A New Civil War?

Andrew O’Hehir’s latest essay in Slate is pretty damn provocative. It’s titled Welcome to the New Civil War and it pulls no punches.

So even though it’s a truism of American public discourse that the Civil War never ended, it’s also literally true. We’re still reaping the whirlwind from that long-ago conflict, and now we face a new Civil War, one focused on divisive political issues of the 21st century – most notably the rights and liberties of women and LGBT people – but rooted in toxic rhetoric and ideas inherited from the 19th century.

We’ve just emerged from a presidential campaign that exposed how hardened our political and cultural divide has become, and how poorly the two sides understand each other. Part of the Republican problem, in an election that party thought it would win easily, was that those who felt a visceral disgust toward both the idea and the reality of President Barack Obama simply could not believe that they didn’t represent a majority. As many Republicans are now aware, the party now faces an existential crisis. It’s all very well to go on TV and talk about attracting Latinos and downplaying cultural wedge issues. But the activist core of the Republican Party is neo-Confederate, whether it thinks of itself that way or not. It isn’t interested in common cause with Mexicans or turning down the moral thermostat. Just ask Rick Santorum: What it wants is war.

As anyone who has read this blog for a while knows, I believe in a certain power that comes from regionalism. I think the notion that California has a different economy and culture than Georgia is OK and that as Justice Brandeis said, “It is one of the happy incidents of the federal system that a single courageous state may, if its citizens choose, serve as a laboratory; and try novel social and economic experiments without risk to the rest of the country.”

But O’Hehir’s essay raises another larger question, which is what happens when individual states circumscribe the rights of individuals in areas like abortion or gay rights? As Alex Bowles wrote to me, “so while decentralization improves decision making in many, many areas, there are some things—like equality before the law—that are no longer subject to debate. To the extent that humanity is universal, there’s no need for regional considerations to enter the picture.”

So this begs the question. Is it possible to have the kind of decentralized regional experimentation that I think leads to innovation while still preserving that Federal power to enforce “equality under the law” for gays, women, immigrants and minorities? I think this is what has to happen, but it may take a showdown with the neo-confederates before it happens.

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74 Responses to A New Civil War?

  1. Rick Turner says:

    Jon (and all), as you know, this issue has been the subject of a number of my posts/replies here to our more libertarian participants as well as yourself re. this whole New Federalism issue. I remember seeing dogs and axe handles wielded against blacks and the liberal whites (many Jewish) in the 1950s and ’60s by states’ rights fanatics. And don’t forget that it took troops under Federal jurisdiction…even though they were states’ “National Guard” (oh, that pesky Committe Comitatus law…)…to enforce the simple civil rights of young black kids who wanted to go to school. I have very little faith in states passing, promoting, or enforcing what I personally believe to be the inalienable civil rights of US citizens.

    And so, we get the new secession movement made up of a bunch of assholes who really would like to turn the clock back to the Jim Crow days…or earlier…and who would probably just as soon see slavery made legal in their states again…and have it cover Mexicans, Asians, and anyone of Middle Eastern descent.

    States rights carries a very bad connotation in my booklet. I’m of an age that saw the worst of it, and in Arizona, it’s coming back around again.

    Hmmm, must be time to go listen to Randy Newman again…”Sail Away”, “Red Necks”, or “Political Science” are all about right for how things are looking.

  2. Rick Turner says:

    Len, right now, humankind is losing…all of us…

    Well, maybe the .1% think they’re doing OK…but they seem to feel very much under attack, too.

  3. len says:

    If the Obama Administration can’t get Hobby Lobby in line, they won’t have much luck with Georgia. But that is the right place to work the problem: the businesses.

    what happens when individual states circumscribe the rights of individuals in areas like abortion or gay rights

    Take them to Federal court just as they have with immigration. Fighting a culture, real or imagined, is a loser. The closing shot of Alice’s Restaurant where Alice Brock is standing up against a weather beaten church with a look of “where did it all go wrong when it was all so right” is emblematic of the “our culture is better than your culture” struggle. Brave experiments sometimes don’t yield results for decades or lifetimes.

    Civil rights are ajudicated. A Civil War isn’t. Arresting the Governor is not out of the question.

  4. Rick Turner says:

    Kind of related, and very much in line with what I’ve posted here before re. the cognitive gap between Latino or black kids and their white school mates:


    The lack of a culture of literacy in households puts the kids at a major disadvantage, and this is without fully addressing the language issue for Hispanic kids.

    And so we have some states with huge low-literacy immigrants. Is that a state problem or a national one? Ditto homlessness…state issue or national? Who has the money to help the problems and where does it go? Then there’s federal disaster money… Should I here in California be helping to pay for a bunch of Jersey Shore folks who own homes too close to the Atlantic Ocean? Should they help pay for the next big earthquake here in sunny California? Where do you draw the line? Note that Gov. Perry went to Washington for aid after Texas fires, and he did that barely two years after suggesting secession…so go get your disaster aid from Venezuela, governor…

  5. JTMcPhee says:

    The question you beg, above, sir, seems to be like one of those polling inquiries that contain so many silent subparts and unstated conclusions, to be answered by a choice of “yes” or “no” or from an equally pushy tiny set of predetermining canned responses that really require a million or more words just to tease apart the various bits, let alone come up with a sensible, honest, complete, logical answer.

    Seems to me regionalism is just one scale of tribalism, that invokes the demons that go along with that part of the brain, individual and collective. There’s this underlying assumption that people can figure out how to “live together.” Maybe we can, in small groups, until little-“p” politics rears up, and hierarchy starts to get established, and “growth? happens. Yep, you get “innovation,” axiomatically, from smaller units, of the kind that historians and social psychologists and semioticists extract as linear functions to which they get naming rights. But the whole discourse about “federalism” and “regionalism” happens at way too large a scale, pretty much, to accommodate and account for what happens at the retail level, as it were.

    We humans here in the US got lucky, with a huge mass of resources that we could do what we’ve done with them, mostly with that being done by and for the “gain” of a tiny few who understood how to grab for all the gusto, shove off all the externalities, and take advantage of the rest of us via the system of laws and government we have been taught to believe was supposed to “protect everybody” and allow that “purfuit of happineff” stuff. Without, and because of, that pad of extractable and combustible wealth, “we” wouldn’t be the threat that we are to our larger self and the rest of the world.

    I don’t think there’s any magic in “regionalism” or any other “ism.” And all this stuff about the residuals of slavery and the nature of the South and North is just a pastiche of explications laid over the current set of human-induced pains and horrors.

    We’ve been lucky as a species, with a bunch of survival and growth-fostering stuff in the niches our biology suits us to occupy. Now that we’ve started to empty all the closets and coffers, what’s going to keep us going? The Doooooomsdayyyy Preppers? I see some of them, a particularly virulent strain of “rightists,” are building a walled town on a mountaintop in Idaho. Want to see the future? http://www.dailykos.com/story/2013/01/06/1176714/-Far-Right-Wing-Preppers-planning-a-walled-town-on-a-N-Idaho-Mountaintop And around here last weekend, one of the cable stations had a “Mad Max Weekend.” What a rush, what a fun trip down memory lane THAT was!

    Who, just who, is going to have a “showdown with the neo-confederates”? Our military, that is seeded with them? Any of our political institutions? The churches, with their inherent eye toward the End Times? The financialists? How about the “Occupy Outcry?” Seems much more likely to me that the whole consumer culture would rather sell to this demographic than confront them and either absorb or overcome them, since identifying market segments that can be sold to, and within which demand for stuff can be manufactured, is maybe the one remaining conjoint mantra of our culture.

    But that’s just me, an old grouch, who is usually wrong. Or so my wives have serially told me…

  6. Rick Turner says:

    Yes, JTM, I do have my own conclusions and answers to my rhetorical questions, yet they remain as valid inquiry into the minds of fellow citizens of the United States. The overarching question, of course, is “Why are we a country?” Down the list from that come other questions like “How uniform are our laws and rights to be, region to region?” Note that I’m intentionally avoiding using the word “state”. States are a man-made concept with borders that men determined, often based on very little that is real…rivers at best. Regions have very real geographical bases. The idea that laws governing things like civil rights can be different in different states of these United is absurd, yet it took great upheavals, deaths, threats, and the feds to break down Jim Crow statutes, and now various states are trying to get new Jim Crow laws and regulations in place to suppress minority voting. And as a “for example”…if the Federal Government can do a reasonably accurate census every ten years, why cannot that be accompanied by total voter registration with voter ID cards? I actually think that voter ID cards might be a good idea…if implemented in such a way that nobody is excluded who is eligible to vote. The government works for us; I’d be happy to see my tax dollars go to anything that promoted universal suffrage…age appropriate, of course.

    The neo-confederates will probably either just chill out; they’ll get the vote out and try a legal revolution state by state; or they’ll one by one “go postal”, kill a bunch of people, and get killed themselves. And the neos are really good customers of dried food stuffs, 30 shot magazines, and all that goes with that…

    The walled town…well, it didn’t do the Cathars much good! But seriously, what kind of life does one have in a place like that? Are the kids likely to stick around? And ultra-isolationist patriotism is kind of an oxymoron. About what entity are they patriotic? The US? No…

  7. len says:

    Right now they are kicking Notre Dame’s …. :)

    Waiting for the second half. It’s always sixty minutes.

    If only Washington DC could settle something in four quarters without overtime.

  8. Rick Turner says:

    That’s it…put the Senate and the House out on the playing field to determine right from wrong…

    Or single combat. I bet Barack would do pretty well at that…

    Or maybe sniper rifles at 1,000 yards. The NRA could get behind that.

  9. Rick Turner says:

    Jon, since you brought up LGBT rights, how would you feel about, say, Alabama passing a new anti-sodomy law? Or what about age of consent for marriage? For instance, look at Alabama right now:

    Alabama: If either of you are under eighteen (18), you will need a certified copy of your birth certificate. Both parents must be present with identification, or if you have a legal guardian they must be present with a court order and identification. The state requires a $200 bond to be executed, payable to the State of Alabama. If one or both parents are deceased, proper evidence of such must be provided. Individuals under the age of 14 may not marry.

    Yeah, basically your parents can sell you into marriage at age 14 in Alabama…today…in 2013. And yet, underage porn is illegal. Hunh? So you can marry a girl who is 2/3 the age at which she can vote, but you can’t post pictures of the wedding night. You can fuck her, but she can’t drive a car. This is weird shit no matter how you view it… So much for the current state of state’s rights.

    This new federalism is going to take some real thought. There’s a lot of shit that cannot be left to the states. Like guns, statutory rape, school access, and voting rights.

    Lucy, you got some ‘splainin’ to do!

  10. len says:

    Aaaah, rick…. Notre Dame sleeps with the fishes.

    Jus sayin’… sometimes regional is quite satisfying. :)

  11. Rick Turner says:

    Just don’t let that football team anywhere near your underage daughter…

    Crimson Tide and all that…

    Yeah, bad, bad pun…

  12. len says:

    My daughter is at that university as I type. So far so good. Football players don’t hunt skinny.

    It’s the overaged gray bearded professors that worry me.

  13. Hugo St. Victor says:

    Jon’s post and these comments together make more sense to me than does Mr. O’Hehir’s scatterbrained essay. O’Hehir’s piece isn’t ahistorical in its statement of past events but rather in its weird web of equivalecies. He absolutely equates women at large, lesbians, gay men, bisexual and transgender persons of today to ten generations of slaves gone before. Then, having baited the reader with his identification of American women and LGBT Americans as slaves, he switches the Mark’s attention to Latino immigrants. I find that manipulative and insufferably sophomoric.

    It’s silly to announce that we have a “New Civil War” on our hands while arguing that what we have is a continuation of the old one. Silly to insist that actual Confederates fought against the Future rather than–and this was their self-defeating chink–for, toward the Past; therefore silly to confect the oxymoron “Neo-Confederate”, playing off the equally oxymoronic term “Neo-Conservative” (that misnomer for liberal apostates, or late converts to conservatism). And silly to pepper a defense of essentially feminist values with descriptions, far beyond the machorhetoric rife in political patois, with imaginings of “war”, “a blood oath”, “chaos” and “catastrophe”. Holy smokes, “Godzilla vs. Megalon in 3-D”! Cardboard viewing glasses included.

    While sick vestiges of the Civil War both brandish and conceal themselves in much of the “South” as defined according to the sensitivity of one’s sociocultural GPS, there’s no Civil War extant nor aborning sectionally. And the notion that we have “Brother versus Brother” owing more amorphously to bonds of ideology or political party is inane, as is this alarmist sentence of O’Hehir’s: “We’ve just emerged from a presidential campaign that exposed how hardened our political and cultural divide has become, and how poorly the two sides understand each other”. What else is new, Mr. O’Hehir, in U.S. History? And what else is an electoral outcome but the result of a misunderstanding? It’s not bloody Civil War, it’s one victory for civility.

    What I do find horribly vestigial to this day isn’t war, it’s slavery. That O’Hehir should find women in general, or lesbians, gays, bisexuals and transgender individuals, “slaves” is “Hogan’s Heroes”, and then subcategorize others to force his point, is “Hogan’s Heroes” in Prime Time. Those folks can and do vote, after all, and collectively they in fact represent a majority of the American electorate, as we all know. My own experience, as one of the 99 Percent, convinced me 25 years ago that Slavery on these shores does exist, transmogrophied into the daily labors of undocumented workers from Latin America and Asia. Our longstanding exploitation of these workers undeniably presaged our present slavemongering abroad. Were I O’Hehir I’d cite these slaves first, then turn to e.g. coal miners.

    As for Jon’s central question concerning the relevance of Federalism, I agree with JTM that sectionalism is for Seventh Grade Civics textbooks and that small-group relations are the most fruitful, in any organization public or private and no matter how sophisticated or simple the objective at hand. But we’ve got a structure that can work, because it does empower the shared umbrella, the Feds, to lend the cohence and enforcement that Len seeks while still submitting to–not countenancing–the lawful and just “experiments” of the federal government’s 50 constituents parts, themselves each comprising many constituted subdivisions: counties and parishes, cities and towns, universities, colleges, institutes, laboratories, school districts, special districts, etc. I think this archaic Constitutional scheme is equal to the challenge that you, Justice Brandeis (echoing J.S. Mill) and my homeboy Dewey and me lay before it. The U.S. Supreme Court still works as the go-to branch when the Executive and the Legislative get out of whack, or when the federal government oversteps, or when a state or a collectivity oversteps, or even when anyone operating under color of state authority steps on my blue suede shoes. Not every dispute between these various contestantants burnishes every time the President’s Cabinet Table. It is, or it should be, a four-way street, if you include the comeuppance of the High Court itself.

  14. Hugo St. Victor says:

    Rick, thank you for citing Bruce Fuller’s work. He’s such a committed scholar, not a climber. I turned Anthro and backward whereas Bruce was Soc. and forward, but I’ve always respected him and have followed his findings. I got two questions, one political and one technical. One, don’t you suppose that demographic data from CBEDS motivated even Latino leaders to conceal a multiethnic gap so that white taxpayers wouldn’t further de-fund the schooling of children “not our own”? And second, who exactly do you suppose designed those tests of “competency”. and “literacy” by which a gullible public marks the advance or lag of one group relative to another? Name names. If Bruce will do so then I’ll do. Meanwhile Rick, seriously, go down to the office in Old Town of CASAS, and just talk with them for a few minutes and take their pulse on the extent and contours of illiteracy both in California and nationwide (especially in the big, populous, blue areas). It’s the Grand Canyon. The State of California had the support in 1986 of the country’s biggest banks to go trilingual across the board, but NEA, justifiably fearing a loss of dus-paying members and, therefore, political foot soldiers, nixed the proposal. Think how prosperous our own might’ve been by now, how literate and culturally enriched, and then ask how brilliant Bruce has become other than a retarded demographer and a premature mortician.

  15. Rick Turner says:

    That interview with Bruce was handled really well by Maria Hinojosa, and, of course, one of the ironies is that the show is on NPR and is 95% in English…which is, for better or worse, the real language of the United States.

    In the great waves of continental European migration to the US it generally took about 1 to 2 generations for the immigrant population to become English proficient. Sure, there were pockets of old world language, but most immigrants understood that the next generation had to be literate in English in order to get ahead. The same has been true of the Asian immigrants…primarily Chinese and Japanese. But many of these immigrants also came from cultures that held scholarship in very high regard; this being true especially for the Jews of Eastern Europe and the Holocaust refugees, the Japanese, and the Chinese. Call this stereotyping if you will, but just look at scholastic and white collar professional achievement relative to population. The stereotypes are true. For better or worse, and for various reasons, you don’t have that tradition of scholarship in much of the black and Latino cultures here today. And that Fuller interview was the first thing I’ve heard that confirms my own beliefs that we have to get past PC discomfort and simply face the real cultural differences that lead to intellectual differences in our American society. The issue is NOT intelligence, and discussions often devolve into accusations of racism based on that, that being the easy way to shut down a conversation. There is a difference between being ignorant and being stupid, but that difference has to be understood. If kids are not exposed to literature at home, they will be ignorant of it, not stupid, for instance. Of course, stupid behavior can come out of ignorance. It’s a tricky thing to talk about.

    I think that schools with high non-English speaking populations need more money and they need to fast track those kids into grade level English ASAP. We need to erase the cognitive gaps before the kids get to middle school. All kids should be achieving at their individual intellectual capacity by 8th grade. That allows for differences in intelligence, but the idea would be to erase cognitive ability that is rooted in cultural differences.

    We have to get to the point where we can say that some cultural “traditions” are just NOT OK. In my book, it’s NOT OK that Chinese like shark fin soup. It’s NOT OK that some African tribes perform genital mutilation on girls. And it’s NOT OK for parents in any ethnic group to deny a life of literacy to their kids…even passively by choosing TV over books in the home. It’s fine and even best for parents to encourage multi-lingualism in their kids. It’s great to be aware of one’s ethnic heritage.

    Just my opinion, but if I were king, it would be nicer here…

  16. Hugo St. Victor says:

    All but completely agree with you, Rick. And by the way, your observations regarding subcultural (ethnic) differences do not constitute stereotyping, but rather testable, demonstrable, generally valid verdicts of American Social History. I’m not stereotyping, for example, when I observe that the Irish embrace alcohol and dairy products more than do Jews. Rather, I’m stereotyping–and worse–when I call a jailer’s transport vehicle a Paddy Wagon. You don’t cross that line, man. Folks like Bruce and I try to carve out a space in which it’s safe to discuss differences in ethnic traits as they bear upon e.g. literacy and therefore the commonweal.

    My only reservation about your comments (aside from wanting to debate, another day, my assertion, to wit: There is no such thing as “Intellegence per se”), is that “non-English speaking populations” do not necessarily “need more money”. Increasingly affordable communications technology really can be, and is already, a bona fide silver bullet in the acquisition of language and literacy. The cost rapidly is approaching nil. And a crucial aspect of language-acquisition hardware and software is that they’ve become portable. No longer the need to restrict them to the school site and lock them up during the fallow hours, weekends, weeks and months of a school. Therefore they can be taken home, or found directly within the home, wherein they can be used to engender crucial “family literacy”. More money spent on language learners at some point reaches a curve of diminishing returns for/from the educand and indeed the taxpayer, whereas such spending ever accrues to the benefit of the clients of the Education Lobby.

    Anyway, I sincerely appreciate the opportunity Jon has given us to bounce around these concepts. For me the concept most penetrating of Jon’s presence as a thinker, educator and futurist is this one: as can be seen from anyone’s work with the “differently abled”, there really are, as Harvard first propounded, “multiple intelligences” unique to an individual. This raises the possibility of intelligences special to a collectivity, be it a clan, a religious subculture, an ethnicity or even a nation state. In turn, temporal temperatures perhaps might be taken; that is, were we once dumber or smarter than we now are? I’d argue that Americans as a People are growing in their collective intelligences as never before, and apace.

    Whether I’m right or wrong–and irrespective for now of the causes of our growth vs. our stupefication–this claim strikes at the heart of everything we and Jon are trying to explore. Jon gets to probe this every day, for pay, and to the benefit of varied beneficiaries. And for my money that’s just flat cool!

  17. Hugo St. Victor says:

    It’s about shrewd choices of points-of-care. These choices are more or less continuous, as the points-of care are in flux relative to the static central government’s bureaucratic capacity to stay on top of developments. This is one part of my disgust with this vote-buying, LBJ-wannabe Bloated Society Administration, Moynihan’s worst nightmare. You see, it has nothing to do with politics, but these mammals can only spend. And on the one area of public policy in which I was trained, education, those good folk make no sense, ever. More, more, ever more. That’s what made me vote Republican for the first time in my life. Republicans may be morons, but not on what now matters to me. I’ll ever vote with whichever faction more protects my lambies. Democrats presume that they’re the owners of that pasture. Fuck it. I’m a called Sheepdog. None of them is. Hell, I know about about ten percent of them. One of them “resigned” today, Labor Secretary Hilda Solis. Jesus, what an idiot she always was…

  18. Rick Turner says:

    Hugo, you can give the kids all iPads to take home, but you then have to get their parents to support the use of those tools for an intended purpose, and that’s right at the crux of the cultural problem. Without strong parental support (as well as peer approval…a whole ‘nuther discussion, unfortunately…), intellectual pursuits will not be pursued outside of the classroom. Add to that the fact that families depend on the “in locus parentus” role of schools in order to go out and make a living. Schools are child care for parents, no doubt about it. Might as well make the system truly effective.

    And maybe we do expect too much of immigrants. Maybe it’s just not reasonable to think that first or second generation Latino kids can be right on up with the white kids except in unusual circumstances. Maybe it does take three or four generations to get up to speed. Of course, that does not address the African American kids whose family history includes slavery and theoretical emancipation. From a totally unscientific point of a white guy’s view, it seems to me that in some ways, it’s been down hill for African Americans since the Harlem Renaissance, in spite of the Civil Rights movement. Smack, crack, and unemployment as a way of life has destroyed a culture. Sure, we have a black president, but…the exception sometimes proves the rule…

  19. Rick Turner says:

    A strictly un-PC observation and perhaps horrible stereotyping:

    Middle class white liberal and libertarian Americans think that everyone thinks alike in their peculiar cultural bubbles. They just don’t get it that many immigrant and minority families just don’t have the same cultural and literacy values that they have. So putting it on the families to deal with education seems entirely reasonable.

    Sorry. There are several generations of such kids who simply do not have the familial support systems. The parents are not educated enough to make good choices regarding charter schools; they don’t have books at home; they may not even be literate in their native languages, or if they are, it’s just enough to get through the 7-11 check-out line and buy cigarettes and malt liquor. Sorry again, the “state” is just going to have to take care of these kids and try to get them 66% of the way there by (hopefully) high school graduation.

    Our expectations are unreasonable given the reality of the melting pot as it currently exists. I don’t give a shit whether you want to deal with illegal immigrants or not; the fact is that they are here, and they do drag the cognitive average down in primary and secondary schooling. So what are we going to do about how it really is? And don’t tell me it’s on the parents. That’s asking for utter failure.

  20. len says:

    It’s going to fail, Rick, in some ways quite spectacularly. The skills and knowledge gap between the systems we have to maintain and improve and the available candidates for those tasks is increasing and acccelerating as the feedback effect increases.

    It’s a bridge with rusting wires over a river dammed with aging concrete. The real outcome of state-based federalism is each state will be competent in accordance with it’s local interests and skill sets. And that is a good means to predict the future.

  21. Hugo St. Victor says:

    In reply to Rick:
    1. “iPads to take home” is a good idea but not right* for that situation.
    2. When a learner brings home not a stultifying textbook but instead a window on the World in the form of a tool that might also include something like Rosetta Stone, it’s a new ball game, a child’s market basket, for the family as a whole.. At e.g. MIT and at Champaign/Urbana they continue testing this techno-dynamic as we speak.
    3. For NOW low-cost, subsidized tablets indeed are one way to go, but they (a) are prone to theft and fencing; (b) therefore are broadly marketable; (c) are overbuilt [and therefore unnecessarily both expensive and mischievous] for pedagogical purposes; and (c) are fragile.
    4. My present proposal to the labs is to explore the scanners used by e.g. shipping companies, major retailers, and our frontline military logisticians. The two biggest manufacturers are Motorola and Symbol Corp. These devices have some of the following advantages: they hold more than sufficient, reprogrammable capacity downloadable; their networks seldom fail even in inclement conditions; they function as telephones; their GPS features work as child-locators, loss- and theft-prevention; and they’re ruggedized, individually identifiable, and useless to enterprising thieves. These instruments can arm a family television willy nilly, free of charge.
    5. The Renaissance isn’t finished; we’ll never capitulate nor concede so long as you artists stick to your Yeoman axes, your artisanal lathes. No smoke, that.
    6. It makes no sense, to me at least, to parse the “literacy vales”–thus to “evaluate” the transcultural worth–of various immigrant groups. You privilege the “skill” of literacy. So have I done and so always. Consider please that the immigrant populations we call insufficiently Baby Boom generally arrive in spite of us en route to Bilingualism! Our clever and uh-clever boys & girls, down the hall led by one of “our” teachers, meanwhile produce little understanding of anything, and for purely political and absurdly bureaucratic reasons never the twain shall meet.

    Len: Of course you’re right: the point of our exercise, Universal Compulsory Public Schooling, is held in place of the State interest: as you say, to increase and improve the candidate pool for work in your illustrious fields of endeavor. Thomas Jefferson, a man who died in moral derangement, consistently argued your point (and so in our lifetime did Justice Frankfurter bluntly do), so therefore I decree that we should dismount the high horse so that we can get real together, at ground level. Let’s face it: it’s a power play with tender rhetoric. In old Ft. Worth we called that shit.

    I really embrace your knowing phrase involving, by its implication, the futility of gold-plating “rusting wires”, so permit that I presume you realize that we’re faced with exorbitantly insufficient or else outworn or else bloated or else redundant or else mis-targeted or else completely misconceived bastards of school facilities and even entire structures of schooling.

    Do we want schooling, or do we want education? If we can agree on the crucial need of an educated citizenry, then I say both, adroitly, and steady as she goes~~~

  22. Hugo St. Victor says:

    Rick in Pt. 5 I failed to clarify my point, which is that for thirty years we Schooled-Up have witnessed the ritual of Anglos studying Spanish on one floor, or at one end of the hall, whilst Hispanophones learned English at the other end, or on the other floor. Ships in the night. Joe Hellerland. This infanticide is so sharp that it could’ve slashed only by empowerment of racism, of course, and the usual political boner, and the assumption that we Power Technicians encode these horny fools as algorithmic automata. Guess what? They’re unpredictably capricious, and so is the incumbent President of the United States so.

    Big deal. Doesn’t disturb my slumbers.

  23. Hugo St. Victor says:

    len, on Loco Parentis law you’re flipside. So is almost everybody else so I’m inured. But just please consider the Who/Whom. Personally I want comity and non-negotiably mutual respect, not reciprocal stonings. It’s heavy, because were it to come to a head it almost surely wouldn’t turn out to your satisfaction or mine. Let me put it, fairly obscurantively, this way: we frontline teachers are fools to think that we’re the sacrosanct vanguard of cultural transmission. In Law we’re merely claimants and the rest is emotive horseshit.

  24. len says:

    @hugo: Where I live, we are finding out about the give’em iPads theory. The Huntsville school system is doing exactly that at the direction of our school superintendant who before he had that job was the Army officer who developed the online and extremely popular American Army game.

    Using a whole city system as a lab ought to be of interest to USC Annenberg. So far, probably not because they are in California and this is Alabama, but give the southern rednecks their due: they have the guts to try it.

  25. Hugo St. Victor says:

    It’s the same as we all, including you, were saying: match, not overmatch, the tool to the job. Len, I’ve always protested the special hubris of seizing other people’s children as the cohort of a governmental experiment. I believe Prof. Lehrer parodied such contortions in his “New Math”.

    Taking you straight, yucks aside, we should continue to work and hope toward better examples than might ever be invented by Obama’s querulous Court of King James. Cool stuff happens, man. Sometimes thr more mountainous West Virginia–no shit–and sometimes in leafy suburbs and sometimes in incredibly put-upon urban schools. The Feds do a really crappy job of disseminating and commending hard lessons learned hard. E-mail my old confrere Jonathan Kozol if you doubt.

    Len, in Annenberg’s case “a whole city system”, Systems Engineer, means L.A. Unified Scool District, the largest (civilian) schooling authoririty in the U.S. Los Angeles Unified School District comprises 88 chartered municipalities. Therefore I’ve no idea what you’re talking about.

    What are you in fact talking about?

  26. Hugo St. Victor says:

    You gotta smart small, Len. The obvious fulcrum is the ill-conceived middle schools, for two reasons that might appeal to your Reason: (1) they (and the benighted “junior high schools” are ad hoc collectivities of similarly aged boys and girls feeding a system based upon Conant’s devastating, post-Sputnik “Comprehensive High School” system, the one in which most of us here frankly thrived. I assert that what was good in 1958 not only was not good but that it’s counterproductive now.

    The cool thing about the “middle grades” is that they include tose whom, from any ethnicity, I’d argue are the Nation’s hope: Eleven-year-old girls “. bore again, at length, on this point, but please.just trust me, it’s not some sick sexual fetish, it’s true. The boys peak later, the Pre-adolescent girls get bloody practical and go through huge life changes within about, generally you understand, 16-18 months. What’s amazing is that evidently they begin by thinking , whether you or your correspondents want to call it “cognition” or, separately, “reasoning”. (Frankly that article was such a stupid pastiche of years of Cognitive Studies that I’m sweet on it, sufficient to have printed it out and stowed it away…). Right on!

  27. Hugo St. Victor says:

    Sorry. I’m very tired. I think you guys presume that pedagogical schools exist mainly to socialize. Not so. One of the dirty secrets in this realm goes this way. We had our paymasters (foundations I won’t name unless necessary) hire third-party systems engineers to run time/motion studies on high school students during their enforced time. You guys are almost haf-way there. Most of the teacher/student’s time was spent on disciplining the pupil, with reference to the force of law, and then much time was wasted in sub-cultural announcements and interruptions (organizational propaganda), and then there were a few minutes left for salaried union workers to teach adolescescents how to piss and moan about the Unemployed unmet. In a given hour of instruction, about 12 minutes spent on subject. The rest was the effluent of “school culture”. These studies have been reproduced for thirty years.

    It”s nuts to accept that we fund and enforce an archipelago based on keeping insufficiently socialized Americans off the streets and beneficially out of the labor market. My union card fairly shrivels at the thought of giving fresh faces the means of a just wage for life, and I positively reject athe impulse to lead Pre-adolescents to their own fearfully independent discovery of our Nation’s past. Oh, Forbid! What hand might NEA have in any of that?

  28. Rick Turner says:

    So just send the kids to their parents…or parent…to be home schooled and see what happens.

    Hugo, any ideas there? Think it will work?

    Yeah, send those kids who don’t speak English home to their parent(s) who don’t speak English or even read and write Spanish or whose idea of culture is Grand Theft Auto. There’s a good way to build a permanent underclass of lettuce pickers and crack salesmen and knocked up 15 year old girls…

    This constant ragging on the very concept of public schooling is just so incredibly narrow minded, and there are so few real alternatives being offered that it just amazes me. Yes, many public schools have become child management systems. Why? Well, the parents don’t seem up to the job. So what else do you have? It should probably start with mandatory birth control, but I don’t see that one as a winner…

    I’m really getting tired of seeing all the criticism of public schools without seeing any…ANY…realistic alternatives. Charter schools? Is that the best you’ve got? Not a great success story overall yet. Home schooling? With absentee parents? Give to me a break.

    The only real solution is to improve the public school system and accept that parents, particularly in the disadvantaged areas, are not going to come in and save the day. The alternatives? Jail the kids when they get old enough to be jailed for crimes or deport them back to Central and South America and finish that 12 foot wall between Mexico and the US. Like I say, what else have you got?

  29. JTMcPhee says:

    Re iPads, a small glitch, just a local one I’m sure:

    The sexual part of human nature and behavior is everywhere, sort of by definition. And the fraction of the population that colors outside the lines when it comes to getting off is, I don’t know, constant or growing? Maybe it’s just reporting bias, but the number of pedophiles and “perverts” and “adult”-erers seems bigger than when I was a kid, with my own anecdotal recall of episodes, personal and community.

    Yeah, it’s always been there, a fruitful soil for literature great and small, and jokes and stuff, and an infinite rat’s nest of personal pain, and maybe it’s been institutionalized for millennia, in places like the Roman Catholic Church and English Public Schools, and now the Boy Scouts. And of course in the school systems of America.

    ‘Round here we have many titillating examples of female teachers humping “underage” but erectile-enabled youngsters, and many more examples of male authority figgers, teachers, security guards, politicians, et settera, doing both boys and girls, and of course people who are denominated as “parents” and other relatives doing the little ones for fun.

    So we had a local school that decided to pass out iThings, which have CAMERAS in them, and it turns out that the same “incentives” that have people installing “toilet-cams” and drilling peepholes into the girls’ locker and shower rooms, when potentiated by peeking opportunities, result in the pervs who see the opportunities present in schools, particularly IT departments any more, covertly turning on and using said cameras and the wonders of 3-and-4G to observe the quaint and cute behaviors of girls and boys thinking they are doing stuff in the privacy of their own homes.. Without the tiniest clue that there’s a “Watcher In The ‘i’.”

    Yeah, it’s just inevitable, humans do that kind of shit. Millimeter scanner images *never* escape the boarding gate area. Youtube and phonecams and all the increasingly undetectable intrusive devices are full of such shit. And is it still true that Utah has the highest per capita consumption of net porn?

    Just something to bear in mind when trying to integrate all the stuff you guys are talking about here, from “what is the nature and goal of school?” to “what is the best way to potentiate the inquiring mind, that may get access to information useful to energize the limbic system long before the forebrain is taught how to do socially useful stuff with all that?” to (maybe not overtly stated) “what is our culture and society supposed to look like, and how can we control things to be sure it’s what we want?”

    And once again, “What are we humans supposed to do, to be, to look like?” The Family Council knows, and they are organized, and have a long-view plan including the uses of IT, and are driven by ahem, often grotesquely hypocritical “moral certainty,” and are coming in a school district near you…

  30. len says:

    @Hugo St. Victor What are you in fact talking about?

    The Huntsville School System purchased and “rented” iPads and laptops and passed them out to every school student in the school system. They did away with the textbooks. This started last fall. So that brave new world Jon talked about when the iPad first hit the streets has come to a medium sized city. Like the Chattanooga Big Gig deployment, there is now a fully equipped in the wild experiment in e-learning replacing traditional media. How in fact that is working or integrated with pedagogy I can’t say. My kids are now both in college.

  31. Hugo St. Victor says:

    Len, I enthusiastically salute Huntsville. I’m “talking about” more bang for the buck, and I have my eye on a sparrow winged, removed from captivity by events. See what I mean? Think FEMA. (Len, were I to elaborate I’d be headed into nondisclosure territory. I want to be neither pompous nor high hat. It’s not a pecuniary so much as a weary thing, though, trust me). More broadly, what I seek are solvents of brick-and-mortar school facilities, as I believe that those installations and our nostalgic regard for them hamper child development. I’ve never believed that Virtual Learning is a substitute for much, but rather have tried for years to evaluate breaking communications hardware and software as “breakouts”, as stuff that can help to diffuse legitimated learning, disperse it geospatially, and release Sparrows from captivity back into the wilds. Hence the emphasis on physical safety. I don’t diss the iPad approach, but I think that costly instrument is overbuilt for these purposes. What we want is a kind of Fisher-Price Model T. The tech sector has been game for years but the purse string pols are simpletons. Tragically, Governor Tom Ridge got the picture con gusto, but then his friend from Texas peterprincipled that able lawmaker. Code Orange. Anyway, that’s what I’m on about. I don’t mean to be obscurantist, but hey, I got a G-2 as long as your shorter arm.

  32. Hugo St. Victor says:

    …physical schools are indispensable though. But we should quit the 1958 Comprehensive High School model and stop building Taj Mahals and gold-plating K-12 schools with hardware, software, infrastructure that’re disused most of the time. It’s a waste of minds and of childhood as well as a waste of tax dollars. Sexy but unfulfilling.

    Jon is so beautifully positioned to help turn a new page. Oh, and when Huntsville hooked up the kids with tablets, how did that affect the school calendar or the payroll?

  33. Hugo St. Victor says:

    Also, Len, I’m so intrigued by Jon’s send-up of Chattanooga as a cutting-edge nerve center. How do you regard it? I’d been looking at Pittsburg, so Taplin threw me for a loop. Last time I was in Chatanooga the big thing was they were reeling from the long drought! Jon’s obviously got specs I ain’t got. I’m that out of touch. Where else is cool stuff happening, aside from that bold, concerted move in Huntsville? Really I want to hear.

  34. Hugo St. Victor says:

    No, Rick, I firmly believe in the Common School Ideal. I worked for John Holt, though, and neither of us thought homeschooling violative of that ideal. What John wanted was a transitional challenge of stultifying, publicly mandated daycare, care taking. Transitional, mind you. He knew that homeschooling would come to be identified with religious fundamentalists. John hoped that if the “movement” could hit 12 percent of the school population then the System itself would have to peel off its silk stockings–would have to begin to deinstitutionalize in creative ways. So no: nobody wants anything but the best for learners, their parents and their teachers. The problem is that we keep getting less for more. Jon signs on with the President’s prescription to keep spending more, and so I simply disagree. That’s all. I don’t want legitimated learning un-anchored from local school sites; rather I want it unmoored, and can prove that thereby we’ll do better with less.

  35. Hugo St. Victor says:

    JTM you crack me up.

  36. Hugo St. Victor says:

    Too true, as always, McPhee. Too true. Let it wash over, but still we’re all caregivers inescapably. Inescapably. Haven’t you room for amateurs? The teachers despise amateurs. There, the Pro’s are afraid of the prospect of anyone doing it better. But you guys, at the other end, have serious Meat & Potatoes on your hands, so I don’t see how the amateurs fit in, but you know President Kennedy considered the prospect? Yep. Fidel too. How do we do more than bedpans, is the thing. How can Nursing further professionalize while, in spite of or else because of, a parallel deprofessionalization? See, this is what the poobahs in Education are wanting to know. You should defect, man. Lots of money in it there! Depends upon your tolerance for nincompoops, but otherwise it’s a slam-dunk for your retirement down there in the Sun. Oh, it just gets better the more I think about it…slap the silly fools awake, take your check and GO!

  37. Rick Turner says:

    I am not against home schooling at all. I met mandolin player Chris Thile when he was eight; he was being home schooled by very caring and bright parents, and when I first met him, he was one of the most articulate kids I’d ever run across…happy, smart, and very well socialized among kids or adults. Chris just was awarded MacArthur “genius” award in 2012. So it can work, but, as I keep coming back to here, it was because of his parents. Nobody wants to talk about parents being at the root of educational problems; that’s why the Bruce Fuller interview is so important, and I think his points are just scratching the surface. He was studying poor Hispanic kids only. Clearly there’s at least as big an issue with African American kids, too, and the record of broken homes in that community should be a clue as to why black ghetto kids are doing so poorly in schools. Then there’s the whole issue of intact families needing two incomes just to survive because of how essential expenses compared to income have eroded the middle class in America. Just from my own adult experience…when I was in my early 20s, my rent and utilities bills came to less than 20% of my income. For whom is that now true below the quite wealthy? So our society utterly depends on public schools not only for education, but also for child care.

    My youngest son has had excellent public schooling in Encinitas, CA. Of course, it’s going down hill…underfunded schools, larger class sizes, etc., but still and all, it’s been fantastic…good enough to help prep him to have been offered an internship in the bio-med lab at Harvard last summer between his junior and senior years…and opportunity he took. So why aren’t there close studies of the schools that work? Studies that would have to take into account the parenting and social environments, too… Start by looking at success and attempt to clone that as well as possible…

  38. JTMcPhee says:

    @Hugo St. Victor
    “{militaries, to a small degree} are indispensable though. But we should quit the 1958 Comprehensive {World-Girdling Interoperable Networked Confront Some Eternal Enemy Or Other Battlespace} model and stop building Taj Mahals and gold-plating {F-series manned multi-role aircraft and hypersonic UAVs and such sh_t} with hardware, software, infrastructure that’re disused most of the time {and generally don’t serve the claimed function even when called on, along with the clumsy force structures and planning and doctrines that go along with — see, e.g. “Vietnamization,” followed by “Iraqization,” followed by “Afghanization.”} It’s a waste of minds and of childhood, {here and there too,} as well as a waste of tax dollars. Sexy but unfulfilling. {except for those who profit from all that}”

    Seems like a multi-purpose model, easily adaptable to all parts of Modern Life…

  39. Hugo St. Victor says:

    …well I couldn’t agree more, John, except swords into NEW plowshares, that’s all. You wouldn’t want us blowing the garnered proceeds on your own screwed up system as it presently is constituted, and mine is vastly more fucked up than yours. At least you folks manage to succor and heal people. We can’t even manage to teach our clients how to read or calculate. Do you know what the (Caucasian) literacy rate was in this country 112 years ago? President Jefferson wasn’t exactly loosey goosey with scientific method. It was almost thirty times greater than it is today, 73 years after we established universal, compulsory schooling. Schooling simply isn’t about what we think it’s about. Terribly, you made a parallel discovery relative to our military institutions: they’re not about what we’re told they’re about. Hell, I’m just glad you made it out. The real skinny on the big urban school systems is that dropout rates run to 50 percent, so folks like Hugo 1.0 get hired to invent squids ink for cover. A former boss of mine put it this way: “Who controls the definitions controls the debate”. Does that remind you of Gen. Westmoreland? I mean, LBJ found that funhouse mirror flattering, so why shouldn’t we, on the domestic front, take a Mint Julep and sign chits for pumping more money down the sluggish toilet, by all Ways & Means. Onto the next photo op… When the fallout hits we just blame it all on Wetbacks, and Negro single mothers, as though that ploy could amount to an excuse. You guys are far more serious. You deal in Life or Death; we deal with the NEA.

  40. Hugo St. Victor says:

    By the way, JTM, did you have time to catch our President’s press availability with dear Hamid Karzai yesterday? No joke, I really sort of trembled for Barack Obama, as his dissertation on long range Afghan policy was pitch-perfect Vietnamization. In that moment our Commander was Nixon in all but the sweaty upper lip, and one could see how discomfited Obama was in reciting State Department hubris from the TelePrompTer. He really is a fundamentally good guy, and inexperienced enough a politician to dislike lying. I watched his performance twice, and honestly it lent me new insight into that man, B.O. He’s harried and conflicted. I’m not saying he’s in knee pants any longer, or out of his depth, am saying that people of good will should rally behind him.

  41. JTMcPhee says:

    @Hugo St. Victor
    … “Reminds me of a line from Woody Allen’s movie “Sleeper.” Woody, awakening in the distant future, asks what catastrophe wiped out civilization. He is told,

    ‘According to history, over 100 years ago a man named Albert Shanker got hold of a nuclear warhead.'”


    As to that “who controls the definitions, controls the debate,” let us pause for a moment of quiet recollection of the style and substance of John Papola and other “libertarians” who post here, there and everywhere. And for anyone still attracted to the moth-drawing flame of “neo-liverallism,” here’s a de-construct for them to try to re-define out of existence: http://www.nakedcapitalism.com/2013/01/philip-pilkington-the-origins-of-neoliberalism-part-i-hayeks-delusion.html

    Still searching for that personal Grail, a Strange Attractor of spirit and life that could rationalize all of this into something wonderful…

  42. Hugo St. Victor says:

    frankly it’s like confessing that I’m eroticized by freckle-faced, red-haired French birds (which is quite true–de gustibus non disputandum), but I’ve always liked libertarians because I do not like but rather love radicals, and libertarians shit at both sides of the pot, whilst they keep the rest of us waiting. For me, despite the stink they’re so fascinating because any one of them could break to radicalism either way, at any moment. What most annoys me about them is something admittedly hifallutin. Each instatiation of that zombie horde presumes to reinvent its one wheel, as though none of us had read Kropotkin, Goldman, Goodman, Rothbard–whomsoever, so at some point one just greases another wheel. I wish some of those joes would fish or cut bait, though, because goddamit they’re a thoughtful and patriotic lot, and besides I like radicals and redhead Parisiennes. Who can blame Glorious Moi?

  43. Hugo St. Victor says:

    As for your Grail, JTM, please consider reading Kierkegaard’s fairly brief “Attack Upon Christendom”, a hilariously biting compilation of broadsides he self-published mainly in 1853. They really anticipate Twain’s stiletto job on Mary Baker Eddy, and the Protestant missionaries in Polynesia. They’re that relevant and that (darkly) funny. The thing, to me, is that as a young man you shifted your Heaven, your Earth, to serve something that greatly let you down and stole a huge hope and spirit; an inexpressibly dispiriting trial. There’s a discoverable literature roughly on this very category of pain and conflict, and it’s eery but comforting to–almost, as it were–converse with these dead men and women who went through seemingly the same sense of, I don’t know, lack, or vacancy at the head of the table come holiday time.

    I’ll tell you that I’m a Christian, an Episcopalian and erstwhile chaplain. We’re the least likely to proselytize, you know, not least because…well, you know the funnybone part: our sect was born of ostentatious horniness, may God truly preserve us. Like everybody we do about the best wine can.

    It’s not a jarring thing JTM. It’s vastly ecumenical more than we’d never have conceived. I’m out of juice so look maybe this is when you’re meant to really face down the unbearable and break its spine once and for all. You’re not of our wage slaves until you tagged chattel are called the auction block, humma-humma, humma-humma humma-humma, I’m going with the Goy because he’s got a nice s mile let’s face it…

  44. JTMcPhee says:

    @Hugo St. Victor
    Re: Karzai-Faga-Thieu-istan, here’s what I wrote elsewhere in blogspace today, in response to some cocksure censorious condescending pontificating hyperdidactic apologist for the Sneaky Petes and powers that be:

    What’s the tune for “Afghanization?”

    Second verse, same as the first:


    And from another angle,

    <blockquoteWhatever the program’s origins, Colby’s definition is comprehensive enough to include the many elements essential if Vietnamization were to succeed: improving and modernizing the armed forces, providing pacification of the rural areas, strengthening the political apparatus, delivering essential services to the populace, nurturing a viable economy, and, most important of all, ensuring security for the people. From these goals derived a host of subsidiary tasks: from expanding and improving the police and territorial forces to land reform, from control of inflation to hamlet and village elections, and from rooting out the Viet Cong infrastructure to increasing the rice harvest. Ambassador Ellsworth Bunker noted in a reporting cable that South Vietnam’s plan for community defense and local development had “three overall objectives: self-defense, self-government, and self-development, which explains why the Vietnamese refer to ‘Vietnamization’ as ‘the three selfs.’” (snip)

    In *No More Vietnams*, Richard Nixon recalled of Vietnamization that “our whole strategy depended on whether this program succeeded.” Thus, “our principal objectives shifted to protecting the South Vietnamese at the village level, reestablishing the local political process, and winning the loyalty of the peasants by involving them in the government and providing them with economic opportunity. General Creighton Abrams had initiated this shift in strategy when he took command of our forces in Vietnam in 1968,” Nixon acknowledged.

    Of course, the Americans could only help and, as Abrams once observed, they could only help so much. The rest was up to the Vietnamese.


    And of course Thieu, like Karzai, was a self-serving and corrupt persona who wisely, and like Karzai would be well advised to do, fled Saigon aboard a US chopper as the “strategy” ran its inevitable course.

    And to put it in the larger setting of the Game of RISK ™, as then being played,


    The main differences I can see between THIS tomfoolery-with-enormous-wealth-transfer-and-imperial-warpage-of-our-”free democracy,” and the one we label “The Vietnam War,” are that rather than learning from one futile effort to prosecute a land war in Asia at the end of an enormous supply line, against a xenophobic population with nationalist and tribal aspirations, our rulers focused on managing the media, planting an all-volunteer army/military, relying on contractors and other stuff to insulate us taxpayers from cognitive dissonance and any non-consumer-economy discomfort, and thus avoiding the “deep divisions in the nation” that led Tricky Dick (bless his practical-politician little heart) and his policy mavens to create the false front of “Vietnamization,” to give airbrushed cover and concealment to the scammers and idiots who “managed” the country, by fraudulent and incompetent stages, into an inevitably losing proposition.

    No, I don’t cheer for “the other side.” I have no joy at the failure of our institutions and rulers to avoid losing propositions and put the nation onto a long slide into post-imperial obscurity and virtual feudal impoverishment. We could have done so much better for ourselves and the rest of the world, but it’s not in our natures to keep Experienced Players from finding their inevitable way into the seats of power, patent and obscure.

    The “strategy” to date has made a few people really rich, and away we go again to the next situation where our rulers will punch another Tarbaby (using our fists, not theirs). Don’t pick fights it’s clear from the beginning you are not going to win, let alone gain anything from (other than wealth transfer and personal power). Of course, it really depends on what one defines and constitutes as a “win.” General Atomic and Boeing and Raytheon and the General Staff and Hallfukinburton and the rest sure look like they’ve achieved a lasting victory over anyone who has a hankering for that other thing that no one can seem to define, “peace.” Mostly defined negatively, by what it’s not: “absence of strife, violence or conflict.” We can’t find much to say about Heaven, but there’s no lack of imagery for Hell — ask John Milton, or that Alighieri guy.

    And I really, really do like Barbara Tuchman’s exegesis of the whole history of that Vietnam thing, informed by her notion of “folly” as one of the actual consistent themes in what we call “history” and “human progress,” in “The March of Folly,” which for me at least lays it all out in a framework that makes sense — well, the net behaviors she catalogs make no effing sense at all, for the most of us, though of course the few of us, that “1%,” the General Scheisskopfs and Milo Minderbinders and the people who build the successors to the FW-190 and B-25 and the Maxim and Browning and the AK (the true weapon of mass destruction, ask the remaining elephants in Africa – http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2006/11/24/AR2006112400788.html), do just effing great.

    And the Westmorlands and Schwarzkopfs and Nixons and that evil piece of shit, Kissinger, and Arafat and Netanyahu and that, ah, ilk, and the Kochs and Bakkers and Blankfeins get to live out their lives of comfort and pleasure, while the Great Stupid Effing Game of RISK ™ goes on and on and on and we combusto-consume ourselves into oblivion. So sorry for Obama. I forget which one of the Roman emperors he most reminds me of — maybe a bit of goodness and virtue in there, trying to do the right thing without being murdered by the Praetorian Mercenary Guard or some Business Plotter or some West Wing Al Haig wannabeincharger, riding the tiger of a dying empire that has run madly away from any concert with its myths, living the un-ameliorable pain of cognitive dissonance every moment of every FOXday. As if it will matter in the future that he was the first partially-genetically-black President, as if that will open any doors for any persons of color (other than “white,” which is actually sometimes a pale tan, or cream and pink, or yellowed parchment, or the green of a fifth of liquor store gin in a belly not inured and immured to it by long abuse, or the gray of fading perfusion and O2 sats down around 75%.)

    Ooooh, don’t get me started again — I just got my life balanced… so balanced that, like a guy in a pretty, lace-y bright cotton dress, with a nice Van Dyke and a white sidewall haircut, and a little wicker purse and Birkenstocks, who I overheard talking to another “hippie” in the spice aisle of a Puget Consumers Coop market in Seattle, “So with all the yoga and organics and meditation and stuff, [[breathe] I’ve found that I’d gotten so balanced [breathe] that my life was actually OVER-balanced, don’t you see, [breathe] so I’ve had to start smoking a few cigarettes {breathe] every day [breathe] to get back to being just, [breathe] you know, like, BALANCED…”

  45. Hugo St. Victor says:

    It’s Quiotic, JTM, and obviously not something special to you, excep that hundreds of us, from various walks, halt, and heed you.. Nobody cares any longer for.watching decisions between faith and Math. Hat tricks, parlour games. No, the question is You, alone. In my humble the remaining goodness of this country resides e.g. in you precisely, you pissed off pervert. That’s the Spirit! Go Team !

  46. Rick Turner says:

    Heal the parents…oops, that means society…support the front line teachers…pull back on administration…bring “manual arts” back into junior and senior high schools (smart kids love to design and build shit…it’s called “the Maker Movement”)…yes, replace a lot of the text books with iPads or Kindles, etc….text books go too quickly, and expensively obsolete…Hell, make a deal with Apple to do an iPad-S…”S” for Student edition), but don’t give up on libraries…bring the troops back, and for every soldier who loses his job as a trained killer, hire two teachers or teacher’s aids…bring back art and music…start teaching recording technology in school…teach video production, both are incredibly inexpensive these days…tone down the football and basketball cultures and support universal physical education to include a wider range of activities…how about Yoga? (oh, the Christians will freak, won’t they…)…cut admin salaries at the college admin level… cut the football coach salaries, they’re totally outrageous.

    There’s some of Rick’s World…

  47. Hugo St. Victor says:

    Humma humma, Here Hear. However the parents you happen to know do not represent the California electorate, or else every adult you know is a fucking idiot. I don’t get the jag against school coaches. Half of them are paid by “auxiliary organizations” [cf. the CA Ed. Code] anyway. Music teachers, art teachers, school nurses, psychologists, counselors and librarians–now those people are hunted animals. Why? None of them constitutes a bargaining unit of CTA, NEA. Hence they’re doomed. The whole idea, of a local neighborhood “people’s college”, frankly is out the window. Hell, California, Incorporated is out the window. Do you think we didn’t see this coming fifteen years ago? I watched people self-destruct one after another like Vietnamese monks to try to stop the Legislature’s metastasi$, its horrid impulse to legislate the shit out of everything, always running up the tab. Gadzooks, your family is so fortunate to reside in a pocket of resistance against insanity, and that your children have true educators with whom you can make common cause. That’s a godsend really. Does anybody ever wonder why Gray Davis was recalled from office, or what was the charge specified in the writ against him? He was the CTA’s butt boy, to the point of certifiable turpitude.

  48. Hugo St. Victor says:

    You know what, Rick? California’s Constitution by proper plebescite was rewritten as a result of a bipartisan and transnational coalition of political reformers very upset about two things that had gone wrong with California, which grudgingly is really the apple of the Nation’s eye. First, the reformers resented the “lock” of the Southern Pacific Railroad, and second they were repelled by the state school board’s adoption, subject to Graft and whorish Importuning, of school textbooks. Today, California’s problem is the CTA, and secondarily SEIU, and it fairly breaks my heart to say so because it all but negates half my adult life. But it’s true, best I can see. California has got to cage those two dragons and it has got to create–invent if necessary–something to rival there the Democratic Party, because it’s the pleasant Gorbachevs of the world who snuggle beneath the blanket of a one-party system. You see, all of this is parallel to the conditions that drove the Californians’ “radical” reform beseeched (I mean that) by Governor Hiram Johnson, who at the time was about the most honest guy West of London. You keep probing reform. I’ve tried to explain that I don’t do reform but rather attempt restructuring. That distinction spells a huge difference in, for starters, scale and depth. But if y’all want reform in California then look at Governor Johnson and the electorate of his time. Together they managed a silk purse. And Oh My God, from such a sow’s ear…

  49. Hugo St. Victor says:

    Oh and absolutely, honor continuously the actual educators, our trusted childrearers who stand in our place whilst we go on about our business. Those frontliners truly are remarkable citizens, to get up every day and do something so difficult, so demanding, so deeply responsible. As I’m a prayerful bloke I’ll say that I pray in support of our teachers, and seriously I’d ask anybody to do something similar. Most of the hotshot teachers flame out upon discovering that conditions don’t correspond to the Last Year’s Turkey Chili they fill you with in edskool, but the ones who, finding that let-down hand in despite of everything, clearly love the Young and get my greatest respect. I’m so sorry that they’re rare. Had we not been schooled-up ourselves perhaps we’d have fielded more true educators. None of us really knows. Certainly I don’t know. Therefore it’s miraculous that a woman is sharing purposeful learning every day at Eight AM. I mean, hats off! In a way, I can scarcely believe that this still happens, but of course it does do, every day, in all 50 states. That’s flat amazing. Think about the impossibilities…

  50. Hugo St. Victor says:

    It’s simple, but sort of crucial. Stop dumping on parents! That’s what [teaching] credential candidates are trained to do, this cheesy scapegoating and easy blaming, but we shouldn’t fall for such a dodge, such a facile excuse. For one thing, who exactly educated the parent[s]? For another, why is educating the educand so hard on the educator that he turns to mudslinging rather than to admit his professional failure? Third, let’s get clear about the jurisprudential doctrine of “in loco parentis”. It does not license a teacher’s arrogation or usurpation whatsoever. Let’s be clear: teachers are hired hands. “”Gnothi Seuton”, Know Thy Place. The legal principle, “in loco parentis”, simply bestows upon the custodian the temporary authority to discipline the charge, the ward, the inmate. It feels crucial to point out that it’s the parent who, in control, designates a provisional surrogate. Therefore it’s really bad mojo to turn this raincoat inside out and imagine that hireling teachers have any business dictating to their employers. “In loco parentis”, the parent might say, upon resuming custody, “Go About Your Business”. The honor is not bestowed by the State upon the Individual but rather by the Individual upon the State. Be crystal clear on this.

  51. Hugo St. Victor says:

    Jurisprudentially, the State derives temporary legitimacy from the parent; the State is not licensed thereby to adjudge or bestow squat, unless criminal charges come into play. The parent employs the State, not the other way around. The “other way around” is what President Jefferson named as “asportation”, a polite legal term for kidnapping. So teachers should stop pretending that they can outsmart the Judgment of Solomon, who evidently could tell an authentic, ontological parent from a brutal egotist.

  52. len says:

    And now the suicide of Aaron Swartz will be used in the same agendas where all sides are pushing toward a civil war and none are willing to take responsibility for leading the young to commit acts that lead to prosecution and suicide. Blame the prosecutor for being zealous. Blame Lessig and Berners-Lee for not being smart enough to see where encouraging the hacking culture would lead.

    A helluva generation of adults we turned out to be.

  53. JTMcPhee says:

    Any worse, or any better, than the “adults” who talked and chivvied all those young men to Flanders Fields and Monte Cassino and Pork Chop Hill and Khe Sanh and Fallujah and Helmand? Who “managed” the First, Second and Third Industrial Revolutions? Who facilitated the compound leveraging of an advanced mathematics education at MIT into the counterfeiting of something like $2 Quadrillion in notional value, whatever the hell that means, in securitized derivatized Thingies that looked good on paper and from the fog of promises and platitudes from the mouths of young bond salesmen?

    “The fault, dear Brutus, is not in our stars, / But in ourselves, that we are underlings.” It sure seems to me that the whole positive-feedback spindizzy apparatus, with all its conjoined and reinforcing parts, is kind of hard-wired into our physiology and its cultural expression… “I’ll be gone, you’ll be gone,” and “Apres moi le deluge!”

    And one of course must wonder, given the arc of Swartz’s life, whether his pretermitting was in fact a suicide…

  54. len says:

    I doubt it was anything else, jtmc. Show me a reason for a hit faction to take him out. He hung himself and for all the conspiracy theories that doubt that, there is also a long history of him talking about suicide and no evidence to the contrary. Which is why the hacktivists might want to take a look in the mirror too.

    They won’t. It is too easy to blame the big bad government but there is first class evidence (film) of him committing crimes (theft). Did the prosecutors go overboard? Probably. It is tragic and I am not heartless, but the bullshit has to stop. A kid is dead. Manning is in jail. The same people who gutted Levon Helm’s income are telling us Aaron is a martyr, using his death to push their agendas and their notions of justice. If they are going on a campaign to go after the Massachusetts prosecutor, don’t be surprised when the prosecutor pushes back. All the sides will anger up and it will accomplish exactly zero. It will sucker more kids into this crusade for free beer.

    It’s stupid. It’s bullshit. It has to stop.

  55. Rick Turner says:

    Hugo, I’ll stop dumping on parents when I’m convinced that they are not more of “the problem” than the teachers and the school system.

    I have a good friend who teaches in a tiny school on the outskirts of Yosemite Park. Many of her few kids (she’s practically in a one room school house teaching multiple grades from junior high school up to high school seniors) are Hispanic from immigrant legal and illegal families. Her most promising student of the past five years was a Mexican girl who now, at age 19, has just moved back to Mexico to marry a 30 year old…family arranged…to be a baby factory. She went to a graduation party at another Hispanic kid’s place last year…the very graduation was a miracle…and the scene at the apartment was a huge screen TV, a big SUV, and NO BOOKS in sight in the house. This is all just observed evidence of Bruce Fuller’s study.

    I guess we can ask the question, “Is it reasonable to even attempt to educate culturally different kids into the American middle class system?” Or do we just give up and let them blow leaves around in Beverly Hills; change linens at the Hilton; and hang out on street corners defending their gang turf? Do we go back to teaching Ebonics to black kids as a valid language? There is such a thing as over-legitimizing minority cultures in a country that is supposed to be a melting pot. And frankly, if ethnic minorities are so eager to hang onto their language and traditions without also integrating into the American English speaking society, why are they here?

    Many other ethnic minority immigrants went too far, denying their language to their kids be they Poles, Eastern European Jews, Italians, or whatever. By the second generation of US born, many had lost their languages even as the grandparents, the ones who came over, still spoke the old world talk. So maybe it does take three generations for a culture to get up to speed in the best of circumstances, but the families have to at least try. And the schools are caught in the cross-fire.

    Hugo, I don’t know where you live or where you’ve practiced your profession, but you might want to talk to teachers who are in the front lines of dealing with Hispanic and Afro-American kids. These teachers are at a huge disadvantage, and it’s in great part because they, for a host of reasons, do not get the support of either intact, literate, education valuing parents. And then the stupid penalizing of failing schools makes it all worse.

    You can say I’m blaming the parents, but blame puts too negative and charged spin on it all. I’m acknowledging that the parents are at a disadvantage in supporting education because they themselves are deficient in learning, and they do not particularly value literacy of the type it takes to succeed in our American culture.

    It’s not like this with a number of other ethnic groups…Jews, Chinese, Japanese, etc. Call it a stereotype, but look deeper into those cultures to see centuries of highly valuing intellect, learning, debate, and striving to better oneself and the next generation.

    Until we can honestly discuss the negatives of particularly minority cultural traditions, we’re fooked. And it’s these differences that in part fuel this “New Civil War”. The secessionists, the red necks, etc. don’t even want to understand these issues much less deal with them honestly. It’s easier to dehumanize “Mexicans” (the term used in California to describe anyone from south of the border…) or blacks or American Indians (and there’s a whole ‘nuther discussion…), or anyone else who looks different…and then performs differently in school. The reactionary fringe just wants to set up religious based home schooling or charter schools so they can legally exclude “the other”. It’s James Crow, Esq., and it solves very little.

  56. len says:


    A kid hangs himself and within a day, it is all about how his death can be used to legitimize piracy because copyright law thwarts innovation.

    Damm the web cabal. Damm them to hell and beyond.

  57. Hugo St. Victor says:

    No man, I’m not actually blaming anybody, rather I’m asking that the finger-pointing end. Gee, do you reckon a system that pits childrearers, biological and surrogate, against one another might be flawed in its conception, might be a factory of abusive disutility? The starting point, after all, is the love and protection of the innocent! Do you see what I mean? It might’ve made sense in 1934 or 1958, but it’s rickety Tower of Babel now, and even Jefferson in 1800 thought it foolish. And nobody on our shores has had greater respect for teachers than he. For my part (I taught children and teachers and Ed. Profs-to-Be in California, and now reside outside Atlanta), all along my eye has been, almost solely, on African American and Latino schoolchildren.

    I really thank you for the vivid, memorably touching story from Coarsegold or wherever. The bookless scene you set penetrates my Fifth Chakra, and I’m less than half-kidding. Unfortunately it recalls some awfully touching memories from days when I worked with farmworkers and their children toward their joint education, they’re enculturation. Reluctantly I must disagree with your assertion that acculturation and societal “mainstreaming” require fully three generations. That’s just not historically valid. Kindly bear in mind that Bruce Fuller is expert on the potent sociological frameset of Socialization whereas I am trained, by some of the same people as Bruce’s, in Historical Anthropology. My reason for our asynchronous divergence, his and mine (he precedes me) is, respectfully, that Sociology is excessively presentist and therefore blinds laymen to the fact of how young and tentative is the now teetering experiment in American universal, compulsory, public schooling. It’s merely the newest, most costly structure of “educational” service delivery, and Socialization is not by any means its strong suit, its priority nor even the criterion of success it magisterially sets for itself. The evaluation of performance of the structure-as-structure really calls for the dispassionate analytical skills of someone such as you. From my heart of hearts, len, from my remaing brain stem, this I believe.

    Now, as for the scene in the home at Yosemite’s gate–incidentally I’m a Lifelong Member of the Yosemite Association–let me recount something and see whether you think it applies, or how. It has to do with Rick’s astute observation about the need for interpenetration of learning betwixt the school and the home. In 1998, I think it was, the California Governor and Legislature, finding $24 Million in unexpected tax receipts (but never, ever giving a thought to returning the proceeds to their owners) asked me to scope the cost of using the moneys to “wire schools” for e.g. broadband. Deadline: 24 hours. So I ran the (inadequate) costing and provided that to them the next morning. At the same time I argued that it would be a horrible waste of public money.

    They asked, What else, then? I said, “Return it!”. The staff laughed. So the query was reiterated and I passed around a one-pager explaining how far the $24 Million would go toward emplacing set-top boxes in the living rooms of every secondary pupil in the state. Two years before I’d delivered a rave review to UCLA, among other things research arm of the State of California, of the new Rosetta Stone language-learning software generated from the erstwhile Monterey Language Institute, a former spy school that didn’t have to mess with our System’s time-NOT-on-task. The afternoon prior to distribution of my one-pager I’d called the remaining three Bay Area manufacturers of semiconductor hardware + software, as well as an Irish-inspired software company in San Diego, and explained the situation to them, asking each what it could do toward delivering an ultra-inexpensive box–for purchase or lease–with peripherals that could jibe with a family TV, obviate a schoolchild’s textbooks, and work interactively for teacher and students, and toward the co-education of the student’s family. We then exchanged faxes narrowing design parameters and narrowing the cost structure, and the manufacturers all said they could do it for less than $250 a pop, and potentially far less depending on the potentially unprecedented scale of the purchase order, and the software San Diegans reckoned they could provide the same service, soup to nuts, for $12-15/month. That was in 1988.

    Len, presumably the books were absent in that family room because literacy was not present. Literacy has been in free fall in the USA for at least 30 years, and immigrant and post-Slavery populations really don’t pencil out as the causes of the free fall. I firmly believe it’s time to look forward, to the restructuring of our delivery systems. Moreover I believe that all of you, for different reasons, belong at that other table, at which Prof. Taplin again should play host. And I see new, more fulfilling and lucrative working lives for our quietly heroic teachers.

  58. Hugo St. Victor says:

    Here’s the thing: it wasn’t $24M–please excuse the crafty decoy–it was Two Hundred Fifty Million Dollars, which Governor Gray Davis decided to squander the next day. Easy come, easy go. Fuck literacy and numeracy. The System requires feeding, and you dance with them what brung ya…

  59. Hugo St. Victor says:

    …sorry, Rick, it was your well-told story from nearby Yosemite Park. My beef is with hyper-analytical Bullard, so I concentrated fire on him. Sorry, Rick, for the disrespect. We’ll work this all out eventually, I do believe. But I’m sorry for the shit you and I have seen. That must end.

  60. Hugo St. Victor says:

    Len, I really have no comment upon the tragic suicide of Aaron Schwatz. I mean, I can pray for the happy landing of his winged spirit, but other than that am useless. Certainly I do not identify with anyone who surrenders an inch.

  61. Rick Turner says:

    Well, there’s a future for those whose literacy skills doesn’t rise much above barely passing a driver’s test and punching icons on a screen, but that future is living in the permanent underclass. Real literacy skills will be required of all of the current and future potentially undereducated except future brain injured NFL players and pro boxers and high jumping basketball players…the gladiator class of current society…if they are going to get into the shrinking middle class. And only the well educated who have literacy and verbal skills will rise to the top 10% of wage earners.

    But I’m a guy who thinks that we’ll have a permanent unemployed population larger than any in history…if you read the real numbers, not the “official” current bullshit. Automation is taking the jobs. It’s only a matter of time before there won’t be any cooks in a fast food restaurant, for instance. There’s nothing a burger flipper or fries dipper does that can’t be better done by robots. It’ll be CNC Cook plus Automat in less than five years at some chain or other. Turn Roombas loose in hotel rooms, and design a robotic bed maker, and you can cut the maid service in half. Gardening is a bit harder to automate unless the gardens are fully standardized, but watering is already timed and automated. I guess we’ll need grape pluckers and lettuce pickers… So that’s where you’ll find the less-than-literate among us.

    So how many generations will it take for peasant-class Hispanics to achieve parity? One, US born? Two? Three? I say at least three, on average. Sure, some will do it in one or two, but they have to be exceptional self-motivated kids. With African Americans, it’s been a downward trend to believe all the data; unfortunately, they’re going backwards and many are less literate than many blacks from the 1890s on into the Harlem Renaissance. And again, of course there are exceptions, but they’re not in the majority when it comes to urban black male (in particular) youth…young men with few job prospects that meet their rather inadequate skill level. And the fact that blacks and Hispanics hate one another doesn’t help, either…

  62. Rick Turner says:

    Would you like to see what lower middle class manufacturing jobs used to look like?

    Here: http://www.dump.com/assemblyline/

    Mind numbing, exactly like Lang’s Metropolis, but the guys on that line could afford to support families on one income…without much education…

    Now every one of those rivets has been replace by a spot weld done by a robot. Every one of those nuts is put in place by a robot. And that was pretty automated for it’s day…

    It’s over.

    Hence Revolution 2.01 or “a new civil war” as Jon puts it.

  63. len says:

    Think concurrent mini-revs. The Swartz incident is emblematic of the revolution already in progress as the smart ones or at least more technically apt are already overthrowing the existing order. Note in the linked article that the first paragraph laments the bullying by the judicial system and the second directly uses his suicide to prompt copyright reform.

    Who is being overthrown? You are. Burnett. etc. Disruptive innovation is what they call it and how we embrace a mini-rev depends on who’s ox is being gored. That is the problem of Jon’s retreat to the Civil War of Old. It has almost nothing to do with regions. You are fighting the last Civil War and only noticing the new ones when they directly affect your own interests.

    Meanwhile kids get into these battles without realizing they are real, people go to jail and their mentors won’t come to save them. “Oh to live on Sugar Mountain”.

  64. Rick Turner says:

    And do the over-educated intellectuals even know what a spot weld is? And that’s a problem, too. The real world is not all lofty philosophical debates and bean counters and bankers.

    There’s a groundswell called “the Maker Movement” with really smart geeks wanting to be hands-on building stuff. These are the next Hewletts and Packards, the next Wozniaks and Jobs, the next Edisons and Teslas. Where’s the support other than at exceptional high schools and with guys like Dean Kamen supporting kid’s robotics teams?

  65. len says:

    Not usually unless they hung out with their dad as I did. There is a lot to be said for father to son and apprenticeships.

    They run a statewide robotics contest here.

  66. Rick Turner says:

    Len, that robotics thing is “FIRST Robotics”, and my son has been involved all four years of high school. It’s fantastic. They have a complete CNC equipped machine shop at San Diguito Academy as well as a guitar making course in the wood shop. The kids just come alive in those programs, and they not only apply what they are learning in physics, math, algebra, geometry, and calculus, they go beyond and become autodidacts in fields like CAD and CAM. My kid just had his Harvard interview, and the interviewer went nuts for his engineering and design portfolio and asked to keep copies of all his CAD work, making notes I think to forward the stuff on back to the engineering department. That is what is possible in a public high school with great parental support and encouragement.

  67. len says:

    Yep. That is exactly what it is. My friend, Elizabeth Douglas, takes her daughters to compete. Beth had just enough comp-sci in college before she became a single mom and financial advisor to get them involved and made a family event of it. I have a lot of respect for that gal and the way she handles her girls. She sings in the praise band. Keeps the girls with her, shows them a really fine example. Money? Not a lot but a strong family, a strong church, a strong sense of right and wrong.

    It really is about the family and the culture. You’re right. Opportunities don’t mean anything if people don’t step up.

  68. Rick Turner says:

    One of the the things that is significant about the robotics teams is the deep involvement of girls. From what I’ve seen, it’s close to 50%.

  69. len says:

    So it’s a 50 50 that we get Rhoda before we get Rosie?

  70. Rick Turner says:

    As in “looks like it’s you and me again…”?

  71. len says:

    No woman I know will build AF709 unless the robot does windows. Last I checked, Julie Newmar won’t climb ladders and George Jetson is still stuck on the scrolling sidewalk.

  72. Hugo St. Victor says:

    In no particular order:
    1. Rick, that’s encouraging that Harvard is still reserving the practice of portfolio assessment and that your son’s work captivates the College.
    2. It’s also great to read here of innovative approaches to bridging artisanal Crafts to the mastery of highly technological skills, to meld the two. (Len, for one, does this by mixing and producing his own music rooted in the somewhat old, the older and even the oldests forms, such that a wedding of the Past and the Future is built in).
    3. I hadn’t heard of the current “Maker Movement”, and wonder whether y’all might see a parallel to the Hippies’ rejuvenation of the Arts & Crafts Movement (which of course began as a Scots-English, Christian Socialist rebellion against mass industrial manufacturing in favor of skilled and beautifully crafty expressions of self-reliance and extra-economic sustainability). The potential parallel might spell a kind of disjointed continuity. What do you think?
    4. It’s really hard to discuss American illiteracy because the rates have been so bad for so long; second, because if you report the potent cumulative data to citizens they think you’re claiming to have been raped by a Bigfoot; and because, yes, the prospects for Americans as secure workers and cultural participants is really crappy. However, I for one no sooner would own a Turner guitar extruded by robots than I would a Japanese Browning over-and-under or a Chinese Jeep. There’s always the Market. Even Dewey, a man of the hard left, explained for forty years why the future of the Republic largely would depend upon our capacity to introduce tasy habits of taste in the Young, the future movers & shapers of Democracy. As far as he was concerned one of the essential rationales for universal schooling is, as it were, that so few here are afforded the aesthetic advantages of John F. Kennedy, Jacqueline Bouvier, nor any of us here including Jon.
    5. On the symbolic point about spot welding. We’ve been trying to concentrate fire on this increasingly for about 10 years, and probably is too late: still about half of the old Trades in the American Labor system retain structures of training & advancement in increasingly sophisticated (and financially rewarding) lines of work. Some of this discipline can be revived. But there’s a grid of prejudices: on one axis, formal vs. “nonformal” or lesser-legitimated learnings; on the other axis, Education vs. Vocational Education, the Liberal Arts contra Career Technical Training.

    This is even fuzzier bullshit now than it was in 1958. And really we probably should fuzz it up far further, with public funding streams and therefore tax structures to match, while somehow memorializing the old distinctions. By the 1880s John Dewey was among the twenty or so most educated, even “over-educated” native-born Americans. Yet for the rest of his long working life he never gave a damn about Elites, only about his actual countryfolk.

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