Recent Headlines, 7 Sept 2022

Busy with things including the heat. For now headlines from the past few days, lightly commented. I’ve skimmed them at best; some I will revisit and comment further.

About not following your gut; the past 150 years of human history; anti-Obama conspiracies; political obnoxiousness; school is for building citizens, and learning to read; exchanging Arizona for more tolerant NYC.

Ponder this image.

NY Times, Peter Coy, 7 Sep 2022: This Is the Kind of Storytelling That Economics Needs

By which he means science fiction! Though it’s more about the principle of being able to anticipate radical change, than about any particular works of SF.


Vox, Sean Illing, 7 Sep 2022: Want to be happy? Don’t follow your gut.

Subtitle: “A data scientist on what truly makes us happy.”

Wise people know this. MAGA simpletons, like trump himself, think the opposite.


Vox, Dylan Matthews, 7 Sep 2022: Humanity was stagnant for millennia — then something big changed 150 years ago

Subtitle: “Why the years from 1870 to 2010 were humanity’s most important.”

I’ve seen similar arguments made, especially about the pace of technological change. Will get to this and read it closely.


Salon, Kathryn Joyce, 6 Sep 2022: How deranged anti-Obama conspiracy theories led America to Donald Trump

Subtitle: “Folklorist Patricia Turner on how unhinged right-wing paranoia about the first Black president tore America apart”

Yes, I saw some of that from family members on Fb long before trump.


Politico, John F. Harris, 2 Sept 2022: How Trump Taught Everybody to Be Obnoxious and Cruel

Subtitle: “Trump’s instinct for casual savagery used to be abnormal. Now it’s part of the everyday diet of American political life, replicated by both Democrats and Republicans.”

I see exactly one example from a Democrat — by Maloney about Nadler. The others are all Republicans. Another example of “both-sides-ism.”


NY Times, Heather C. McGhee and Victor Ray, 1 Sept 2022: School Is for Making Citizens

One of a series of essays about What Is School For?, that appeared in last Sunday’s Times.

This discusses why public schools were founded in America in the first place — to create an informed electorate — and why partisans want to erase this common foundation of our history.

If an educated citizenry makes democracy possible, attacking schools becomes a proxy war to limit democracy. This is a battle that our parents and grandparents fought and won. Now the struggle for an honest education — and the democracy it makes possible — must be ours as well.

Of the essays I’ve skimmed, this is the closest one that gets to what I think is the purpose of school: simply to teach kids about the culture, including science, that humanity has created over thousands of years. What is known, vs. what seems intuitively obvious yet which is mostly wrong. To provide a foundational education for making big decisions about humanity’s future, including climate change and pandemic control. Which otherwise will be given over to politicians with personal agendas, and charlatans (conspiracy theorists) out to make a quick buck.


Washington Post, Max Boot, 5 Sept 2022: The GOP reaction to Biden’s speech shows that his anti-MAGA strategy is working

More about the hysterical reaction among Republicans about Biden saying what Republicans have said about Democrats, over and over again, for years.


Washington Post, Fernanda Santos, 27 Aug 2022: Why my child and I traded Arizona for a more tolerant New York City

Red states: intolerant; big cities in blue states: tolerant.


Washington Post, Jennifer Rubin, 4 Sept 2022: The Mar-a-Lago espionage scandal is a three-alarm national security crisis. We should act like it.

And it’s just gotten worse in the past couple days. MAGA cultists don’t care.


NYT, Emily Hanford, 1 Sept 2022: School Is for Learning to Read

Another in that series of essays on the topic What Is School For?

Because, “If you can read, you can learn anything.”

What strikes me about this essay is how there’s still so much debate about the proper way to teach children to read. In fact, there was a segment on KQED radio’s Form program yesterday on this subject: Poor Literacy Outcomes for California Students Fuel Demand for Changes in How Reading Is Taught

My big question of course is: why is this still a problem?? Every essay and discussion on this topic generally concludes that children learn differently, that no one teaching technique works, yadda yadda. With observations that smart ones pick it up quickly; slower learners need their time yet might well grow up to be brilliant people. So, adjust!

Or perhaps this is just one of those issues that will never go away. Because no technique for teaching reading is perfect, and so there will always be dissenters, and debate.

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