Unacceptable Nevada!

 

Concerning the guy who invented Marci’s law that Nevada politicians, most, worked with this guy to get passed.

 

Arrested last year for carrying 96 grams of methamphetamine, 4.24 grams of heroin, 15.13 grams of cocaine, and 17.1 grams of psilocin, billionaire Henry Nicholas will serve no jail time and pay a $500K to a drug counseling program– about 0.0001% of his $4.1 billion net worth.  Riley Snyder’s twitter post.

China bad but what if there is good there too?

I do admit that I am more accepting of China than most I know and believe that there are many things taking place there and in countries in which it is involving itself through Roads and Belt programs of which many in the west are highly suspicious.  I read regularly about what China is saying it is doing and how what they are doing is being interpreted by outsiders.  I have visited China four times in the past 18 years and travelled widely in the country and seen the incredible changes taking place there, most of them, from what I can see, not only said by officials to be beneficial to the Chinese people, but beneficial to the Chinese people as many Chinese see things.

China most definitely deserve criticism for some policies and actions but, staying with these policies and issues for a length of time often leads to very different understandings of what is taking place than the reporting in the American media and by U.S. government officials portray.

The Hong Kong protests and government actions against them are probably as bad as they seem as reported.  Of course, the history of Hong Kong and how the British involved themselves there and elsewhere in China should be taken into consideration but usually are not.  Hong Kong is what Hong Kong is, not because Chinese made it that way but how western powers interference in China made it to be.

China is a declared communist state that has, since its formation as a modern country, tried to prevent religion from having a role in the society and, though the methods for suppressing religion may not be kind and gentle or even acceptable, one needs understand the reason of government religious intolerance and this in light of the problems religion causes in so many supposedly democratic states, the United States and, more recently, the Turkish Republic, for example and across the world, the modern Middle East being a good example.

There is a lot that could be said about these particular issues but one that has had me thinking and wondering a lot lately is one being widely reported, the reports most often explaining the Chinese Social Credit system as an apocalyptically repressive attempt to control people.  Being something of a fan of China despite its flaws–we here have some of our own–and, too, a fan of individual freedom, I was thinking I might have to revise my estimation of the Chinese government and the whole of the Chinese system.

As I usually do, I wondered how much of the reporting was accurate reporting and how much of it was western propaganda of the kind used so often to show the United States in good light by showing how much worse things in China were.  I knew that it would be hard to argue for China with those I usually argue about China considering the news as it was being reported.  And then I heard a story on NPR one night that was much the same telling as the one offered in the Wired article attached below.

It is worth reading not only to better understand the Social Credit issue but also to think about how to read stories concerning what is going on in China and what China really is.

HOW THE WEST GOT CHINA’S SOCIAL CREDIT SYSTEM WRONG

 

An aspect of the system of education that keeps it from getting better

I promised that I would follow up with some detail a comment I made regarding my distrust and my distaste for most educational research, this in response to a conversation about the teaching of reading, an area of education so badly mishandled over the years as to infect most all other aspects of the educational process.  I have watched as various theories about what constitutes good reading instruction have been proven to be almost without a doubt correct to be corrected soon after efficacy is proven to be ineffective and this without much concern for the damage done by the implementations of bad stuff based on supposedly good research.  Bad experience with reading is extremely problematic, first because reading is almost the sole focus of early grades instruction and, secondly because reading is a key skill that needs to be mastered if one is to succeed in a school system in which written material is used to convey the bulk of the information that students are expected to know.

Reading well is critically important beyond school.  I say this without a doubt.  Caring to read, being willing to read and willing, too, to constantly improve as a reader so that one can grow into reading increasingly sophisticated materials, all are important to being a well-informed human being and to learning of how others think so that one might him or herself think about things from several perspectives and not just one egocentric perspective.  This is certainly an ability one must possess to deal with life in an information rich society where it is often difficult to understand where truths lie and where deception is a common practice amongst many with the ability to be heard and influence.

What is terribly troublesome with the research is that is can be and has been used to prove correct that which is absolutely wrong and to prove wrong that which make very good sense that cannot be proven right by methods accepted as being properly scientificby those practitioners of educational research, at least by some who hold considerable sway in the field, not only as researchers but as trainers for other researchers.  This is not to say that there does not exist good research but the good research often has the same cache, more often less, than that that offers real proof of what is best for students.  Quantitative methods hold great status in the field of educational research; reports on observations and interactions with students, good narratives, the qualitative research is suspect because it is considered to be tainted with subjectivity, which it is and has to be because it reports on human minds at work and makes important the product of those minds which are of a human perspective.

I have just completed a book in which I spend a good portion of it explaining the problems caused by the dehumanization that ultimately occurs when human activity is reduced to numeric values, variables controlled to insure objectivity to the point that they are meaningless values because they have been scrubbed of what makes human existence human, the inclination of human beings to use their individual minds to make their sense of the world, to make subjective choices about what to see and how to understand the meaning of what they experience.  However, for the sake of building the least refutable case, the most objective case, educational research, a significant portion of it, objectifies humans and does so unashamedly by focusing almost exclusively on overt behaviors and hardly at all on how individuals go about thinking their way to the understandings they accept to be adequate, correct, sensible, meaningful; decent enough conceptualizations of what is and what it means.

I am unhappy with the whole of educational research because those who are practitioners, though they may hold to different approaches, some more sensible and humane than others, do not do enough to speak to the problematic reality that is created their colleagues who practice what is pseudoscience.  Hardly is there ever sufficient outcry to put down harmful practices are given the imprimatur of legitimacy awarded bad ideas in the name of proper collegial respect. That respect and the willingness to allow them to have their effect while wedo what we do that may be different and more sensible, more humane, harms people and the harm is too often for life.

There does exist a subfield of education that is called critical pedagogy.  It is a subfield with status on the fringes yet it provides a proper critique of education, its purposes and its processes, that, in its best instantiations, offers the kind of discounting of the educational research regimes and their products needed to clean the slate so that new approaches, humane approaches to education can be developed.  The problem here is that the critique and the alternatives created are not testableby the kinds of testsmade acceptable by educational research as it exists.

Educational research serves to support methodologies that are tried and true only within the context a terribly flawed but well accepted paradigm.  And that is why I have and will continue to criticize the field for it is dangerous to the development of human beings and the humane human society.

Logic influenced by notions of morality and morality shaped by logic are possible and necessary modes of thought. Those only capable of one without the others produce ideas harmful to others

 

Dershowitz on Twitter:

 

I stand by the constitutional (not moral) argument I offered in my controversial oped: if a 16 year old has the constitutional right to have an abortion without state or parental interference, how could she not have the constitutional right to engage in consensual sex? 1/
There seem to be something defective in this man’s thinking.

Consent by 14 year old made legal?

Richard Pointer posted this on Twitter.  Considering Mr. Dershowitz relationship to Jeffery Epstein as friend and attorney, and accusations against Mr. Dershowitz concerning how he took advantage of their relationship, this article is, to say the least, disturbing.  Note that I have not yet tracked down the source of the actual article though information is provided in the Pointer thread that indicates the article was found in the LA Times archives.  Where it was originally printed is not clear.

 

 

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Trump move inspires new support for poverty

Yes, the conversation about Baltimore and Trump’s condemnation of the city to show the ineffectiveness of it representative, Elijah Cummings, shows how well Trump’s rhetoric works, how well it works to suck up the attention that should be given to real problems facing real people in the United States of America where, amidst great wealth, there really are people living in places where conditions are such that no sensible people would choose to live in them.  In a scary way, Trump has people who otherwise would not do so defending such places and such conditions making it seem that living in such places and under such conditions is simply a choice some people make.  It is not.  Few choose poverty and few choose to live in neighborhoods where poverty and despair lead to the kind of ugliness with which residents are forced to cope.

Until Trump spoke to mention Baltimore to get at Mr. Cummings, a good many of those now defending Baltimore would condemn Baltimore for its political system that has for years been working to make ever more stark the division of the city into pockets of great wealth and neighborhoods of poverty and neglect.  Urban renewal has meant, as it does in so many places, great amounts of effort being made to make those with money ever more comfortable and those without with less than they had before, the decent life ever more unaffordable to those who do not and never have had much, enough.

Trump should not be allowed to divert attention from that real and terribly destructive aspect of American life, the gap that exists between rich and poor and the reality that poverty forces certain people to live.  He is confusing issues and the response from those who should not be taken in is very much the one he wants it to be.  Get a grip people!

New Gig

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For the last three months I have been working with an old friend who runs an organization called the Great Basin Institute (GBI) to develop experiential education programs at the Galena Creek Visitors Center in the Galena Creek Recreational Park above Reno in the Galena forest.  The Visitors Center has for many years offered outdoor education programs for kids through summer camps and with students from the Washoe County School District who come to the park to experience this incredible nature park and learn about the environment and the scientific work that goes on to understand such places and develop ways to insure their health.

For over twenty years now I have served on the Board of Directors of GBI and watched it grow from a seminar for graduate students in the Environmental Humanities program at the University of Nevada to a multi-million dollar operation that works to preserve and restore wild lands throughout the western United States.  The Galena Creek projects reflect GBI’s original goals that were to educate through field studies attached to field work dedicated to improving the conditions of Nevada’s natural resources.  Ten years ago GBI inherited operation of the Galena Creek Visitors Center from the Washoe County Parks System and responsibility for educational programs at the Center and in the park.  In the park is Camp We Ch Mi, a hundred bed lodge where campers enrolled in week long sessions stay.

My role is to help to make camps and other educational experiences powerful experiences with nature and learning that help kids grow more interested in nature and kind of work those involved in preservation and restoration do using science to guide their work.  My goal is to develop interdisciplinary, problem solving-based activities that allow participants to feel scientific thinking so that they understand the power of science as a tool for developing understandings that are meaningful and useful.  With scientific thinking as a model for good thinking, we want to bring in other disciplines to demonstrate how a person can think their way to understandings that are not just meaningful but exciting.  That excitement, we think, is what causes a person to become an earnest life-long learner, one who has the skills, knowledge, and disposition to seek information to fuel thinking that leads to knowledge upon which he or she makes informed and thoughtful decisions throughout life.

At the Visitors Center, we are working to create experiences that will help the public understand the Galena Creek area as a unique place where the high desert rapidly transitions to alpine forest, biomes changing in the distance of feet rather than miles.  The displays and activities we are developing will focus on the Truckee River watershed of which Galena Creek  is a constituent, its natural history and those elements of human history that have had an affect upon it.

Currently, we are working on a project involving restoration work on Galena Creek and, as a part of the restoration effort, we will offer institutes for teachers that will allow them to help in the project while interacting with the science and the scientists and engineers whose expertise will guide the restoration effort.  Our goal here is to help teachers to connect their teaching to the world to which it applies, to understand better how the disciplinary methods and knowledge they teach about is used to achieve meaningful ends in the world, the hope being that they will use the experience to do more to attach instruction to the reality their disciplines describe and are used to guide action.

I am thrilled to be a part of this project.

Center is dangerous when the rot is at the core

Democrats must follow this one rule for 2020

“Next, circle the wagons around the nominee. President Trump is such a threat to the rule of law, American democracy and the liberal world order that the United States spent more than 70 years building and helping to maintain that nothing matters more than making him a one-term occupant. Thus, who cares if the eventual nominee isn’t your “one.” Who cares if the eventual nominee only meets 80 percent — heck, 50.1 percent — of your checklist? Evicting Trump should be the most important item on that checklist.”     

Really?  Doesn’t matter what that 20 or 49.9% is about but accept as one’s own candidates who can beat Trump?  And then, next cycle, so little so many want, NEED to have accomplished goes unaccomplished and the Reagan to Bush to Bush to Trump march toward annexation of the decent society continues, interrupted appearance wise by democratic victories for centrists who try to get along with everyone while some amongst that every plot and plan their next moves toward making the political system and the society forever theirs.

Trump gone, celebrate but then, after the celebration, what then four or eight years later after the willing to compromise democrat compromises and the conservative right plots next moves and strategies based on showing that compromise does little to get people what they really need.  Those people who really need, in not getting get angry and…  We get something worse than Trump or Bush.  Inconceivable?  Remember how inconceivable Bush was and how much more inconceivable Trump was, even in comparison to Bush who worked with the Cheney’s and the Rumsfeld and others to change the definition of decency so that they could go about doing things patently indecent.

We live with with that definition now, modified only to make it worse while Obama was in office, so much so that Trump actually became president.

Anyone but Trump?  I get the sentiment but, really, isn’t the sentiment expressed by the likes of the author of the lead quote here really about holding a center that is itself indecency made to look decent in light of the abject indecency that is the current reality?