whole purpose, for Berger, of having a political take on how images function in society is to point beyond this binary: technology makes possible many good things; political and economic conditions guarantee, however, that it is constantly warped so that the same kinds of bad patterns repeat themselves, in new and improved forms."

[via: http://jarrettfuller.tumblr.com/post/90462499802/isnt-it-striking-that-the-most-typical-and ]
instagram  bendavis  via:jarrettfuller  waysofseeing  johnberger  2014  photography  noticing  still-life  landscapes  self-portraits 
january 2017 by robertogreco
THE 25 BEST FILMS OF 2014: A VIDEO COUNTDOWN on Vimeo
"25. Lucy -
24. We Are the Best! -
23. Timbuktu -
22. Selma *
21. Love is Strange -
20. Listen Up Philip
19. Godzilla -
18. Starred Up
17. Why Don’t You Play in Hell? -
16. Mommy
15. The Babadook
14. Palo Alto -
13. Ida -
12. Adieu au langage -
11. Boyhood -
10. The Tale of the Princess Kaguya
9. Force Majeure -
8. God Help the Girl
7. The Double
6. Only Lovers Left Alive
5. Gone Girl
4. Nymphomaniac
3. Under the Skin
2. Inherent Vice
1. The Grand Budapest Hotel *"

[*seen it]
2014  towatch  filmlists  davidehrlich  film  editing 
december 2016 by robertogreco
Bruce Conner, parsing the nuclear age - LA Times
"In the collective imagination, the mushroom cloud was only a vague if powerful picture. At Kohn Gallery, where a fully restored “Crossroads” is being projected on a large wall in the center gallery, that picture is writ large – turned over and around and studied closely, like an alien specimen held in the hand.

“Crossroads” was composed by editing and reassembling declassified government footage of a 1946 test blast at Bikini Atoll in the Pacific Ocean. Some 700 cameras recorded the underwater test – talk about overkill – which had been ordered to understand the blast’s effects on warships.

The goal was to prove that the nuclear threat, still brand new, did not render the American fleet obsolete, so that appropriations for naval defense contractors could continue.

Like Eadweard Muybridge’s early photographic motion studies, Conner’s film uses 27 black-and-white shots in extreme slow motion to create an almost abstract visual choreography. Original music by Patrick Gleeson and Terry Riley begins as a low rumble (think microphone static) and soon emerges as a propulsive electronic rhythm.

The first of the film’s two primary parts centers on startling, even mesmerizing sea-level views of the blast. Plumes open and swell like exotic flowers, no two alike. Then the camera rises into the sky.

From airplanes we get aerial views akin to that of Tiepolo’s gods, goddesses and personifications of virtue and vice surveying the follies of mere mortals below. The blast’s expanding cloud skitters across the surface of the sea, swallowing ships in its wake like Noe Peaks disappearing into San Francisco fog.

The film’s longest section comes at the end. A flat gray field slowly but steadily dissolves, like an old television set forming a picture of total annihilation. An enormous battleship emerges as a hulking black silhouette at the left.

Conner was a poet, not a polemicist. Yet, in its entirety, “Crossroads” might be seen as a metaphor for the way in which an astounding force – the atomic bomb – dispersed and steadily spread until it enveloped everything in sight."
bruceconner  2014  christopherknight  film  crossroads  1976  bikiniatoll 
december 2016 by robertogreco
Austin Kleon — Morris Berman, Why America Failed: The Roots of...
"Picked this up off a tip from @mattthomas​ — it’s a “post-mortem” of our nation, the third in a trilogy about the Decline of the American Empire (part one is The Twilight of American Culture, which I’m reading now, and part two is Dark Ages America). It’s a bleak portrait, one which I’m not sure a lot of people want to read about around the holidays, but for some perverse reason, I found it very enjoyable and oddly comforting — in the first book, Berman says “I’ll do my best not to entertain you,” but he fails.

The big idea here is that the dominate mode of America is a kind of “technohustling”—America is a “hustling” culture (“American English contains more than two hundred nouns and verbs referring to a swindle”) that believes in endless technological progress (“technology is not neutral”) and it’s left us with a hollowed-out nation —economically, spiritually, emotionally — in which a few have much and many have very little.

Berman points to a long “anti-hustler” tradition of people such as the Transcendentalists, Herman Melville (he sees Moby-Dick as maybe the greatest book about America), and Lewis Mumford, that culminates with Jimmy Carter’s “Crisis of Confidence” speech he delivered in 1979, which Berman regards as the tradition’s “last stand.” Here’s Carter:
In a nation that was proud of hard work, strong families, close-knit communities, and our faith in God, too many of us now tend to worship self-indulgence and consumption. Human identity is no longer defined by what one does, but by what one owns. But we’ve discovered that owning things and consuming things does not satisfy our longing for meaning. We’ve learned that piling up material goods cannot fill the emptiness of lives which have no confidence or purpose.

Berman sees very little that the individual can do to escape the “American Nightmare,” other than flee (he went to Mexico) or pursue what he calls the “monastic option” (which he explores in detail in the first book): “resisting the dominant culture and trying to do something meaningful with your life as opposed to living the mass dream.”

Made up a good reading list of books I’ve wanted to check out for a while:

• Alexis de Tocqueville, Democracy in America
• A General Theory of Love
• Barbara Ehrenreich, Bright-sided: How Positive Thinking Is Undermining America
• E.F. Schumacher, Small Is Beautiful: Economics as if People Mattered
• Lewis Mumford, Technics and Civilization"

[See also: "How America's 'Culture of Hustling' Is Dark and Empty: Results-obsessed perspectives overlook meaning — and leave little room for creativity, pleasure, or accepting the importance of sadness."
https://www.theatlantic.com/health/archive/2013/08/how-americas-culture-of-hustling-is-dark-and-empty/278601/ ]
morrisberman  consumerism  jimmycarter  austinkleon  2016  2014  toread  hustle  hustling  hermanmelville  moby-dick  transcendentalism  us  culture  society  self-indulgence  consumption  materialism  technohustling  monasticism  cv  efschumacher  leismumford  barbaraehrenreich  toqueville  meaning  meaningmaking  sadness  emptiness  results  creativity  pleasure  leisurearts  artleisure  mobydick 
december 2016 by robertogreco
Alexandra Lange: Portfolio | Barragan House
"I visited Luis Barragan’s house in Mexico City in March. Inspired by Guy Trebay’s Travel story on visiting Barragan, a portfolio of photographs from that day."
alexandralange  luisbarragán  casaluisbarragán  2014  architecture  mexico  mexicocity  mexicodf  df 
december 2016 by robertogreco
Alexandra Lange: Portfolio | Casa Prieto
"While in Mexico City in March, I was also able to tour Casa Prieto Lopez, designed by Luis Barragan in 1950. The house is part of the luxurious suburb, master-planned by Barragan, called Jardines del Pedregal. The house was then for sale, with some (not all) of its original furnishings and artworks by Mathias Goeritz intact. It is far grander than Barragan’s own home, which is essentially on a townhouse lot. It also feels less fitted to the life of a particular human. One could intuit Barragan’s daily rituals from the spaces he made for them; the family Prieto had numerous children, and one imagined the architect leaving enough room between moments for their banging and flopping and wet feet. That last orange space is, of all things, the garage."
alexandralange  luisbarragán  casaprietolópez  2014  architecture  mexico  mexicocity  mexicodf  df 
december 2016 by robertogreco
Maira Kalman’s Bohemian Bliss Above a Bakery - WSJ
"The illustrator and writer recalls her artist husband, Tibor, and their first Greenwich Village apartment"



"Artist Maira Kalman, 65, is the author and illustrator of 24 books, including “My Favorite Things” (Harper Design) and “Ah-Ha to Zig” (Rizzoli), both based on a December exhibit she is curating for New York’s Cooper Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum. She spoke with Marc Myers.

The apartment I shared with my late husband, Tibor, between 1976 and 1982, wasn’t pretty but we were happy. We both came of age in that fifth-floor tenement walk-up at 29 Cornelia St. in New York’s Greenwich Village. I was just beginning to illustrate and Tibor was starting M & Co., his graphic-design firm. We didn’t need much.

The railroad apartment had three rooms, one after the next. What we lacked in space and fancy furnishings was more than made up for by fun and love. Back then the neighborhood was still home to three generations of Italian families and poor artists. Our rent was $125 a month, and everything was possible in our lives and careers.

Tibor and I met in 1968 while attending New York University. Throughout the early 1970s we would break up and get back together, so we lived in a series of places before settling down. When you entered our Cornelia Street apartment, you were standing in our living room. Then you passed into the kitchen—the center room with a rough concrete trough of a bathtub that had a wooden cover when it wasn’t in use. The third room was a small bedroom that faced the back of A. Zito & Sons bakery. In the morning, the smell of bread baking filled the room.

Tibor and I were both strangely content. Even climbing five flights with groceries or with the laundry was part of the experience. We just thought, here we are, we’re together and in love, and isn’t that great.

Our decorating style was no style at all. Our furnishings were hand-me-downs or things we had found on the street. One piece was a beautiful armchair that we had reupholstered. I still have it. I don’t know why someone chucked it out, but that’s New York.

In the kitchen, we had a ’50s dining table. My studio wasn’t set up yet, so I drew at the kitchen table. I’d draw everywhere, from the park to cafes.

One day, when Tibor was at work, I decided I hated our horrible brown wall-to-wall carpeting. I ripped it up halfway before I became exhausted. When Tibor came home I told him the carpet had to go. He ripped out the other half without a word of complaint. Then I painted the wood floor in the living room butter yellow—the walls were already white—and I instantly felt lighter. That’s what’s interesting about changing layers of your living space. How you feel changes, too.

Eventually Tibor and I wanted more space, so we built a loft bed in the bedroom. It had lots of heavy, raw wood and looked rather dreadful. It was a hippie time, so you have to forgive us. At one point we also upgraded the kitchen by ripping out the tub and putting in a shower.

We were always putting up and taking down art from the walls. One night we hung an onion ring on a nail high up on the kitchen wall. I don’t remember why. I was from Israel and Tibor was from Hungary, so we were always fascinated by vernacular. Fast food was part of the American scene—diners, coffee shops and hamburger stands. All of that Americana was joyful and optimistic and funny to us. That was the beginning of our onion-ring collection. The onion rings we installed never deteriorated, which was amazing. We had dozens of them, and some we framed and gave to friends.

When I think back to our apartment now, I think of it as empty—just shapes of rooms and light. What I do remember vividly is that the space was filled with friendship and love and a never-ending curiosity about everything.

Tibor and I married in 1981, and the following year we moved to a one-bedroom apartment on 12th Street when I became pregnant with our daughter, Lulu. We soon bought the place. A few years later, Tibor and I had a son named Alex, at which point we also bought the apartment next door. Tibor died in 1999, and I still live here.

I’m about to have my apartment repainted white, as always, but I fear it’s going to be a daunting task. There are too many whites to choose from."
mairakalman  tiborkalman  love  life  living  homes  2014  experience  cv  small  fun  making  white  onionrings  vernacular  nyc 
november 2016 by robertogreco
Hack Circus: Synesthesia
"LJ Rich is a classically-trained composer, music technologist and journalist who has recently started speaking publicly about her synaesthesia and perfect pitch. Everything in LJ's world is musical, and she shares some of her extraordinary experiences in this exclusive interview – which includes an original composition based on part of this conversation, and a 'glitching session' with Leila that transforms the streets of London into a gloriously strange living soundscape."
2014  soundscapes  ljrich  sound  music  synesthesia  leilajohnston 
november 2016 by robertogreco
Demons Hate Fresh Air | Submitted For Your Perusal
"My father was a very disciplined and punctual man; it was a prerequisite for his creativity…. No matter what time you get out of bed, go for a walk and then work, he’d say, because the demons hate it when you get out of bed, demons hate fresh air."

—Linn Ullmann, in an interview with Vogue, on her father Ingmar Bergman

[from: http://www.vogue.com/872539/linn-ullmann-novel-the-cold-song/ ]
linnullmann  ingmarbergman  walking  demons  cv  work  howwework  depression  motivation  2014  mattthomas 
august 2016 by robertogreco
Snapchat - 2014 AXS Partner Summit Keynote
"The following keynote was delivered by Evan Spiegel, CEO of Snapchat, at the AXS Partner Summit on January 25, 2014.

I was asked to speak here today on a topic I’m sure you’re all familiar with: sexting in the post-PC era.

[Just Kidding]

I’ve always thought it was a bit odd that this period in our history has been called the “post-personal computer” era – when really it should be called the “more-personal computer” era.

I read a great story yesterday about a man named Mister Macintosh. He was a man designed by Steve Jobs to live inside the Macintosh computer when it launched, 30 years ago from yesterday. He would appear every so often, hidden behind a pull-down menu or popping out from behind an icon – just quickly and infrequently enough that you almost thought he wasn’t real.

Until yesterday, I hadn’t realized that Steve’s idea of tying a man to a computer had happened so early in his career. But, at the time, the Macintosh was forced to ship without Mister Macintosh because the engineers were constrained to only 128 kilobytes of memory. It wasn’t until much later in Steve’s career that he would truly tie man to machine – the launch of the iPhone on June 29, 2007.

In the past, technical constraints meant that computers were typically found in physical locations: the car, the home, the school. The iPhone tied a computer uniquely to a phone number – to YOU.

Not all that long ago, communication was location-dependent. We were either in the same room together, in which case we could talk face-to-face, or we were across the world from each other, in which case I could call your office or send a letter to your home. It is only very recently that we have begun to tie phone numbers to individual identities for the purpose of computation and communication.

I say all this to establish that smartphones are simply the culmination of Steve’s journey to identify man with machine – and bring about the age of the More-Personal Computer.

There are three characteristics of the More-Personal Computer that are particularly relevant to our work at Snapchat:

1) Internet Everywhere

2) Fast + Easy Media Creation

3) Ephemerality

When we first started working on Snapchat in 2011, it was just a toy. In many ways it still is – but to quote Eames, “Toys are not really as innocent as they look. Toys and games are preludes to serious ideas.”

The reason to use a toy doesn’t have to be explained – it’s just fun. But using a toy is a terrific opportunity to learn.

And boy, have we been learning.

Internet Everywhere means that our old conception of the world separated into an online and an offline space is no longer relevant. Traditional social media required that we live experiences in the offline world, record those experiences, and then post them online to recreate the experience and talk about it. For example, I go on vacation, take a bunch of pictures, come back home, pick the good ones, post them online, and talk about them with my friends.

This traditional social media view of identity is actually quite radical: you are the sum of your published experience. Otherwise known as: pics or it didn’t happen.

Or in the case of Instagram: beautiful pics or it didn’t happen AND you’re not cool.

This notion of a profile made a lot of sense in the binary experience of online and offline. It was designed to recreate who I am online so that people could interact with me even if I wasn’t logged on at that particular moment.

Snapchat relies on Internet Everywhere to provide a totally different experience. Snapchat says that we are not the sum of everything we have said or done or experienced or published – we are the result. We are who we are today, right now.

We no longer have to capture the “real world” and recreate it online – we simply live and communicate at the same time.

Communication relies on the creation of media and is constrained by the speed at which that media is created and shared. It takes time to package your emotions, feelings and thoughts into media content like speech, writing, or photography.

Indeed, humans have always used media to understand themselves and share with others. I’ll spare you the Gaelic with this translation of Robert Burns, “Oh would some power the gift give us, to see ourselves as others see us.”

When I heard that quote, I couldn’t help but think of self-portraits. Or for us Millennials: the selfie! Self-portraits help us understand the way that others see us – they represent how we feel, where we are, and what we’re doing. They are arguably the most popular form of self-expression.

In the past, lifelike self-portraits took weeks and millions of brush strokes to complete. In the world of Fast + Easy Media Creation, the selfie is immediate. It represents who we are and how we feel – right now.

And until now, the photographic process was far too slow for conversation. But with Fast + Easy Media Creation we are able to communicate through photos, not just communicate around them like we did on social media. When we start communicating through media we light up. It’s fun.

The selfie makes sense as the fundamental unit of communication on Snapchat because it marks the transition between digital media as self-expression and digital media as communication.

And this brings us to the importance of ephemerality at the core of conversation.

Snapchat discards content to focus on the feeling that content brings to you, not the way that content looks. This is a conservative idea, the natural response to radical transparency that restores integrity and context to conversation.

Snapchat sets expectations around conversation that mirror the expectations we have when we’re talking in-person.

That’s what Snapchat is all about. Talking through content not around it. With friends, not strangers. Identity tied to now, today. Room for growth, emotional risk, expression, mistakes, room for YOU.

The Era of More Personal Computing has provided the technical infrastructure for more personal communication. We feel so fortunate to be a part of this incredible transformation.

Snapchat is a product built from the heart – that is the reason why we are in Los Angeles. I often talk with people about the conflicts between technology companies and content companies – I’ve found that one of the biggest issues is that frequently technology companies view movies, music, and television as INFORMATION. Directors, producers, musicians, and actors view them as feelings, as expression. Not to be searched, sorted, and viewed – but EXPERIENCED.

Snapchat focuses on the experience of conversation – not the transfer of information. We’re thrilled to be a part of this community.

Thank you for inviting me today and thank you for being a part of our journey. Our team looks forward to getting to know all of you."

[Also here: https://es.scribd.com/doc/202195145/2014-AXS-Partner-Summit-Keynote#fullscreen ]

[via: https://twitter.com/smc90/status/427551803475906560 ]
evanspeigel  snapchat  2014  computing  personalcomputing  personalcomputers  stevejobs  ubiquitous  internet  web  online  communication  media  talking  conversation  experience  selfies  photography  ephemerality  mediacreation  creativity  expression  ephemeral 
august 2016 by robertogreco
BOMB Magazine — Edwidge Danticat by Garnette Cadogan
"Despite her accomplishments, it is clear from talking to her and reading her books that her ambition is to be nothing less than an attentive observer—her works display exemplary watchfulness and empathy. Over the course of a weeks-long correspondence about her writing, she kept gently nudging me to listen more closely, to be the kind of reader on whom nothing is lost, a reader who recognizes people as irreducibly various and complex. And she made it seem so simple. Except it’s not. (Relatedly, her prose’s deceptive simplicity is part of its appeal.) She has been described as “the bard of the Haitian diaspora,” but, really, her terrain is whatever world her fertile imagination takes her to. Her latest stop is the fictional town of Ville Rose, in which Claire of the Sea Light is set—a heartbreaking-yet-wondrous world."



"GC Claire, this “luminous child,” comes to us in a fable-like series of interrelated stories. Why that structure? Was there something about the themes you wanted to tackle, or about the way you wanted to delineate linked lives in Haiti, that made you choose this form?

ED Initially I wanted to write a book that was like a transcript of a popular radio show in Haiti, featuring news, gossip, interviews, and testimonials. I was not going to use the transcript format, but each chapter was going to be a story that was an episode of the show. The book is as much about Claire and her father as it is about the other residents of Ville Rose. We meet many different characters and get into each of their houses and heads. There is a schoolmaster and his wayward son. There is an undertaker, as well as Louise George, the radio hostess, and others. I imagine the reader as a visitor to Ville Rose on the one night that the book takes place. You arrive on the beach and you start meeting people and you try to piece all the pieces together. I like books, like mysteries, that leave something for the reader to do, a puzzle to solve. I hope this book does that.

GC Were you worried that the fantastical elements of your story might be taken as allegorical and therefore lessen the blow of the horrors you describe?

ED There are not that many fantastical elements in this book. Everything that is mentioned can and actually has happened in different parts of the world. Rogue waves happen. Supernovas happen. Frogs die en masse in many places. Also, even when fantastical elements appear in stories, in my experience, they often highlight rather than reduce horrors.

GC The tiny seaside town of Ville Rose is painted with magical strokes that point to a life beyond the one we can see. They reveal the townspeople’s connection with each other and also their connection to the world beyond. How do you perceive the world that we can’t see shaping the one we do see?

ED I am certainly of the belief that there is more to us than what we see. This is why I would resist the notion of death as ultimate exile. I believe that we remain connected to our ancestors long after they’re gone. It is a deep spiritual connection that is hard to explain. I sometimes think, for example, that I see traces of my grandmother in my daughter’s expressions. This is both genetic and magical at the same time. We are all part of a cycle of life, shaped by all that has come before. Some call it evolution. Some call it God, by whatever name they call God. In Haiti you might say Gran Mèt la, the Grand Master or Creator, which would be part of most religions, even ones where people have trouble agreeing what God should be or look or sound like.

GC In an essay published on the year since the devastating 2010 earthquake in Haiti, you quoted a saying of your grandmother’s: “In Haiti, people never really die.” The dead are still among us, you pointed out. How does your awareness of your ancestors and your intimate connection to the dead influence your writing?

ED Again, not to sound too mysterious, but there is so much happening when I am writing that I don’t quite understand. In many ways this is linked to the fact that your subconscious is doing most of the work when you’re in the middle of any creative act. Yet sometimes, on good days when the writing is going well, you feel like there is someone on your shoulder whispering things in your ear that you are just transcribing. You’re a vessel. You don’t even notice time going by. The words just flow. On those days, some people say that the muse has been by. I like to say that my ancestors have been by, sharing with me some of what they have learned over several lifetimes, because there is no way I can individually know what everyone in my bloodline has known together, collectively."



"GC You seem to carry the burden—and liberation—of being from multiple worlds, Haiti and the United States, and speaking to and on behalf of both. Do you see yourself speaking from one world to another, or speaking to both worlds simultaneously? Or speaking to both worlds and the diaspora, that homeland caught between the two?

ED I carry no such burden, frankly. If you give yourself that burden, that is your burden. If I thought of myself as this person “being from multiple worlds,” then I would probably just shut down and do something else with my life. No one elected me to speak on their behalf either in Haiti or the United States. I’m certainly not going to assign myself that role because it would be presumptuous and arrogant and just plain too much. To express an opinion, I would have to take a survey first. I can add my voice to someone else’s. I can help raise other voices. But I can’t take on this massive undertaking that you’re suggesting. I would fail miserably. I don’t have the personality for it or the stamina. Also, the idea of this great anguish of living between two worlds has diminished somewhat for many immigrant people, artists and non-artists alike. Not that there is not some uneasiness, but it is no longer the single most urgent anxiety of every immigrant’s life. And honestly, maybe it never was—except, perhaps, in literature.

Recently I read Patricia Engel’s It’s Not Love, It’s Just Paris, in which a father wants to convince his daughter to join the family business, but she wants to be an artist. He says to her that all immigrants are artists, that the overall action of recreating your life in another country is a work of art. That was a wonderful intergenerational moment about the pressures of immigration—something I personally needed to hear, something that moves the conversation beyond culture clash and “I am neither here nor there,” to a more nuanced situation where people are talking intimately about immigration and not screaming, “I don’t know where I belong!” I would like us to move beyond these tropes of speaking to or for, and of being only between two worlds. We are at the same time speaking to no one and everyone."



"GC One truth that stands high in your work is that love is a potent combatant to loss. Elaborate on the hopefulness that runs through your recent novel and your work in general.

ED I don’t know how to do this without singing a corny love song, but if you have ever suffered a loss, or have been deprived of a love, or have watched someone’s life slip away—of course all positive emotions can offer some kind of comfort. Love is certainly one of the best for that. When things are difficult, the love a parent has for a child, romantic love, or the love a neighbor has for a stranger or a friend, can sustain a person in ways that even the person being sustained might not fully understand at the moment. The year my father and uncle both died, I can’t imagine how I would have survived if not for the love of my friends and family who got me through a pregnancy, a birth, and all the craziness—mostly with words. Words of comfort in cards, texts, and emails, when I could not even pick up the phone. Not to sound too corny, but sometimes love can also be the difference between life and death. Countless poems, novels, essays, and films vouch for this."
edwidgedanticat  garnettecadogan  writing  literature  haiti  2014  interviews  immigration  migration  howwewrite  whywwewrite  exile  motherhood  subconscious  identity  patriciaengle  nikkigiovanni  love  childhood  fiction  alienation  history  ancestry  noticing  observing  listening 
july 2016 by robertogreco
Due North | VQR Online
"I arrived in New York in October 2005 and immediately began walking all over the city, exploring for hours at a time. As I traversed its landscape, I discovered a topography of social conditions. Some days, I would linger on Thirty-Fourth Street among the glamorous workers of Midtown Manhattan rushing to and from their high-rise buildings—in swift pursuit of their ambitions, I’d assumed. I’d watch them zigzag around and dart past the enthusiastic tourists filing into the Empire State Building, that colossus rising majestically above as a beacon of hope and symbol of American derring-do.

Then I’d stride northward, eager to explore Whitman’s “Numberless crowded streets – high growths of iron, slender, strong, light, splendidly uprising toward clear skies.” A little over two hours later, I would end up in Harlem at the courtyard of a housing project on 125th Street, where residents lounged on benches and welcomed each other with cheerful banter. They also welcomed me, and I sat beside them, took one of the kiddie’s box drinks they offered, and enjoyed their jovial talk in that relaxed, open space in Harlem far removed from the hurried dynamism of Midtown.

But as I’ve circulated through New York’s streets, nothing reveals the city’s opposites in stark juxtaposition like the walk from the Upper East Side to the South Bronx, two neighborhoods separated by a brisk ninety-minute walk, or a quick twelve-minute subway ride. I’d call them neighbors were it not so clear that they occupy such distinctly different worlds. To walk the streets from one to the other, as I often do, is to bear witness to a landscape of asymmetry. The city that comes into view is one of uneven terrain, vistas of opportunity alongside pockets of deep poverty too often lost in the periphery.

In early 2006, almost six months after moving to the city, I was hobbled from roaming around because of a botched surgery on my right knee. A few months later, I switched hospitals to the Hospital for Special Surgery, located on the Upper East Side, where I eventually underwent two more surgeries to get back to walking the streets without chronic pain. As a result of the operations and follow-up physical therapy, the Upper East Side became a regular destination. I spent a lot of time watching people go about their lives, many of whom were middle- and working-class people employed in hospitals, museums, universities, hotels, and elsewhere on the Upper East Side. Plentiful as these workers were, they didn’t define the neighborhood—at least, not in a way that forcefully impresses itself upon the mind when you think of the Upper East Side. No, the population that embosses its mark on the neighborhood is the wealthy—the extraordinarily wealthy, to be precise.

The Upper East Side houses one of the richest zip codes in the US. This wealth touches almost everything in its vicinity. Many of the less-flush people I met going about their days worked at institutions that were among the world’s finest—the Metropolitan Museum of Art, Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center, Hospital for Special Surgery—and that were easy access for their upper-class neighbors. In addition to stellar medical care and world-class museums, I’d walk past some of the city’s best private schools, public libraries abuzz with parents and nannies—many of whom were foreigners—playing with children, and music schools with eager and not-so-eager kids developing their skills. Here was a neighborhood stocked with the resources for worldly success.

Walking through that part of the Upper East Side was not unlike a jaunt in a museum. On Park or Fifth Avenue, for example, one could walk for hours and admire magnificent buildings fronted by well-manicured gardens and quiet, clean sidewalks. Serenity suffused the atmosphere. Nothing seemed out of place, and, to my untrained eye, it all looked unspoiled.

There are stunning apartment buildings that look like cathedrals in high heels. Überchic boutiques—throne rooms of specialization meant to cater to people with the most rarefied, and demanding, of tastes—abound. You can pick up scented shoelaces for your teen daughter from a store filled with accessories for tweens, buy a bra for a few hundred dollars from an Italian lingerie store, and then drop off your puppy for a spa day, all in under a half hour. And, shhh, the stores were very quiet, I’ll-glare-if-you-speak-loudly quiet. I was often hushed, too, since sticker shock often dumbfounds me. Though, I should confess, something perverse in me wanted me to scream upon entering those hush-up stores.

All around are luxe restaurants with patrons to match, and sophisticated bistros with fresh-looking, pleasant-smelling—oh, those lovely scents!—upscale clientele. And for outdoor relaxation and play, Central Park is a quick stroll away—across the road, even. It’s as if the neighborhood was curated to cater to the needs and pleasures of its wealthy residents. Dig through the historical record and you’ll find that, indeed, starting with Fifth Avenue in the late nineteenth century, later joined in the early twentieth century by Park (formerly Fourth) Avenue, elegance and convenience have characterized the Upper East Side’s moneyed class and its tony residences.

Yet, for all its beauty, the neighborhood today feels like a welcome mat with spikes, or, more aptly, like a museum after closing time. You could stand nearby and look in, but that’s as far as you could go: admiration from a distance. My feet met their limit.

So much of the lives of the very wealthy was a mystery to me, not least because I couldn’t hope to stand and chat with them. The city was this enticing language I was learning, but they were a cipher. They lived, as my friend and walking companion Suketu once put it to me, in vertical gated communities—fortresses within layers of insulation. I’d see them shuttle from cabs or chauffeur-driven cars into their elegant buildings fronted by attentive doormen. Or I’d see them interacting with each other as I strolled past a posh establishment. They were sharply dressed ghosts; I would see them for a brief moment, only for them to quickly disappear into vehicles or buildings as mysteriously as they came.

There was a come-hither-stay-away quality to it all. Apartment lobbies looked inviting, but dapper doormen in their white shirts and black ties stood between you and them. Brownstones were beguiling, but you dared not sit on their steps. And I couldn’t shake the feeling that someone my shade, the color of the neighborhood’s nannies and gardeners and janitors but not their neighbors (at least, none that I saw), was more unwelcome on a stranger’s stoop.

Nor would I ever see people hanging out on their own steps. The beauty of the Upper East Side, the visual allure, had a placidity I felt detached from. There was something disquieting about all that silence. Certainly, one of the joys of living in the city is the wonderful solitude it affords, the option to, as E. B. White memorably put it, opt out and announce, “I did not attend.” The city is a place of escape as much as it’s one of pilgrimage, and, to someone outside of their circle passing through, the affluent inhabitants of the Upper East Side resemble a group who entered a compact to “not attend.” The serenity felt fragile, and I feared that if I did anything that was perceived as a threat to it, no matter how simple—approaching that friendly face to have a chat, leaning over to inhale perfumy flowers—that I would be promptly reminded that I could inhabit those streets only so much.

When I leave the Upper East Side on foot, the streets declare it to me almost immediately. I cross Ninety-Sixth Street—on Park Avenue, say, and the picturesque quickly recedes. Islands of gardens are supplanted by train tracks that tear out of the ground and rise alongside and above houses, transporting streams of Metro-North trains and dispersing noise across the neighborhood. Pristine sidewalks are replaced by dusty ones, and time and again micro-dirt tornadoes, with candy wrappers within, whirl around. And luxury mansions are replaced by tenement-type buildings, row houses, and “superblocks” of housing projects.

And the population becomes increasingly darker. A lot more. And friendlier. A lot more. More Spanish is heard (significantly so), more bodegas are seen on corners, and the hum of the Upper East Side gives way to a skipping, sometimes clamoring, beat. (On weekends with good weather, there are block parties aplenty). You almost begin to wonder—at least, I often do—if East Harlem is the town crier announcing, “Yeah, you’ve left the Upper East Side. The South Bronx is three miles, and an hour’s walk, thataway.”"



"On the way back home, Suketu drove through the Upper East Side, past glittery boutiques and sexy bistros, enticing department stores and showy high-rise apartment buildings. At that moment, I recognized that, for me, there wasn’t much difference between cutting through the neighborhood on foot and in a car. There was, of course. But leaving from Hunts Point, where time in a car away from residents removes so much of the neighborhood’s pleasure, and arriving in the Upper East Side around fifteen minutes later, only to recognize that I felt at arm’s length from a lot of its residents even when I walked through, reminded me that inequality also deprives the very wealthy. In ensconcing themselves in their circles, the very wealthy had cut themselves off from a range of perspectives and temperaments and stories—stories that are a central part of their city’s vibrancy and appeal. In Hunts Point, I witnessed deprivation due to an absence of resources; in the Upper East Side, I witnessed deprivation of a different, but related sort: the absence of enriching interactions.

I became an obsessive walker as a matter of necessity. Too poor to take taxis when I was growing up in Jamaica, and living in a … [more]
walking  serendipity  2014  garnettecadogan  nyc  inequality  discovery  wonder  possibility  ebwhite  wealth  waltwhitman  rebeccasolnit  micheldecerteau  observation  flaneur 
july 2016 by robertogreco
Democracy and the Donor Class : Democracy Journal
"Foundations and philanthropists do much good, but these unelected actors have acquired enormous power to shape policy. Should they be reined in?"



"
And to the extent that in more recent years a few larger foundations have become stronger supporters of community organizing efforts, that’s also had its price, since it’s made those organizations increasingly as accountable to rich donors as to their own historically broad base. And while foundations talk about sustainability all the time—and the more liberal ones often treat their grantees like the right wing would treat single mothers on welfare, imposing strict time limits and cutoffs—the fact is that most sustainability strategies are aimed at helping grantees move from dependency on one foundation to another. Very few foundations use their funding to help grantees build a more democratic base of support of the kind that has helped the great organizations formed in the Progressive Era—the ACLU, the Sierra Club, the NAACP, Planned Parenthood—survive and thrive over many decades.

That observation, I suppose, is a good segue into a few final thoughts that might be put under the heading, “What is to be done?” I have no ten-point plan for foundation reform. I think criticism of foundations is rare enough, and raising questions about the role of foundations in a democracy rarer still, that the very fact of asking the questions, of stimulating more reflection, is enough for the moment. If others with my vantage point on philanthropy think we have some self-examination to do, and respond and pick up the thread, I’ll be quite happy.

A few thoughts. First, the tax incentives for philanthropy are not going away, in the near term or probably ever. As we have seen, even tinkering with the levels of the deduction is unlikely.

Some have argued there is too much clutter in the proliferation of small foundations, and wonder if there ought to be a minimum asset size. This suggestion is usually offered in the spirit of encouraging innovation and risk-taking with greater possible impact, but it seems misplaced to me. True, a lot of smaller foundations are not very bold, and often are somewhat self-serving and idiosyncratic. But they do promote a kind of pluralism. I’d be more interested in policy ideas aimed at the maximum size of foundations, which would boost pluralism while ensuring that no foundation has disproportionate power. Limiting the lifespan of foundations, or perhaps mandating governance measures such as community representation or even AB 624-style data reporting requirements, might also enhance public accountability and responsibility.

When foundation critics explore the ways philanthropy might be held accountable, they often forget to think about the press. It’s an easy oversight to make, since so little media scrutiny is applied to foundations. I wonder, for example, how many California newspapers have bothered to follow up on what happened to the pledges that the state’s big foundations made several years ago to settle the AB 624 controversy. But as it happens, the period of tremendous growth in the philanthropic sector—particularly the rise of a mega-foundation like Gates, which can by itself steer policy on education reform or global health—has coincided with a significant decline in the resources devoted to investigative journalism. When I started at Atlantic Philanthropies seven years ago, The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, and the Financial Times had journalists covering the beat of philanthropy and the nonprofit sector. No more. As philanthropy’s power has grown, independent scrutiny of it has waned. Ford, Knight, and other foundations, alarmed at the decline in investigative reporting, have provided support for nonprofit news organizations like Pro Publica (full disclosure: I was on its board, too), or even for-profit ones like the Los Angeles Times and The Washington Post, but for obvious reasons, these foundation-supported initiatives are not likely to cast their gaze upon their own benefactors."
philanthropicindustrialcomplex  philanthropy  charitableindustrialcomplex  2014  garalamarche  democracy  policy  influence  gatesfoundation  journalism  media  capitalism  power  control 
june 2016 by robertogreco
You’re probably using the wrong dictionary « the jsomers.net blog
"The way I thought you used a dictionary was that you looked up words you’ve never heard of, or whose sense you’re unsure of. You would never look up an ordinary word — like example, or sport, or magic — because all you’ll learn is what it means, and that you already know.

Indeed, if you look up those particular words in the dictionary that comes with your computer — on my Mac, it’s the New Oxford American Dictionary, 3rd Edition — you’ll be rewarded with… well, there won’t be any reward. The entries are pedestrian:

example /igˈzampəl/, n. a thing characteristic of its kind or illustrating a general rule.

sport /spôrt/, n. an activity involving physical exertion and skill in which an individual or team competes against another or others for entertainment.

magic /ˈmajik/, n. the power of apparently influencing the course of events by using mysterious or supernatural forces.

Here, words are boiled to their essence. But that essence is dry, functional, almost bureaucratically sapped of color or pop, like high modernist architecture. Which trains you to think of the dictionary as a utility, not a quarry of good things, not a place you’d go to explore and savor.

Worse, the words themselves take on the character of their definitions: they are likewise reduced. A delightful word like “fustian” — delightful because of what it means, because of the way it looks and sounds, because it is unusual in regular speech but not so effete as to be unusable, is described, efficiently, as “pompous or pretentious speech or writing.” Not only is this definition (as we’ll see in a minute) simplistic and basically wrong, it’s just not in the same class, English-wise, as “fustian.” The language is tin-eared and uninspired. It’s criminal: This is the place where all the words live and the writing’s no good.

The New Oxford American dictionary, by the way, is not like singularly bad. Google’s dictionary, the modern Merriam-Webster, the dictionary at dictionary.com: they’re all like this. They’re all a chore to read. There’s no play, no delight in the language. The definitions are these desiccated little husks of technocratic meaningese, as if a word were no more than its coordinates in semantic space."



"A book where you can enter “sport” and end up with “a diversion of the field” — this is in fact the opposite of what I’d known a dictionary to be. This is a book that transmutes plain words into language that’s finer and more vivid and sometimes more rare. No wonder McPhee wrote with it by his side. No wonder he looked up words he knew, versus words he didn’t, in a ratio of “at least ninety-nine to one.”

Unfortunately, he never comes out and says exactly which dictionary he’s getting all this juice out of. But I was desperate to find it. What was this secret book, this dictionary so rich and alive that one of my favorite writers was using it to make heroic improvements to his writing?

I did a little sleuthing. It wasn’t so hard with the examples McPhee gives, and Google. He says, for instance, that in three years of research for a book about Alaska he’d forgotten to look up the word Arctic. He said that his dictionary gave him this: “Pertaining to, or situated under, the northern constellation called the Bear.”

And that turned out to be enough to find it."



"Who decided that the American public couldn’t handle “a soft and fitful luster”? I can’t help but think something has been lost. “A soft sparkle from a wet or oily surface” doesn’t just sound worse, it actually describes the phenomenon with less precision. In particular it misses the shimmeriness, the micro movement and action, “the fitful luster,” of, for example, an eye full of tears — which is by the way far more intense and interesting an image than “a wet sidewalk.”

It’s as if someone decided that dictionaries these days had to sound like they were written by a Xerox machine, not a person, certainly not a person with a poet’s ear, a man capable of high and mighty English, who set out to write the secular American equivalent of the King James Bible and pulled it off."

Words worth using
I don’t want you to conclude that it’s just a matter of aesthetics. Yes, Webster’s definitions are prettier. But they are also better. In fact they’re so much better that to use another dictionary is to keep yourself forever at arm’s length from the actual language.

Recall that the New Oxford, for the word “fustian,” gives “pompous or pretentious speech or writing.” I said earlier that that wasn’t even really correct. Here, then, is Webster’s definition: “An inflated style of writing; a kind of writing in which high-sounding words are used, above the dignity of the thoughts or subject; bombast.” Do you see the difference? What makes fustian fustian is not just that the language is pompous — it’s that this pomposity is above the dignity of the thoughts or subject. It’s using fancy language where fancy language isn’t called for.

It’s a subtle difference, but that’s the whole point: English is an awfully subtle instrument. A dictionary that ignores these little shades is dangerous; in fact in those cases it’s worse than useless. It’s misleading, deflating. It divests those words of their worth and purpose.

Take “pathos.” This is one of those words I used to keep looking up because I kept forgetting what it meant — and every time I’d go to the dictionary I would get this terse, limiting definition: “a quality that evokes pity or sadness.” Not much there to grab a hold of. I’d wonder, Is that really all there is to pathos? It had always seemed a grander word than that. But this was the dictionary, and whatever it declared was final.

Final, that is, until I discovered Webster:

pathos /ˈpāˌTHäs/, n. 1. The quality or character of those emotions, traits, or experiences which are personal, and therefore restricted and evanescent; transitory and idiosyncratic dispositions or feelings as distinguished from those which are universal and deep-seated in character; — opposed to ethos.

It continued. 2. That quality or property of anything which touches the feelings or excites emotions and passions, esp., that which awakens tender emotions, such as pity, sorrow, and the like; contagious warmth of feeling, action, or expression; pathetic quality; as, the pathos of a picture, of a poem, or of a cry.

Dear god! How did I not know about this dictionary? How could you even call yourself a dictionary if all you give for “pathos” is “a quality that evokes pity or sadness”? Webster’s definition is so much fuller, so much closer to felt experience.

Notice, too, how much less certain the Webster definition seems about itself, even though it’s more complete — as if to remind you that the word came first, that the word isn’t defined by its definition here, in this humble dictionary, that definitions grasp, tentatively, at words, but that what words really are is this haze and halo of associations and evocations, a little networked cloud of uses and contexts.

What I mean is that with its blunt authority the New Oxford definition of “pathos” — “a quality that evokes pity or sadness” — shuts down the conversation, it shuts down your thinking about the word, while the Webster’s version gets your wheels turning: it seems so much more provisional — “that which awakens tender emotions, such as pity, sorrow, and the like; contagious warmth of feeling, action, or expression; pathetic quality; as, the pathos of a picture, of a poem, or of a cry” — and therefore alive.

Most important, it describes a word worth using: a mere six letters that have come to stand for something huge, for a complex meta-emotion with mythic roots. Such is the power of actual English."



"There’s an amazing thing that happens when you start using the right dictionary. Knowing that it’s there for you, you start looking up more words, including words you already know. And you develop an affection for even those, the plainest most everyday words, because you see them treated with the same respect awarded to the rare ones, the high-sounding ones.

Which is to say you get a feeling about English that Calvin once got with his pet tiger on a day of fresh-fallen snow: “It’s a magical world, Hobbes. Let’s go exploring!”

Appendix: How to start using Webster’s 1913 dictionary on your Mac, iPhone, Android, and Kindle [continues with instructions]"
2014  dictionaries  language  words  english  writing  jamessomers  howto  noahwebster  history  etymology  johnmcphee  howwewrite  merriam-webster  srg  dictionary 
june 2016 by robertogreco
Here's Why Ikea Is Discontinuing Everyone's Favorite Shelf
"Expedit, we hardly knew ye. Ikea recently announced that the popular shelving system is not long for this world, and the internet responded with rage. But there's a really good reason for Ikea to get rid of Expedit. And in fact, it's not really going away at all.

Ikea says it's replacing Expedit with a new line of shelving, called Kallax, beginning in April. The furor over the decision has been swift—especially from vinyl collectors, amongst whom Expedit is something of a cult item. In fact, there's even a 20,000-person strong Facebook page devoted to saving the easily-stackable shelves.

But chew on this: Ikea uses a whopping one percent of the world's wood supply. That's 17.8 million cubic yards of wood. Much of that goes into making the veneer you find on many of Ikea's most popular products, including Expedit.

Now, let's look at Kallax. Ikea reports that the internal dimensions of the system are exactly the same as Expedit—so Kallax will still fit your vinyl collection just fine. So what's changing? The thickness of the wide outer edge that makes Expedit so distinctive. It seems like a minuscule change to us, but it's not. Sales numbers for Expedit aren't public, but we know that Ikea sells some 41 million similar Billy bookcases a year.

If Ikea can cut even a centimeter of wood on each of those products, it will save massively on material costs. It's also going to help them make good on their claim of sustainability. Right now, 25 percent of Ikea wood is certified by the Forest Stewardship Council (though, as one commenter points out, the certification was recently thrown into question). Last year, they pledged to increase that number to 50 percent within five years. And when you're selling hundreds of millions of products a year, even the smallest savings count.

So this decision probably has nothing to do with design, and not much to do with stirring up excitement—though that doesn't hurt—either. It's just good business at a truly massive scale. So mourn for Expedit—but remember that it's being replaced by basically the same thing, and it's coming from a more sustainable company.

Still, it's sad to see Expedit proper go. As the proud owner of one unit, it's by far the most photogenic shelf I've ever owned (see below). Drop your own images in the comments—who knows, maybe Ikea will change its mind.

Update: Ikea has released images of Kallax, and it looks pretty damn nice. The company also comments that the surface will be more scratch-resistant and more child-friendly, thanks to a slight corner bevel. Crucially, Kallax is described as "a new name" for Expedit"
okea  kallax  expedit  wood  furniture  2014 
june 2016 by robertogreco
intimacy gradients - Text Patterns - The New Atlantis
"Pay attention to the links here: Tim Maly pointed me to this 2004 post by Christopher Allen that draws on the famous 1977 architectural treatise A Pattern Language to talk about online life.

Got all that?

The key concept is intimacy gradients. In a well-known passage from A Pattern Language the authors write,
The street cafe provides a unique setting, special to cities: a place where people can sit lazily, legitimately, be on view, and watch the world go by... Encourage local cafes to spring up in each neighborhood. Make them intimate places, with several rooms, open to a busy path, where people can sit with coffee or a drink and watch the world go by. Build the front of the cafe so that a set of tables stretch out of the cafe, right into the street.

That's the passage as quoted in the book's Wikipedia page. But if you actually look at that section of the book, you'll see that the authors place a great deal of emphasis on the need for the ideal street café to create intimacy as well as public openness. Few people want always to "be on view"; some people almost never do. Therefore,

In addition to the terrace which is open to the street, the cafe contains several other spaces: with games, fire, soft chairs, newspapers.... This allows a variety of people to start using it, according to slightly different social styles.

And "When these conditions are present" — all of these conditions, the full appropriate range of intimacy gradients — "and the cafe takes hold, it offers something unique to the lives of the people who use it: it offers a setting for discussions of great spirit — talks, two-bit lectures, half-public, half-private learning, exchange of thought."

Twitter actually has a pretty highly developed set of intimacy gradients: public and private accounts, replies that will be seen automatically only by the person you’re replying to and people who are connected to both of you, direct messages, and so on. Where it fails is in the provision of “intimate places”: smaller rooms where friends can talk without being interrupted. It gives you the absolute privacy of one-to-one conversations (DMs) and it gives you all that comes with “being on view” at a table that extends “right into the street,” where anyone who happens to go by can listen in or make comments; but, for public accounts anyway, not much in between.

And you know, if you’re using a public Twitter account, you can’t really complain about this. If you tweet something hoping that your friends will notice and respond, that’s fine; but you’re not in a small room with just your friends, you’re in a vast public space — you’re in the street. And when you stand in the street and make a statement through a megaphone, you can’t reasonably be offended if total strangers have something so say in reply. If you want to speak only to your friends, you need to invite them into a more intimate space.

And as far as I can tell, that’s what private Twitter accounts provide: a place to talk just with friends, where you can’t be overheard.

Now, private accounts tend to work against the grain of Twitter as self-promotion, Twitter as self-branding, Twitter as “being on view.” And if we had to choose, many of us might forego community for presentation. But we don’t have to choose: it’s possible to do both, to have a private and a public presence. For some that will be too much to manage; for others, perhaps for many others, that could be where Twitter is headed.

Okay, I’m done talking about Twitter. Coming up in the next week: book reports."
alanjacobs  2014  intimacygradients  apatternlanguage  christopheralexander  cities  twitter  society  sociology  internet  culture  architecture  space  public  private  privacy 
april 2016 by robertogreco
American Revolutionary: The Evolution of Grace Lee Boggs | POV | PBS
[Quotes from the film (watched on Netflix), all are Grace Lee Boggs, with the exception of the one noted as being from filmmaker Grace Lee:

“The Montgomery Bus Boycott was about not only transforming the system, but an example of how we ourselves change in the process of changing the system.”

“The word power strikes white power as something dangerous, threatening, and we were only talking about blacks being in office.”

“We realized a rebellion is an outburst of anger, but it’s not a revolution. Revolution is evolution toward something much grander.”

“Ideas matter and when you take a position you should try and examine what it’s implications are. It is not enough to say, “This is what I think, this is what I feel.””

Grace Lee: “It all goes back to Hegel — for Grace, conversation is where you try to honestly confront the limits of your own ideas in order to come to a new understanding.”

“There are times when expanding our imaginations is what is required. The radical movement has overemphasized the role of activism and underestimated the role of reflection. ”

“One of the difficulties when you are coming out of oppression and out of a bitter past is that you get a concept of the Messiah and you expect too much from your leaders. And I think we have to get to that point that we are the leaders we have been looking for. One learns very soon that the changes we need are not going to come from the top by electing somebody else.”

“Why is non-violence such an important, not just a tactic, not just a strategy, but an important philosophy? Because it respects the capacity of human beings to grow. It gives them the opportunity to grow their souls. And we owe that to each other.”]

"Grace Lee Boggs, 98, is a Chinese American philosopher, writer, and activist in Detroit with a thick FBI file and a surprising vision of what an American revolution can be. Rooted for 75 years in the labor, civil rights and Black Power movements, she challenges a new generation to throw off old assumptions, think creatively and redefine revolution for our times. Winner, Audience Award, Best Documentary Feature, 2013 Los Angeles Film Festival. A co-presentation with the Center for Asian American Media (CAAM)."



"Grace Lee Boggs, 98, is a Chinese American philosopher, writer and activist in Detroit with a thick FBI file and a surprising vision of what an American revolution can be. Rooted in 75 years of the labor, civil rights and Black Power movements, she continually challenges a new generation to throw off old assumptions, think creatively and redefine revolution for our times.

Right at the start of American Revolutionary, director Grace Lee makes clear that she isn’t related to Grace Lee Boggs. She met the older woman through her earlier documentary, The Grace Lee Project, about the shared name of many Asian American women and the stereotypes associated with it. Philosopher, activist and author Grace Lee Boggs, then in her vigorous 80s and very much a part of Detroit’s social fabric, began applying a spirited analysis to the film project itself. She habitually turned the tables on the filmmaker with a grandmotherly smile that belied her firm resolve, probing the younger woman’s ideas and suggesting she consider things more deeply. Thus began a series of conversations over the next decade and beyond.

Director Grace Lee always knew she’d make a film about the woman with a radical Marxist past, intimidating intellectual achievements and enduring engagement in the issues — a sprightly activist who can gaze at a crumbling relic of a once-thriving auto plant and say, “I feel so sorry for people who are not living in Detroit.”

In some ways, the radicalization of Grace Lee Boggs typifies an experience many people shared during America’s turbulent 20th century. Yet she cut an extraordinary path through decades of struggle. As Angela Davis, an icon of the 1960s Black Power movement, puts it, “Grace has made more contributions to the black struggle than most black people have.” Actor Danny Glover and numerous Detroit comrades, plus archival footage featuring Bill Moyers, Ossie Davis, Ruby Dee and Boggs’ late husband and fellow radical, James Boggs, all testify to Boggs’ highly unusual position.

How a smart, determined, idealistic Chinese American woman became a civil rights movement fixture from its earliest post-war days and, later, a spokesperson for Black Power (often the only non-black — and only woman — in a roomful of unapologetic activists planning for a revolution they believed inevitable) is a riveting and revealing tale.

American Revolutionary shows that Boggs got in on the action — and the action got going — long before the turbulent 1960s. As she reminds a group of students, “I got my Ph.D. in 1940. Just imagine that.” Born in 1915 in Providence, R.I. to Chinese immigrants who moved to New York and prospered in the restaurant trade — Chin Lee’s opened in Manhattan in 1924 — she grew up relatively privileged and excelled at the nearly all-white Bryn Mawr and Barnard Colleges.

Then two things happened. First, she read the works of German philosopher Hegel, the founder of “dialectical thinking” whose work influenced Marxism, which steered her into philosophy and a more critical stance toward society. Then, after finishing school with doctorate in hand, she found herself blocked by “We don’t hire Orientals” signs. So she took a train to Chicago, where she found a job at the University of Chicago’s philosophy library and an apartment on the South Side and began organizing her new neighborhood against rat-infested housing.

The rest is a people’s history of the American left. American Revolutionary deftly follows Boggs’ path from her first community campaign — as a tenants’ rights organizer — through the 1941 March on Washington movement, which demanded jobs for African Americans in defense plants; her mentorship under the West Indian Marxist writer and theorist C.L.R. James; her move to Detroit; her 1953 marriage to Alabama-born James Boggs (auto worker and author of The American Revolution: Pages From a Negro Worker’s Notebook); her split with orthodox Marxism in favor of Black revolution; her preference for the ideas of Malcolm X over those of Martin Luther King, Jr.; and her emergence as a spokesperson for Black Power.

Along the way, she studied, wrote influential books, engaged in protest and, together with her husband (who died in 1993), discovered increasing tolerance for what they saw as revolutionary violence in the face of violent repression. Then Detroit exploded in the 1967 riots, which, as American Revolutionary reveals, were watershed events for Boggs. Indeed, she instructed PBS’s Bill Moyers to call them “a rebellion.” After a short period of community solidarity, disorder and lawlessness took over the streets. Rebellion did not become revolution. Boggs and her husband began to reexamine their ideas in the light of experience. Though there are many who would argue with her, and she’d be ready for the argument, Boggs has maintained her dedication to humanist and even radical ideals, while tempering her understanding of revolution as an evolutionary process.

Grace Lee Boggs can feel hopeful about Detroit not despite the city’s unstable financial and social condition but because of it. She retains the radical’s abiding faith that a new way of living can dawn. “We are in a time of great hope and great danger,” she tells Democracy Now! host Amy Goodman. Yet, as American Revolutionary chronicles, this faith has also been tempered by mistakes, lost battles, unintended consequences, age itself and the sheer evolutionary force of social change. “It’s hard when you’re young to understand how reality is constantly changing because it hasn’t changed that much during your lifetime,” says Boggs. Still, channeling Hegel, she challenges people to “not get stuck in old ideas. Keep recognizing that reality is changing and that your ideas have to change.”

Boggs’ approach is radical in its simplicity and clarity: Revolution is not an act of aggression or merely a protest. Revolution, Boggs says, “is about something deeper within the human experience — the ability to transform oneself and transform the world.”

“From the moment I met Grace Lee Boggs in 2000, I knew I would have to make a longer film just about her,” says director Grace Lee. “Over the years, I would return to Detroit, hang out and watch her hold everyone from journalists to renowned activists to high school students in her thrall. I recognized myself in all of them — eager to connect with someone who seemed to embody history itself.

“This is not an issue film, nor is it about a celebrity or an urgent injustice that rallies you to take action,” she continues. “It’s about an elderly woman who spends most of her days sitting in her living room thinking and hatching ideas about the next American revolution. But if you catch wind of some of those ideas, they just might change the world.”"

[See also: http://americanrevolutionaryfilm.com/ ]
via:caseygollan  activism  civilrights  detroit  dissent  graceleeboggs  documentary  hegel  2014  gracelee  nonviolence  understanding  conversation  evolution  revolution  rebellion  anger  change  systems  systemschange 
march 2016 by robertogreco
A Compendium on Race – SYPartners
[via: https://twitter.com/jimschachterle/status/700423897854930945 ]

"Race is a powerful issue in America. It divides us. It embroils us. It confounds us. Often, we feel we don’t have the words to talk about it—let alone take positive steps.

In July 2014, SYPartners created A Compendium on Race—a collection of images, articles, facts, and ideas on the subject of race in America today.

It was the summer of Mike Brown and Eric Garner, of pain and chaos and strife. The goal was to open conversation, to create common ground to help ourselves and our community connect to the topic of race, and to contemplate personal biases.

The piece was designed to be read alone, as a reflection, or in a group, encouraging dialogue and the sharing of personal experiences. It was offered to SYP’s clients, who have shared it with their executives and employees, and to SYP friends and family, who have continued to spread it in broader networks.

Since its creation, A Compendium on Race has been honored with several awards for its design and impact: It is a winner of the AIGA 2015 Cased competition, ADC’s silver prize in Editorial Design, and The One Club Merit award for Public Service – Design / Publication Design.

The effort was entirely pro bono: SYPartners, nor any other person or company, has or will profit from it. Instead we offered it as a compilation of ideas—free of charge—to encourage and support a critical conversation."
sypartners  race  2014  2015  2016  design  publications 
february 2016 by robertogreco
Alice Gregory on Finding a Uniform – J.Crew Blog
"I’ve always wanted a uniform. Low maintenance and iconic, it’s a cheap and easy way to feel famous. I have an ex-boyfriend whose mother wore nothing but stripe shirts. She had what must have been hundreds of them. I never saw her in anything else. For years afterward, I tried fruitlessly to get my own mother to adopt a uniform too.

If there’s ever a time to buy impractical shoes, wear revealing tops or make regrettable purchases, it’s when you’re young, and until very recently, I didn’t feel old enough to wear the same thing every day. It’s the same reason I still have long hair: I’d love to cut it, but doing so would feel like a waste of youth.

But young adulthood is also a time when, by virtue of the mere absence of wrinkles and grey hair, one projects very little power. It’s hard to be taken seriously without the visible symptoms of experience. A uniform can be a way of performing maturity or, less charitably, impersonating it. A uniform insinuates the sort of sober priorities that ossify with age, as well as a deliberate past of editing and improving. There is a purpose to each item, and with each item comes the implication of superiority—that it is, for your purposes at least, Platonic.

When the weather permits—and it does in New York from September to May—I wear a black cotton turtleneck, skinny blue jeans that (crucially) are not tight and a pair of black boots. My hair, I have decided, is my main accessory. If it’s cold and dry, I wear a camel coat. If it’s cold and wet, I wear a black down rain jacket. It is the most comfortable, flattering and inoffensive outfit I’ve been able to come up with. It’s almost never inappropriate, and it has the magical quality of taking on the connotations of its surroundings. In a bookstore, I look bookish. At an art gallery, I look arty. On the subway, I am invisible. I can look young or old, rich or poor, cool or humble. In my uniform, people see me as they want to.

Wearing a uniform is also a way of asserting your status as a protagonist. This is the reason why characters in picture books never change their clothes: Children—like adults, if they’d only admit it—crave continuity. We recognize Babar in his green suit and crown, Eloise in her suspendered jumper and Madeline in her little yellow raincoat. In other clothes, we’d confuse Babar for some civilian elephant, Eloise for one of Manhattan’s innumerable spoiled brats and Madeline for another of the 12 little girls in two straight lines.

You save a lot of money by relinquishing trial-and-error shopping—those items you buy and never wear, try and fail to return. Gone is the mental math that goes into calculating how much you “paid per wear” for that sweater you only put on three times. And nobody thinks of a person who wears the same thing every day as unstylish. Rather, it’s simply a classification that does not apply.

If you too are a person for whom the idea of expressing yourself through clothes feels embarrassing or even just inefficient, then I recommend you find a uniform of your own. There will be some inevitable missteps, but the end result will be worth the effort. Think of it as shopping so you’ll never have to shop again.

Alice Gregory is a writer living in Brooklyn. She has contributed to Harper’s, GQ, n+1, New York Magazine and the New York Times, among others. "
uniforms  personaluniforms  uniformproject  alicegrecory  2014  clothing  fashion  clothes 
february 2016 by robertogreco
Building Better Teachers
"BaBT's thesis is simple. Most people assume that great teachers are born, not made. From politicians to researchers and teachers themselves, most of us speak and act as if there's a gene for teaching that someone either has or doesn't. Most reforms are therefore designed to find and promote those who can and eliminate those who can't. The problem is, this assumption is wrong, so educational reforms based on it are (mostly) destined to fail. Reforms based on changing the culture of teaching would have a greater chance of succeeding, but as with any cultural change, they would require the kind of long-term commitment that our society doesn't seem to be very good at.

The book is written as a history of the people who have put that puzzle together in the US, including Nate Gage and Lee Shulman in the 1960s and 1970s, Deborah Ball, Magdalene Lampert, and others at Michigan State in the 1980s and 1990s, and educational entrepreneurs like Doug Lemov today. Its core begins with a discussion of what James Stigler discovered during a visit to Japan in the early 1990s:
Some American teachers called their pattern "I, We, You": After checking homework, teachers announced the day's topic, demonstrating a new procedure (I)... Then they led the class in trying out a sample problem together (We)... Finally, they let students work through similar problems on their own, usually by silently making their way through a worksheet (You)... The Japanese teachers, meanwhile, turned "I, We, You" inside out. You might call their version "You, Y'all, We." They began not with an introduction, but a single problem that students spent ten or twenty minutes working through alone (You)... While the students worked, the teacher wove through the students' desks, studying what they came up with and taking notes to remember who had which idea. Sometimes the teacher then deployed the students to discuss the problem in small groups (Y'all). Next, the teacher brought them back to the whole group, asking students to present their different ideas for how to solve the problem on the chalkboard... Finally, the teacher led a discussion, guiding students to a shared conclusion (We).

It's tempting to think that this particular teaching technique is Japan's secret sauce: tempting, but wrong. The actual key is revealed in the description of Akihiko Takahashi's work. In 1991, he visited the United States in a vain attempt to find the classrooms described a decade earlier in a report by the National Council of Teachers of Mathematics (NCTM). He couldn't find them. Instead, he found that American teachers met once a year (if that) to exchange ideas about teaching, compared to the weekly or even daily meetings he was used to. What was worse:
The teachers described lessons they gave and things students said, but they did not see the practices. When it came to observing actual lessons‐watching each other teach—they simply had no opportunity... They had, he realized, no jugyokenkyu. Translated literally as "lesson study", jugyokenkyu is a bucket of practices that Japanese teachers use to hone their craft, from observing each other at work to discussing the lesson afterward to studying curriculum materials with colleagues. The practice is so pervasive in Japanese schools that it is...effectively invisible. And here lay the answer to [Akihiko's] puzzle. Of course the American teachers' work fell short of the model set by their best thinkers... Without jugyokenkyu, his own classes would have been equally drab. Without jugyokenkyu, how could you even teach?

So what does jugyokenkyu look like in practice?
In order to graduate, education majors not only had to watch their assigned master teacher work, they had to effectively replace him, installing themselves in his classroom first as observers and then, by the third week, as a wobbly...approximation of the teacher himself. It worked like a kind of teaching relay. Each trainee took a subject, planning five days' worth of lessons... [and then] each took a day. To pass the baton, you had to teach a day's lesson in every single subject: the one you planned and the four you did not... and you had to do it right under your master teacher's nose. Afterward, everyone—the teacher, the college students, and sometimes even another outside observer—would sit around a formal table to talk about what they saw. [Trainees] stayed in...class until the students left at 3:00 pm, and they didn't leave the school until they'd finished discussing the day's events, usually around eight o'clock. They talked about what [the master teacher] had done, but they spent more time poring over how the students had responded: what they wrote in their notes; the ideas they came up with, right and wrong; the architecture of the group discussion. The rest of the night was devoted to planning... ...By the time he arrived in [the US], [Akihiko had] become...famous... giving public lessons that attracted hundreds, and, in one case, an audience of a thousand. He had a seemingly magical effect on children... But Akihiko knew he was no virtuoso. "It is not only me," he always said... "Many people." After all, it was his mentor...who had taught him the new approach to teaching... And [he] had crafted the approach along with the other math teachers in [his ward] and beyond. Together, the group met regularly to discuss their plans for teaching... [At] the end of a discussion, they'd invite each other to their classrooms to study the results. In retrospect, this was the most important lesson: not how to give a lesson, but how to study teaching, using the cycle of jugyokenkyu to put...work under a microscope and improve it.

Putting work under a microscope in order to improve it is commonplace in sports and music. A professional musician, for example, would dissect half a dozen different recordings of "Body and Soul" or "Yesterday" before performing it. They would also expect to get feedback from fellow musicians during practice and after performances. Many other disciplines work this way too. The Japanese drew inspiration from Deming's ideas on continuous improvement in manufacturing, while the adoption of code review over the last 15 years has, in my opinion, done more to improve everyday programming than any number of books or websites.
education  books  teaching  howweteach  japan  us  nctm  math  mathematics  matheducation  2014  teachereducation  jugyokenkyu 
february 2016 by robertogreco
From Los Vallecitos to Lost Valley | Boom: A Journal of California
"Here’s where the big bear died.

An afternoon’s trip has brought me from my San Ysidro Mountain home to Los Vallecitos, an undulating set of hills near San Mateo Creek. An odd kind of beauty dwells in this place. Here in the northwest corner of San Diego County, Los Vallecitos is surrounded by the Southern California megalopolis that stretches from Tijuana to Los Angeles, yet isolated by sizable tracts of national forest and Marine Corps gunnery ranges. It’s almost sunset now, and I-5—about ten miles to the west—is crowded with Saturday evening traffic. I can just make out the slow, eerie flow of taillights against a curving counterflow of headlights, punctuated by the strobing red warning lights that sweep up the grassy slopes toward me atop a line of high-voltage transmission towers. There is no sound except for the staccato calls of a few evening songbirds. The peaks and plateaus to the north create a scene that could easily grace a glossy Sierra Club calendar.

The mixture of human manipulation and wildness lends the place a strange aura—things are a little spooky, even. Still, the scene is nagged by memory of a grander, stranger presence it no longer possesses. The land misses its grizzly bears.

It was at Los Vallecitos, in the fading twilight of 5 August 1899, where a rancher named Henry A. Stewart delivered the final five .38-.55 caliber slugs into what turned out to be San Diego County’s last recorded grizzly bear, and the largest bear ever documented in California. A historian later dubbed the animal the “Monster of San Mateo.” Henry Stewart and his neighbors knew it simply as “the big bear.”

It was big, all right, standing upright nine-and-a-half feet and weighing over fourteen hundred pounds. The Chief of the United States Biological Survey, C. Hart Merriam, examined the bear’s remains and determined the Southern California grizzly to be a distinct subspecies, which he named Ursus magister. The professor’s notes on the animal suggest he was impressed, even awed, by the specimen. “Size of male huge,” Merriam wrote, “largest of known grizzlies, considerably larger than californicus of the Monterey region, and even than horribilis, the great buffalo-killing grizzly of the Plains.”

The big bear was one of the last of its kind; a female reputed to be its mate was the last grizzly taken in the general area, in 1908 in Orange County’s Trabuco Canyon. The species had been pursued relentlessly since Europeans first settled here. During the early part of the nineteenth century, Spanish and Mexican hunters competed with each other and challenged themselves by capturing bears alive with lariats. They then offered a spectacular show at a Pala or Santa Ysabel fiesta by chaining a bear to a bull in a corral. Many times the bear would kill several bulls in succession before, injured and fatigued, it would lose its final fight. Later settlers continued the live captures and bear-baitings of various sorts, but on the whole Americans preferred less elaborate hunts and simple, shotgun-loaded traps.

The black bear—the bear of the forest—still makes its home in the higher elevations of the Sierra Nevada. The grizzly, on the other hand, was the bear of the valleys, foothill chaparral, and woodlands. The distinct habits and ample habitats of the two bears usually kept them from direct competition north of the Tehachapis. In the open shrublands, oak woodlands, and grasslands of Southern California, however, there was room only for the grizzly bear; no record of black bears exists for the Transverse Ranges until the grizzly disappeared. Farther south, here in the Peninsular Ranges, black bears still have not gained a solid foothold, more than a century after the grizzly’s demise. The only bears you are likely to see in the Santa Anas, San Ysidros, or Cuyamacas today shimmy outside schools and state offices on the California flag.

The nineteenth-century invasion of Southern California by the rest of America made Ursus magister’s extirpation inevitable. The idea that people and grizzlies could coexist never seems to have come up among the new settlers. Even the period’s nature lovers were generally terrified of the grizzly and content to see it go."
bears  animals  california  history  losvallecitos  2014 
february 2016 by robertogreco
That B.E.A.T. on Vimeo
"(Official Selection: SXSW 2014)
New American Noise. New Orleans. Bounce Music.
Director: Abteen Bagheri"
bounce  dance  music  neworleans  nola  abteenbagheri  documentary  film  2014 
february 2016 by robertogreco
The Crowd, the Community, and Patronage | Harry Giles
"I like talking about patronage, though, and I like the idea of opening up what patronage can be. I like making it clear that art is not something that just happens, is not something that other people decide to make happen, but rather something that we all have a stake in making happen, and in making happen in more radical ways. For me, Patreon is a way of not asking single entities for patronage, but asking the crowd — or the community — for support. Like all crowdfunding, it’s a means of circumventing various power structures and barriers to survival, but unlike Kickstarter and most crowdfunding sites, the regular contribution makes it more about sustainable support, long-term income, and a relationship with the people who like what you do.

It’s also just about the only way I can think of to make the art I really want to make. Possibly because I grew up on the internet, making lots of things and giving them away feels natural to me. I don’t just want to make the art that sells, and I don’t just want to make the art that meets the targets of state funding bodies: I want to make the art that I believe in. And I don’t just want to make big monolithic state-of-the-world art projects (though sometimes they’re fun): I want to do little things, and silly things, and radical sparks, and awkward moments that drive a wedge into difficult politics. And I don’t want only the people who can afford it to be able to enjoy my art: I want everyone to be able to enjoy it, and then pay me if they like it. I think I’m good at making art like that. Maybe I want too much. Maybe that’s not the world we’re in together. But I’d like to try, and this seems like a good way of asking everyone if I can."
harrygiles  patronage  art  2014  via:tealtan  funding  making  internet  glvo  openstudioproject  lcproject  small  crowdfunding  income  relationships 
january 2016 by robertogreco
'Mobile reading revolution' takes off in developing world | Books | The Guardian
"Unesco study reports huge growth in adults and children reading books on phones in Africa and the Indian subcontinent"



"Unesco is pointing to a "mobile reading revolution" in developing countries after a year-long study found that adults and children are increasingly reading multiple books and stories on their phones.

Nearly 5,000 people in seven countries – Ethiopia, Ghana, India, Kenya, Nigeria, Pakistan and Zimbabwe – took part in the research, the largest study of its kind to date, which found that 62% of respondents are reading more, now they can read on their mobile phones. One in three said they read to children from their mobile phones, and 90% of respondents said they would be spending more time reading on their mobile phones in the next year.

The study, says Unesco in its report, found that "people read more when they read on mobile devices, that they enjoy reading more, and that people commonly read books and stories to children from mobile devices".

"The study shows that mobile reading represents a promising, if still underutilised, pathway to text," says the report, for which Unesco partnered with Worldreader – a global not-for-profit organisation that works to bring digital books to readers around the world – and Nokia. "It is not hyperbole to suggest that if every person on the planet understood that his or her mobile phone could be transformed – easily and cheaply – into a library brimming with books, access to text would cease to be such a daunting hurdle to literacy."

The report's author Mark West said that the key conclusion from the study was that "mobile devices can help people develop, sustain and enhance their literacy skills".

"This is important because literacy opens the door to life-changing opportunities and benefits," said West.

Reasons given by respondents for reading on mobiles were convenience, affordability and lack of access to books. In Zimbabwe, for example, Unesco said the cost of reading a book on a mobile was between 5 and 6 cents, while a paperback bestseller would cost around $12 (£7); in Nigeria, a mobile book would cost around 1 or 2 cents, based on a mobile broadband rate of $13 per 500 MB of data, while a child's book would cost between $1 and $5.

Unesco pointed to data from the UN, which shows that of the seven billion people on earth, more than six billion now have access to a working mobile phone. "Collectively, mobile devices are the most ubiquitous information and communication technology in history," says Unesco. "More to the point, they are plentiful in places where books are scarce."

The most popular genre for readers was romance, the survey found, with the "romance" icon on Worldreader Mobile receiving 17% of all 730,787 clicks during the research period. Nineteen of the top 40 books read during the study period were romance novels, with Ravinder Singh's Can Love Happen Twice? the most popular book, followed by the Mills & Boon title The Price of Royal Duty in second, and the Bible in third.

Kwame Nkrumah's The Great African and Nnedi Okorafor's The Girl with the Magic Hands were also among the most read books between April and June 2013, with the most popular search terms over the period "sex", "Bible" and "biology". Chinua Achebe came in fourth, with "Things fall apart", ahead of "love" in fifth. Religion was the second most popular genre, said Unesco.

The survey also found that mobile reading is a "huge tool of empowerment for women", said Worldreader's Nadja Borovac. While 77% of mobile readers in developing countries are male, women spend an average of 207 minutes per month reading on their mobile phones, compared to men's 33 minutes. Unesco's report points out that in sub-Saharan Africa, a woman is 23% less likely to own a mobile phone than a man, with the gap widening in the case of data-enabled phones. "Men use mobiles for reading most, but the most active readers are women," said Borovac.

Almost two-thirds (60%) of respondents cited lack of content as the primary barrier to mobile reading, and a third said they were keen to read to their children from their mobiles if there were more child-friendly material available.

One respondent, Charles, a teacher in Zimbabwe, said he reads to his class from his mobile, and cited lack of printed content as his main reason for turning to his phone. "We live in a remote area where there are no libraries, and the books I have in my own small library are the ones which I have already read. So this is now giving me a chance to choose from a variety of fiction titles," he said.

Borovac said that mobile reading was "not a future phenomenon, but something which is happening today".

"It can really change people's lives," she said. "We work in countries where there is a serious shortage of books but where cell phones are plentiful ... We are hoping people will realise the potential of mobile reading [as a result of the report], and that governments and partners will get behind not only us but other organisations using mobile technology to help provide learning and books, and help improve literacy skills.""
mobile  reading  2014  africa  asia  india  ehtiopia  ghana  kenya  nigeria  pakistan  zimbabwe  unesco  ebooks  publishing 
january 2016 by robertogreco
Never Alone (video game) - Wikipedia
"Never Alone, also known as Kisima Inŋitchuŋa ("I am not alone"), is a puzzle-platformer video game by Upper One Games. Swapping between an Iñupiaq girl named Nuna and her Arctic fox companion, the player completes puzzles in a story based on Alaskan indigenous stories told in eight chapters."

[via: https://vimeo.com/152108782
"one of the finest examples we have of what happens when technology leverages the insights of the humanities"]

[See also:
http://neveralonegame.com/
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lM_80zVzwpI
http://kotaku.com/never-alone-the-kotaku-review-1659789150 ]
games  videogames  srg  edg  neveralone  2014  alaska  indigenous  indigeneity 
january 2016 by robertogreco
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