Tag Archives | Opinion

Op-ed: The Plot Against Public Education

By Detlef Schobert via Flickr (CC by 2.0)

By Detlef Schobert via Flickr (CC by 2.0)

via Politico Magazine:

Bill Gates had an idea. He was passionate about it, absolutely sure he had a winner. His idea? America’s high schools were too big.

When a multibillionaire gets an idea, just about everybody leans in to listen. And when that idea has to do with matters of important public policy and the billionaire is willing to back it up with hard cash, public officials tend to reach for the money with one hand and their marching orders with the other. Gates backed his small-schools initiative with enormous amounts of cash. So, without a great deal of thought, one school district after another signed on to the notion that large public high schools should be broken up and new, smaller schools should be created.

This was an inherently messy process. The smaller schools—proponents sometimes called them academies—would often be shoehorned into the premises of the larger schools, so you’d end up with two, three or more schools competing for space and resources in one building.

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We need more focus on the women poets of World War I

This article was originally published on The Conversation.
Read the original article.

By Lisa Regan, University of Liverpool

Members of the Women’s Army Auxiliary Corps. PA/PA Archive

We’ve become very accustomed to connecting World War I with its soldier-poets. And the centenary celebrations in Britain have very rightly reminded us how important key figures such as Wilfred Owen, Isaac Rosenberg and Siegfried Sassoon were to their own generation and continue to be for future generations.

But for all that I was struck by actress Penelope Keith’s reading of Rose Macaulay’s poem, Many Sisters to Many Brothers at Westminster Abbey’s candle-lit vigil. It was refreshing – not least because Macaulay is an author often edged off the literary map. But despite this I was left wondering whether this particular poem was the right poem to choose.

Macaulay’s 1914 poem expresses women’s envy of men’s freedom to go to war (service being voluntary until conscription began in 1916).… Read the rest

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Can blogging be academically valuable? Seven reasons for thinking it might be

via Flickr (CC by 2.0)

via Flickr (CC by 2.0)

This post was originally published on Philosophical Disquisitions.

I have been blogging for nearly five years (hard to believe). In that time, I’ve written over 650 posts on a wide variety of topics: religion, metaethics, applied ethics, philosophy of mind, philosophy of law, technology, epistemology, philosophy of science and so on. Since most of my posts clock-in at around 2,000 words, I’d estimate that I have written over one million words. I also reckon I spend somewhere in the region of 10-15 hours per week working on the blog, sometimes more. The obvious question is: why?

Could it be the popularity? Well, I can’t deny that having a wide readership is part of the attraction, but if that’s reason then I must be doing something wrong. The blog is only “sort of” popular. My google stats suggest that I’ll clear 1,000,000 views in the next month and half (with a current average of 35,000 per month).Read the rest

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Terrorists can be defeated by fighting fear with cooperation

This article was originally published on The Conversation.
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By Robert Imre, University of Newcastle

From anarchists in the 1920s and radical leftists in the 1960s, to fringe, extreme-right Christian bombers or gunmen in the United States in recent decades, or radical Islamists such as Islamic State today, terrorist groups have one thing in common. They seek to shock, while simultaneously portraying themselves as victims. While their beliefs can vary wildly, what they all share is the “propaganda of the deed” in their extreme violent activities.

Typically, political violence in the most extreme form – terrorism – usually will see groups fracture in to smaller sub-groups. Once violence is legitimated, it then becomes a way to settle internal disagreements as well.

Given that we have seen a number of terrorist groups come and go over the decades, it bears scrutiny how these various groups were successfully stopped, as well as where governments failed.… Read the rest

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Deepak Chopra is pissed off by Richard Dawkins’ arrogance

Deepak_Chopra_2013

This post is certain to polarize the Disinfo audience, as some of you seem to follow Chopra and others Dawkins. Let’s all try to be civil in the comments!

via The Raw Story:

A new book details the years-long, highly acrimonious feud between self-help guru Deepak Chopra and evolutionary biologist and skeptic Richard Dawkins.

According to Salon.com, Tom Roston’s book The Quantum Prophets: Richard Dawkins, Deepak Chopra and the spooky truth about their battle over God, explains that the longstanding rivalry between the two men began at the 2002 TED Conference and culminated in a public debate in 2013. In an interview with Roston, Chopra explained that Dawkins’ “arrogance” continues to bother him.

“With Dawkins, I am just pissed off. I am pissed off by his arrogance and his pretense of being a really good scientist. He is not,” Chopra told Roston. “And he is using his scientific credentials to literally go on a rampage.”

When Roston said that this kind of resentment is surprising coming from a man who purports to teach millions of others the secrets of inner peace, Chopra, surprisingly, agreed.

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“Everything Is Propaganda”?: Some Ongoing Conversation

Propaganda_

Editor’s note: To get the full gist of Gilmour’s argument, go to the post on Christian Humanist and read the entire thing.

Nathan P. Gilmour writes at the Christian Humanist:

I note my own conservative tendencies because, if I am a conservative, I get to indulge my sympathies with long-running, traditioned communities rather than with the so-called “forces of history” (I tend to be more of a personalist when it comes to history–I blame people rather than impersonal forces for bad things that happen).  So I resonated with a narrative that often occupies the Homebrewed Christianity podcast, and which got spelled out explicitly in the episode at hand, which goes something like this:

  • Once there was a group of people whose way of life stood as the assumed “good” form of life in certain parts of North America.
  • At a certain point in history, another group of people, whose military technology was better than the formerly-dominant group, arrived and defeated that group in a series of violent encounters.
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Op-Ed: When it comes to comics, let’s put literary criticism back on the shelf

Tim McFarlane/Flickr, CC BY-NC-SA

Tim McFarlane/Flickr, CC BY-NC-SA

This article was originally published on The Conversation.
Read the original article.

By David Sweeney, Glasgow School of Art

For the second year running, the Edinburgh International Book Festival returns with Stripped 2014; a strand dedicated exclusively to comics and graphic novels. It has even commissioned its own graphic novel – a dystopian vision of Scotland’s future called IDP:2043 – as a centrepiece. But this absorption of comic books into a culturally highbrow setting should not go unquestioned.

A few years ago I attended a public interview featuring David Simon, creator of the critically acclaimed HBO television series The Wire. Simon’s questioner, a seemingly beleaguered broadsheet journalist, started off by comparing the series to “a novel”; Simon seemed puzzled by the comparison and asked the journalist to elaborate. The Wire was like a novel, the journalist explained, because it was a text of “high quality”.… Read the rest

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An Open Letter: We are in Denial

Dear White America,

As you fill my Facebook feed with videos of ice buckets being dumped on your heads, I cannot help but notice your silence (with a few exceptions) regarding the events taking place in Ferguson, Missouri.

While raising money for ALS research is undoubtedly a noble pursuit, there are some slightly more pressing issues confronting our society.

And if we are being honest, most of us white people are pretty uncomfortable talking about race.

Actually, uncomfortable is the wrong word.

A more accurate word is denial.

The shame we feel when we learn of the Atlantic slave trade, chattel slavery, plantation cotton fields, “forty acres and a mule,” lynchings, poll taxes, “separate but equal,” segregation, redlining and endemic discrimination across America’s institutional landscape, is viewed as a morally reprehensible part of our past.

But what we do not understand, including those of us who identify as socially conscious liberal democrats, is that structural racism still exists in ourpresent.Read the rest

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How White Liberals Shut Down Conversations About Racism

Nancy LeTourneau writes at Horizons:

Some of you might be aware of the fact that over the Thanksgiving week a battle about racism was engaged on the Daily Kos web site . If not, don’t worry, I’m not going to bring the whole thing here. But I do want to use some of the fallout to help us understand why talking about racism – even amongst liberals – is so hard to do.

What kicked off the conflict at Daily Kos was that a cartoonist posted a diary with drawings of President Obama that resembled a gorilla/monkey. To understand the reaction, you have to be aware of the history of racism being expressed by this kind of depiction. As many challenged the use of that imagery, a battle ensued.

What I found most telling was a reaction by one of the cartoonist’s fans at his web site who said this:

Being called a racist is really about as bad as it gets.

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Race is a Social Concept, Not a Scientific One

"silent diversity" by DryHundredFear via Flickr.

“silent diversity” by DryHundredFear via Flickr.

via Live Science:

Beyond the Ferguson, Mo., media reports on the “racial divide,” the facts require some correction: Despite notions to the contrary, there is only one human race. Our single race is independent of geographic origin, ethnicity, culture, color of skin or shape of eyes — we all share a single phenotype, the same or similar observable anatomical features and behavior.

Science highlights these similarities in our embryonic development, physiology (our organ-based systems), biochemistry (our metabolites and reactions), and more recently, genomics (our genetic makeup). As a molecular biologist, this last one is indeed the most important to me — data show that the DNA of any two human beings is 99.9 percent identical, and we all share the same set of genes, scientifically validating the existence of a single biological human race and one origin for all human beings. In short, we are all brothers and sisters.

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