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Approaching The Elephant roams the chaotic halls of a free school
"The Teddy McArdle Free School in New Jersey doesn’t look, sound, or operate like most people’s idea of a school. There are no desks, no grades, no exams. The classes themselves are voluntary, with students urged to study what interests them most. (For many of the preteen attendees, that list includes working with power tools, making paper airplanes, and running wild through the halls.) Everything is decided upon as a group, from rules to curriculum to disciplinary measures, and the kids’ votes count as much as the adults’. All of this may sound like a recipe for disaster, but there is method to the madness: Like the more than 250 other free schools in the world, Teddy McArdle was built on a belief that education should be democratic, individual passions should be fostered, and children should have a say in their own upbringing. But there’s a big gulf separating a good idea in theory and a successful one in practice.

With Approaching The Elephant, director Amanda Rose Wilder documents the first full year at Teddy McArdle, following an inaugural class of about a dozen students and the patient instructors overseeing their veritable daylong free period. Shooting in “Academy Ratio” black-and-white, in the fly-on-the-wall observational mode of Frederick Wiseman, Wilder captures the bumps and grinds of this educational experiment—the randomly attended lessons, the conflict resolution, the vote sessions that often devolve into screaming matches. The footage, edited by Actress director Robert Greene, coheres into what feels like one long, chaotic school day. You can practically feel the pulse of grown-up veins, the fraying of last nerves.

In other words, those seeking a cogent argument in favor of the free school model won’t find it here. The filmmaking mirrors the non-interference policy of the program: In addition to employing no dates, no name tags, and no talking-head interviews, Wilder declines to include statistics, or really anything that would place Teddy McArdle in the context of other schools (beyond an opening block of text tracing the free school philosophy back to early-20th-century Barcelona). What we get instead is a portrait of the sheer difficulty in establishing a democratic organization, especially when its prospective practitioners are between 5 and 12 years old. The kids love the meetings, where they get to loudly voice their opinions, but their passion rarely seems to extend to the learning process. Part of the problem, in this case, is that most of the students come from more conventional classroom environments, and hence treat Teddy McArdle like little more than a blessed alternative—all recess, no homework. Some of them, like a young girl who hesitates to use a saw because her parents probably wouldn’t let her, seem too indoctrinated by authority to embrace the guiding principles.

“Characters” gradually emerge before Wilder’s camera, the kids revealing themselves as troublemakers or team players, suited to the program or decidedly not. But it’s an adult personality that comes into sharpest focus: Alexander Khost, the school’s founder, bristles under the pressure of monitoring (without controlling) an unruly student body; the ideals of Teddy McArdle often seem in direct conflict with the difficulty in realizing them. Does a firm belief that school should be an encouraging, not discouraging, institution outweigh the property damage some of the rowdier kids cause? How does one honor a system of absolute voting rights when the need to overrule a foolish decision presents itself? Khost believes in treating children as equals, but more often than not, he sinks to their level instead of bringing them up to his—especially late in the film, when the behavior of a delinquent student provokes this once-bullied mentor to throw a tantrum and launch an expulsion crusade. (As in the lightly fictionalized The Class, there’s the troubling suggestion that some kids will have to fail for the others to succeed.)

At one point, Khost openly admits that it will probably be two decades—enough time for these first few groups of students to grow up and enter the “real world”—before they’ll know if the Teddy McArdle methodology is a sound one. It’s hard not to wonder what a longer filming commitment, à la Hoop Dreams, might have revealed about the sustainability and value of free schools. But as a microcosmic study of democratic growing pains, Approaching The Elephant is both gripping and often dryly, shockingly hilarious. When Khost is forced to honor a call for meeting and humor debate as to whether jumping off school property is an unalienable right, the occasional absurdity of what he’s sanctioned becomes painfully clear. Wilder gets the same impression across a few minutes earlier, during a long shot of the head instructor chastising a young boy for striking him while another writes “fuck” on a chalkboard nearby… and misspells it to boot. At least one lesson gets imparted within the walls of Teddy McArdle: Get the kinks out before inviting a camera to film your venture."
aadowd  amandarosewilder  approachingtheelephant  2015  teddymcardlefreeschools  summerhill  freeschools  democraticschools  alexkhost  film  documentary  education  unschooling  schools  schooling  children 
6 weeks ago by robertogreco
Approaching the Elephant | A documentary film by Amanda Rose Wilder
“Year one at the Teddy McArdle Free School in Little Falls, New Jersey, where all classes are voluntary and rules are determined by vote. Wilder is there from the beginning to end of the school year, documenting and observing founder Alexander Khost, eleven-year-old Jiovanni, seven-year-old Lucy, along with an entire indelible cast of young personalities as they form relationships, explore their surroundings and intensely debate rule violations, until it all comes to a head. APPROACHING THE ELEPHANT is a vivid portrait of unfettered childhood and human relationships.”
amandarosewilder  approachingtheelephant  2015  teddymcardlefreeschools  summerhill  freeschools  democraticschools  alexkhost  film  documentary  education  unschooling  schools  schooling  children 
6 weeks ago by robertogreco
True/False Diary 1: Approaching The Elephant, Demonstration, Sacro GRA | Filmmaker Magazine
"Halfway through, it’s too early to take the overall temperature of True/False 2014 in its 11th year (my fifth attending, each year with the hotel paid; full disclosure). All smooth so far, though it’s early going, so let’s forego atmospherics at this point and jump into one of the festival’s world premieres, Approaching The Elephant. (“Thanks for everyone being here for basically the highlight of my life,” director Amanda Rose Wilder said in her introduction.) The subject is “free schools”: further left on the continuum than Montessori, and (at least as practiced by the subject school’s founder Alex Khost) an exercise in allowing children to set the educational agenda so they can discover their own identities and regard/empathize others as distinct individuals in their own valuable right.

Khost started the Teddy McArdle Free School in Little Falls, NJ in 2007. In Approaching the Elephant, the nascent institution’s first year is ruthlessly edited into initially disorienting black-and-white shards of faces, hands and bodies in close-up destructive action by festival mascot/director Robert Greene (director of big-time premiere Actress, to be covered in my next post). The film approximates the subjective chaotic world of children given the rare freedom to figure out what they want to do (namely, rage) in an ambiguously structured environment. “There’s definitely a certain amount of ‘is this really working,’” Khost concedes in a rare adults-only chat moment, but concludes it’ll take 20 years to find out.

Kids screaming all sound the same at first; it takes time for the film to unveil the ethical duel taking place between two of them. Jiovanni’s a long-haired wild child, prone to standing in the hallway and disruptively blaring a saxophone for attention. He’s dangerously close to being a bully, and regular foil Lucy doesn’t like it, though she’s not sure where the lines of permissible behavior should be drawn. At one of the school’s administrative meetings (a proto city council gathering, with points of order and votes on the issues of the day), she first voices her opposition to any school rule that would outlaw violent games, then turns around and proposes a rule that saying “stop” requires that someone else stop their negative actions.

Jiovanni’s meandering attempts at playing the piano increasingly dominate the soundtrack, drowning out others as a neat way of demonstrating how his individual presence threatens to extinguish the group project. There’s a scene where, after being chewed out for essentially being a total jerk, he sullenly refuses to admit fault. It took me straight back to third grade; for former problem kids like me, I suspect it’ll be hard not to look at Jiovanni and guiltily admire his relentless free spirit instincts. His repeated disruptions lead another child to yell at him in a meeting for taking every chance he’s given and throwing it away, a speech that’s remarkably similar to an intervention meeting or adult speech canceling a friendship with a self-destructive person.

Approaching The Elephant‘s adolescents are smarter than 80% of the regulars at my local, but intelligence won’t save them; this is a democracy in inaction. The kids do learn to have meetings and lay down the law for themselves, but it’s a victory of attrition against a charistmatic negative force. “Why are you mean?” Lucy asks. “Because I’m bored,” says Giovanni with the candor of self-aware self-destroyers who know exactly who their enablers are. The film works as a parodic demonstration of a nascent democracy, as a portrait of feckless youth, and a study in how charismatic jerks abuse their leeway; it’s a multivalent winner, all the better for its deliberate, focused confinement to one space."
vadimrizov  amandarosewilder  approachingtheelephant  2015  teddymcardlefreeschools  summerhill  freeschools  democraticschools  alexkhost  film  documentary  education  unschooling  schools  schooling  children 
6 weeks ago by robertogreco
“To Film Children in Ways You Don’t Usually See on Film”: Amanda Rose Wilder on Approaching the Elephant | Filmmaker Magazine
"A gripping, obsessively watchable observation of adolescent behavior set free, first time feature filmmaker Amanda Rose Wilder’s Approaching the Elephant finds its inspiration in the inaugural semester of New Jersey’s Teddy McArdle Free School. Following co-founder Alex Khost, a wide-eyed, determined optimist who dreams of (and gets his chance to) run a not-entirely-anarchistic Free School, the film immerses itself amongst the young children experiencing a drastically unfamiliar educational environment. Neither polemical condemnation nor evidence of its success, Wilder’s camera observes the “experiment’s” highs and lows, as school rules/punishments are democratically voted on by the students.

Lovingly photographed (post-converted to black-and-white) and framed in the 4X3 aspect ratio, Approaching the Elephant opens Friday as part of IFP’s Screen Forward series. I spoke with 2013 Independent Filmmaker Lab alum Wilder about her interest in Free Schools, her favorite scene in the film, and always remaining a watchful observer.

Filmmaker: As a first time feature filmmaker, you possess a striking assuredness in your work, and one that feels well versed in documentary history. Who are some of your cinematic influences?

Wilder: I have quite a few. When it comes to filmmakers, I have to cite the Maysles, the Dardennes, Frederick Wiseman, and John Cassavetes. Other detached snippets from filmmakers, such as a camera motion in a Glauber Rocha film or a short by Jerzy Skolimowski, are also influential. There are some strange things too, like Field of Dreams and Gene Wilder in Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. I’m also inspired by poetry and short stories — specifically, for this film, by J.D. Salinger and Roald Dahl.

Filmmaker: The clarity of your images is quite invigorating. What camera did you use? What made you want to shoot in 4X3?

Wilder: The DVX100. It’s still a great camera, and I like how the 4×3 aspect ratio frames people’s bodies. Approaching the Elephant is very involved with people.

Filmmaker: The film opens by noting the history of the Free Schools movement and how they came to popularity. What was your way into the subject? Had you been wanting to observe a Free School in action? Or did The Teddy McArdle Free School specifically pique your interest?

Wilder: I’d visited Summerhill, the longest running free school, when I was ten. My dad is an elementary school teacher and wanted to see what it was like. It was an experience that stuck in my mind. Then I went to an alternative school, Marlboro College, where I switched my focus from poetry to documentary. After I graduated, my film professor, Jay Craven, a Vermont-based filmmaker and producer of Approaching the Elephant, asked if I wanted to make a film with him exploring alternative education. I said yes, and that summer I attended an education conference where I met Alex Khost, who was about to start Teddy McArdle 20 minutes from where my mom lives in New Jersey. Alex was a person I felt I wanted to follow, and I asked him if I could visit on their first day. He went back to those who were involved at the time, and they voted that I could. On the first day I met Lucy and Jiovanni, who were to become the two other main people in the film, and got the sense that this school was going to allow me to film children in ways you don’t usually see on film. I also felt strongly that, beyond any agenda, there was a story.

Filmmaker: The film features numerous seasonal activities that feel rightly commonplace at an elementary school, i.e. a garage sale, a talent show, etc. These events indicate the passing of time, the progression of a full school year. Was it always your intent to observe this “experiment” from the fall through the summer?

Wilder: Yes, while days flow together, there is a clear passage of time. It was less about executing a predetermined intent than letting my developing interests and the unfolding story guide what was filmed. Beginning on the first day of school and ending on the last made sense, story-wise.

Filmmaker: Stationed in the school’s parking lot, you employ numerous establishing shots of the school, a prominent white cross displayed on its roof. It doesn’t seep into the narrative necessarily, but your camera features consistent reminders that this is a religious institution first.

Wilder: Well, there’s humor there, that this radically alternative school was renting space from a church. It’s just one of those details you could never make up, or I couldn’t. I love the cross shots. I wouldn’t want to run too far with it, it’s great as just a visual, but you certainly could – is this a story of heaven or hell, which is which, inside the school or the world surrounding? etc. The reality is that many free schools are housed, at least at first, in churches because of the relatively low cost of rent.

Filmmaker: One particularly striking sequence features the kids in shop class, using sharp saws to cut wood and hammers to strike down nails. Your camera gets dangerously close to the action, and I cringed at the potential danger prevalent throughout. And yet you always refrain from getting involved and imposing onto their world. How quickly did the students grow comfortable with you? Did you have a large crew?

Wilder: Not at all. Recently whenever I’m at screenings, I stay until the end of this first woodworking scene you’re talking about and then leave. Honestly I am a little tickled by audiences’ gasps and exclamations. I know that at that point in the film people are hooked into the story and weighing what’s going on. At no time did I ever feel the kids were being unsafe with the woodworking tools. Mostly they were using coping saws, from which the worst you can get is a minor cut. Organized sports are probably more dangerous!

Maybe it’s something about the closeness and low angle of one of the shots in that scene that scares people. A big issue in the film is safety – a determinant that has so much to do with what children can and cannot do and how they live their lives. My acceptance at Teddy McArdle was immediate. This was a new and small group, and everyone was very open. Two factors that probably helped a lot were, 1) everyone was very engaged with what they were doing, and 2) I was a one-person crew, operating camera and sound.

Filmmaker: You often position your camera down the end of a school hallway, observing from afar the rambunctious, uninterrupted (and often unsupervised) activity of the students roaming about. The camera is the watchful eye that’s never acknowledged. Was this your intent?

Wilder: I think it’s more my personality than intent. I love to observe, to move an audience through a story by how I move the camera and then with the editing. Some filmmakers like to be in the foreground, which is fine, but that’s just a different kind of person than me.

Filmmaker: In many ways, the film is about the silent reactions of others. You continuously cut to the face of a student in the room who is not the focal point of the discussion, the most poignant example of this being one you showcase on the film’s official poster: Jiovanni stares off into the distance as his fellow classmates debate whether or not to expel him.

Wilder: Thanks! That’s a nice observation. The film focuses on three people but relies just as much, if not more so, on the watchful observations of others, on what’s going on with someone’s hands as much as their face, processing as much as talking. As the narrative barrels forward, it sort of momentarily hovers in these moments and you can feel a sort of collective thinking.

Filmmaker: Some have used Lord of the Flies as a reference when describing the film, but the film feels more like a courtroom drama, a 12 Angry Men for first time jurors learning how to mature and respect their fellow man. You watch them closely as they become frustrated with the burden of decision-making and the grayness involved in doing what’s right. What drew you to featuring these key organized meetings?

Wilder: There is a lot of woodworking and meetings in the film because I found the meat of the story there. I’ve never gotten through William Golding’s Lord of the Flies, as I find the tone so disparaging of the kids. I haven’t seen 12 Angry Men. Are there any women in it? You really can’t deny the importance of Lucy in Approaching the Elephant.

Filmmaker: Speaking of Lucy, in one scene, she takes Alex to “court” and is confused when she discovers a loophole in the rules: since Alex is the grownup, he has the final say. Lucy struggles internally with her disappointment here, as she discovers a hidden bifurcation of student and teacher lines.

Wilder: It’s my favorite scene. I love how Alex and Lucy treat each other with complete respect, and yet at the same time firmly stand by their points. When we shot this, he was 32 and Lucy was seven. For people who aren’t used to treating kids as equals, it’s quite a mind warp. Lucy is such a force.

Filmmaker: Your editor and co-producer Robert Greene has been quite vocal about recognizing the performance-based aspects of documentary subjects. With that in mind, Jiovanni emerges from this film as a troubled but fascinating character, a misguided rebel who, by the film’s conclusion, encounters an unfortunate fate at the hands of his peers. Could you speak a little bit about what his presence brings to the film?

Wilder: I felt Jiovanni’s presence the minute I met him. He is one of those magnetic and fascinating figures, up against certain challenges and who you can’t help but hope succeeds. But will he? In this way, in my mind, Jiovanni is very much a young version of Alex. And Lucy exists in a different sphere. A.S. Neill, who started Summerhill said, “A child’s wish to be an adult is a power wish.” Lucy’s approach to this wish, to be as strong as Alex (and Jiovanni) is very different than Jiovanni’s approach, who bucks the… [more]
amandarosewilder  approachingtheelephant  2015  erikluers  teddymcardlefreeschools  summerhill  freeschools  democraticschools  alexkhost  film  documentary  education  unschooling  schools  schooling  children 
6 weeks ago by robertogreco
The School Where Children Can Do Whatever They Want (Pretty Much) - VICE
“Amanda Rose Wilder’s new documentary Approaching the Elephant follows a year at the Teddy McArdle Free School in suburban New Jersey, an alternative elementary school organized around the principles of self-regulation. Named for a child prodigy from a J.D. Salinger story, Teddy McArdle consists of about a dozen students, several teachers, and no mandatory classes. At first glance, the school day seems to be improvised from moment to moment, with the adults relying on suggestion and a loose parliamentary style of rule-making to channel the students’ energies around one project or another for the day, or not. The school seems to operate in a limbo between class and recess.

At the center of this activity is the school’s founder Alex Khost, an endlessly energetic and patient man in his early 30s who hated school as a child and is determined to create something better as an adult. Much of the drama revolves around two of his pupils: Jiovanni, a sensitive and creative 11-year-old boy who often becomes a disruptive and destructive presence, and Lucy, an outspoken and critical seven-year-old, who swings back and forth between being attracted to Jio and being bullied by him. In one of the film’s most memorable scenes, Lucy tells Alex, “I don’t like the things he does, but it’s boring when he’s not here,” more or less framing everyone’s relationship with Jiovanni. Can Alex’s radical vision for a new kind of school deal with a bright, charismatic kid who won’t cooperate?

A disciple of the Maysles Brothers and their Direct Cinema revolution of the 1960s, Rose Wilder found a perfect subject in the Teddy McArdle Free School for her fast-moving, observational style, which arrives free of commentary or context in a timeless black-and-white presentation. This stylistic choice feels important, because it helps release the film from the realm of current events and moves it closer to a timeless study of childhood, capturing something raw and elemental about how children are that isn’t specific to any decade. No matter your opinions on education or your personal experience of childhood, you’ll find it hard to experience Approaching the Elephant without feeling affected.

VICE: How did you come across the Teddy McArdle Free School and why did you decide to make a film there?

Amanda Rose Wilder: I started the film when I graduated from college, about eight years ago. Before that, my main interest was poetry and then I sort of transitioned over to film, and I found Direct Cinema to be sort of an interesting mirror of poetry in film. I remember watching the Maysles Brothers’ Gimme Shelter and thinking about how you can unpack that film unendingly. It’s fun to unpack in the way that a poem is fun to unpack. Meeting Alex Khost had everything to do with my interest in making a film about the school because he was so open and charming. Opening the school really mattered to Alex. He’d been bullied and hated going to school when he was young, and didn’t want his newborn son to have to go through the same experience. I was excited by the idea of people starting something new and mostly doing it on their own, and I wanted to see it unfold. The individuals at Teddy McArdle and what happened between them are really the story.

One of things I was most impressed by was how the school charges its students with running an active democracy in order to get anything done. The idea that students and teachers are equal and have the same degree of power in the school sounds simple and appealing on the surface. Over the course of the film, you begin to appreciate how heavy this responsibility is, and it’s incredible to watch children work to deal with it. It’s very different from the traditional American public-school experience, which is not very democratic at all, or only in highly mediated and controlled situations.

There is a scene where Lucy calls a meeting on Alex for harassment—actually, for not allowing her to jump off of a storage bin—for making a rule by himself instead of voting on it as a democratic community. It’s such a mind warp because both Lucy and Alex are treating each other with such respect as equals, and yet she’s seven and he’s 31. For me, the movie is about kids making real decisions for themselves. Most of the time when you see a movie where this happens, it’s not about kids in school but kids who live on the street, like the documentary Streetwise. The free school model allowed me to capture something about childhood that you aren’t often allowed to see. The tensions and fighting and bullying, which exist in all schools, but the community and joy and inspiration as well.

The way the students and teachers resolve their problems with Jiovanni, the most disruptive kid in the school, was really surprising. Having to collectively decide whether or not to expel a disruptive classmate is not a situation that most elementary schools place their students in. By the time we arrive at this scene, you have to be impressed at how proactive the Teddy McArdle kids need to be in order to maintain a school that functions at all.

There have been conflicting reactions to how the narrative of the film unfolds. Some people see the school as dissolving into chaos, and some people see the school coming together and starting to work in functional way. For me, the school was like a family at that point. Everyone really cared about Jiovanni, the student who they had to make a huge decision about whether or not to expel, who had been given months and months of second chances. I was myself expelled from high school and it was such a different experience, a one-strike-and-you’re-out kind of thing. Jiovanni himself completely understood what was happening to him.

At screenings of the film, Alex is sometimes asked what he would have done differently. While many things could have been done differently, it’s hard to really do something for the first time again, you know what I mean? Everyone has a first time, and it’s always imperfect. I like that about the film, that it shows imperfections and shows people not always acting the best. Not every documentary has to be about a perfect hero. Alex does behave heroically at times, but he’s human and he has flaws, we all do.

What’s your hope for the film? What do you hope people see and take away from it? Can it contribute to a larger conversation about education or politics or life?
I think that whenever you’re filming something, you are promoting it in some way. What I hope the movies promotes is someone like Alex trying something new, and not necessarily doing it right the first time. Giving something new a shot. I remember meeting Alex and how his face was so alive and so excited when he was talking about starting this new and different school. I would rather film someone like that than someone who’s been doing the same thing for years and looks dead. I have my own feelings about free schools, but the movie is more about childhood in general and touches on larger questions about democracy and community. Lucy and Jiovanni are examples of how a child can be scary and inspiring all at once. Kids need to make mistakes and do things wrong and cry. Just like adults do. Focusing on two people who are under ten and showing all the qualities of their personalities was important for me, showing the rawness and messiness of childhood.”
amandarosewilder  approachingtheelephant  2015  matthewcaron  teddymcardlefreeschools  summerhill  freeschools  democraticschools  alexkhost  film  documentary  education  unschooling  schools  schooling  children 
6 weeks ago by robertogreco
A Filmmaker Follows Education Without Required Classes — Even Math : NPR
“”So you don’t have to do math?” asks a child early on in the documentary Approaching the Elephant. His teacher, Alex, has just explained one of the rules of the Teddy McArdle Free School, where this student and a dozen or so others (who, from the looks of it, range in age from around five to ten) are now enrolled. There are no required classes and almost no prescribed rules. Instead, kids can focus on whatever interests them and teachers and students propose and vote on rules together.

So no, nobody at Teddy McArdle has to do math if they don’t want to, a piece of news that’s heralded with cries of “yay” and “awesome.”

Approaching the Elephant documents Alex’s attempts to implement this radical teaching philosophy during Teddy McArdle’s first year of classes, which began in September 2007. Director Amanda Rose Wilder came to the school with no crew, handling camera duties solo, an approach that undoubtedly helped foster the film’s immersive feel.

At a superficial level, the film continuously flirts with chaos. Its aspect ratio is narrow and confining. For much of the movie, we’re surrounded by the cacophony of shrills, yells and arguments and the unspecified noise that inevitably ensues when you allow kids to do almost whatever they want. The camera, right in the thick of things, sticks mainly to close-ups of the teachers’ and students’ faces. Very rarely does Wilder pull back into wide shots for a breather.

And on several levels, that’s just not the kind of movie Approaching the Elephant is. It’s not a documentary that takes that wider view and hopes to enlighten us about the principles of the Free School or argue for its merits or deficiencies. As edited by Robert Greene—who also edited Listen Up Philip, directed the fantastic documentary Actress and helps give Approaching the Elephant its entrancing, tight, whirlwind rhythm—the final effect ends up closer to 2012’s Leviathan than Waiting for Superman. It’s a visceral, experiential, and absorbing viewing experience, not an educational issue doc.

That said, beneath Approaching the Elephant’s manic surface lies an elementary structure provided by its focus on two students: Lucy and Jiovanni. Lucy is outspoken and, in some ways, a model student for the free school. At one point, she goes so far as to debate Alex about whether he has the right, in the name of safety, to unilaterally forbid students to jump off a filing cabinet onto a mattress. “What you decide by yourself, I’m not going to listen to it,” Lucy says, and in the context of this school, the argument has some merit.

Jiovanni is the troublemaker—rambunctious, angry and, in many cases, a bully. He particularly enjoys tormenting Lucy, and the two repeatedly wind up in emergency conflict resolution meetings. (Everything at the school is handled democratically, so when a student feels hurt, threatened, or insulted they can call an emergency meeting where all sides present their side of the story. Later, if necessary, a jury made up of students and teachers decide whether a punishment is merited.)

Eventually, as the misconducts pile up, Alex and others wonder whether Jiovanni can handle the freedoms that the Teddy McArdle School offers. The movie’s lingering question, though, is more general. With every new fight, yelling match, and emergency meeting, the school and its pedagogical experiment seems to inch closer to implosion. You begin to imagine the kind of disaster, the kind of injury, that might shut it down completely. You begin to expect it. It’s exhausting.

It’s also brilliant. Without delivering lectures about the tenets of the free school philosophy (we enter having been told only that it originated among Spanish anarchists in the early 20th century and that there over 250 free schools in the world today), Wilder initiates us into the tensions that produce its existential crises. Having created a space where children can express themselves with nearly no restrictions, Alex and the other teachers then must try to create some structure, some habitat for learning, without imposing a system. (The movie’s mixture of order and chaos, in this sense, mirrors the school.)

Another essential component of free school philosophy is respect—Alex continuously implores the kids to treat each other like human beings. But while that extends to how Alex hopes to interact with the students as well—as one adult among others rather than as a teacher enforcing edicts—the situation at times seems to backfire, pushing everyone toward bickering and petulance.

There are times when you see the benefits of Alex’s approach. By the end of the film, many of the students, who in meetings regularly propose and debate potential rules and practices for the school, are arguing their opinions with impressive eloquence and confidence.

But there’s also a moment where Alex, frustrated by the kids’ continuous misbehavior, threatens to quit the school. “I don’t like being around people who are mean to other people,” he tells the students. That makes you wonder whether teaching elementary school is really for him. It also highlights how, at least in the vision offered by Approaching the Elephant, Teddy McArdle seems persistently embroiled in conflicts.

Alex and other teachers offer a number of reasons for this frustration: that the kids, unaccustomed to their freedom, are taking advantage of it until they become bored (one person calls it the “gangster phase” of the school’s development); that the school needs a few years before its merits will be evident; that, because it’s an alternative school, the school attracts not just children who might benefit from its approach but also those who haven’t succeeded in other settings and are looking for any other option.

Wilder never declares which of these might be most true. She in fact shot two years of footage at Teddy McArdle, staying on until the school shut down in 2009, but her decision to focus only on the inaugural year was astute. It not only focuses the film, but also leaves us absorbed in the primal battle we’ve witnessed between well-intentioned philosophy and human nature. There’s no closure or natural victor. Only Alex talking about the changes he hopes to make in the school’s second year and the thought, in the back of our heads, that at no point in the movie did we see any of the kids doing math.”
amandarosewilder  approachingtheelephant  2015  tomashachard  teddymcardlefreeschools  summerhill  freeschools  democraticschools  alexkhost  film  documentary  education  unschooling  schools  schooling  children 
6 weeks ago by robertogreco
Getting Real With The Director of Must-See Documentary ‘Approaching the Elephant’ | BlackBook
“Imagine the scene of a group of precocious schoolchildren having a democratic meeting about who has the right to a piece of wood—each as expressive in their righteous anger or inquisitive silence, while patiently awaiting the final verdict—and you’ll begin to understand the allure of Approaching the Elephant, one of the finest American documentaries in recent memory. The feature debut by Amanda Rose Wilder depicts the inaugural year of the Teddy McArdle Free School in New Jersey, where director Alex Khost and his colleagues teach art history, woodworking, a variety of instruments, and whatever else the kids decide they want to do that day. It’s a bustling, genuinely curious portrait of communal education that seems incredibly generous, exciting, and even a little scary all at once.

Elephant is reminiscent of the films of Frederick Wiseman and the Maysles Brothers, which observe American institutions with patience and a deep faith in their subjects that feels wholly unburdened by commercial concerns. We’re never told how to watch these incredibly engaging children, much as they occasionally develop Brat Pack-esque roles and behaviors. A vague love story develops between fiery blonde Lucy and surly Jiovanni, who roughly function as protagonists under Wilder’s solitary roving camera—until Khost, the viewer and their fellow classmates are forced to accept that not all children thrive under these circumstances.

Shot nearly eight years ago, converted to black-and-white and pieced together by reliably efficient editor Robert Greene (Actress, Listen Up Philip), the film finally opens today for a weeklong run at the IFP Media Center in DUMBO. I had the pleasure of speaking with Ms. Wilder about the origins and inspiration behind the film, and how the subjects responded to it many years later.

How did you first conceive or become involved with this project?

My dad is an elementary school teacher and was always interested in more progressive, unconventional models. He took me once to visit Summerhill, which is the longest-running and most famous free school in the UK. That was my first interaction with free schools, and it was a memorable experience—but he wanted to know if I wanted to enroll there, and it was way out over the ocean. I didn’t really get it at the time, that school could be riding horses all day.

Then he moved with my stepmom to Missouri, and I went on my own volition to a prep school in Connecticut. I had a bad experience in boarding school and didn’t really understand what prep culture was. Ultimately, I think bad experiences are good for you, but I kind of went the opposite way in college. I went to Marlboro in Vermont, which is more progressive—you design the last two years of your education and plan a concentration, which is more like a graduate program than a B.A. That’s where I switched over from poetry to documentary, and my thesis was on “the documentary poem”.

That’s when I became obsessed with the Maysles brothers, and the idea of observational filmmaking as this art, or poetry. And then my film professor, Jay Craven, a filmmaker who makes films about regional Vermont stories, asked if I wanted to make a movie with him exploring progressive education in some way. He raised some money for that and then asked if I wanted to go to this alternative education conference called Aero, and so after I graduated I went there and did all these interviews, and one of those people that I just met on the street was Alex [Khost], who was just about to start Teddy McArdle. It was going to be 20 minutes from where my mom was living, and I was sort of in transition, so I decided to shack up with my mom and basically film there the whole year. I shot about 178 hours the first year, and then 40 or 50 hours the year afterward.

Was your aesthetic for this film inspired by any particular films or filmmakers?

The Maysles were my first real film influence. When I saw Gimme Shelter for the first time, I watched it straight through again a second time, and just recognized something in it that I thought—that’s the kind of film I want to to make. I guess to me, direct cinema is related in a lot of ways to poetry, in that it’s about so many things—it’s so fun to unpack a film.

Richard Brody wrote a capsule review [in the New Yorker] that sort of criticized the fact that I wasn’t a presence in the film. It had me thinking a lot about being a presence, and obviously there’s a strong tradition in direct cinema of not really being present. People talk to you, and you kind of cut that out. But what I always liked about the Maysles’ films is that the filmmaker is…not in the foreground, but very much present. So much is [about] the eye of the camera and also the editor, which is how it was for this film as well. Robert Greene realized that I’m much more of a shooter, and that I needed someone who complements my talents with other necessary ones.

I was able to shoot a second camera with Albert Maysles and edit that material, to watch his footage and mine side-by-side, which was definitely a learning experience. Sean [Price] Williams, the cinematographer, who was also working with the Maysles at the time—I would go see films with him, and that’s how I originally met Robert, outside of Anthology Film Archives years and years ago.

There was some narrative influence as well. Le Fils by the Dardenne brothers is also very much about woodworking and a man-boy relationship and the idea of a naturalistic narrative, which breaks from the direct cinema form a little bit.

It reminded me a bit of Allan King’s Warrendale, in terms of the proximity you had to these kids, and with caregivers trying to contain the emotions of so many different troubled children all at once.

Yeah, there’s that whole alternative community. And you’re just constantly back and forth in Warrendale, whether their methods are horrible or their methods are working—which I think is a good place to put a viewer in.

During that scene where they hold a meeting to discuss Lucy’s harassment, I noticed how you were able to maneuver around the room to focus on each of the participants, while also getting that great insert of Olivia playing with Alex’s keys. These moments never feel hurried or strained. Was your filmmaking mostly intuitive, or did you have a game plan when dealing with these group sequences?

I think there were a lot of elements of Teddy McArdle that helped make it a consistent place for observational filmmaking—one being that it was really limited to one space. A lot of the movie takes place in maybe three rooms, and there were always a lot of people sitting around talking, so it was very easy to just be behind people. And I was there on the first day of school, so I think that helped. I think being there from the outset really helped people [get used to it], and that it was just me.

I think it was mostly working instinctually. I would get there and I would pick up on a conversation across the room, and I would go over and listen…I was always trying to find scenes, or shots that I felt captured me. Then there were scenes that I knew were going to happen, or there was a little bit more preconceived thinking, and that was one of those scenes. Alex knew that I was interested in filming that scene [once the hearing was called], and he approached me and said, why don’t we do this one now.

Another example is the scene at the end where they decide what to do with Jiovanni ultimately. I guess I sort of gathered in my head who I would want to focus on, and just remind myself not to get too distracted and bounce around a whole lot.

That was one thing I always noticed about Al Maysles was how patient he would be [with his subjects]. The best cinematographers always sort of inspire you. I remember watching this Glauber Rocha movie, where during a sewer scene, there was a shot I really liked where the camera just sort of moved forward into people talking. And in the sewer scene [in Approaching the Elephant] where Lucy’s talking into Olivia’s ear, I just moved in and picked up that shot. I decided to re-enact it in that moment.

I was also curious what the “inappropriate movies” were that Jiovanni was cited for watching at his hearing at the end.

That’s a good question! I can’t actually answer that. I don’t think it was sexual in nature. I think it was more like there was a rule for younger kids, like 5 years old who were more scared by violent things, and he just wasn’t respecting those rules.

Have any of the kids seen the film? It would be fascinating if you did a kind of Chronicle of a Summer-style screening for all of them together, and filming their reactions.

They’re all 16 to 17 years old now, and we had a screening for people in the film about a month before it premiered at True/False last year. Jiovanni flew up from Florida, where I am now, and he stayed with us in Brooklyn a few days ahead of screening the movie at Lucy’s house. That was neat, and I did really want to film at that time, because we had Alex and Jiovanni—who’s taller than Alex now!—and he works at the Indy 500 racetrack. But I did feel like it was important to have some time with him without filming, and to get to know each other better, since in a way I didn’t really get to know him as a person without the camera in hand.

Alex and I talk about what an interesting film it would have been to have made about the last year of our lives together. We’ve done all the Q&As together, in Copenhagen, Italy, elsewhere. I’ve definitely heard all the people’s impressions of the movie, which are so varied.

But most [of the participants] have seen it, and I think everyone likes it, thinks it’s a good or great film. Lucy loves it, I think, though she says she remembers she had more fun, and wished I had included more fun moments.

It looked like she was having fun to me!

She really did seek out attention from the boys, which was fun a lot of the time, and then it crossed the line. She… [more]
amandarosewilder  approachingtheelephant  2015  micahgottlieb  teddymcardlefreeschools  summerhill  freeschools  democraticschools  alexkhost  film  documentary  education  unschooling  schools  schooling  children 
6 weeks ago by robertogreco
Can Bernie Sanders Alter the Course of the Democratic Party?
“At stake in the campaign is not just the fate of this year’s nomination, but the future of the Democratic Party’s coalition. The party is not the multiracial, working-class one Sanders and many of his backers want it to be. Sanders is famously not a member of it.”



“in order for a democratic socialist to win the Democratic Party’s nomination to the White House, Sanders believes he will have to do more than merely persuade a majority of the primary electorate to come out and vote for him. He’ll have to create a new electorate.”



“When Republicans represent the rich and Democrats represent the well-educated but not quite as rich, Piketty says, there’s no obvious party home for the working class, and no motivation for the government to do much of anything for that working class.

It’s a global trend, and it’s one that the Sanders campaign is trying to stop and reverse. Instead of crafting a platform to fit a coalition, the campaign is trying to create a coalition to fit his platform.”



“As Piketty observed, when both major parties are catering to the elites, the system can’t deliver material gains for the broad base of people, so the parties fight over the one thing a nation can control: its borders, and correspondingly the definition of citizenship. Without a party advocating for universal programs of uplift, for a collective effort to confront the seismic challenges facing the planet, the dialogue in the U.S. will dissolve, the way it has already begun to do in Europe, solely into battles over immigration and nationalism, battles that the right is well-positioned to win by exploiting fear, xenophobia, and anti-elite sentiment.”



“But, she knew, going state by state and company by company wouldn’t be enough, and believed something had to change at the top to enable grassroots groups to make progress at a scale that could match the extent of the crisis. She didn’t know anybody on the Sanders campaign, but she was in luck: Nobody who wanted a future career in Democratic politics was willing to work for Sanders, lest they wind up on the business end of the revenge-prone Clintons. Sandberg didn’t want a career in Washington, so that wasn’t an obstacle, and the campaign brought her, Zack Exley, and eventually Becky Bond on to run the digital organizing program.”



“On a car ride with staff earlier in 2019, Sanders opened up about one of his frustrations with Democratic Party leaders, bemoaning the way that they consider party activists and voters to be two utterly distinct entities, “who never the twain shall meet.” It’s OK for the activists to get riled up, but the voters never should. They have one job: Get into the booth, pull the lever, and go home.

“It’s a scarcity mindset that the party has,” Rast said. “It believes that voters don’t want to participate in democracy, which isn’t fundamentally true in this political moment. People want to participate — now! We have to give them the invitation to do it.”

That angling of the lens, that faith in people, is central to the organizing strategy. “We’re working collaboratively to actually build a movement for Bernie that’s legitimately integrated from Claire all the way down to FO’s” — field organizers — “in Iowa, which is pretty unprecedented for a presidential campaign,” Rast said.”



“Once a campaign sees its supporters through a broader lens than people to tap for small donations, more becomes possible. “It was important to us to not just engage voters as numbers in the voter file, but as people who exist in relationship to one another and also exist in communities that have specific concerns that are distinct,” she added.

The campaign began looking at the voter file in a different way. For this, they had the help of Emily Isaac, who ran one of the most unique field programs in the 2018 cycle, that of Sri Kulkarni in Texas. (Arguably, the four most innovative field campaigns that cycle were Kulkarni’s, Jess King’s in Pennsylvania, Ocasio-Cortez’s in New York, and Beto O’Rourke’s statewide race for Senate. Three of those four lost anyway, of course, but the Sanders campaign has absorbed organizers and tactics from all of them.)”



“Typically, a canvasser is given a list of names and addresses and told to knock on those doors, ask people how they’re voting, leave some literature, and perhaps attempt a little persuasion. The goal is to identify supporters so they can be turned out on Election Day. It’s grueling work: Most people aren’t home or aren’t interested in talking.

In the Kulkarni race, Isaac gave volunteers lists of people who lived in their local precinct and asked them to go through it and fill in information about their neighbors. It turned out that people knew an awful lot about their neighbors and their political preferences, and the campaign was able to amass intelligence at a scale impossible otherwise. The volunteers mapped roughly 14,000 of their neighbors with this method, and the campaign then leaned on friend-to-friend relationships to push those people out to vote. (According to the Sanders campaign, the Analyst Institute, which does private research for Democratic campaigns, has found that peers are twice as effective at persuading someone to vote than strangers on the phone or at the door.) In 2016, Democrats had lost the seat by 19 percentage points; Kulkarni fell just 5 short (and is running again, after the Republican incumbent Pete Olson, reading the writing on the Texas wall, retired).”



“There are currently more than 115,000 people who’ve created a Bern account, the campaign claims, and it has generated more than 300,000 IDs. The Elizabeth Warren campaign uses an app called Reach that was developed for the Ocasio-Cortez campaign, which itself was a game-changer. Under the old programs, a volunteer would get a list of voters and then go out and try to find them at their doors or over the phone. But it’s much easier to make contact with voters in the wild: at farmer’s markets, on street corners, at concerts, or just out at the bar with friends. Reach allows a volunteer to easily enter information they collect on the street, but it falls short of what Bern is capable of.

What the Bern app enables is called relational, or friend-to-friend organizing, which has become a buzzword among progressive organizers, something many groups say they do, but don’t actually do with any rigor or scale.

“It’s very new overall and I don’t think that it’s ever been tried at this scale,” Sandberg said. “It doesn’t work to just say, ‘Bring five friends and then we’ll get bigger and bigger and bigger and win.’ It only works if you can systematize it and have ways of following up with every single volunteer and also finding out who they’re talking about and matching them back to the voter file. You can’t turn them out unless you have their precinct location.”

“The only other campaign that is doing relational organizing on a scale close to what we are doing actually is the Trump campaign,” she added.

“It’s one of the most innovative parts of our program, but it only works when you build something big around it,” Rast added. “If you have a couple of volunteers and they do relational [organizing], fine, but the reason why relational is really powerful on our campaign is because of everything else that we’re doing, and because it’s slotted into a bigger strategy that’s all driving towards the same point.”

Inside the Sanders campaign, relational organizing is linked up with the constituency program. In most campaigns, that means assigning staffers to reach out to various constituencies — labor unions, Chinese Americans, veterans, etc. — and meeting them where they are. For a standard campaign, the goal is simply to win the endorsement of an association linked to the constituency, perhaps extract some campaign cash, hold an event, and move on, hoping that the endorsement will win votes in the community. Traditionally, constituent groups are lobbied for their endorsement by the political directors or their staff, but the Sanders campaign has significantly underfunded that department, aware that Sanders won’t win many endorsements with one-to-one meetings. Instead, the task is seen as one of organizing: build support among a group’s base, and force its leadership into line.”
ryangrim  berniesanders  2020  2019  2016  2015  organizing  elections  petebuttigieg  elizabethsanders  hillaryclinton  billclinton  democracy  democrats  politics  socialism  nationalism  thomaspiketty  clairesandberg  beccarast  scarcity  relationships  campaigning 
6 weeks ago by robertogreco
Make Animated GIFs In OS X With A Right-click – Jacob Salmela
"Create animated GIFs from the OS X Finder in just seconds. It only takes a few minutes to set up and will give you a “native” feeling without the need to install any additional software. Plus, you never need to open an app to create the GIF, you can just highlight files > right-click > Make Animated GIF."
mac  osx  macos  gifs  howto  jacobsamela  2015 
6 weeks ago by robertogreco
Opinion | Silencing Authors in India - The New York Times
“The story of the latest victim of censorship by intimidation in India, the Tamil-language author Perumal Murugan, was taken up by the Madras High Court on Tuesday. Earlier this month, Mr. Murugan posted a poignant statement on his Facebook page: “Perumal Murugan, the writer is dead.” This was after he had been hounded by right-wing Hindu groups, had met with local authorities and had agreed to withdraw copies of his novel from sale. The author’s plight has provoked an outpouring of support from readers and writers in India.

Activists affiliated with the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party and the Hindu right-wing group Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh had called for the book to be banned because it offended them. Weeks of threatening phone calls to Mr. Murugan culminated in late December with a mob burning copies of the novel in the town where it is set.

The main source of the mob’s ire were passages that evoke an ancient temple ritual that Mr. Murugan, who grew up in the area, does believe occurred in the past. It involves consensual sex between anonymous men and married women who had failed to conceive.

This is hardly the first time in India that groups expressing their outrage have acted as cultural vigilantes by trying to silence authors with threats. In 2012, an organizer of the Jaipur Literature Festival, William Dalrymple, was forced to cancel a planned program by video with the author Salman Rushdie — who had already canceled a personal appearance — after outraged Muslim activists threatened violence.

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The Madras High Court has wisely asked the group that filed the Murugan case, the Tamil Nadu Progressive Writers and Artists Association, to broaden its petition to the larger issue of violent threats to freedom of expression. The court said: “Our largest concern is extrajudicial groups wielding power to decide what is right and what is not right, and asking authors what to write and what not to write.”

This is refreshing language from an Indian court on the issue of free speech.”
perumalmurugan  2015  india 
9 weeks ago by robertogreco
Opinion | Barack Obama’s Biggest Mistake - The New York Times
"It rhymes with ‘schneo-liberalism.’ It was an economic disaster and a political dead end."

...

"In 2009, Barack Obama was the most powerful newly elected American president in a generation. Democrats controlled the House and, for about five months in the second half of the year, they enjoyed a filibuster-proof, 60-vote majority in the Senate. For the first six months of his presidency, Obama had an approval rating in the 60s.

Democrats also had a once-in-a-lifetime political opportunity presented by a careening global crisis. Across the country, people were losing jobs and homes in numbers not seen since World War II. Just as in the 1930s, the Republican Party’s economic policies were widely thought to have caused the crisis, and Obama and his fellow Democrats were swept into office on a throw-the-bums-out wave.

If he’d been in the mood to press the case, Obama might have found widespread public appetite for the sort of aggressive, interventionist restructuring of the American economy that Franklin D. Roosevelt conjured with the New Deal. One of the inspiring new president’s advisers even hinted that was the plan.

“You never want a serious crisis to go to waste,” Rahm Emanuel, Obama’s chief of staff, said days after the 2008 election.

And then Obama took office. And rather than try for a Rooseveltian home run, he bunted: Instead of pushing for an aggressive stimulus to rapidly expand employment and long-term structural reforms in how the economy worked, Obama and his team responded to the recession with a set of smaller emergency measures designed to fix the immediate collapse of financial markets. They succeeded: The recession didn’t turn into a depression, markets were stabilized, and the United States began a period of long, slow growth.

But they could have done so much more. By the time Obama took office, job losses had accelerated so quickly that his advisers calculated the country would need $1.7 trillion in additional spending to get back to full employment. A handful of advisers favored a very large government stimulus of $1.2 trillion; some outside economists — Paul Krugman, Joseph Stiglitz, James Galbraith — also favored going to a trillion.

But Obama’s closest advisers declined to push Congress for anything more than $800 billion, which they projected would reduce unemployment to below 8 percent by the 2010 midterms. They were wrong; the stimulus did reduce job losses, but it was far too small to hit the stated goal — unemployment was 9.8 percent in November 2010.

Obama’s advisers also rejected ideas for large infrastructure projects. They offered a plan to prevent just 1.5 million foreclosures — when, ultimately, 10 million Americans lost their homes. And they declined to push for new leadership on Wall Street, let alone much punishment for the recklessness that led to the crisis.

“He chose an economic recovery plan that benefited educated, well-off people much more than the middle class,” writes Reed Hundt, a Democrat who is a former chairman of the Federal Communications Commission, in his recent history of Obama’s first two years, “A Crisis Wasted.”

A lot of this might be excusable; it was an emergency, and Obama and his team did what they could. But Obama’s longer record on the economy is also coming under fire from the left. The Obama people — many of whom came to the White House from Wall Street and left it for Silicon Valley — seemed entirely too comfortable with the ongoing corporatization of America.

In the Obama years, the government let corporations get bigger and economic power grow more concentrated. Obama’s regulators declined to push antimonopoly measures against Google and Facebook, against airlines and against big food and agriculture companies.

It is true that Obama succeeded in passing a groundbreaking universal health care law. It’s also true that over the course of his presidency, inequality grew, and Obama did little to stop it. While much of the rest of the country struggled to get by, the wealthy got wealthier and multimillionaires and billionaires achieved greater political and cultural power.

What’s the point of returning to this history now, a decade later? Think of it as a cautionary tale — a story that ought to rank at the top of mind for a Democratic electorate that is now choosing between Obama’s vice president and progressives like Bernie Sanders or Elizabeth Warren, who had pushed Obama, during the recovery, to adopt policies with more egalitarian economic effects.

From this distance, the history favors Warren’s approach. As Hundt notes, not only did Obama’s policy ideas produce lackluster economic results (at least in that they failed to hit their stated goals), they failed politically, too. The sluggish recovery in Obama’s first years led to a huge loss for Democrats in the 2010 midterms. Obama was re-elected, but during his time in office, Democrats saw declining national support — and in 2016, of course, they lost the White House to Donald Trump, an outcome that Warren has tied directly to Obama’s early economic decisions.

Why had Obama chosen this elitist path? Another new book, “Goliath: The 100-Year War Between Monopoly Power and Democracy,” by the antimonopoly scholar Matt Stoller, provides a deeply researched answer. It boils down to this: Obama, like Bill Clinton before him, was the product of a Democratic Party that had forgotten its history and legacy. For much of the 20th century, Democrats’ fundamental politics involved fighting against concentrations of economic power in favor of the rights and liberties of ordinary people. “The fight has always been about whether monopolists run our world, or about whether we the people do,” Stoller writes.

But in the 1970s, ’80s and ’90s, as Stoller explains, Democrats altered their economic vision. They abandoned New Deal and Great Society liberalism in favor of a new dogma that came to be known as neoliberalism — a view of society in which markets and financial instruments, rather than government policy and direct intervention, are seen as the best way to achieve social ends.

Obama’s biggest ideas were neoliberal: The Affordable Care Act, his greatest domestic policy achievement, improved access to health care by altering private health-insurance markets. Obama aimed to address the climate crisis by setting up a market for carbon, and his plan for improving education focused on technocratic, standards-based reform. Even Obama’s historical icons were neoliberal — the neoliberals’ patron saint being Alexander Hamilton, the elitist, banker-friendly founding father who would be transformed, in Obama’s neoliberal Camelot, into a beloved immigrant striver with very good flow.

It is tricky to criticize Obama from the left in the Trump era. There’s still widespread nostalgia and good feeling for Obama as a political figure — and, considering the disaster of the current administration, it feels almost churlish to re-examine his years in office. There are also a range of good defenses for Obama’s policies. “I have no doubt that when historians look back on the Obama years, he will and should be given credit for preventing a second Great Depression,” Christina Romer, one of the advisers who had pushed for much greater stimulus, told me.

Obama’s policies were also perfectly in line with prevailing orthodoxy — it’s likely that Hillary Clinton would have pursued similar measures if she’d won the 2008 primary. It is also worth noting that, ahem, parts of the punditocracy shared his market-fetishizing philosophy: I wrote skeptically of antitrust prosecution against Google in 2009, 2010, and 2015.

But that’s exactly why I found Stoller’s book so insightful. The long history of Democratic populism is unknown to most liberals today. Only now, in the age of Sanders and Warren and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, are we beginning to relearn the lessons of the past. For at least three decades, neoliberalism has brought the left economic half-measures and political despair. It’s time to demand more."
farhadmanjoo  2008  2009  politics  barackobama  democrats  greatrecession  neoliberalism  economics  missedopportunities  toldyaso  obamacare  unemployment  finance  inequality  banking  elitism  billclinton  policy  2015  antitrust  google  hillaryclinton  2016  donaldtrump  markets  capitalism  liberalism  berniesanders  elizabethwarren  alexandriaocasio-cortez  mattstoller  monopolies  alexanderhamilton  healthcare  newdeal  power  corporations  corporatization  reedhundt  middleclass  crisis  josephstiglitz  jamesgalbraith  paulkrugman  2010  2019 
september 2019 by robertogreco
That's What Xu Said : Stop Blowhard Syndrome
[Ok, so I knew I’d bookmarked this before https://pinboard.in/u:robertogreco/b:cdbab9e1853e
but I am keeping it here anyway ]

“When I express any shred of doubt about whether I deserve or am qualified for something, people often try to reassure me that I am just experiencing impostor syndrome. About 10% of the time, it’s true. Amelia Greenhall’s excellent piece, however, has inspired me to clear up a big misconception about what is happening the other 90% of the time.

While there are a few situations that make me feel insecure, I am, for the most part, an excellent judge of what I’m capable of. Expressing a reasonable amount of doubt and concern about a situation that is slightly outside my comfort zone is normal, responsible behavior. Understanding my limits and being willing to acknowledge them is, in fact, one of my strengths. I don’t think it should be pathologized alongside the very real problem of “impostor syndrome”.

In fact, it is the opposite behavior—the belief that you can do anything, including things you are blatantly not qualified for or straight up lying about—should be pathologized. It has many names (Dunning-Krueger, illusory superiority), but I suggest we call it blowhard syndrome as a neat parallel. Blowhard syndrome is all around us, but I have a special fondness in my heart for the example my friend Nicole has taxidermied on her Twitter profile.

Just to be clear, I’m not mad at anyone who has tried to reassure me by telling me I have impostor syndrome, and I recognize it as a real problem that lots of talented people struggle with. But I am furious at a world in which women and POC are being told to be as self-confident as a group of mostly white dudes who are basically delusional megalomaniacs. We’re great the way we are, level-headed self-assessments and all. Stop rewarding them for being jackasses.

My totally reasonable amount of self-confidence is not a syndrome; dudes’ bloated senses of self-worth and the expectations we’ve built around them are. Correct accordingly.”
confidence  impostersyndrome  patriarchy  self-confidence  blowhards  doubt  ameliagreenhall  superiority  blowhardsyndrome  christinaxu  nicolehe  2015  dunning-krugereffect 
september 2019 by robertogreco
William Gibson on Watches | WatchPaper
“William Gibson is famously credited with predicting the internet. Early works like Neuromancer, Count Zero, and Mona Lisa Overdrive established him as a major voice in science fiction and the worlds he created still serve as a template for how popular culture views the future. If you’ve seen The Matrix or read any cyberpunk, you’ve seen William Gibson’s influence at work. Equally important, but perhaps less famous are his essays, collected recently in Distrust That Particular Flavour. Highly perceptive and suggestive, they span a range of topics from Singapore’s totalitarianism and Tokyo’s futurism, to the Web and technology’s effect on us all. The volume also contains his glosses on those essays, which were written over a span of 30 years. Brief afterwords, they are his reflections on the content, and on the person who wrote that content at a point and time, and what’s happened since. In his 1997 essay, “My Obsession”, William Gibson chronicled his interest in watches for Wired magazine. [See “My Obsession” https://www.wired.com/1999/01/ebay/ ] The essay is as much about the advent of the internet and sites like eBay as it is about watches, and his afterword to the essay reflects:
People who’ve read this piece often assume that I subsequently became a collector of watches. I didn’t, at least not in my own view. Collections of things, and their collectors, have generally tended to give me the willies. I sometimes, usually only temporarily, accumulate things in some one category, but the real pursuit is in the learning curve. The dive into esoterica. The quest for expertise. This one lasted, in its purest form, for five or six years. None of the eBay purchases documented [in the essay] proved to be “keepers.” Not even close.

Undaunted by his placing this interest squarely in the past, something he got over, I wanted to find out what had survived, physically or intellectually, of his obsession. It turns out, quite a lot. We corresponded via email and William Gibson shared his thoughts on collecting, how he got started, what “keepers” remain in his collection and why. We also talked about the Apple watch and what it means for traditional horology.”

...

"If “old” people, as you mentioned in our recent discussion, are concerned that what they’ve collected will be unwanted, how is that anxiety being manifested? Some watch brands like Patek Philippe use durability, inheritance and legacy as their explicit identity.

I was thinking of someone with dozens of rare military watches. Even if they have children, will the children want their watches? It could be difficult finding the right museum to donate them to, in order to keep the collection intact. I think Patek’s appeal to inheritance and legacy still has some basis, though the wristwatch itself has become a piece of archaic (though still functional) jewelry. You don’t absolutely need one. You do, probably, absolutely need your smartphone, and it also tells the time. Eventually, I assume, virtually everything will also tell the time.

Is there something authentic in collecting we as humans are striving for? What does the impulse represent for you?

I actively enjoy having fewer, preferably better things. So I never deliberately accumulated watches, except as the temporary by-product of a learning curve, as I searched for my own understanding of watches, and for the ones I’d turn out to particularly like. I wanted an education, rather than a collection. But there’s always a residuum: the keepers. (And editing is as satisfying as acquiring, for me.)

Do you think there’s anything intrinsic to watches (their aesthetics, engineering etc.) that make them especially susceptible to our interest?

Mechanical timekeeping devices were among our first complex machines, and became our first ubiquitous complex machines, and the first to be miniaturized. Mechanical wristwatches were utterly commonplace for less than a century. Today, there’s no specific need for a mechanical watch, unless you’re worried about timekeeping in the wake of an Electromagnetic Pulse attack. So we have heritage devices, increasingly archaic in the singularity of their function, their lack of connectivity. But it was exactly that lack that once made them heroic: they kept telling accurate time, regardless of what was going on around them. They were accurate because they were unconnected, unitary.

How do you think the notion of collecting has changed since your preoccupation with watches played itself out? Scarcity (but not true rarity) barely exists any more.

The Internet makes it increasingly easy to assemble a big pile of any category of objects, but has also rationalized the market in every sort of rarity. There’s more stuff, and fewer random treasures. When I discovered military watches, I could see that that was already happening to them, but that there was still a window for informed acquisition. That’s mostly closed now. The world’s attic is now that much more thoroughly sorted and priced!"
watches  williamgibson  ebay  horology  fashion  collecting  collections  learning  howwelearn  2015  esoterica  research  researching  deepdives  expertise  obsessions  cv  immersion  posterity  legacy  analog  mechanical  durability  longevity  inheritance  jewelery  smartphones  understanding  education  self-directed  self-directedlearning  timekeeping  connectivity  scarcity  objects  possessions  ownership  quality  internet  web  online  wristwatches  things  applewatch  pebble  pebblewatch  smartwatches 
august 2019 by robertogreco
Why Do Japanese Still Use Kanji? Complicated Writing System... - YouTube
"Why Do Japanese Use Kanji? Japanese is known for its complicated writing system, but why do we use kanji? Can't we just use hiragana and katakana? Is it possible to abolish kanji?

- Hiragana and Katakana are phonetic characters.
- Kanji (literally meaning Chinese letters) is like a symbol.
- Japanese has a lot of homophones and homographs and kanji helps to distinguish them.
- We have a set of official kanji on the joyo kanji list.
- There has been a number of attempts to abolish kanji in Japanese history.
- Once, John Pelzel from the Allied occupation of Japan tried to completely romanise Japanese after WWII.

[Here's a bit of history of people who tried to abolish kanji]

1866 - Hisoka Maejima, a Japanese statesman, was said to send a proposal to the shogun, insisting on abolishing kanji.
1872 - Yukichi Fukuzawa, Japan's prominent figure featured in the current 10,000 yen bill, wrote about his idea of abolishing kanji.
1881 - A group of people started a movement to promote the use of kana letters in place of kanji.
1946 - Naoya Shiga, a famous Japanese novelist, suggested that Japan should adopt French as the official language.
1946 - The Yomiuri Shimbun, one of the most popular Japanese newspapers, published an editorial arguing that adopting Roman alphabet would be key to democratise the country."
japanese  kanji  hirgana  katakana  srg  2015  history  languages  language 
july 2019 by robertogreco
Sensing & Knowing: David Abram in conversation with Dougald Hine - YouTube
"A conversation filmed in Oxford in September 2010. If you enjoy this, do check out the Dark Mountain Project (http://dark-mountain.net) which was how David and I came to meet. He had read the Dark Mountain manifesto and got in touch with us. A text based on this conversation appeared the following year in Dark Mountain: Issue 2."

[via:
"We began with the thought that animism might be the default mode of human existence… and anything else, a temporary aberration."
https://darkmountainproject.tumblr.com/post/53935222519/we-began-with-the-thought-that-animism-might-be ]
davidabram  dougaldhine  animism  2015  nature  writing  instinct  humans  multispecies  morethanhuman 
june 2019 by robertogreco
Riding Bikes With Candy Colored Rims In Oakland [Documentary] - YouTube
"We spent the day with the Original Scraper Bike Team. Scraper Bikes -- coined by Tyrone “Baybe Champ” Stevenson Jr. because of their resemblance to modified “scraper” cars with large chrome rims -- began appearing on East Oakland’s streets in the early 2000s, when the Bay Area’s Hyphy movement had become a national phenomenon. Hidden inside a DIY bike shop on the corner of 50th and International Boulevard, Grit “mobs” with some of Oakland’s youth re-aligning bike forks, twisting handlebars, and raising seat posts barely high enough to reach. The result? A movement that is changing the bike game as we know it."

[Se also:
"SCRAPER BIKE - Trunk Boiz" (2007)
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=geIsWq5xOSE ]
oakland  scraperbikes  bikes  biking  2015  documentary  2007 
may 2019 by robertogreco
Italian writer Igiaba Scego rewrites the Black Mediterranean
"Igiaba Scego is one of the most prominent voices of a new cohort of Black writers in Italy. Scego was born in Rome in 1974 to parents from Somalia; her father served as a high-ranking official in the Somali government before the 1969 Siad Barre coup d’etat. A prolific novelist, journalist, social commentator, and activist, Scego has won numerous awards for her writings on African-Italian identities and the legacies of Italian colonialism. Her newest book, Adua, released in Italy by Giunti this September, represents a welcome intervention into the diversity of Black experiences in Italy. Indeed, Adua can be read as an exploration of what Jacqueline Nassy Brown has termed “diaspora’s counter/parts”–relations among the African diaspora that are based not solely on affinity and sameness, but also on differences and antagonism.

Adua is told through two voices and over three historical moments, which Scego describes as “Italian colonialism, Somalia in the 1970s, and our current moment, when the Mediterranean has been transformed into an open-air tomb for migrants.” Zoppe is a polyglot Somali, descended from a family of soothsayers, who works as an interpreter in the 1930s under Italian fascism. In many ways an embodiment of the tragic maxim “translator as traitor,” Zoppe is torn between his struggle for survival and his deep sense of ethical obligation toward family and nation. A survivor of brutal racist attacks while in Rome, Zoppe’s translation work also affords him a terrifying window into the impending and bloody Italian re-invasion of Ethiopia.

Adua, Zoppe’s daughter and the book’s namesake, was born in Somalia but left for Rome at the age of seventeen. She is known as a “Vecchia Lira” (Old Lira), the irreverent term used by younger immigrants to describe women of the Somali diaspora who arrived in Italy during the 1970s. Adua’s young husband is a recent Somali refugee who came to Italy via Lampedusa escaping civil war; she calls him “Titanic” in reference to the precarious boat on which he arrived, and the two share an ambiguous relationship that oscillates from the maternal to the hostile.

Young Adua dreamed of becoming a movie starlet like Marilyn Monroe–her romantic images of Italy were shaped by the films she watched as a child in a theater built by the fascists. Yet after decades in Italy, she only has one title to her name: a humiliating and degrading erotic movie exploiting Italian stereotypes of Black female sexuality. Adua’s own tragic tale is belied by her triumphal name, bestowed by her father to represent the first African anti-imperialist victory.

Adua is deeply and thoroughly researched, a process Scego describes in the “Historical Note” after the epilogue. It is also a captivating read: the novel is sweeping in its geographical and temporal scope, yet Scego nonetheless renders her complex protagonists richly and lovingly. Adua makes two critical contributions. First, she centers Italian colonial history (particularly Italian colonization and occupation in East Africa) and its reverberations in the present through the lens of lived experience–the layers of intimacy and violence that characterize imperial entanglement. Contrary to the rabid rhetoric of ethno-nationalism, xenophobia, and border securitization in Italy today (seen in the aggressive taunts launched against the likes of Mario Balotelli that “there are no Black Italians”), Scego’s book underscores that “Africans” are not foreign Others intruding into bounded Italian space; rather, these intertwined histories predate Italy’s “official” transformation into a country of immigration during the 1970s, ‘80s and ‘90s.

And second, Scego dispels the notion that there is any sort of unitary Blackness in Italy. Her characters are colonial subjects and aspiring freedom fighters, migrants and refugees of multiple backgrounds and generations–in other words, Afro-Italians of many stripes and political valences. Scego has taken us beyond the all-too common invocation of subjects “trapped between two worlds,” instead portraying a range of experiences that–while still structured by racism, misogyny, and other axes of power–can do justice to the changing face of Italy today."
igiabascego  2015  italy  mediterranean  colonialism  race  africa  racism  misogyny  power  blackness 
may 2019 by robertogreco
The Desi Instagram artist tackling cultural appropriation | Dazed
"Maria Qamar’s satirical art paints a harsh, and hilarious, reality of Asian culture – and it isn’t all bindi-wearing bliss

9 December 2015
Text: Nadia Husen

In a world of fast-growing multiculturalism, the line between appreciation and appropriation of cultures steadily blurs. As far back as 2003, Gwen Stefani donned a bindi in No Doubt’s “Just a Girl” music video, and stars have been following suit ever since. Both Selena Gomez and M.I.A have come under fire in recent times for cultural tourism in their music videos, the latter being forced to scrap hers altogether. In the mainstream, cultural appropriation is perhaps most obvious by the sheer number of bindi-adorned girls at music festivals like Coachella and Lollapalooza. Asian, black, Native American and other marginalised groups are persistently having their cultures appropriated by those who feel entitled to it, thereby perpetuating a harmful power dynamic.

With everyone from actress Zendaya to fashion designer Dries Van Noten weighing in with an opinion, one self-defined ‘Desi artist’ (where Desi means a person of Indian, Pakistani or Bangladeshi origin who lives abroad) encompasses all aspects of her culture ­– not just the shiny, pretty sticker for your forehead. Born in Pakistan, Maria Qamar of @hatecopy moved to Canada as a child. A natural artist, she began to depict the realities of growing up in two cultures in pop art and posted the results on her Instagram, rapidly gaining a following as other Desi women – myself included – identify with her bittersweet truths. I spoke to Maria to discuss her witty and provocative art ahead of her second exhibit, Shame Shame, in Toronto.

How did you first start drawing your pieces?

Maria Qamar: I actually had to hide the fact I was doing it. After I drew my first piece, ‘Burnt the Rotis’, I told my mother, ‘Oh, you know those drawings I was making at home, and you were asking what I was doing? OK, well I’m painting them now and the job search is going great too.’ But now my mum is getting very bold and savvy; she wants me to make this a full-time business.

So why did you choose pop art as your artistic style? Have you always drawn in that style?

Maria Qamar: Not really. A lot of it was testing the waters of different styles. It was kind of a long process getting to where I am now. And then more recently it was all about finding the style – ­that took my whole life. I didn’t actually know that this style I already drew was very similar to pop art, so I’m very comfortable drawing it.

It seems to be a very organic process, then?

Maria Qamar: Yeah, I can honestly draw in that way so I’m more comfortable drawing my ideas into the pop-art scenario than I would be (doing it in a) realist or abstract (way). I think of something that’s not Desi-related, an easily imagined scenario. I usually draw the characters first, and then I think about what they could be thinking at the time.

“We’re overshadowed by tradition and obligation and things that we can’t relate to because we’re not in it” – Maria Qamar

There are so many women and girls relating to your art because it’s very real to them as well as humorous. With all the recent focus in the media on cultural appropriation, what made you decide to hit back with your “Is This Gori Wearing a Bindi Again?!” piece? (‘Gori’ is a word used by Indians to describe white girls.)

Maria Qamar: As I said, I draw the images first, and then think about what to write. In this case it had to be something that puts them on the spot. It’s like, ‘Are you fucking kidding me?’ I got fucking angry.

Your Instagram seems to be a space of community because it unites people who share similar experiences, such as the understanding that fairer skin is more valued in Asian culture, and the pressure to marry. These are the things you have to live through to really understand.

Maria Qamar: It is really funny, because the whole point of this pop-art Indian thing was so that I could take the most American – the most western thing – I could find, which were American romance comics or novels. I wanted to take the most iconic thing, which is the soap opera, and blend them together. Right now it feels like I’m taking their shit and throwing it back at them, saying, ‘Here it is, you made this. This is all you.’

Is anyone offended by your art?

Maria Qamar: A few people have been offended by me more than the work itself because they know I was born in Pakistan and they have their own opinions of what they think I might be. So they bring in factors that have nothing to do with the work. They look for a divide. ‘Well, OK,’ I say. ‘Look, it’s doing well. I’m making work that I really love. What’s wrong with it really?’ People are always looking for a fight, so my response to those things is that it’s Desi art. I don’t have an agenda. You relate to it, you laugh at it, and people love it.

Some of the topics you discuss in your art are more taboo, particularly in Asian culture. Your piece for marriage equality entitled ‘Uncle Pride’, for example, would certainly be considered forbidden by traditional types. Why do you choose to portray such messages?

Maria Qamar: Because I’m not like that. I’m not like that and I exist and I’m doing OK. It wasn’t ever supposed to be a rebellious thing, which is the concept of the show as well. I’m not trying to be rebellious for the sake of being rebellious and to piss everybody off and step on the toes of my family. It’s just that people exist differently in the west. We just do. We’re raised just like Americans or what-have-you in the west, but we’re overshadowed by tradition and obligation and things that we can’t relate to because we’re not in it. We don’t know. Yeah, we’re going to go out and hold hands with a guy or make out in public because these things are allowed here, and that’s all we know. It’s funny that it’s seen as rebellious, and, yes, I have a feeling that what I’m making might be a little bit offensive, with my parents in my head going, ‘Shame, shame, shame, you shouldn’t be doing this.’ But you know, why not? I just let it simmer, and the people who laugh with me, laugh with me.

So the art is very much as personal as it is public?

Maria Qamar: Yes, you get a taste of like Desi-American or Desi-Canadian culture – any Desis who are not living in India – because it’s just like somebody who’s from a place where if you’re caught kissing your husband, you could go to jail. So for somebody looking at the Instagram from there and seeing me do what I do, that would be like, ‘Oh my God, that’s crazy,’ but that’s the norm here. We’re all just out in the open. We’re all cool about it."
culturalappropriation  nadiahusen  mariaqamar  appropriation  culture  2015  desi  multiculturalism  culturaltourism  mia  zendaya  driesvannoten  selenagomez  gwenstefani  nodoubt  marginalization  power  colonialism 
april 2019 by robertogreco
Trinh T. Minh-ha on Vimeo
"Trinh Minh-ha operates on the boundary of documentary, experimental and traditional film, focusing on several powerful themes. As well as the status of women in society, she examines the life of migrants, portraits of whom she depicts in the background of the dynamic relationship between traditional and modern societies. The artist calls these figures the “inappropriate/d other”, and says in one of her interviews: “We can read the term “inappropriate/d other” in both ways, as someone whom you cannot appropriate, and as someone who is inappropriate. Not quite other, not quite the same.”

However, anyone expecting objective documentaries in this exhibition will be surprised. Trinh Minh-ha draws on her own experience, transforming the personal into the public and socially engaged, and in this way her films becomes “poetic-political” works. The artist’s sensitivity and empathy is not simply a way of presenting political themes in a user-friendly way, but is also manifest in unobtrusively recurring motifs of love and friendships.

What are the most powerful impressions we receive from films by Trinh Minh-ha? Firstly, there is a balance to her treatment of themes that offers the viewer the possibility of examining things from many different perspectives. Then there is the persistence with which she attempts to offer a three-dimensional image of “those others”.

However, even upon a first viewing our attention is caught by something else. Trinh Minh-ha works with the viewer’s senses, which she attempts to provoke into total vigilance. The sounds and music she uses are not any in any sense background, but at certain moments take over the narrative role, at others withdraw discreetly in order to allow the actors themselves to speak. The combination of stylised interviewers and theatrical scenes, modified in the postproduction stage by archival materials and linear film narration, along with sounds and suggestive colours, creates an almost synaesthetic experience, in which words express the same as sounds and colours. However, concentration on the part of the viewer is essential. How, otherwise, might they perceive all these levels simultaneously with the same intensity? How can such films be shown in a gallery? How does one create an environment in which the visitor does not just gaze, but accepts the role of a genuine film audience? Walls and chairs soundproofed in soft foam and the proximity of the screen will perhaps make it easier to accept the role of attentive viewers, who will insist on following a film from beginning to end."
trinhminh-ha  2015  film  documentary  migration  othering  vigilance  sensitivity  empathy  society  others  appropriate  inappropriate  innappropriated  gaze  concentration  attention 
april 2019 by robertogreco
Entrevista a Gastón Soublette - Parte I: La Sabiduría Tradicional - YouTube
"Realizada en Limache el 3 de octubre de 2015 en ocasión del Premio Nueva Civilización por su contribución al estudio y valorización de la cultura y la sabiduría popular creativa.
El Galardón será otorgado el Miércoles 25 de Noviembre, a las 18.30 hrs. en el marco del Simposio Internacional 'Desafíos de la Política en un Mundo Complejo', ocasión en que don Gastón Soublette ofrecerá una Conferencia Magistral."

[Parte II: El Arte
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wjn8B-aSFaE

Parte III: La Cultura Mapuche
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=N27LAd906yM

Parte IV: El Conocimiento Científico
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DjEj-i0dcUs

Parte V: Filosofía y Educación
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=neci7LTwH_8

Parte VI: Religión y Cultura
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=neyEPrRH_oQ

Parte VII: Una Nueva Civilización
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=930FCVu9_7M ]
gastónsoublette  chile  history  mapuche  science  education  philosophy  culture  religion  civilization  future  art  music  tradition  oraltradition  oral  orality  diegoportales  improvisation  wisdom  mexico  precolumbian  inca  maya  aztec  quechua  literature  epics  araucaria  aesthetics  transcendentalism  myths  myth  arthistory  2015  perú 
march 2019 by robertogreco
Ultimate Wasabi Guide ★ ONLY in JAPAN 究極のワサビ #28 - YouTube
"Let's travel to a valley in the Japanese alps in Nagano to get some organically grown wasabi from the farm! Just how is wasabi grown?
Daio Wasabi Farm is one of Japan's largest and is a great place to find out – and try wasabi cuisine!

There are few produce directly associated with Japan.
Wasabi is one of the most widely known and the flavor is found more and more in snacks because of it's spicy kick.
It's also used in sushi, mixed in the soy sauce.

There is a big different between the processed wasabi found in some restaurants and the fresh kind which is traditionally ground on a shark skin grater and collected. The color and smell. The texture and taste.

Why does fresh wasabi cost so much?
It takes between 12 to 18 month to grow one and there is no telling what size it will be when pulled from the ground.
The wasabi needs to be in the shade and have constant fresh water. The minerals from the melted snows of the Japanese alps surrounding Daio Wasabi Farm are perfect to make the worlds most delicious wasabi.

What else can you do at the wasabi farm?
You can hike around the beautiful area and also grab a bite to eat in the food plaza. They have:
Wasabi beer
Wasabi ice cream
Wasabi burger
Wasabi don
Wasabi juice
Wasabi wine
Wasabi leaf salad
Wasabi croquet
and yes ... just plain wasabi!
This is wasabi heaven!

Daio Wasabi Farm
URL: http://www.daiowasabi.co.jp/ (Japanese only)

This show has been created and produced by John Daub ジョン・ドーブ. He's been living and working in Japan for over 17 years and regularly reports on a TV show for Japan's International Channel."
wasabi  2015  japan  farming  agriculture  food 
march 2019 by robertogreco
David Graeber on a Fair Future Economy - YouTube
"David Graeber is an anthropologist, a leading figure in the Occupy movement, and one of our most original and influential public thinkers.

He comes to the RSA to address our current age of ‘total bureaucratization’, in which public and private power has gradually fused into a single entity, rife with rules and regulations, whose ultimate purpose is the extraction of wealth in the form of profits.

David will consider what it would take, in terms of intellectual clarity, political will and imaginative power – to conceive and build a flourishing and fair future economy, which would maximise the scope for individual and collective creativity, and would be sustainable and just."
democracy  liberalism  directdemocracy  borders  us  finance  globalization  bureaucracy  2015  ows  occupywallstreet  governance  government  economics  politics  policy  unschooling  unlearning  schooliness  technology  paperwork  future  utopianism  capitalism  constitution  rules  regulation  wealth  power  communism  authority  authoritarianism  creativity  neoliberalism  austerity  justice  socialjustice  society  ideology  inequality  revolution  global  international  history  law  legal  debt  freedom  money  monetarypolicy  worldbank  imf  markets  banks  banking  certification  credentials  lobbying  collusion  corruption  privatization  credentialization  deschooling  canon  firstamendment 
january 2019 by robertogreco
Spiralism: Haiti’s Long-Lost Poetics of Protest | Public Books
"Kaiama L. Glover’s choice to translate—brilliantly—this particular work may be seen as a gesture toward reconnecting Spiralism with the broader literary history of the Caribbean, a field largely dominated by Martinican thinkers such as Aimé Césaire and Édouard Glissant.

What is Spiralism? The novel opens with lyrical flights that lay bare the movement’s objectives:
More effective at setting each twig aquiver in the passing of waves than a pebble dropped into a pool of water, Spiralism defines life at the level of relations (colors, odors, sounds, signs, words) and historical connections …

Re-creating wholes from mere details and secondary materials, the practice of Spiralism reconciles Art and Life through literature, and necessarily breaks with the hypocrisy of the Word … Spiralism uses the Complete Genre, in which novelistic description, poetic breath, theatrical effect, narratives, stories, autobiographical sketches, and fiction all coexist harmoniously …


These first pages are not set off from the main narrative as paratextual commentary; instead, they are woven directly into the fabric of the text they foretell."



"Unlike other Franco-Caribbean genres such as Négritude or Créolité, Spiralism does not announce a geopolitical project, but its social dimension is made explicit in Ready to Burst. Like Jean-Paul Sartre’s notion of Total Literature2—a genre that would be legible to both the oppressor and the oppressed, and that would be the synthesis of destruction and construction—Spiralism’s Complete Genre is meant to be accessible to all. As Paulin, the writer and Frankétienne’s fictional alter ego, explains, Spiralism must tailor its shape to the needs of proletarian readers: “Our age doesn’t lend itself to reading literary works, boring in their too often useless length. … Between the fatigue of the night before and that of the day after … the laboring classes only have limited time—if they have any at all—to read printed characters. … And so, it’s a question of stating things quickly.” Spiralism aims to cleanse the written word of its bourgeois nature by freeing it from the conventional sentence. Thus unshackled, Paulin explains, the word acquires velocity and magnitude. It becomes “Inflated with meanings. Swollen with allusions.”

Spiralism is, perhaps above all, a state of mind in the face of life’s absurdity. “Whirlwinds. Vertigos. Storms. My life beats to the rhythm of turbulences,” declares Paulin. “I am a Spiralist. … It’s not that I’m looking to be scandalous. But because life itself emerges from the cry of blood. Wayward child of pain. Of violence. And that, too, is Spiralism.” On the one hand, these semantic splinters perform the feeling of insularity, of oppression, of restlessness, and of fragmentation that characterized the life of the Haitian people under the Duvalier regime; on the other hand, the resistance they stage against traditional literature symbolically punctures all forms of dictatorships.

Spirals are intrinsically infinite, incomplete. Paulin never finishes his novel and eventually vanishes into thin air, having perhaps been a figment of Raynand’s imagination all along. And much as the spiral gives and takes, Frankétienne reminds the reader that his work’s self-proclaimed aesthetic allegiance matters less than the sheer fact of writing: “I no longer worry about what I write. I simply write. Because I must. Because I’m suffocating. I write anything. Any way. People can call it what they want: novel, essay, poem, autobiography, testimony, narrative, memory exercise, or nothing at all. I don’t even know, myself.”"
2015  spiralism  haiti  poetry  poetics  protest  frankétienne  kaimaglover  aimécésaire  édouardglissant  literature  form  corinestofle  jean-paulsartre  canon  legibility  renéphiloctète  jean-claudefignolé 
november 2018 by robertogreco
Carol Black: Alternatives to Schooling on Vimeo
"Carol Black is an education analyst, television producer, and director of the film Schooling the World. This is her plenary talk at the Economics of Happiness conference, held in Portland, Oregon, in February 2015. The conference was organized by Local Futures, a non-profit organization that has been promoting a shift from global to local for nearly 40 years."
carolblack  unschooling  deschooling  education  learning  howelearn  schools  schooling  happiness  alternative  work  play  experimentation  development  children  age  segregation  experience  experientialeducation  readiness  compulsion  control  authoritarianism  authority  power  standardization  centralization  publicschools  corporations  corporatism  compulsory  agesegregaton  sfsh  tcsnmy  lcproject  openstudioproject  conviviality  ivanillich  community  howwelearn  2015  institutions  institutionalizations  diversity 
october 2018 by robertogreco
Progressive Labels for Regressive Practices: How Key Terms in Education Have Been Co-opted - Alfie Kohn
[via: https://twitter.com/cblack__/status/1052629222089359361

"So here's the cycle:

1. Educators create valid term for needed reform.
2. Corporate/political forces co-opt term to sell bullshit to schools.
3. Regressive educators equate needed reform with bullshit "reform."
4. Needed reform is defeated & forgotten.

Example:

1. Educators advocate for differentiated/personalized learning as humane, relationship-based alternative to standardization.
2. Corporations co-opt term to sell algorithm-based-ed-tech bullshit.
3. Popular bloggers equate 'personalized learning' with edtech bullshit.
4. Public impression is created that 'personalized learning' is a negative, corporate-driven, bullshit concept.
5. Standardization prevails."

[my reply]

"“a dark commentary on how capitalism absorbs its critiques”" (quoting https://twitter.com/amandahess/status/1052689514039250945 ) ]

"“When I use a word,” Humpty Dumpty said, in rather a scornful tone, “it means just what I choose it to mean – neither more nor less.”

— Lewis Caroll, Through the Looking Glass

“Whole language” (WL), a collaborative, meaning-based approach to helping children learn to read and write, emerged a few decades ago as a grassroots movement. Until it was brought down by furious attacks from social conservatives, academic behaviorists, and others, many teachers were intrigued by this alternative to the phonics fetish and basal boom that defined the field. More than just an instructional technique, WL amounted to a declaration of independence from packaged reading programs. So how did the publishers of those programs respond? Some “absorbed the surface [features] of WL and sold them back to teachers.” Others just claimed that whatever was already in their commercial materials — bite-size chunks of literature and prefabricated lesson plans — was whole language.[1]

Until you can beat them, pretend to join them: WL is literally a textbook illustration of that strategy. But it’s hardly the only one. For example, experts talk about the importance of having kids do science rather than just learning about it, so many companies now sell kits for easy experimenting. It’s branded as “discovery learning,” except that much of the discovery has been done ahead of time.

A teacher-educator friend of mine, a leading student of constructivism, was once treated to dinner by a textbook publisher who sought his counsel about how kids can play an active role in the classroom and create meaning around scientific ideas. The publisher listened avidly, taking careful notes, which my friend found enormously gratifying until he suddenly realized that the publisher’s objective was just to appropriate key phrases that could be used in the company’s marketing materials and as chapter headings in its existing textbook.

Or consider cooperative learning. Having students spend much of their classroom time in pairs or small groups is a radical notion: Learning becomes a process of exchanging and reflecting on ideas with peers and planning projects together. When we learn with and from one another, schooling is about us, not just about me. But no sooner had the idea begun to catch on (in the 1980s) than it was diluted, reduced to a gimmick for enlivening a comfortably traditional curriculum. Teachers were told, in effect, that they didn’t have to question their underlying model of learning; students would memorize facts and practice skills more efficiently if they did it in groups. Some writers even recommended using grades, certificates, and elaborate point systems to reinforce students for cooperating appropriately.[2]

In short, the practice of “co-opting” potentially transformative movements in education[3] is nothing new. Neither, however, is it just a historical artifact. A number of labels that originally signified progressive ideas continue to be (mis)appropriated, their radical potential drained away, with the result that they’re now invoked by supporters of “bunch o’ facts” teaching or a corporate-styled, standards-and-testing model of school reform.[4]

A sample:

* Engaging doesn’t denote a specific pedagogical approach; it’s used as a general honorific, signifying a curriculum that the students themselves experience as worthwhile. But these days the word is often applied to tasks that may not be particularly interesting to most kids and that they had no role in choosing. In fact, the value of the tasks may simply be ignored, so we hear about student “engagement,” which seems to mean nothing more than prompt or sustained compliance. Such children have internalized the adults’ agenda and are (extrinsically) motivated to complete the assignment, whatever it is. If the point is to get them to stay “on task,” we’re spared having to think about what the task is — or who gets to decide — even as we talk earnestly about the value of having engaged students.[5]

* Developmental originally meant taking our cue from what children of a given age are capable of doing. But for some time now, the word has come to imply something rather different: letting children move at their own pace . . . up an adult-constructed ladder. Kids may have nothing to say about what, whether, or why — only about when. (This is similar to the idea of “mastery learning” — a phrase that hasn’t really been co-opted because it was never particularly progressive to begin with. Oddly, though, it’s still brandished proudly by people who seem to think it represents a forward-thinking approach to education.[6])

* Differentiated, individualized, or personalized learning all emerge from what would seem a perfectly reasonable premise: Kids have very different needs and interests, so we should think twice about making all of them do the same thing, let alone do it in the same way. But there’s a big difference between working with each student to create projects that reflect his or her preferences and strengths, on the one hand, and merely adjusting the difficulty level of skills-based exercises based on students’ test scores, on the other. The latter version has become more popular in recent years, driven in part by troubling programs such as “mass customized learning”[7] and by technology companies that peddle “individualized digital learning” products. (I have more to say about the differences between authentic personal learning and what might be called Personalized Learning, Inc. in this blog post.)

* Formative assessment was supposed to be the good kind — gauging students’ success while they’re still learning rather than evaluating them for the purpose of rating or ranking when it’s too late to make changes. But the concept “has been taken over — hijacked — by commercial test publishers and is used instead to refer to formal testing systems,” says assessment expert Lorrie Shepard.[8] Basically, an endless succession of crappy “benchmark” standardized tests — intended to refine preparation for the high-stakes tests that follow — are euphemistically described as “formative assessment.” Too often, in other words, the goal is just to see how well students will do on another test, not to provide feedback that will help them think deeply about questions that intrigue them. (The same is true of the phrase “assessment for learning,” which sounds nice but means little until we’ve asked “Learning what?”) The odds of an intellectually valuable outcome are slim to begin with if we’re relying on a test rather than on authentic forms of assessment.[9]

* A reminder to focus on the learning, not just the teaching seems refreshing and enlightened. After all, our actions as educators don’t matter nearly as much as how kids experience those actions. The best teachers (and parents) continually try to see what they do through the eyes of those to whom it’s done. But at some point I had the queasy realization that lots of consultants and administrators who insist that learning is more important than teaching actually have adopted a behaviorist version of learning, with an emphasis on discrete skills measured by test scores.

You see the pattern here. We need to ask what kids are being given to do, and to what end, and within what broader model of learning, and as decided by whom. If we allow ourselves to be distracted from those questions, then even labels with a proud progressive history can be co-opted to the point that they no longer provide reassurance about the practice to which the label refers."
alfiekohn  2015  progressive  education  schools  schooling  schooliness  lesicarroll  humptydumpty  wholelanguage  cooption  language  words  buzzwords  pedagogy  differentiation  teaching  business  capitalism  formativeassessment  assessment  learning  howweetach  howwelearn  development  engagement  grassroots 
october 2018 by robertogreco
GRADA KILOMBA: DECOLONIZING KNOWLEDGE - Voice Republic
"In this lecture performance Grada Kilomba explores forms of Decolonizing Knowledge using printed work, writing exercises, performative narrative, and visual art, as forms of alternative knowledge production. Kilomba raises questions concerning the concepts of knowledge, race and gender: “What is acknowledged as knowledge? Whose knowledge is this? Who is acknowledged to produce knowledge?” This project exposes not only the violence of classic knowledge production, but also how this violence is performed in academic, cultural and artistic spaces, which determine both who can speak and what we can speak about.To touch this colonial wound, she creates a hybrid space where the boundaries between the academic and the artistic languages confine, transforming the configurations of knowledge and power. Using a collage of her literary and visual work, Grada Kilomba initiates a dialogue of multiple narratives who speak, interrupt, and appropriate the ‘normal’ and continuous coloniality in which we reside. The audience is invited to participate, and to re-imagine the concept of knowledge anew, by opening new spaces for decolonial thinking."

[See also: https://de.wikipedia.org/wiki/Grada_Kilomba ]
gradakilomba  performance  decolonization  speaking  listening  2015  knowledge  narrative  art  knowledgeproduction  unschooling  deschooling  colonialism  academia  highered  highereducation  storytelling  bellhooks  participation  participatory  theory  thinking  howwethink  africa  slavery  frantzfanon  audrelorde  knowing  portugal 
october 2018 by robertogreco
The Self-Help Myth by Erica Kohl-Arenas - Paperback - University of California Press
[See also: https://www.ericakohlarenas.com/book-the-self-help-myth ]

"Can philanthropy alleviate inequality? Do antipoverty programs work on the ground? In this eye-opening analysis, Erica Kohl-Arenas bores deeply into how these issues play out in California’s Central Valley, which is one of the wealthiest agricultural production regions in the world and also home to the poorest people in the United States.

Through the lens of a provocative set of case studies, The Self-Help Myth reveals how philanthropy maintains systems of inequality by attracting attention to the behavior of poor people while shifting the focus away from structural inequities and relationships of power that produce poverty. In Fresno County, for example, which has a $5.6 billion-plus agricultural industry, migrant farm workers depend heavily on food banks, religious organizations, and family networks to feed and clothe their families. Foundation professionals espouse well-intentioned, hopeful strategies to improve the lives of the poor. These strategies contain specific ideas—in philanthropy terminology, “theories of change”— that rely on traditional American ideals of individualism and hard work, such as self-help, civic participation, and mutual prosperity. But when used in partnership with well-defined limits around what foundations will and will not fund, these ideals become fuzzy concepts promoting professional and institutional behaviors that leave relationships of poverty and inequality untouched."
philanthropicindustrialcomplex  philanthropy  charitableindustrialcomplex  charity  via:javierarbona  ericakohl-arenas  inequality  economics  poverty  capitalism  power  control  2015 
october 2018 by robertogreco
You're Not Hallucinating. That's Just Squid Skin. | Deep Look - YouTube
"Octopuses and cuttlefish are masters of underwater camouflage, blending in seamlessly against a rock or coral. But squid have to hide in the open ocean, mimicking the subtle interplay of light, water, and waves. How do they do it? (And it is NOT OCTOPI)"



"--- How do squid change color?

For an animal with such a humble name, market squid have a spectacularly hypnotic appearance. Streaks and waves of color flicker and radiate across their skin. Other creatures may posses the ability to change color, but squid and their relatives are without equal when it comes to controlling their appearance and new research may illuminate how they do it.

To control the color of their skin, cephalopods use tiny organs in their skin called chromatophores. Each tiny chromatophore is basically a sac filled with pigment. Minute muscles tug on the sac, spreading it wide and exposing the colored pigment to any light hitting the skin. When the muscles relax, the colored areas shrink back into tiny spots.

--- Why do squid change color?

Octopuses, cuttlefish and squid belong to a class of animals referred to as cephalopods. These animals, widely regarded as the most intelligent of the invertebrates, use their color change abilities for both camouflage and communication. Their ability to hide is critical to their survival since, with the exception of the nautiluses, these squishy and often delicious animals live without the protection of protective external shells.

But squid often live in the open ocean. How do you blend in when there's nothing -- except water -- to blend into? They do it by changing the way light bounces off their their skin -- actually adjust how iridescent their skin is using light reflecting cells called iridophores. They can mimic the way sunlight filters down from the surface. Hide in plain sight.

Iridophores make structural color, which means they reflect certain wavelengths of light because of their shape. Most familiar instances of structural color in nature (peacock feathers, mother of pearl) are constant–they may shimmer when you change your viewing angle, but they don't shift from pink to blue."
chromatophores  2015  squid  octopus  cuttlefish  camouflage  classideas  science  multispecies  nature 
august 2018 by robertogreco
How to look at Los Angeles: A conversation with D.J. Waldie, Lynell George and Josh Kun
"Arriving at a not-quite-real place, falling in love after a sometimes brutal wooing, and love's disillusionment, is the briefest and truest history of California." —D.J. aldie



"I actually think most stereotypes about L.A. are true, and that's not only OK, it's part of what it means to live here." —Josh Kun



"for me, as the child of South American immigrants, California was never the West; it was the North. And it was never the last stop. It was the first. It was the beginning." —Carolina Miranda



"That is ultimately the key. To let go of these expectations of what L.A. is supposed to be, supposed to fix, supposed to cure — all of the projections we've lived in and around for decades." —Lynell George

[quote selections via: http://cmonstah.tumblr.com/post/125092712185/talking-with-josh-kun-dj-waldie-and-lynell ]
losangeles  djwaldie  lynellgeorge  joshkun  2015  california  cities  experience  immigration  immigrants  expectations 
july 2018 by robertogreco
World City Populations Interactive Map 1950-2035
"The Global Urban Transformation

This map visualises the radical transformation that has occurred across the globe in the last 60 years, from a 30% urban world in 1950, to a 54% urban world in 2015 and a predicted 68% urban world in 2050. In 1950 there were 740m people living in cities; there are now 4 billion, rising to a predicted 6.6b by 2050. The circles on the map are proportional to city populations in 1950, 1990, 2015 and 2035. Move your mouse over cities to explore their detailed dynamics. Data is from the UN World Urban Propospects 2018.

Industrialisation and urban growth in the 19th and early 20th centuries were powered by Western Europe and the North-Eastern USA, but the urban population of these regions has been relatively static since 1950. Recent growth is instead the result of rapid urbanisation in China, India, Latin America and increasingly Africa. Over half of the world's urban population is now is Asia, with China alone comprising 20% of the global total. Asia and Africa will together account for 90% of the additional 2.3b urban dwellers predicted between 2015 and 2050.

The pace of recent change at the city level is unprecedented in human history. Shanghai (click on the city link to focus the map) gained 16 million people between 1990 and 2015, Beijing 13.6 million, Dhaka 11 million. Delhi gained 16 million residents between 1990-2015 and is now the world’s second largest city of 26m. Delhi is predicted to overtake Tokyo to become the world's largest city by 2030, with a predicted 43m residents by 2035.

Small towns like Shenzhen, Xiamen and Dubai have become cities of several million in little over two decades. While the proportion of urban residents living in large cities is increasing, it is important to realise that 50% of the global urban population live in settlements of less than 0.5m. The minimum population threshold for cities included in this map is 0.4m.

Our increasingly urban world now frames many of society’s greatest challenges. From global equality to health, education, prosperity and, not least, sustainability, solutions need to be interwoven with fostering liveable, efficient and inclusive cities.

Waves of Growth
We can see distinct waves of urban growth and stagnation over time. In the 1960s and 1970s, economic growth in Japan, Mexico, Brazil and later South Korea produced rapid urban growth. This growth peaked in 1990 in Japan, in 2000 in South Korea, and city populations are now peaking in Latin America. This is the typical urbanisation cycle of population stabilisation following development.

China and India’s rapid growth has been much more recent, accelerating in the 1990s and 2000s. China’s growth is predicted to slow over the next two decades, with its total population peaking around 2025, although it's rate of urbanisation will continue to rise towards 70% in 2030. India’s population growth will continue much longer to around 2060. There remains a huge rural Indian population of 800 million people, a significant proportion of which will urbanise in coming decades.

Meanwhile many sub-Saharan African countries are just beginning their rapid urban expansion. Lagos is set to gain 12 million residents between 2015 and 2035, Kinshasa 15 million, Dar es Salaam 8 million, Luanda 7.5 million. Urbanisation in Africa will ideally bring the scale of poverty reduction achieved in countries like China, though clearly there are many challenges and huge diversity across the region."
maps  mapping  population  cities  comparison  1990  1950  2015  2035  urban  urbanization 
june 2018 by robertogreco
If you have a meeting in Ethiopia, you better doublecheck the time
"Because Ethiopia is close to the Equator, daylight is pretty consistent throughout the year. So many Ethiopians use a 12-hour clock, with one cycle of 1 to 12 — from dawn to dusk — and the other cycle from dusk to dawn.

Most countries start the day at midnight. So 7:00 a.m. in East Africa Time, Ethiopia's time zone, is 1:00 in daylight hours in local Ethiopian time. At 7:00 p.m., East Africa Time, Ethiopians start over again, so it's 1:00 on their 12-hour clock."
time  ethiopia  africa  culture  protocol  standards  2015 
june 2018 by robertogreco
[Easy Chair] | Abolish High School, by Rebecca Solnit | Harper's Magazine
"I didn’t go to high school. This I think of as one of my proudest accomplishments and one of my greatest escapes, because everyone who grows up in the United States goes to high school. It’s such an inevitable experience that people often mishear me and think I dropped out.

I was a withdrawn, bookish kid all through elementary school, but the difficulty of being a misfit intensified when I started seventh grade. As I left campus at the end of my first day, people shouted insults that ensured I knew my clothes didn’t cut it. Then there was P.E., where I had to don a horrendous turquoise-striped polyester garment that looked like a baby’s onesie and follow orders to run or jump or play ball — which is hard to do when you’re deeply withdrawn — after which I had to get naked, in all my late-bloomer puniness, and take showers in front of strangers. In science class we were graded on crafting notebooks with many colors of pen; in home economics, which was only for girls — boys had shop — we learned to make a new kind of cake by combining pudding mix with cake mix; even in English class I can remember reading only one book: Dickens’s flattest novel, Hard Times. At least the old history teacher in the plaid mohair sweaters let me doze in the front row, so long as I knew the answers when asked.

In junior high, everything became a little more dangerous. Most of my peers seemed to be learning the elaborate dance between the sexes, sometimes literally, at school dances I never dreamed of attending, or in the form of the routines through which girls with pompoms ritually celebrated boys whose own role in that rite consisted of slamming into one another on the field.

I skipped my last year of traditional junior high school, detouring for ninth and tenth grade into a newly created alternative junior high. (The existing alternative high school only took eleventh and twelfth graders.) The district used this new school as a dumping ground for its most insubordinate kids, so I shared two adjoining classrooms with hard-partying teenage girls who dated adult drug dealers, boys who reeked of pot smoke, and other misfits like me. The wild kids impressed me because, unlike the timorous high achievers I’d often been grouped with at the mainstream school, they seemed fearless and free, skeptical about the systems around them.

There were only a few dozen students, and the adults treated us like colleagues. There was friendship and mild scorn but little cruelty, nothing that pitted us against one another or humiliated us, no violence, no clearly inculcated hierarchy. I didn’t gain much conventional knowledge, but I read voraciously and had good conversations. You can learn a lot that way. Besides, I hadn’t been gaining much in regular school either.

I was ravenous to learn. I’d waited for years for a proper chance at it, and the high school in my town didn’t seem like a place where I was going to get it. I passed the G.E.D. test at fifteen, started community college the following fall, and transferred after two semesters to a four-year college, where I began, at last, to get an education commensurate with my appetite.

What was it, I sometimes wonder, that I was supposed to have learned in the years of high school that I avoided? High school is often considered a definitive American experience, in two senses: an experience that nearly everyone shares, and one that can define who you are, for better or worse, for the rest of your life. I’m grateful I escaped the particular definition that high school would have imposed on me, and I wish everyone else who suffered could have escaped it, too.

For a long time I’ve thought that high school should be abolished. I don’t mean that people in their teens should not be educated at public expense. The question is what they are educated in. An abolitionist proposal should begin by acknowledging all the excellent schools and teachers and educations out there; the people who have a pleasant, useful time in high school; and the changes being wrought in the nature of secondary education today. It should also recognize the tremendous variety of schools, including charter and magnet schools in the public system and the private schools — religious, single-sex, military, and prep — that about 10 percent of American students attend, in which the values and pedagogical systems may be radically different. But despite the caveats and anomalies, the good schools and the students who thrive (or at least survive), high school is hell for too many Americans. If this is so, I wonder why people should be automatically consigned to it.

In 2010, Dan Savage began the It Gets Better Project, which has gathered and posted video testimonials from gay and lesbian adults and queer-positive supporters (tens of thousands of them, eventually, including professional sports stars and the president) to address the rash of suicides by young queer people. The testimonials reassure teenagers that there is life after high school, that before long they’ll be able to be who they are without persecution — able to find love, able to live with dignity, and able to get through each day without facing intense harassment. It’s a worthy project, but it implicitly accepts that non-straight kids must spend their formative years passing through a homophobic gauntlet before arriving at a less hostile adult world. Why should they have to wait?

Suicide is the third leading cause of death for teens, responsible for some 4,600 deaths per year. Federal studies report that for every suicide there are at least a hundred attempts — nearly half a million a year. Eight percent of high school students have attempted to kill themselves, and 16 percent have considered trying. That’s a lot of people crying out for something to change.

We tend to think that adolescence is inherently ridden with angst, but much of the misery comes from the cruelty of one’s peers. Twenty-eight percent of public school students and 21 percent of private school students report being bullied, and though inner-city kids are routinely portrayed in the press as menaces, the highest levels of bullying are reported among white kids and in nonurban areas. Victims of bullying are, according to a Yale study, somewhere between two and nine times more likely to attempt suicide. Why should children be confined to institutions in which these experiences are so common?

Antibullying programs have proliferated to such an extent that even the Southern Poverty Law Center has gotten involved, as though high school had joined its list of hate groups. An educational video produced by the S.P.L.C. focuses on the case of Jamie Nabozny, who successfully sued the administrators of his small-town Wisconsin school district for doing nothing to stop — and sometimes even blaming him for — the years of persecution he had suffered, including an attack that ruptured his spleen. As Catherine A. Lugg, an education scholar specializing in public school issues, later wrote, “The Nabozny case clearly illustrates the public school’s historic power as the enforcer of expected norms regarding gender, heteronormativity, and homophobia.”

I once heard Helena Norberg-Hodge, an economic analyst and linguist who studies the impact of globalization on nonindustrialized societies, say that generational segregation was one of the worst kinds of segregation in the United States. The remark made a lasting impression: that segregation was what I escaped all those years ago. My first friends were much older than I was, and then a little older; these days they are all ages. We think it’s natural to sort children into single-year age cohorts and then process them like Fords on an assembly line, but that may be a reflection of the industrialization that long ago sent parents to work away from their children for several hours every day.

Since the 1970s, Norberg-Hodge has been visiting the northern Indian region of Ladakh. When she first arrived such age segregation was unknown there. “Now children are split into different age groups at school,” Norberg-Hodge has written. “This sort of leveling has a very destructive effect. By artificially creating social units in which everyone is the same age, the ability of children to help and to learn from each other is greatly reduced.” Such units automatically create the conditions for competition, pressuring children to be as good as their peers. “In a group of ten children of quite different ages,” Norberg-Hodge argues, “there will naturally be much more cooperation than in a group of ten twelve-year-olds.”

When you are a teenager, your peers judge you by exacting and narrow criteria. But those going through the same life experiences at the same time often have little to teach one another about life. Most of us are safer in our youth in mixed-age groups, and the more time we spend outside our age cohort, the broader our sense of self. It’s not just that adults and children are good for adolescents. The reverse is also true. The freshness, inquisitiveness, and fierce idealism of a wide-awake teenager can be exhilarating, just as the stony apathy of a shut-down teenager can be dismal.

A teenager can act very differently outside his or her peer group than inside it. A large majority of hate crimes and gang rapes are committed by groups of boys and young men, and studies suggest that the perpetrators are more concerned with impressing one another and conforming to their group’s codes than with actual hatred toward outsiders. Attempts to address this issue usually focus on changing the social values to which such groups adhere, but dispersing or diluting these groups seems worth consideration, too.

High school in America is too often a place where one learns to conform or take punishment — and conformity is itself a kind of punishment, one that can flatten out your soul or estrange you from it.

High school, particularly the suburban and small-town varieties, can … [more]
rebeccasolnit  2015  highschool  education  schools  schooling  adolescence  unschooling  deschooling  oppression  teens  youth  hierarchy  agesegregation  internships  apprenticeships  mentoring  mentors  popularity  jockocracies  sports  rapeculture  us  society  peers  hatecrime  conformity  values  helenanorberg-hodge  lcproject  openstudioproject  cooperation  competition  segregation  bullying  bullies  splc  persecution  gender  sexuality  heteronormativity  homophobia  angst  cruelty  suicide  dances  prom  misfits  friendship  learning  howwelearn  srg  glvo  edg 
june 2018 by robertogreco
Imaginary Numbers Are Real [Part 1: Introduction] - YouTube
[full playlist of all parts: https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLiaHhY2iBX9g6KIvZ_703G3KJXapKkNaF ]

"Imaginary numbers are not some wild invention, they are the deep and natural result of extending our number system. Imaginary numbers are all about the discovery of numbers existing not in one dimension along the number line, but in full two dimensional space. Accepting this not only gives us more rich and complete mathematics, but also unlocks a ridiculous amount of very real, very tangible problems in science and engineering.

Part 1: Introduction
Part 2: A Little History
Part 3: Cardan's Problem
Part 4: Bombelli's Solution
Part 5: Numbers are Two Dimensional
Part 6: The Complex Plane
Part 7: Complex Multiplication
Part 8: Math Wizardry
Part 9: Closure
Part 10: Complex Functions
Part 11: Wandering in Four Dimensions
Part 12: Riemann's Solution
Part 13: Riemann Surfaces

Want to learn more or teach this series? Check out the Imaginary Numbers are Real Workbook: http://www.welchlabs.com/resources ."
math  mathematics  imaginarynumbers  algebra  2015  via:agentdana  negativenumbers  history 
may 2018 by robertogreco
Decolonising Science Reading List – Chanda Prescod-Weinstein – Medium
"In April, 2015, one of the most visible topics of discussion in the Astronomy community was the planned Thirty Meter Telescope and protests against it from Native Hawaiians who didn’t want it built on Mauna Kea. I wrote a lot about this on social media, spending some significant time trying to contextualize the debate. This reading list was originally created in response to requests for where I was getting some of the information from. A lot of people asked me about what I’d been reading as reference points for my commentary on the relationship between colonialism and what we usually call “modern science.”

In August 2016 I updated to announce: I’m happy to report that Sarah Tuttle and I will be contributing to this list with our own publications in future thanks to this FQXi grant that we are co-I/PI on: Epistemological Schemata of Astro|Physics: A Reconstruction of Observers. The grant proposal was based on a written adaptation of a speech I gave at the Inclusive Astronomy conference, Intersectionality as a Blueprint for Postcolonial Scientific Community Building.

As part of this work, I’ve continued to expand the reading list, which seems to have become a global resource for people interested in science and colonialism. As I originally said, I make no claims about completeness, about updating it regularly, or even ever coming up with a system for organizing it that I find to be satisfactory. You’ll find texts that range from personal testimony to Indigenous cosmology to anthropology, to history to sociology to education research. All are key to the process of decolonising science, which is a pedagogical, cultural, and intellectual set of interlocking structures, ideas, and practices. This reading list functions on the premise that there is value in considering the ways in which science and society co-construct. It is stuff that I have read all or part of and saw some value in sharing with others.

I am especially indebted to the #WeAreMaunaKea movement for educating me and spurring me to educate myself."
science  reading  readinglists  decolonization  chandaprescod-weinstein  2015 
may 2018 by robertogreco
François Laplantine: The Life of the Senses: Introduction to a Modal Anthropology (2005/2015) — Monoskop Log
"“Both a vital theoretical work and a fine illustration of the principles and practice of sensory ethnography, this much anticipated translation is destined to figure as a major catalyst in the expanding field of sensory studies.

Drawing on his own fieldwork in Brazil and Japan and a wide range of philosophical, literary and cinematic sources, the author outlines his vision for a ‘modal anthropology’. François Laplantine challenges the primacy accorded to ‘sign’ and ‘structure’ in conventional social science research, and redirects attention to the tonalities and rhythmic intensities of different ways of living. Arguing that meaning, sensation and sociality cannot be considered separately, he calls for a ‘politics of the sensible’ and a complete reorientation of our habitual ways of understanding reality.”

First published as Le social et le sensible: introduction à une anthropologie modale, Téraèdre, Paris, 2005.

Translated by Jamie Furniss
With an Introduction by David Howes
Publisher Bloomsbury, London, 2015
Sensory Studies series, 1
ISBN 1472534808, 9781472534804
xviii+152 pages"

[pdf is here: http://b3.ge.tt/gett/8Sl1pZd2/Laplantine%2C+Fran%C3%A7ois+-+The+Life+of+the+Senses.+Introduction+to+a+Modal+Anthropology.pdf?index=0&user=user-rH02fRWtWbQcXRxjIcC63NpWQttph9o1slEf1-&pdf= ]
senses  books  françoislaplantine  sensoryethnography  multisensory  2005  2015  anthropology  modalanthropology  ethnography 
may 2018 by robertogreco
Filmmaking with visual ethnography - an interview with Sarah Pink on Vimeo
"This video is an interview with Sarah Pink, Professor at RMIT and author of books such as 'Doing Visual Ethnography' and 'Doing Sensory Ethnography'. If you are interested in how to use visual ethnography as an aproach of filmmaking, then you will get some great notions on how to grasp this method. The topics we have asked Sarah Pink about is as following:

• Key principles
• Research and storytelling
• Most common mistakes
• Method and process
• Who is the audience?
• Sharing your work
• The future

Hope you will enjoy these tips!

The video is made by Dennis Haladyn and Thomas Legald at Roskilde University, Denmark - April 2015."
sarahpink  ethnography  2015  visual  visualethnography 
may 2018 by robertogreco
A Walk with Gavin Van Horn, Editor of City Creatures: Animal Encounters in the Chicago Wilderness on Vimeo
"CHICAGOLAND director Ben Kauffman talks with Gavin Van Horn of The Center for Humans and Nature about coyote encounters in Chicago and the role of storytelling in fostering understanding of other urban creatures."

[See also: http://www.storyforager.com/about/ ]
chicago  cities  urban  urbanism  multispecies  human-animalrelations  human-animalrelationships  morethanhuman  2015  benkauffman  gavinvanhorn  wildlife  classideas  nature 
may 2018 by robertogreco
Michael Wesch – Unboxing Stories on Vimeo
"2015 Future of StoryTelling Summit Speaker: Michael Wesch, Cultural Anthropologist

A pioneer in digital ethnography, Dr. Michael Wesch studies how our changing media is altering human interaction. As an anthropologist in Papua New Guinea, Wesch saw firsthand how oral storytelling worked for much of human civilization: It was a group activity that rewarded participation, transformed our perceptions, and created a changing flow of stories across generations. Reading and writing replaced oral storytelling with linear, fixed stories. Upon returning from Papua New Guinea, Wesch created the 2007 viral video hit Web 2.0...The Machine Is Us/ing Us, about the Internet's effects on our culture. At FoST, he’ll explore how our evolution from a literate culture to a digital one can return us to collaborative storytelling, resulting in a more engaged, participatory, and connected society."
michaelwesch  stories  storytelling  anthropology  2015  papuanewguinea  humans  civilization  perception  connection  participation  spontaneity  immersion  religion  involvement  census  oraltradition  oral  wikipedia  society  web2.0  media  particiption  conversation  television  tv  generations  neilpostman  classideas  web  online  socialmedia  alonetogether  suburbs  history  happenings  confusion  future  josephcampbell  life  living  meaning  meaningmaking  culture  culturlanthropology  srg 
april 2018 by robertogreco
Novels Are Made of Words: Moby-Dick, Emotion, and Abridgment
"Paul Valéry tells the story: The painter Edgar Degas was backhanded-bragging to his friend Stéphane Mallarmé about the poems that he, Degas, had been trying to write. He knew they weren’t great, he said, “But I’ve got lots of ideas—too many ideas.” “But my dear Degas,” the poet replied, “poems are not made out of ideas. They’re made of words.”

Paintings, for that matter, are not made of pretty ballerinas or landscapes: they’re made of paint.

Which brings us to Syuzhet, Matthew Jockers’s new program that analyzes the words of a novel for their emotional value and graphs the sentimental shape of the book. Dan Piepenbring has explained it all here and here on the Daily, with links to the original postings and the various outcries, some of them in the comments, that have blown up around Jockers.

Many people apparently find Jockers’s research the latest assault of technocratic digitocracy on the citadel of deep humanistic feelings, but that’s not how I see it. What the graphs reveal about potboiler narrative structure versus high-literary arcs, for instance—Dan Brown’s higher average positivity than James Joyce’s, and his more regular cycle of highs and lows to force the reader through the book—is insightful, useful, and great.

In some ways, it’s hard for me to even see what the fuss is about. “It’s not that it’s wrong,” one commenter writes. “It’s just that it’s an extremely poor substitute for reading, enjoying, and discussing literature.” But who said anything about a substitute? Does this commenter not notice that the discussions of the graphs rest on having read the books and seeing how the graphs shed light on them? Another: “Okay, fuck this guy for comparing Dan Brown to James Joyce.” Well, how else can you say Joyce is better and Brown is worse? That’s what’s known as a comparison. Or do you think Joyce can’t take it?

Freak-outs aside, there are substantive rebuttals, too. What seems to be the most rigorous objection is from SUNY professor and fellow digital-humanities scholar Annie Swafford, who points out some failures in the algorithm. “I am extremely happy today” and “There is no happiness left in me,” for example, read as equally positive. And:

Longer sentences may be given greater positivity or negativity than their contents warrant, merely because they have greater number of positive or negative words. For instance, “I am extremely happy!” would have a lower positivity ranking than “Well, I’m not really happy; today, I spilled my delicious, glorious coffee on my favorite shirt and it will never be clean again.”

But let’s actually compare “Well, I’m not really happy; today, I spilled my delicious, glorious coffee on my favorite shirt and it will never be clean again” to “I’m sad.” The positivity or negativity might be the same, assuming there could be some kind of galvanometer or something attached to the emotional nodes of our brain to measure the “pure” “objective” “quantity” of positivity. But the first of those sentences is more emotional—maybe not more positive, but more expressive, more histrionic. Ranking it higher than “I’m sad” or even “I am very happy” makes a certain kind of sense.

“There is no happiness left in me” and “I am all sadness from now on” are the same seven words to a logician or a hypothetical emotiomometer, but not to a novelist or a reader. Everyone in advertising and political wordsmithing knows that people absorb the content of a statement much more than the valence: to say that something “is not horrific and apocalyptic” is a downer, despite the “not.” Or consider: “Gone for eternity is the delight that once filled my heart to overflowing—the sparkle of sun on the fresh morning dew of new experience, soft envelopments of a lover’s thighs, empyrean intellectual bliss, everything that used to give my life its alpenglow of hope and wonder—never again!” and “I’m depressed.” An algorithm that rates the first piece of writing off-the-charts positive is a more useful quantification of the words than one that would rate the emotional value of the two as the same.

Some years back, Orion Books produced a book called Moby-Dick in Half the Time, in a line of Compact Editions “sympathetically edited” to “retain all the elements of the originals: the plot, the characters, the social, historical and local backgrounds and the author’s language and style.” I have nothing against abridgments—I’ve abridged books myself—but I felt that what makes Melville Melville, in particular, is digression, texture, and weirdness. If you only have time to read half the book, which half the time is more worth spending? What elements of the original do we want to abridge for?

Moby-Dick in Half the Time seemed like it would lose something more essential than would Anna Karenina in Half the Time or Vanity Fair in Half the Time or Orion’s other offerings. I decided to find out. So I compiled every chapter, word, and punctuation mark that Orion’s abridger cut from Melville’s original Moby-Dick; or The Whale, and published the result, with its inevitable title, as a book of its own: a lost work by Herman Melville called ; or The Whale.

Half the Time keeps the plot arc of Ahab’s quest, of course, but ; or The Whale arguably turns out closer to the emotional ups and downs of Melville’s novel—and that tells us something about how Melville writes. His linguistic excess erupts at moments of emotional intensity; those moments of intensity, trimmed as excess from Half the Time, are what make up the other semibook. Chapter sixty-two, for example, consists of a single word, “hapless”—the only word Orion’s abridger cut from the chapter, trimming a 105-word sentence to 104, for some reason. That’s a pretty good sentiment analysis of Melville’s chapter as a whole. Reading ; or The Whale is a bit like watching a DVD skip ahead on fast forward, and it gets at something real about Melville’s masterpiece. About the emotion in the words.

So I would defend the automated approach to novelistic sentiment on different grounds than Piepenbring’s. I take plot as seriously as he does, as opposed to valorizing only the style or ineffable poetry of a novel; I also see Béla Tarr movies or early Nicholson Baker novels as having plots, too, just not eventful ones. Jockers’s program is called Syuzhet because of the Russian Formalist distinction between fabula, what happens in chronological order in a story, and syuzhet, the order of things in the telling (diverging from the fabula in flashbacks, for instance, or when information is withheld from the reader). It’s not easy to say how “plot” arises out of the interplay between the two. But having minimal fabula is not the same as having little or no plot.

In any case, fabula is not what Syuzhet is about. Piepenbring summarizes: “algorithms assign every word in a novel a positive or negative emotional value, and in compiling these values [Jockers is] able to graph the shifts in a story’s narrative. A lot of negative words mean something bad is happening, a lot of positive words mean something good is happening.” This may or may not be true, but novels are not made of things that happen, they are made of words. Again: “When we track ‘positive sentiment,’ we do mean, I think, that things are good for the protagonist or the narrator.” Not necessarily, but we do mean—tautologically—that things are good for the reader in the warm afternoon sunshine of the book’s positive language.

Great writers, along with everything else they are doing, stage a readerly experience and lead their readers through it from first word on first page to last. Mapping out what those paths might look like is as worthy a critical approach as any."
paulvaléry  edgardegas  writing  novels  mobydick  mattherjocker  2015  digital  words  language  hermanmelville  reading  howwewrite  automation  emotions  algorithms  narrative  nicholsonbaker  bélatarr  moby-dick 
april 2018 by robertogreco
Looking at Perfect Shuffles - Numberphile - YouTube
"How do cards move in a perfectly shuffled deck.
More links & stuff in full description below ↓↓↓

This continues on Numberphile2 at: http://youtu.be/UawZn7X42OM (including a look at 52 card decks)
Featuring Federico Ardila from San Francisco State University.
Federico: https://twitter.com/FedericoArdila

More cards and shuffling videos: http://bit.ly/Cards_Shuffling "
federicoardila  math  mathematics  classideas  shuffling  cards  2015 
april 2018 by robertogreco
High-Impact Actions
"What can one person in a developed country do about climate change?

Seth Wynes, who finished his master's degree in my lab in June 2015, set out to answer this question in his thesis.

Our key takeaway: 4 personal choices really matter for the climate, and the climate really matters for one of them."

[See also:
http://iopscience.iop.org/article/10.1088/1748-9326/aa7541
https://www.vox.com/energy-and-environment/2017/7/14/15963544/climate-change-individual-choices
https://phys.org/news/2017-07-effective-individual-tackle-climate-discussed.html

"Governments and schools are not communicating the most effective ways for individuals to reduce their carbon footprints, according to new research.

Published today in the journal Environmental Research Letters, the study from Lund University, found that the incremental changes advocated by governments may represent a missed opportunity to reduce greenhouse gas emissions beneath the levels needed to prevent 2°C of climate warming.

The four actions that most substantially decrease an individual's carbon footprint are: eating a plant-based diet, avoiding air travel, living car-free, and having smaller families.

The research analysed 39 peer reviewed papers, carbon calculators, and government reports to calculate the potential of a range of individual lifestyle choices to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. This comprehensive analysis identifies the actions individuals could take that will have the greatest impact on reducing their greenhouse gas emissions.

Lead author Seth Wynes said: "There are so many factors that affect the climate impact of personal choices, but bringing all these studies side-by-side gives us confidence we've identified actions that make a big difference. Those of us who want to step forward on climate need to know how our actions can have the greatest possible impact. This research is about helping people make more informed choices.

"We found there are four actions that could result in substantial decreases in an individual's carbon footprint: eating a plant-based diet, avoiding air travel, living car free, and having smaller families. For example, living car-free saves about 2.4 tonnes of CO2 equivalent per year, while eating a plant-based diet saves 0.8 tonnes of CO2 equivalent a year.

"These actions, therefore, have much greater potential to reduce emissions than commonly promoted strategies like comprehensive recycling (which is 4 times less effective than a plant-based diet) or changing household lightbulbs (8 times less effective)."

The researchers also found that neither Canadian school textbooks nor government resources from the EU, USA, Canada and Australia highlight these actions, instead focussing on incremental changes with much smaller potential to reduce emissions.

Study co-author Kimberly Nicholas said: "We recognize these are deeply personal choices. But we can't ignore the climate effect our lifestyle actually has. Personally, I've found it really positive to make many of these changes. It's especially important for young people establishing lifelong patterns to be aware which choices have the biggest impact. We hope this information sparks discussion and empowers individuals," she concluded."]
classideas  climatechange  personalimpact  sethwynes  2015  2017  textbooks  education  schools  curriculum  canada  us  australia  eu  emissions 
february 2018 by robertogreco
What Happens When You Put a Hummingbird in a Wind Tunnel? | Deep Look - YouTube
"Scientists have used a high-speed camera to film hummingbirds' aerial acrobatics at 1000 frames per second. They can see, frame by frame, how neither wind nor rain stop these tiniest of birds from fueling up.

DEEP LOOK: a new ultra-HD (4K) short video series created by KQED San Francisco and presented by PBS Digital Studios. See the unseen at the very edge of our visible world. Get a new perspective on our place in the universe and meet extraordinary new friends. Explore big scientific mysteries by going incredibly small.

How do hummingbirds eat?

With spring in full bloom, hummingbirds can be spotted flitting from flower to flower and lapping up the sugary nectar inside. These tiniest of birds have the highest metabolism of any warm-blooded animal, requiring them to consume their own body weight in nectar each day to survive.

By comparison, if a 150-pound human had the metabolism of a hummingbird, he or she would need to consume the caloric equivalent of more than 300 hamburgers a day.

But it's not just an extreme appetite that sets hummingbirds apart from other birds. These avian acrobats are the only birds that can fly sideways, backwards and hover for long stretches of time. In fact, hovering is essential to hummingbirds' survival since they have to keep their long, thin beaks as steady as a surgeon's scalpel while probing flowers for nectar.

How do Hummingbirds fly?

Hummingbirds don't just hover to feed when the weather is nice. They have to keep hovering and feeding even if it's windy or raining, a remarkable feat considering most of these birds weigh less than a nickel."
hummingbirds  flight  classideas  video  windtunnels  2015  birds  nature  animals 
february 2018 by robertogreco
Cooperative fishing interactions between Aboriginal Australians and dolphins in eastern Australia: Anthrozoös: Vol 15, No 1
"Published eyewitness accounts and stories from Aboriginal Australians are used to provide an overview of the geographical extent and characteristics of cooperative fishing between Aboriginal Australians and dolphins in eastern Australia. These sources indicate that cooperative fishing was geographically widespread in eastern Australia, involved both bottlenose dolphins and orcas, and had a significance (emotional and spiritual) to Aboriginal people beyond the acquisition of food. These fishing interactions represent both context and precedent for the economic and emotional objectives of contemporary human–dolphin interactions such as dolphin provisioning."

[via: https://twitter.com/davidfickling/status/950960884582514689 ]
multispecies  human-animalrelations  human-animalrelationships  2015  australia  aborigines  dolphins  fishing  morethanhuman 
january 2018 by robertogreco
How to find your voice
"Young artists are always being told to “find your voice.”

Whatever that means!

I’ve never heard anyone explain it better than Billy Collins at a White House poetry workshop. I couldn’t find the text anywhere, so I transcribed it below. (If you’ve read Steal Like An Artist, this might sound really familiar…)
What I don’t like about the expression ‘finding your voice’ is that it’s very mystifying in the minds of young people. It makes you feel — made me feel when I first heard it — that your voice is tied up with your authenticity, that your voice lies deep within you, at some root bottom of your soul, and that to find your voice you need to fall into deep introspection… you have to gaze deeply into yourself. The frustration and the anxiety is that maybe you won’t find anything there. That you’re on this terrible quest to nowhere.

Let me reassure you that it’s not that mysterious. Your voice has an external source. It is not lying within you. It is lying in other people’s poetry. It is lying on the shelves of the library. To find your voice, you need to read deeply. You need to look inside yourself, of course, for material, because poetry is something that honors subjectivity. It honors your interiority. It honors what’s inside. But to find a way to express that, you have to look outside yourself.

Read widely, read all the poetry you can get your hands on. And in your reading, you’re searching for something. Not so much your voice. You’re searching for poets that make you jealous. Professors of writing call this “literary influence.” It’s jealousy. And it’s with every art, whether you play the saxophone, or do charcoal drawings. You’re looking to get influenced by people who make you furiously jealous.

Read widely. Find poets that make you envious. And then copy them. Try to get like them.

You know, you read a great poem in a magazine somewhere, and you just can’t stand the fact that you didn’t write it. What do you do? Well, you can’t get whiteout, and blank out the poet’s name and write yours in — that’s not fair. But you can say, “Okay, I didn’t write that poem, let me write a poem like that, that’s sort of my version of that.” And that’s basically the way you grow…

After you find your voice, you realize there’s really only one person to imitate, and that’s yourself. You do it by combining different influences. I think the first part of it is you do slavish imitations, which are almost like travesties, you know. But gradually you come under the right influences, picking and choosing, and being selective, and then maybe your voice is the combination of 6 or 8 other voices that you have managed to blend in such a way that no one can recognize the sources. You can take intimacy from Whitman, you can learn the dash from Emily Dickinson…you can pick a little bit from every writer and you combine them. This allows you to be authentic. That’s one of the paradoxes of the writing life: that the way to originality is through imitation.”


You can watch video of the whole workshop below. (Collins speaks at around the half hour mark.)"

[video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CVIOKLXK9uY ]

[via: https://twitter.com/austinkleon/status/950133096610967552 ]
2015  2011  austinkleon  billcollins  writing  voice  multitude  poetry  art  beauty  personhood  williamcarloswilliams  influence  influences  remixing  agglomeration  authenticity  interconnectedness  interconnected  interconnectivity 
january 2018 by robertogreco
Recurrent Domestication by Lepidoptera of Genes from Their Parasites Mediated by Bracoviruses
"Laila Gasmi, Helene Boulain, Jeremy Gauthier, Aurelie Hua-Van, Karine Musset, Agata K. Jakubowska, Jean-Marc Aury, Anne-Nathalie Volkoff, Elisabeth Huguet, Salvador Herrero , Jean-Michel Drezen"



"Bracoviruses are symbiotic viruses associated with tens of thousands of species of parasitic wasps that develop within the body of lepidopteran hosts and that collectively parasitize caterpillars of virtually every lepidopteran species. Viral particles are produced in the wasp ovaries and injected into host larvae with the wasp eggs. Once in the host body, the viral DNA circles enclosed in the particles integrate into lepidopteran host cell DNA. Here we show that bracovirus DNA sequences have been inserted repeatedly into lepidopteran genomes, indicating this viral DNA can also enter germline cells. The original mode of Horizontal Gene Transfer (HGT) unveiled here is based on the integrative properties of an endogenous virus that has evolved as a gene transfer agent within parasitic wasp genomes for ≈100 million years. Among the bracovirus genes thus transferred, a phylogenetic analysis indicated that those encoding C-type-lectins most likely originated from the wasp gene set, showing that a bracovirus-mediated gene flux exists between the 2 insect orders Hymenoptera and Lepidoptera. Furthermore, the acquisition of bracovirus sequences that can be expressed by Lepidoptera has resulted in the domestication of several genes that could result in adaptive advantages for the host. Indeed, functional analyses suggest that two of the acquired genes could have a protective role against a common pathogen in the field, baculovirus. From these results, we hypothesize that bracovirus-mediated HGT has played an important role in the evolutionary arms race between Lepidoptera and their pathogens."

[via: https://www.instagram.com/p/Bdja9w0nBdm/ ]
multispecies  morethanhuman  genetics  science  pathogens  2015 
january 2018 by robertogreco
An Interview with Fred Moten, Part 1 | Literary Hub
"In Praise of Harold Bloom, Collaboration and Book Fetishes"

[See also: "An Interview with Fred Moten, Pt. II | Literary Hub: On Radical Indistinctness and Thought Flavor à la Derrida"
http://lithub.com/an-interview-with-fred-moten-pt-ii/ ]
fredmoten  interviews  2015  adamfitzgerald  jacquesderrida  tored  collaboration  poetry  music  jazz  improvisation 
january 2018 by robertogreco
This Children's Book Explains All The Different Ways Babies Are Made
"Cory Silverberg is a sex educator and author who noticed that books about reproduction for kids didn't cover all families and birth situations."
corysilverberg  fionasmyth  2015  books  sexed  reproduction  birth  children  families 
january 2018 by robertogreco
This Children's Book About Sex And Gender Is A Total Game-Changer
"Sex is a Funny Word is nothing short of revolutionary. Cory Silverberg and Fiona Smyth's newest book is brilliant in its approach to giving caregivers and educators the tools they need to talk to kids about their bodies. Not only is it "the first trans-inclusive book for kids," but it also uses inclusionary language and diverse representation across race, ability, gender, and sexuality, to hone in on the most important aspects of discussing sex and bodies with kids aged 8-12. It is the second in a trilogy of books – the first, What Makes a Baby, is a beautiful, balanced, and many-gendered explanation of baby-making for kids aged 5-8.

(While Sex is a Funny Word discusses body parts, gender, touch, and other topics related to the word “sex,” it doesn’t delve into reproduction — intercourse is being reserved for the third book, planned for release in fall 2017, which will be geared toward older kids.)

Sex is a Funny Word is revolutionizing the way caregivers can talk to kids about their bodies."



"Although I could have made this a list of the 7,000 things that Sex is a Funny Word does to revolutionize talking to kids about their bodies, out of respect for everyone's time I’ve narrowed it down to ten. It was really hard to do.

1. Representation of all bodies should be the norm, rather than an exception.



2. Honesty + information = kids’ confidence.



3. Gender is complicated… and kids know it!



4. Conversation > silence.



5. "Justice" is an essential word when speaking about bodies.



6. Privacy isn’t just for grown-ups.



7. Consent matters at every age."
books  children  sex  gender  consent  justice  privacy  bodies  conversation  silence  honesty  information  representation  sexed  parenting  corysilverberg  fionasmyth  2015  body 
january 2018 by robertogreco
Iokepa Casumbal-Salazar: Coexistence on Mauna Kea on Vimeo
"Iokepa Casumbal Salazar, interviewed on Mauna Kea in May 2015. offers a Kanaka notion of "a Hawaiian place of learning" and critiques the language of "coexistence" that has been used by proponents of the TMT. He discusses the question of self-determination, the kiaʻi, kūʻē, and encampment as examples of other possible futures."
indigenous  resistance  astronomy  iokepacasumbalsalazar  2015  coexistence  self-determination 
december 2017 by robertogreco
Felipe Vera - Urbanismo Efimero - YouTube
"Charla en Scola da Cidade sobre ciudades temporales y el Kumbh Mela."

[1:41:33] "Déjame ver si entendí la pregunta. Me está preguntando cuáles con ls implicancias del urbanismo efímero para el tema patrimonial, en resumen? … Una cosa muy interesante, yo creo, es que nosotros tendemos en pensar en temas de conservación como temas de conservación de lo material. Estos caso del urbanismo efímero, cuando uno lo analiza, se da cuenta que el valor está en la práctica, en la praxis, en la conservación de maneras particulares de o bien reconstruir una ciudad o bien construir un ídolo y llevarlo y botarlo en un lugar para que se disvuelva o bien reformular todos los pasajes y cambiar la funcionalidad de algunos espacios urbanos. Entonces, lo que es interesante, yo creo que es interesante esto, sí ahora para las ciudades permanentes es decir en algún minuto vamos a tener que entender que la preservación arquitectónica no tiene que ver con parar el tiempo y con dejar que las cosas no se muevan, sino que va a tener que ver con como durar el cambio, modular el cambio a través de la memoria. Y en una formulación de ese tipo, pensar en la preservación como una práctica y no como la preservación de la forma y yo creo que nos pueda ayudar a desarollar nuevas estrategias."

[Translation (mine, quickly)]: "Let me see if I understand the question. In summary, you are asking me what are the implications of ephemeral urbanism with regard to cultural heritage? … Something very interesting, I think, is that when we think about conservation we tend to think about it in terms of the material. When you analyze these cases of ephemeral urbanism, you realize that the value is in the practice — the praxis — in the conservation of particular ways of things like rebuilding a city or constructing an idol and taking it and throwing it in a place that will make it dissolve, or reformulating all the passages and changing the function of some urban spaces. Then, what is interesting, I think, is to think about this for permanent cities and how at some time we are going to have to think about architectural preservation not as stopping time or preventing things from moving, but rather how to persist through change, how to manage change through memory. And think about preservation through practice and not the preservation of the form and I think that can help us develop new strategies."]

[More related bookmarks collected here:
https://pinboard.in/u:robertogreco/b:76144fff16c5 ]
felipevera  architecture  2015  ephemerality  ephemeral  kumbhmela  india  praxis  practice  heritage  conservation  preservation  culture  urbanism  urbanplanning  urbandesign  cities  design  process  craft  rahulmehrotra  memory  change 
october 2017 by robertogreco
Anna Lowenhaupt Tsing - A Feminist Approach to the Anthropocene: Earth Stalked by Man - YouTube
"To take seriously the concept of the Anthropocene—the idea that we have entered a new epoch defined by humans’ impact on Earth’s ecosystems—requires engagement with global history. Using feminist anthropology, this lecture explores the awkward relations between what one might call “machines of replication”—those simplified ecologies, such as plantations, in which life worlds are remade as future assets—and the vernacular histories in which such machines erupt in all their particularity and go feral in counter-intentional forms. This lecture does not begin with the unified continuity of Man (versus indigenous ontologies; as scientific protocol; etc.), but rather explores contingent eruptions and the patchy, fractured Anthropocene they foster.

Anna L. Tsing is a Professor of Anthropology at UC Santa Cruz, and the acclaimed author of several books including Friction: An Ethnography of Global Connection and In the Realm of the Diamond Queen.

This Helen Pond McIntyre '48 Lecture was recorded on November 10, 2015 at Barnard College."
annalowenhaupttsing  2015  anthropocene  multispecies  morethanhuman  ecology  disentanglement  feminism  naturalhistory  anthropology  ecologies  plantations  capitalism  humans  entanglement  interdependence  animals  plants  trees  birds  farming  fordlandia  rubber  environment  hope  science  humanism  agriculture  annatsing 
september 2017 by robertogreco
The United States Didn’t Just Help Topple Allende—We Trained the Economists, Too | The Nation
"A new documentary, Chicago Boys, looks at the Chilean economists who brought neoliberalism from the halls of Chicago to the policies of Latin America."
chicagoboys  economics  miltonfriedman  chile  history  pinochet  us  salvadorallende  economists  policy  politics  greggrandin  2015  1973  coup 
september 2017 by robertogreco
List: Things This City Was Built On, Besides Rock ‘n’ Roll - McSweeney’s Internet Tendency
"Navajo burial ground

12 trillion tons of reinforced concrete and steel

Government-protected wetlands

Your hard-earned tax dollars, folks. Your tax dollars

Drunken dare

Water-logged corpses of Irish immigrants

Previous bizarro underground version of this city"

[via:

""[M]y society is built on a hill of skulls" is the most visceral expression of this particular truth that I've ever heard. https://twitter.com/debcha/status/911689430347415558 "
https://twitter.com/jkriss/status/911691879799865344

"Of course, my joke cortex goes straight for this: https://www.mcsweeneys.net/articles/things-this-city-was-built-on-besides-rock-n-roll "
https://twitter.com/jkriss/status/911695089134481408 ]
colonialism  environment  oppression  humor  urbanism  2015 
september 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
When We Mourn Paul Walker, We’re Really Mourning The Death Of Male Friendships | Decider | Where To Stream Movies & Shows on Netflix, Hulu, Amazon Instant, HBO Go
"But Vin Diesel’s modeling of grief is perhaps the most interesting. For most of 2015, Diesel has been eulogizing Walker in every interview, at every promotional stop, and in every other Facebook and Instagram post, referring to Walker as his brother, using the term of endearment Pablo, talking candidly about how sad he was after Walker’s death, and posting pictures and videos of the two of them together. In March he announced that he had named his newborn daughter Pauline after his late friend.

All of this emotion can be explained by what I think we’re really mourning when we mourn Paul Walker: the end of a resonant example of a particular kind of male friendship absent from most of our own lives. That is, when we mourn Paul Walker, we are also mourning the end of Brian and Dom.

Male friendship in America, at present, is in a bad way. As sociologist Lisa Wade reports, “Of all people in America, adult, white, heterosexual men have the fewest friends. Moreover, the friendships they have, if they’re with other men, provide less emotional support and involve lower levels of self-disclosure and trust than other types of friendships.” However, these same men crave deeper, more intimate friendships. As Wade explains, “Men desire the same level and type of intimacy in their friendships as women, but they aren’t getting it.” How come? Misogyny, homophobia, and men’s long-standing anxieties about being “real men,” basically. Wade writes:
To be close friends, men need to be willing to confess their insecurities, be kind to others, have empathy and sometimes sacrifice their own self-interest. “Real men,” though, are not supposed to do these things. They are supposed to be self-interested, competitive, non-emotional, strong (with no insecurities at all), and able to deal with their emotional problems without help. Being a good friend, then, as well as needing a good friend, is the equivalent of being girly.

“When men do have especially close relationships,” notes Alana Massey, “we teasingly call them ‘bromances,’ as if there must be something amorous between two men who choose to spend time together one-on-one.”

In effect, what both Wade and Massey are saying is that somehow straight men in America have internalized the idea that intimate male friendships are gay.

In a weird way, queer theory also encourages this. It would be easy to read, for instance, the onscreen relationship between Brian and Dom as queer in some way, i.e., that the Fast and Furious movies are secretly a romantic love story between Paul Walker’s Brian and Vin Diesel’s Dom. Let me be clear: this is a legitimate – even fun! – reading. The deepest and most-sustained love relationship in the series is between Brian and Dom. Though they each have female partners – Mia (Jordana Brewster) and Letty (Michelle Rodriguez), respectively – their primary emotional sustenance over the course of the franchise comes from each other. Slash fiction exploring this idea in greater depth isn’t hard to find online.

Significantly, the franchise doesn’t explicitly deny this sort of queer reading. There’s none of the anxious disavowal of homosexuality you find in movies such as I Now Pronounce You Chuck and Larry and I Love You, Man. Nor does Vin Diesel display any of the fear of emotion Wade talks about.

But I don’t think the reflexive queer reading – progressive though it may be – helps explain why Furious 7 can bring a theater full of young straight men to tears. No, I think there’s something else going on here. As Rachel Vorona Cote writes, “Friendship is not a pale imitation of sexual romance. It is a romance unto itself.”

In his book Spiritual Friendship, Wesley Hill argues that friendship today is “a form of love that’s in danger of being downgraded or dismissed in our imaginations.” One of the reasons for this, he contends, is our tendency to think “that the desire for sex is the secret truth of every relationship, so that any mutual liking or interest must be something more than chaste affection.” From this point of view, the intimate friendship between Brian and Dom in the Fast and Furious movies must really be a cover for a sexual relationship. But what might happen, Hill asks, if we take a friendship like Brian and Dom’s at face value? How might that challenge our views of what a friendship can be?

Hill argues “friendship can and should be understood along the lines of a vowed or committed relationship, much like a marriage or a kinship bond.” Hill asks us to imagine “friendship as more stable, permanent, and binding,” “friends more like the siblings we’re stuck with, like it or not, than like our acquaintances,” and “at least some of our friends as, in large measure, tantamount to family.”

You might think the writings of a gay celibate Christian writer like Hill and a multi-billion dollar street racing franchise would have different takes on friendships, but you’d be wrong. As a matter of fact, lines such as Dom’s “I don’t have friends, I’ve got family” and (to Brian/Paul at the end of the film) “You’ll always be my brother” wouldn’t look out of place in Hill’s book. Brian and Dom’s friendship in the movies and Paul and Vin’s friendship in real life are best understood, I would argue, as different versions of the same “spiritual friendship.” Theirs is a union that manages to be resolutely heterosexual but not homophobic, sincere but not self-serious, strong but sensitive.

In a world where straight men are often still worried about being perceived as feminine or gay and thus fail to form close bonds with other men, Brian and Dom’s bond is an important symbolic outlet for normalizing “spiritual friendship” between men. The Fast and Furious franchise offers a post-bromance model of male friendship and suggests a new call to seriousness about friendship’s role and importance. Thus, in mourning Paul Walker, we mourn not only the end of Brian and Dom’s relationship, but also the end of Paul and Vin’s, as well as the dearth of such relationships outside of the Fast and Furious franchise. We mourn our own inadequacy. That’s why it hurts so much. But that mourning is also a celebration, a celebration that something such as Paul Walker’s Teen Choice Award, while seemingly trivial, is one small part of."

[back in circulation because: "Wiz Khalifa’s See You Again is now the most-viewed YouTube video of all time"
https://www.theverge.com/2017/7/11/15952010/wiz-khalifa-most-watched-youtube-video-fast-furious

via: https://twitter.com/mattthomas/status/884994991570944000 ]

[Related: "It’s Not Just Mike Pence. Americans Are Wary of Being Alone With the Opposite Sex."
https://www.nytimes.com/2017/07/01/upshot/members-of-the-opposite-sex-at-work-gender-study.html

"This came in my circles so I'd like to make a thread about it: One conversation we rarely have is about the lack of male female friendships."
https://twitter.com/Gaohmee/status/884555261867720704

thread continues:
"There were some news articles floating around at the beginning of the year about Pence and his rule that he doesn't meet women alone, ever.

Since then, studies have emerged about this problem being an epidemic, presumably not only in the US, especially in workplaces.

The gist of it is that people believe being alone with a woman other than your partner is inappropriate by default. Just think about this.

There is an absolutely insane believe that male female friendships are not real, are inappropriate, are dangerous and problematic.

Think about what impact that has on women's rights, our work, the respect for us. This means, men in power specifically don't know us.

It means that when we talk to men, their underlying concern is that it could be seen as inappropriate - or even feels inappropriate to them.

This obstructs equality more than we may realise. It means there is a barrier of understanding women's ideas and thoughts to begin with.

It ramps up all biases that people pile up and that obstruct change and progress. It means it influences the way people hire.

And no wonder if you think about it: The representation in media, on TV, anywhere of male female friendships is basically non-existent.

All stories we see about male female interaction are romances, jealousy dramas, even work relationships are depicted as romantic.

We. Fail. To. Tell. Stories. Of. Male. Female. Friendships.

We hugely fail telling them, because we believe they don't exist or are boring

There is a whole other layer to this where male female friendships are only possible when one of the parties is "ugly"/nerdy.

The gist of it is: We need to foster healthy, meaningful friendships and colleague relationships to fix gender inequality.

As creators, we can be part of this by telling those stories. Re-define how men and women relate to each other, represent real friendships."]
mattthomas  men  friendship  sexuality  gender  2015  jenniferscheurle    2017wesleyhill  brotherhood  society  bromances  alanamassey  heterosexuality  emotion  emotions  friendships  masculinity  misogyny  homophobia  intimacy  fastandfurious  georgecarlin  vindiesel  paulwalker  wizkhalifa 
july 2017 by robertogreco
A Year Without Eric Garner on Vimeo
"Eric Garner's death in 2014 at the hands of the NYPD helped spark a nationwide movement for police reform. One year later, his family has settled a wrongful death lawsuit with New York City, but they aren't satisfied that justice has been served.

Credits:
Director / Producer - Fazeelat Aslam
Producer - Jimmy Goldblum
Cinematographer - Naveen Chaubal
Editor - Adam Weber
AJ+ Senior Commissioning Producer - Jeff Seelbach"
ericgarner  2015  film  documentary  jimmygoldblum  fazeelataslam 
july 2017 by robertogreco
What Does This Teacher Make? Me, Frustrated. | Write Learning
"In its various versions, it’s enjoyed more than a million views. I understand its popularity. What I want to explain today is why it frustrates me so very deeply.

I’m talking about Taylor Mali’s poem/performance piece, “What Teachers Make”, a powerful, clever, and moving riff on the disconnect between what teachers are paid and the difference they make. The context is a dinner party at which Mali responds to a fellow guest’s questions, “What’s a kid going to learn from someone who decided his best option in life was to become a teacher?” and “You’re a teacher, Taylor. Be honest. What do you make?”

Taking “be honest” at face value, Mali proceeds to rip his interlocutor a new one. Here are a few choice nuggets:
I make kids work harder than they ever thought they could.
I can make a C+ feel like a Congressional Medal of Honor
and an A-­ feel like a slap in the face.

I make kids sit through 40 minutes of study hall
in absolute silence. No, you may not work in groups.
No, you may not ask a question.
Why won’t I let you go to the bathroom?
Because you’re bored.
And you don’t really have to go to the bathroom, do you?

I make parents see their children for who they are
and what they can be.

I make them apologize and mean it.

Teachers make a goddamn difference! Now what about you?


I have to admit, even as I type this, I’m a little flustered. Okay, really flustered. But not simply angry: rather, I’m saddened, and kind of triggered, by this piece. You see, I have a decent idea where this guy is coming from, having taught in conventional schools at the beginning of my career. Twenty years ago, I likely would’ve thought this was the most brilliant, eloquent defense of the profession I’d ever heard.

Because it’s true: teachers willingly place themselves in stressful environments; they paint big targets on their backs. And why? In many cases, it stems from a profound idealism, passion, and desire to serve. Not only are their salaries misaligned with the lip service they’re paid about shaping future generations, teachers are caught in the incessant cross-fire of criticism from students, parents, colleagues, administrators, and the public.

So I’ve been there, and I get it, I really do. Teachers are pursuing a noble cause, and in return they receive a mountain of shit. What upsets me is the effect this has on many of them: defensiveness too often leads to self-righteousness, even narcissism and hubris. Well, congratulations, conventional schooling: you’ve created a culture of saviors and martyrs.

Think I’m being melodramatic? Take another look at Mali’s text and bask in the naked assertion of power, the delight he takes in being forceful. I make…I make…I MAKE. There’s a glowing pride in forcing young people to sit still, to work, to apologize—essentially, getting inside people’s heads and controlling them, directing them toward ends the teacher considers worthy.

Am I the only one who finds this disturbing? I certainly hope not.

“What Teachers Make” reveals an ugly dynamic that our culture has somehow come to regard as normal, even acceptable. Conventional schools put children and adults alike in situations where they are disempowered, their relationships twisted into ego trips and power plays. No amount of “for your own good” and “teachers are heroes” rhetoric can cover the stench of coercion and disrespect emanating from the system. Indeed, what are the drive for accountability and the madness of quantified, standardized “learning” but code language for “we don’t trust you”?

This system takes people and turns them against each other. When I was a new teacher in the early ’90s, the imperative “Don’t smile till Christmas” was already an ancient proverb. From a student’s point of view, ’80s films like The Breakfast Club and Ferris Bueller’s Day Off are celebrations of sticking it to The Man, those deadly dull and/or obsessively controlling educators who hold arbitrary power over us throughout our childhoods.

While I can’t blame anyone caught in this ugly scenario for lapsing into an adversarial mindset, I do call upon all of us to create something much better. No one ultimately benefits from a system in which people are assumed to be in need saving and expected to become martyrs. Children and adults alike deserve to be treated like people, as individuals with inalienable rights, worthy of trust, respect, and responsibility.

Half a century of Sudbury schooling demonstrates that not only can we trust people’s innate drives to learn, explore, and master, but that the results are even greater than anyone trapped in the dominant, industrial paradigm could dare to dream. Let’s not “make” anyone defend themselves against a system that dehumanizes and turns people against each other, that stigmatizes them as incapable, incorrigible, or incompetent. We know better."
2015  brucesmith  sudburyschools  taylormali  coercion  authoritarianism  control  teaching  teachers  education  schools  howweteach 
june 2017 by robertogreco
3 destructive things you learned in school without realizing it - Vox
"1) You learned that success comes from the approval of others



"External performance markers are fine, and likely even necessary, but they're not sufficient. There has to be a new starting point. There has to be personal purpose introduced into education at some point. There needs to be a why to learning to go with the what. The problem is that everybody's why is personal, and it's impossible to scale. Especially when teachers are so overworked and underpaid."



2) You learned that failure is a source of shame



3) You learned to depend on authority

… That doesn't mean authority is always harmful. It doesn't mean authority serves no purpose. Authority will always exist and will always be necessary for a well-functioning society.

But we should all be capable of choosing the authority in our lives. Adherence to authority should never be compulsory, and it should never go unquestioned — whether it's your preacher, your boss, your teacher, or your best friend. No one knows what's right for you as well as you do. And not letting kids discover that fact for themselves may be the biggest failure of all."
schools  schooling  sfsh  unschooling  deschooling  markmanson  2015  failure  shame  approval  compliance  authority  dependence  purpose  branfordmarsalis 
may 2017 by robertogreco
Light L16 Camera: Gathering Light HD - YouTube
"Share from https://light.co/

The L16: Under-the-hood
by Rajiv Laroia, Light co-founder and CTO

Since launching the L16, we have received many questions about how Light’s computational imaging technology works. While the final product specifications won’t be announced until spring 2016, we are glad to share a bit more information about our systems design approach to photography.

Below is a video of a talk I gave at Stanford University two weeks ago, which provides more details about Light’s technology. We're including some time markers to make navigating a bit easier. While this talk is still fairly broad, I hope it’ll answer a few more of your technical questions. You can also check out this great article by Tim Moynihan at WIRED to learn more about how the L16 will work.

Our team will be releasing more information and more images on our website and blog in the coming weeks, so stay tuned!

In a nutshell, what is the Light camera, and what problem are you solving? (1:50)

What are the innovations that make the L16 possible? (4:02)

Tell me more about molded plastic lenses… (4:52)

But how can plastic lenses possibly be as good as glass lenses? (5:15)

How are plastic lenses better? (6:45)

Tell me more about diffraction… (8:45)

Why are smartphone cameras not good enough? (10:20)

How does the L16 solve common smartphone camera issues? (14:52)

How does the L16 take a picture? (17:00)

What does the inside of the L16 camera look like? (21:20)

How does the L16 combine images? (22:25)

How does the L16 capture 10x the amount of light as a cell phone camera? (26:18)

How does the L16 give you continuous optical zoom from 35mm-150mm? (28:02)

How do we control depth-of-field, boquet and perspective using computational imaging? (31:55)

What about High Dynamic Range (HDR)? (34:20)

What about low-light performance? (35:50)

What about aperture and shutter control? (37:00)

Can I see some pictures taken with the camera? (40:55)

If an object is close to the camera and it gets out of parallax, what do you do? (44:10)

How do you handle calibration on the cameras? (45:05)

Is there an optimal number of sensors and lenses? Why did you choose 16? (47:38)

Where does the processing happen? (48:27)

Is there a difference in color between each module? (49:40)

Is there a plan for image stabilization? (50:10)

How does the user interact with the camera? (52:06)

Does the camera capture video and do you plan to bring the technology to smartphones? (53:40)

How good is your battery life? (54:28)

How did you decide on the particular arrangement of the camera modules? (55:03)

What was your biggest surprise on this journey? (56:04)

Does the camera have a problem with distortion? (56:57)

Can you give some more detail about calibration? (58:00)

Will the L16 have enough computational capabilities? (58:39)"
photography  cameras  via:craigmod  rajivlaroia  lenses  technology  2015  l16  light.co 
april 2017 by robertogreco
Radical Black Women | A Study and Discussion Circle
"Black Radical Women in the U.S. 1910-1960 – A Study & Discussion Circle
[Note: this circle took place in 2015 but I am keeping the site up for others to use]

“In far too many historic portrayals black radicals are always men, communists are white men, and feminists are white women.” – Maxine Craig

This study and discussion circle taking place on March 21, 2015 is focused on the contributions of Black radical women activists and theorists from the early 20th century through the Cold War era. Most of these women were affiliated with the U.S. Communist Party (CPUSA) and others were part of various socialist organizations.

This circle will consider the backgrounds, thinking and writing of some of these leaders. We will specifically discuss the lives and contributions of Marvel Cooke, Shirley Graham Du Bois, Vicki Garvin, Esther Cooper Jackson, Claudia Jones, Queen Mother Audley Moore and Louise Thompson Patterson.

This list does not begin to scratch the surface of radical Black women in the U.S. who have contributed to social, economic, political and cultural analysis and to organizing. We will begin with the women listed above in our 3/21 discussion circle. Pending interest, we could move on to other Black women in the future.

Thanks for your interest in this discussion circle and see you on 3/21."
history  marvelcooke  shirleygrahamdubois  vickigarvin  esthercooperjackson  claudiajones  queenmotheraudleymoore  louisethompsonpatterson  blackwomen  women  2015  communicm  radicalism  organization 
february 2017 by robertogreco
An Ikea Catalog From The Near Future – Design Fictions – Medium
[Never bookmarked?]

"In September, the Near Future Laboratory conducted a workshop with the Mobile Life Center and Boris Design Studio in Stockholm. Our workshop brief was to consider an Internet of Things future, but with a twist: the Internet of Things seen through an Ikea Catalog.

Why did we chose an Ikea catalog? Because it is one of the more compelling ways to represent normal, ordinary, everyday life in many parts of the world. The Ikea catalog contains the routine furnishings of a normative everyday life. It’s a container of life’s essentials and accessories which can be extrapolated from today’s normal into tomorrow’s normal.

The process of our workshop was to use Design Fiction, a practice we’ve developed at the Near Future Laboratory that combines pragmatic hands-on production of material assets — in this case, graphic design production of a print catalog — with micro-scale science, technological and social fictions contained in the product descriptions, ancillary texts, disclaimers, footnotes and annotations.

The Design Fiction approach requires one to follow a series of claims about the world through as deeply as possible. For example, our claims to say that the near future world we were representing would have ‘smart’ ‘connected’ technologies needed to be as thorough as possible given our 1-day schedule. We needed to propose dozens of representations of such, throw out most, iterate on the one’s we found compelling and then find a plausible, visually engaging way to represent them with all of the constraints and rules one applies to catalog production. Each proposition from each of the working groups had to ‘stand up’ to our own scrutiny. Names of things weren’t enough. Each group had to describe the artifact or service as if they were pitching a new product. This is the work that seems to be rarely done when an IoT future is trumpeted in vague, hyperbolic press releases, keynotes and ‘reports.’ A bad PowerPoint slide with some loose text about ‘a future of connected kitchens’ and $1 trillion market for IoT simply would not work.

For example, our extrapolation of an Ikea kitchen has the things you might imagine (and have been “demo‘d”) in a near future IoT world. Cooking instructions appear dynamically on countertops, complete with anecdotes meant to keep the cooking experience lively — and likely complete with subtle opportunities to make a purchase of a fancy cutting knife, or book a reservation to the country from which the recipe is derived. The micro-fictions embedded in the catalog are where our Design Fiction makes subtle suggestions about how the near future may be a bit different from today.

For example, implying new economic contexts that were an aspect of the design brief can be done in subtle ways, such as peculiar regional disclaimers, odd explanatory iconography, subscription pricing models for furniture as the ‘new normal’ — in our near future, an Ikea kitchen is ‘self-subscribing’, a peculiar, eyebrow-raising neologism meant to suggest a new weird context of exchange dreamed-up by some near future product people in which our near future selves are comfortable with smart technologies that somehow know what’s best for us.

In the end, our Design Fiction Ikea catalog is a way to talk about a near future. It is not a specification, nor is it an aspiration or prediction. The work the catalog does — like all Design Fictions — is to encourage conversations about the kinds of near futures we’d prefer, even if that requires us to represent near futures we fear. While we’re fans of the ‘catalog’ as a Design Fiction Archetype (cf TBD Catalog), we’ve also done Quick-Start Guides, Newspaper Supplements, Reports on Modern Life & Rituals, bespoke Design Fiction Field Reports for clients, all as ways to enter into a discussions about our future."

[available here: http://mobilelifecentre.org/sites/default/files/Design_Fiction_IKEA_2015.pdf ]
2015  ikea  designfiction  speculativedesign  speculativefiction  internetofthings  iot  nearfuturelaboratory 
february 2017 by robertogreco
The Painter of Jalouzi - YouTube
"The film tells the story of one citizen from Jalouzi, one of the largest slums in Haiti, who is determined to bring color to the impoverished area by helping paint the entire town, literally.

Believing that color has the power to transform his community, he’s helping to paint everywhere – on houses, on buses, and the entire hillside. Armed with brushes of bright blues, pastel pinks, and sunshine yellows, he’s helping to mobilize citizens of all ages, determined to turn the grey town into a rainbow full of color to lead the way to a brighter Haiti."
haiti  jalouzi  color  2015  painting  homes 
february 2017 by robertogreco
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