Posts Tagged ‘politics’


by Duane Sharrock

There is an intersection near my town where war veterans stand with flags and banners to protest. Their numbers grow and shrink depending on the week, but some are there every Sunday. They are not bearing arms; they are armed with words and presence.

Sometimes, on the opposite corner, across from these protesters and as opposition, there is another group of protesters.

At no time, has anyone crossed the street to physically fight each other. Each side is peopled with adults–not children. They are just Americans with differing perspectives voicing their opinions and disagreements. And both groups are protesters.

Americans should never stand against protests. We should never silence protest. Protest is as American as the Boston Tea Party that rejected taxation without representation (although “340 chests of British East India Company Tea, weighing over 92,000 pounds (roughly 46 tons), onboard the Beaver, Dartmouth, and Eleanor were smashed open by the Sons of Liberty armed with an assortment of axes and dumped into Boston Harbor the night of December 16, 1773.”


Since the Boston Tea Party and the birth of our nation, Americans have also protested oppression in its various forms. They have protested slavery, animal testing, abortion, the torture and neglect of pets, driving while intoxicated, the poisoning of water due to fracking, child labor, and more. Unlike the Civil War and the the wars that gave birth to this nation, there are still people alive who remember newsworthy protests and some of these protests have led to change. From the comforts of their own homes watching television or by participating in some direct way, some may personally remember the reactions to Richard Nixon, the Korean War, the Vietnam War, and the Civil Rights movements. Nobody gets a pass: not kings or queens, not politicians, not the rich or the powerful. Nobody. Americans have always questioned and challenged and risen up against what they believe is wrong to fight for what they believe is right.

However, history teaches that protest can take many forms. Protest includes marches, sit-ins, music festivals, documentary films, opinion essays in newspapers and other publications, but protest is also expressed through the Arts. Oliver Twist (British) and Annie, although adapted into musicals with memorable songs, protest the bad treatment of orphans. Some of our most celebrated movies are protests against the tyranny of powerful individuals, organizations, systems, and even ideas themselves. We celebrate the comedians Richard Pryor, Carol Burnett, George Carlin, Whoopi Goldberg, Wanda Sykes, Lenny Bruce, Freddie Prinze, Jane Curtain, Gilda Radner, and the hundreds of others living and dead, because of their ability to make us laugh but also for their ability to make us see things differently, to think and to question. That’s what makes us American. It is not subservience and obedience. It is our ability to question the powers that be, and it is protest.

Sometimes though, in the throes of a revolution, The Arts and their artists are often the first who are attacked for their subversiveness and their undermining of power. When you want to begin a new regime, ignoring and censoring are not enough. You have to silence the opposition beyond discrediting, since even discrediting is not enough, more extreme measures might be taken: “Writers, artists and intellectuals who were the recipients and disseminators of the “old culture” would be comprehensively eradicated. The majority of writers and artists were seen as “black line figures” and “reactionary literati”, and therefore persecuted, many were subjected to “criticism and denunciation” where they may be publicly humiliated and ravaged, and they may also be imprisoned or sent to be reformed through hard labour.” Of course, make no mistake: the murder and imprisonment and blacklisting starts with censoring and discrediting. But even before that, you need buy-in. You need agreement that one side is dangerous and inhuman, while your side, the revolutionaries, are the Good. Dehumanizing leads to the imprisonment and more radical means of silencing, while the Good side rationalize the dismissal of values and ethical behavior as necessary for the revolution.

Rights, so often, are not given freely. They almost always have to be fought for. Only after a fight do voices get heard. But before the fight, people must decide on priorities and values. People have to ask themselves, “Is this point really important enough that I stand up and stand out? Do I really want to take this risk?”

Standing up and standing out is scary. By standing up and standing out you can be seen, identified, and remembered. You can be blacklisted or boycotted. You can be publicly humiliated or physically abused. Your property can be trashed with a burning cross or defaced with painted messages. When does the childishness cross the line into cowardly terrorism? Revolutionaries tend to dismiss these questions.

The trick though is to move past the protest, past the fear of what might be said or what has been said, past the need to censor and silence, in order to begin a dialogue. In a real dialogue opinions are respected while being challenged, information is exchanged, people learn from each other. They translate their needs and wants so that they are understood. This is how greatness happens.

Make no mistake. Although there have been isolated incidents where violence has broken out, and there were a few dishonorable verbal attacks, there are millions of protesters who did not do violence and have protested with dignity. Instead of posting a meme to voice disagreement, instead of throwing money at lobbyists who represent their interests, instead of waiting for someone else to take a stand, they inconvenienced themselves by leaving their comfortable homes and traveling to their major cities to stand and walk with hundreds of thousands of wives, daughters, mothers, grandmothers, with even a few fathers, sons, and grandfathers, to say this is not how they want the President of the United States to conduct himself. They have greater expectations. They want their concerns heard and taken seriously, recognized, and understood. This tradition of protest should be honored, not discouraged. We should never encourage obedience for its own sake.



Harvard Crest

As much as we like to believe we have class mobility, higher education is now so expensive that it exacerbates rather than ameliorates income inequality:  that is, you need to be affluent to afford to go to college to, in your life time, earn more money than those who could not afford college.  This is a vicious generational cycle that has been escalated by the fifty-year defunding of higher education.  This process began, for all intents and purposes, with Governor Ronald Reagan systematically cutting state subsidies to the California system of higher education institutions.  More and more of the U.S. tuition burden has passed from society at large to the individual student, ensuring that the most affluent American students (not necessarily the most talented) have a much higher chance of going to college. This is not very forward-thinking in an era of high change, when we need the smartest students to learn to be inventors, creators, innovators in all fields.

Source: The Trouble with Pinker’s Argument about ‘The Trouble With Harvard’ | HASTAC


Fear, uncertainty and doubt (FUD) is a tactic used in sales, marketing, public relations,[1][2] politics and propaganda.

FUD is generally a strategic attempt to influence perception by disseminating negative and dubious or false information. An individual firm, for example, might use FUD to invite unfavorable opinions and speculation about a competitor’s product; to increase the general estimation of switching costs among current customers; or to maintain leverage over a current business partner who could potentially become a rival.

The term originated to describe disinformation tactics in the computer hardware industry[dubious ] but has since been used more broadly.[3] FUD is a manifestation of the appeal to fear.

Source: Fear, uncertainty and doubt – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Life is Getting Better: Societal Evolution and Fit with Human Nature.

” it is absurd to boil our national well being down to a single metric, especially one conceived of in the 1930’s for a much different economy.  As I’ve pointed out before, numbers can lie.  While there is support building for alternatives to GDP, such as happiness indices, we are still largely confusing metrics for meaning.  We can do better.


“And in the past, we have.  Eisenhower’s vision created the Interstate Highway System, Kennedy inspired us to go to the moon, Johnson’s Great Society programs pulled millions out of desperate poverty.  More recently, we decoded the human genome and are now embarked on a similar quest to replicate the human brain, but nothing on a truly national scale.” (excerpt)

via The Clothesline Paradox | Digital Tonto.

Almost 20 years after the end of apartheid, SA has one of the highest expenditures on education in the world, but the education system still propagates the inequality of the apartheid era.


extensive excerpt:

The biggest challenges facing education are

Children are coming out of school without the the 3 basic R’s of education that is the ability to read, wRite and aRithmeticsSouth African teachers do not have the basic pedagogic and content knowledge competencies needed to impart the skills needed by our learners.Resources are being used in a non efficient manner with little accountability and transparency.Inadequate organizational support to teachers and  bureaucracy in the educational department.Constant shift in South Africa’s educational curriculumFailure of the Education Departments to deliver on their core responsibilities.South African learners do not have a culture of reading and a lack the motivational push to learn from their community and familiesTeacher late-coming, absenteeism and an inability to enact the basic functions of teaching are endemic in many South African schoolsPower  dynamics at play between a seemingly all-powerful teachers’ union (SADTU) and the StateLack of basic amenities, infrastructure and learning resources in South African  townships and rural schoolsMany learners in South African townships and rural areas come from families affected by poverty, hunger and parents with little or no education themselves.A lost generation of learners who are not educated nor working because of the state of South Africa’s education system.

The solution

1.      Early in the schooling system the focus should be on producing learners who can read, write and count.

2.      Reopen teacher training colleges since they provided a focused approach in the development of teachers and instill a sense of pride among teachers and teaching in general.

3.      Put in place internal controls to increase accountability, transparency of the learning process and the use of resources towards education at all government levels and in the classroom.

4.      Dedicated focus in improving the resources and infrastructure in township and rural schools

5.      Celebrate South Africa’s entrepreneurs and learned academic success, conduct career guidance counseling at an early age.

6.      Stability in the South African education curriculum by involving all stakeholders in developing an effective curriculum for South Africa.

7.      Introduce adult education programs, libraries and career guidance programs in South African townships and rural areas to encourage a culture of reading among learners and their families.

8.      The Department of education should ensure rapid filling of vacant posts and efficient handling of disciplinary cases, or the support of teacher development

9.      The government should take political control of the education system and depoliticize unions in the education sector.

10.  National program to equip the supply of learning materials, the provision of libraries, toilets, repair of windows and leaking roofs, maintenance of desks and infrastructure in South African rural and township schools.

11.  Provide bursaries, school feeding programs, life orientation programs and counseling programs to learners in rural areas and townships

12.  Open vocational training centers and out of school programs to improve the skills of South Africans who are not in school and not working .

See on Scoop.itSchool Leadership, Leadership, in General, Tools and Resources, Advice and humor

These maps are crucial for understanding the region’s history, its present, and some of the most important stories there today.


Seth Dixon’s insight:

Titles like the one for this article, 40 maps that explain the Middle East, are becoming increasingly common for internet articles.  They helps us feel that we can explain all of the world’s complexities and make sense of highly dynamic situations.  While we can all agree that maps are great analytical tools that can be very persuasive, sometimes we can pretend that they are the end all, be all for any situation.  Maps can also be used to show how something that we thought was simple can be much complex and nuanced than we had previously imagined, as demonstrated by this article, 15 Maps that Don’t Explain the Middle East at All.  Both perspectives have their place (and both articles are quite insightful). Not connected to the Middle East, but East Asia, this article entitled Lies, Damned Lies and Maps continues the discussion of maps, truth and perception.


Tags: MiddleEast, conflict, political, borders, colonialism, devolution,historical, mapping

See on Scoop.itWriting, Research, Applied Thinking and Applied Theory: Solutions with Interesting Implications, Problem Solving, Teaching and Research driven solutions

We have nuclear submarines and nuclear ships, so why not nuclear planes?
Well, that’s a very good question, one the United States spent $1.04 billion back in the 1950s trying to answer.
The idea for…


See on Scoop.itScience, Technology, and Current Futurism

See on Scoop.iteducational implications

How “giftedness” plays out in the classroom for the roughly 3 million students who qualify can be hard to characterize.
See on