Wednesday, April 29, 2009

A Post a While in the Posting...

S9 dropped the other editors a quaint line the other day to perhaps join him in a debate that sprung up on a site where he had successfully captured some Hoover Institute troll decrying some new Math education pedagogy called Everyday Math, or EdM for short.

Now, first, a heartfelt aplogy to S9, that by the time I got there, the conversation had gotten into the deep weeds, and sadly, Edu-Policy is one of those areas I am least qualified to jump into middle of a fray, pick up a Chair-Leg-of-Truth and start swinging.

However, S9 did manage to score a knock out on me by ruminating on the idea proposed by some of these right wing asshat clones that students and professors should be armed in class saying how it would make for more entertaining thesis defense... you owe me most of a cup of coffee, dude.

Sorry, I am taking a long time to get around to the point. At one point in the conversation, this guy who claimed to be some pissant water carrier bench player for Hoover started to trot out some of the traditional conservative code about educational materials they don't like.

Well, lately, I've gained a new appreciation for the application of this code in a pan cultural context, especially in the post Dover ID decision era. Yeah... I know, I am rambling, and I apologize for that. Much of this is not fully formed for me yet, so I am still kind of feeling my way through it.

Anyway, the conversation went something like this...
Hoover Drone: Well, all this EdM math stuff strikes me as being the kind of "top down" ideas that failed in the 60s; a "brew of progressivism..." Kids do not achieve mastery of core knowledge this way...

S9: Progressivism... the horror... the horror... and what the hell does down "top down" mean anyway, and by the way, they are achieving mastery of core knowledge as previously enumerated, so what is it you really fear...
I suspect that S9 knows perfectly well what these choads fear, he just wanted this guy to come out and say it.

For those who don't know where I am going, I will try to shorthand it for you. This guy doesn't give a wet slap about kids learning math or not. It's all about the method, and the cultural currency it creates.

You see, EdM would appear to put some stock in the idea of exploration as a learning tool, and questioning and reasoning, as opposed to the older style of rote memorization.

This is -- no doubt -- a grotesque oversimplification, but for our purposes here it will do.

You see, the objection is not with what is taught, but how. The conservative cultural movement's opposition to modern science in general relies on simple rote memorization and acceptance of dogma.

Any teaching style that threatens to liberate the minds of children, to get them to explore and question that which is taught them is an anathema to the movement as a whole. This is part of a grander cultural critique that informs their opposition to everything from gay marriage to abortion rights to pushing Christian prayer in school and the Genesis Creation story taught as literal cosmology.

These are not simply sub-heads under a grander umbrella of "Culture War," these are intrinsically intertwined in a way we do not appreciate, but that conservatives have used very effectively in their politics.

Remember, much of their bloviation is about getting to make sense to their own flock, and not so much about converting "the other." Because, we all know what happens to "others" in the end... So this is about keeping their own people on board.

On the surface, the concept that "progressivism" seeping into math education should cause such wailing weeping and gnashing of teeth seems ridiculous and mock worthy. And it is...

But moreover, they are showing the weak points in the armor when they telegraph like that. They fear any education pedagogy that relies too much on letting student reason shit out for themselves, with guidance from teachers. Because modern scientific reasoning is the enemy of Religious Right.

Why? Because it threatens to disable their primary argument for complete cultural hegemony... the Bible is not only the literal word of God, but the literal history of the Universe. As such, it is infallible and can not be subject to any questioning or criticism.

Go to the Discovery Institute web site, and they are very up front about what it is they want to do. They are trying to create a theistic monoculture, and that to do so, they must first find a way to defeat what they believe is Scientific Materialism... because at some point their version of science boils down to "The Bible says it, I believe it, that settles it!"

Without it, the movement crumbles. We have not incorporated this into our opposition politics yet. It is time we do so... They have a much better grasp of the cultural battlefield than we do, we need to correct that, and quickly, or we can count on more Proposition 8s, more school districts ditching Darwin, more post-intellectualism finding it's way into the culture.

Again, pardon for the rambling and that these ideas are still not fully thought out or formed, but were getting there...

mojo sends

Monday, April 27, 2009

Another Brick In The Wall

Apparently, there are wingnuts who are seriously trying to convince me that torturing people produced intelligence that helped to foil the L.A. Library Tower plot.
[...] The memo explains that "information obtained from KSM also led to the capture of Riduan bin Isomuddin, better known as Hambali, and the discovery of the Guraba Cell, a 17-member Jemmah Islamiyah cell tasked with executing the 'Second Wave.' " In other words, without enhanced interrogations, there could be a hole in the ground in Los Angeles to match the one in New York. [...]
Now, there are some comparatively level-headed voices out there who say the chronology here doesn't make sense. The plot was foiled in 2002. Khalid Sheikh Mohammed was captured in March 2003.

Am I the only one here who remembers this?
[...] Also according to Mohammed, he and Majid were detained in the same place where two of Khalid Sheik Mohammed’s young children, ages about 6 and 8, were held. The Pakistani guards told my son that the boys were kept in a separate area upstairs, and were denied food and water by other guards. They were also mentally tortured by having ants or other creatures put on their legs to scare them and get them to say where their father was hiding. [...]
That's from a statement by the father of Majid Khan, a U.S. citizen detained and interrogated at Guantánamo who alleges that he was mistreated by U.S. forces.

I remember noticing reports of the capture of KSM's wife and children in September 2002. Wikipedia currently has a link to this report in Asia Times to that effect.
Now it has emerged that Kuwaiti national Khalid Shaikh Mohammed did indeed perish in the raid, but his wife and child were taken from the apartment and handed over to the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), in whose hands they remain.
Obviously, KSM didn't die in the raid— he escaped, and was later captured in March 2003.

But his wife and children may have given up the intelligence used to foil the Library Tower plot.

Friday, April 24, 2009

My Head Hurtz

I think my head will explode at some point very soon.

Since early 2003, when news first began surfacing that prisoners of war had been murdered while in the custody of U.S. forces in Afghanistan, I've been watching with growing apprehension as my suspicions about how systematic torture had been ordered and carefully directed from the most senior levels of the U.S. administration were confirmed again and again. We have now surpassed the point where even my darkest, most paranoid suspicions from 2003 have now been shown in 2009 to have been too forgiving.

Now, elite Washington opinion is converging on the combined monstrous view A) that yes, George Bush and his administration ordered prisoners of war to be tortured, B) that their explicit aim was to elicit false confessions of Iraqi WMD program activity and/or Iraqi-alQaeda cooperation, C) that yes, these were unequivocally crimes against humanity, and D) that no, prosecuting senior administration officials, including the former Vice President and President, for these crimes is not something my tender sensibilities should be subjected to endure.

I can't take it, you see. The experience of watching Dick Cheney go to the Big House for lying the country into going to war on false pretenses and ordering the torture of prisoners to elicit false confessions to cover up for those lies... that experience would make my head crack open from the strain of it all. Or so the beltway would have you believe.

Don't believe it. I'll be fine. Put the motherfuckers on trial. I'll brew a special batch of Revolution! strong ale, and we'll have a good celebration after the opening statements are done. I'll follow the proceedings every day on C-SPAN. I'll help my son follow along too. It will be highly educational for everyone.

But all those sad gits who keep making apologies for these monsters who did this? Those people are going to be the first up against the wall when the revolution comes. I'm going to enjoy making those people into useful contributing elements of the physical infrastructure. Peggy Noonan... how would you like to have your spine reinforced with steel re-bar so that you can act as a load-bearing support for a bicycle bridge in Golden Gate Park. George Will... we need your viscera to help keep the carnivorous plants in the Conservatory of Flowers from wilting. Glenn Beck... I have a very, very, very special place for you; it's right through that little door with the number 101 on it. On and on and on...

Like I said. My head. It hurtz. Please, for the love of Carlin, MAKE IT STOP!!

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

This has to be seen to be believed.

Are people on the right actually still in the dark about what teabagging refers to? Apparently, David Shuster at CNN is well aware, and has put together the greatest collection of double entedres of 2009. Enjoy your teabagging...