Through The Static

August 12, 2008

INTELLIGENCE! What Is It? Being Educated Out of Our Creativity

‘pologies for lack of witty title.  bobblebot is slogging away at ze moment.

::whirs::

Here’s a segment from the Ted conference they hold every year in Monterey, California.  Sir Ken Robinson (yeh, yeh, SIR!) is charming and funny in that witty, British-but-not-pretentious sort of way and talks about a lot of key issues that so many of us with a bachelors degree find post-undergrad.  He goes off on a lot of tangents but entertainingly so.

Okie dokes — I found his little CATS choreographer chestnut at the end a little too lofty and idealistic.  That isn’t always the case, her life story is the EXCEPTION and not the rule.

BUT he does bring up interesting points:

* intelligence is diverse, dynamic and interactive
* creativity comes through the interaction between multiple intelligences
* we need a new concept for an educational system.  our brains are mined for very specific kinds of intelligences while others are devalued, ironic, since even technological innovation is bread by imagination and creativity.

BobbLebot’s gonna get a little personal here, but when ze robot looks back upon the 2 years it spent in education, there was something about the job that kept it there: it was dynamic, interactive, emotionally engaging and it felt like it was helping people.  Helping students.

But not in the ways in which its helping was valued.

Emotionally abused, isolated, bullied and undervalued kids often hung around the robot’s purple table.  The bobblebot learned something: even privileged kids have problems! In any case, it took a lot of work, a lot of trust and a lot of patience, but what kept the BobbLebot there was the sense that it was helping these kids gain some kind of sense of value for being different, odd or living inside their own BRAINS.  BRAINS!!!

The thing that killed the robot’s spirit was the shift.  Beyond giving tykes the skills to read and write and basic math, the bot was sometimes pressured to help them with their homework or help train them for standardized testing.  And all of this was just so incredibly USELESS!

Basically, if a student can’t pass a standardized test, he or she can’t move onto the next grade — which is a problem in and of itself because the new grade is increasingly geared toward training them for more standardized testing.  TRAINING.  Not educating.  Making sure they MEMORIZE, not learn to think for themselves.  They’re being trained to learn not to think at all.

What was the bot being paid to teach them?  To learn the skills so that they’ll succeed in an educational system that teaches them that if they don’t learn a certain skill set, if they can’t find the answer in an allotted amount of time, if they need more than a single scratch piece of paper or get confused when filling in bubbles, they’re essentially worthless.  They’re gearing them to learn (mostly) arbitrary skills or sets of knowledge (beyond reading, comprehension and basic math) that aren’t really applicable in undergrad anyway.

They’re pressing families to invest money in SAT prep and educational centers for their kids who fall behind, because if they fall behind they can’t get into this private school or get into that AP class to get into this kind of university — AUUUGH!  RAT RACE!  RAT RACE!!

Their brains ARE being mined in a very specific way that is quite disturbing.  This isn’t to say that math sucks (though for the bot, numbers and figures don’t naturally mix – BLIP!) or that physics is without value, but they certainly are overvalued, especially for the many who really don’t have an interest or aptitude for them.  They are being conditioned to desire or work for these fields in ways that destroy creativity.  It’s all for pushing towards economic productivity.

It’s not even about technological innovation, the way education is framed.  It’s about thinking in a very linear fashion.  It’s about plugging in very specific formulas and equations — on a metaphoric as well as literal level.  When we’re taught Shakespeare (BLEH!  not to bash the bard, but MUST he be the standard of ALL Western literary achievement?) we’re taught to read his work in a very specific way, to perform it in a very specific way, to write essays on it in a very specific fashion.  You see, even in highschool English lit, there IS a right and wrong answer, apparently.  Or a right and wrong way to answer.  Fill in the blank.  Agree or disagree.  Thesis statement.  Support.  Quote.  “Analysis” — which isn’t real analysis anyway, but more of a translation of what you think the author’s already saying.

And it’s not even about educational reform anymore. Fixing leaks in an oxymoronic system will not fix the problem.  More teachers is not the answer.  More money is not the answer.  It’s the MATERIALS.  It’s about what is VALUED in an academic sense.  It’s about creative thinking and creative teaching.  But people keep telling us that there aren’t the resources for that.  (resources = funds in their brains)

::ga-DUNK!::

When has creativity ever needed dollars and cents?  Creative things CAN be MADE with materials that are PURCHASED with money, but money is not creativity.  Just like scoring high on a standardized test is not a sign of real intelligence.

The thing is, if the standards of standardized testing (bubbling in, memorization, sitting still, time management) become the authority for entry into higher education (which is getting increasingly static in what’s become standardized academic material – film studies, creative writing, etc) then what are the chances that the brilliant minds will be allowed to burn as bright as stars when these very minds are being mined for rote facts, compliance and mediocrity?

QUESTION: do you think THIS dude would have survived the very academic environment in which we are currently situated???

He’s brilliant, he’s excited, he can’t think while sitting still — can you IMAGINE being in class with this dude?  Most of all – beyond the performance, beyond the eccentricities, he’s HUMAN.  We’re not training humans in our schools.  We’re not training robots.  (robots are COOL!)  We’re training machines.

We need a NEW paradigm.  This sh*t has gone too far.

July 10, 2008

Baby Food: Yo, Britain! Yo Tykes Are RACIST! <- buh, not really

Filed under: Education,Idiots,Oh White People...,PoLicing,Race — bobbleheadedbob @ 8:28 am

Ze BobbLeboT is om nom nomming on astraL racial projections. This should go under ze “Oh, White People!” category. But first – though BobbLebot is the first to admit to writing quite poorly on TTS, BobbLebot is hypocritically critical of and the 1st to criticize poorly written articles for (inter)national news publications. This would be one of them. Just look at ze alarmist title.

Story from Telegraph News:

Toddlers who dislike spicy food ‘racist’

The National Children’s Bureau, which receives £12 million a year, mainly from Government funded organisations, has issued guidance to play leaders and nursery teachers advising them to be alert for racist incidents among youngsters in their care.

This could include a child of as young as three who says “yuk” in response to being served unfamiliar foreign food.

The guidance by the NCB is designed to draw attention to potentially-racist attitudes in youngsters from a young age.

BobbLebot sees RED FLAG #1 – and it ain’t affiliated with any sort of Bolshevik revolution. Or revolution of any sorts. Or evolution for that matter. YES! Let’s solve racism by having adult kettles calling ze ittle rittle baby pots black.

don’t oppress me!

It alerts playgroup leaders that even babies can not be ignored in the drive to root out prejudice as they can “recognise different people in their lives”.

Buh… because recognizing that “diversity’s COOL! =D” has the power to drive out the root of prejudice? Oy(L). Who are the people organizing this program again?

The 366-page guide for staff in charge of pre-school children, called Young Children and Racial Justice, warns: “Racist incidents among children in early years settings tend to be around name-calling, casual thoughtless comments and peer group relationships.”

It advises nursery teachers to be on the alert for childish abuse such as: “blackie”, “Pakis”, “those people” or “they smell”.

racist-in-training

The guide goes on to warn that children might also “react negatively to a culinary tradition other than their own by saying ‘yuk'”.

Staff are told: “No racist incident should be ignored. When there is a clear racist incident, it is necessary to be specific in condemning the action.”

And yet, there’s nothing specific in this article that addresses how exactly the actions will be condemned. If anything, there is a stress on being alert – ALERT – to possible racist attitudes.

::BEEP! BEEP!!!:: <–ze unLoading of a canner WORMS

Warning that failing to pick children up on their racist attitudes could instil prejudice, the NCB adds that if children “reveal negative attitudes, the lack of censure may indicate to the child that there is nothing unacceptable about such attitudes”.

racist

BoBo – picking YER NOSE is WRONG! Bad BoBo, Bad!!! ß doesn’t mean BoBo won’t find pleasure in picking its nose in private.

Nurseries are encouraged to report as many incidents as possible to their local council. The guide added: “Some people think that if a large number of racist incidents are reported, this will reflect badly on the institution. In fact, the opposite is the case.”

Korean dogeater <– RACIST!

Okie dokes. First there’s the article. The very title is the pot calling the kettle “bLack(ie)”. “TODDLERS WHO DISLIKE SPICY FOODS RACIST” reveals the writer’s own racism by, in a facetiously alarmist tone, drawing a conclusion that, based off the NCB’s new guidelines, a distaste for unfamiliar (to Whites, at least), ie, “ethnic,” foods equates to racism. Basically, the “reporter” is trivializing the issue of race and racism – and you can tell in her cursory attention to the people behind the NCB – racially – and what exactly motivated their new aims to police the behavior of children. So yeah. BAD ARTICLE. Moving on — !

Okay, the National Childrens Bureau’s got mad problems as well.

*** They are advising participants in the program to police and report the behaviors, attitudes and ideology of children.

***********Ideology? (idiot-logy?)  With children? Yeah, I know. Being in preschool, I sincerely doubt a 4-year-old has sincerely examined issues of color outside making sure to keep them Crayolas inside the lines.

************Attitudes: Okay – let’s bring this back to food – and on this point, the reporter was right in saying this was a bit redunkulous. Let’s say I’ve got an aversion to bologna-Kraft-singles-mayonnaise-sandwich-on-soggy-Wonderbread. Let’s just say that. And let’s say that Adam White-Smith came to school with a sack of these bologna-Kraft-singles-mayonnaise-sandwich-on-soggy-Wonderbread and I said, “Ewww, NASTY!!!” First of all, a little birdie in me is doubting that the teacher’s going to equate my attitude as racism. HOWEVER, if I brought a vat of kimchi and hotdogs marinating in umeboshi and Adam White-Smith, who’s never known a vinegary pickle in his poor, White-bread life says, “Ewww, NASTY!!!” according to this program, he will be labeled as… RRRRRRRRRRRRRACIST!!! What am I saying? Or, what is it that I’m speculating? I’m speculating that the teachers employing these new measures already have a racialized and ethnographic perception of food – what is and isn’t deemed as “ethnic” or “Other.” Labeling a “GROSS!” for non-Whitebread foods is still labeling a difference from Whiteness, and hence, still teaching children – paradoxically – that difference is present in our foods and that difference is bad.

**+**+**+**+** While I do think that difference is imperative to recognize, creating a hierarchy of difference starting with food is also problematic. Ever had a parent force feed you something you didn’t want to eat with a smile on your face? Yeah, chances are, even though to this day you don’t remember what it tastes like, you aren’t inclined to eat it now. BobbLeBot’s going off on tangents agaiiiiiiiiiiiin…. Wooooooo!

**********Behavioral Policing. Has repression from a higher authority ever really worked? When alcohol was banned, there were speakeasies. When lynch mobs and racial profiling were criminalized… wait – they’re still here? With the advent of the wiretappings and designated “free-speech” areas post-9/11, did that stop the dissent? Or did that pour a rittle bit o overpriced oil on a flickering flame? To tell Adam White-Smith to stop calling Alice Kim a “China Bitch” or to get Rashid Brown to stop calling John Henderson a “Mudderfudding Cracker” doesn’t nip racism in the bud.

**+**+**+**+**Language is an amorphous thing for kids and toddlers. If they don’t know the name for one thing, they’ll make one up for it. If “blackie pakki” is off-limits, you can be sure as hell that a new term will come up to replace it. Even if it’s something as ridiculous as “ring dings bobbledybat” – the meaning behind those words will remain the same. The thing is, you can remove words (or try), but you can’t police the connotation. When Jeebus followers couldn’t openly practice their religion, they drew rittle fishies in the sand. FISHIES.

“Those people.” “They smell.” <– sorry, no commentary. Just found that frakking hilarious.

Sure, ze BobbLeboT is all for White “allies” edumacating themselves and returning to communities of Whiteness to educate, but this is reee-dunculosity. Granted, I don’t know if the NCB is 100% White, but I’ll wager 500 pennies that a good majority of them are, and that the peoples of colors on the board are most likely bourgeois, upwardly mobile and have internalized a desire for a seat at the lunch counter in lieu of frakking the system.

Essentially: what business do White and “White” people have in policing racism when racism was created by and for upholding the structures of White supremacy?

June 10, 2008

Report Takes Aim at ‘Model Minority’ Stereotype of Asian-American Students

Filed under: Culture,Education,Higher Education,It's Too Punny!,K-12 Education,Race — disciplepete @ 5:15 pm

Article in the NYT about a new report regarding the “model minority” stereotype which we might be familiar with and which my colleague Tranimal exemplifies. HA!

The image of Asian-Americans as a homogeneous group of high achievers taking over the campuses of the nation’s most selective colleges came under assault in a report issued Monday.

…it pokes holes in stereotypes about Asian-Americans and Pacific Islanders, including the perception that they cluster in science, technology, engineering and math. And it points out that the term “Asian-American” is extraordinarily broad, embracing members of many ethnic groups…

Their educational backgrounds, the report said, vary widely: while most of the nation’s Hmong and Cambodian adults have never finished high school, most Pakistanis and Indians have at least a bachelor’s degree.

“The notion of lumping all people into a single category and assuming they have no needs is wrong,” said Alma R. Clayton-Pederson, vice president of the Association of American Colleges and Universities, who was a member of the commission the College Board financed to produce the report.

Check out the whole article if you’re interested in this topic. I also have some observations on it based on my experience as a substitute teacher in my high school district, but I got things to do and people to see so I’ll comment later.

June 8, 2008

OMGZ! No More Hangovers. It’s SCIENCE. Buy NOW!

Filed under: Activism,Drinking,Education,Science,Technology — bobbleheadedbob @ 8:39 am

Consider this the sequel to my Hungover postage. Without the vomitous pumpkins and red cups, yups.

INFOMERCIAL VOICE: A new product’s on the market, and consider it the EmerGen-C to alcohol. FOR REALS. It’s called Sobrietal and it supposedly cuts down your blood alcohol level by 56% percent. Worried about that Breathalyzer (sp, too lazy) test? Or getting to class post-kegger? Sobrietal can help. And SO CAN YOU!

Here’s some of the breakdown from the product website:

Sobrietol® is the only product that actually reduces blood alcohol levels. It was developed at the University of Georgia under a grant, in part, from the National Institutes of Health.

Sobrietol® was found to decrease the level of blood alcohol by 56% in independent tests as measured by Oregon State Troopers. The next day will be like you didn’t drink at all!

Many products claim to eliminate hangovers. Only Sobrietol® is proven to remove alcohol from the body (and it’s patent precludes other companies from copying the technology). Replenishing vitamins and nutrients is great but ridding your body of excess alcohol is the key when one has over consumed.

The thing is, though, that you have to take it before drinking or during. So if it’s reducing your blood alcohol level WHILE drinking, the perpetual undergrad in me is wondering if it’ll kill my buzz. Cuz I likes to be free, u bizzy bees. Bzzzzzzzzzzz….

::falls off barstool::

Promises:

  • Scientifically Proven to Reduce Blood Alcohol
  • Removes Alcohol up to 3 Times Faster Than Normal
  • Prevents Hangovers

FAQ excerpts:

Q. What is Sobrietol®?

A: Sobrietol® is a dietary supplement developed through advanced biotechnology. It contains special ingredients (enzymes, cofactors, and substrates) which have been proven to remove alcohol from the body. Independent tests measuring blood alcohol levels by breathalyzers operated with Oregon State Police, resulted in an average of 56% lower blood alcohol.

Q: How does Sobrietol® differ from all the products claiming to cure hangovers?

A: Sobrietol® is unique. It is the only patented product (U.S. patent 5,759,539) proven to remove alcohol from the body. All other products attempt to compensate for the damage drinking alcohol has already done to the body by trying to replacing nutrients and vitamins, and fighting dehydration. Sobrietol® is the first, and only product, to actually remove the alcohol, the real source of the problem. Remember the old saying “an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure”.

Q. Do you mean Sobrietol® will remove alcohol from my system if I drink and then decide I want to be sober?

A. Yes.

But why would someone want to do that? WHYYYYYYYYYYYYYY??? Still doesn’t answer my question about the buzzkill factor. THE MOST IMPORTANT ONE OF THEM ALL.

Okay, well, for $39.95 you can order a pack of 8 and get back to me.

May 23, 2008

DON’T STOP — BULLY-eve-ing!

Okay, so the title of this post is a bit misleading, for I DO, in fact, what people TO stop bully-eve-ing. But I am quite tired this morning for no particularly particular reason, and hence the drought of clever title-age. If that even makes any sense.

So I saw this article on bullying, which implies it’s on the rise in schools, kinda alarmist, but it did shy away from blaming school violence on the media. It shifts the blame, instead, on a home life that doesn’t inculcate its children with adequate social skills and ties the solution to this “problem” to bringing social skills education to schools — though it fails to describe what this programming entails or how effective it really is. Anyway, here’s some snippets to see if it gives you anything – brought to you by — ze AlterNets:

Dealing with the School Bully Epidemic

Unless you’ve been living in a cave the last few weeks, you have no doubt been bombarded with the horrific images of the recent rash of violent school-based incidents. Teens luring a cheerleader classmate to a home and beating her repeatedly while the video camera rolls; a teacher being assaulted in her classroom by students; a high-schooler throwing a metal chair at another in class knocking the victim unconscious; a 13-year middle schooler who admits that he planned to shoot up his school because he was being bullied.

::raises hand::

ze bobblebot has been living in a cave. A dark, dark cave.

::covers face with hands::

GAHHH, DON’T LOOK AT ME! IT HURTS!

What’s wrong with this picture?

We as a country spend billions of dollars annually on anti-bullying programs in our schools, yet the incidents not only continue, they appear to be getting worse in severity and frequency, and occur in increasingly-younger students. Today, our kids stand a one-in-four chance of becoming victims of some form of school-based violence before they reach high school. News flash: what we’re doing isn’t working!

Yay! An actual statistic! Though we know not where it comes from. Hmmm… 1 in 4. You know those stats match the chances of rape at UC Santa Barbara? Just a random fact.

But newsflash: we spend billions of dollars on anti-bullying programs in our schools? Where were THEY when I was in middle school??? Not that ze bobblebot missed out on anything, since apparently they’re not WORKING, and they’re not WORKING because they are BROKEN and they are BROKEN because something is WRONG…with ze picture.

So, the knee-jerk reaction is to play the blame game: it’s YouTube, it’s the Internet, it’s broken homes, it’s our global lifestyle. But, blaming isn’t fixing. We have to accept that instead of trying to minimize or manage the existing problem of bullying and school-based violence, we have to focus on preventing it in the first place. Today’s children are just not coming into school — into life — equipped with adequate social skills and character development that helps them understand that this kind of behavior is simply not OK. They are not taught to respect and value differences among people, in opinions, in actions. “It’s all about me!” is the mantra of many of our youth today, and the behavior we see splattered all over the ‘net is the result.

Well here’s a little interesting psychoanalysis. We certainly are a part of generation ME — though, I wouldn’t say social skills have gone totally down the drain. I will say, however, people-to-people or direct-line-of-communication skills appears to be suffering a bit. But whatever pockets of socialization have broken down have been filled with texting, facebooking, blogging, and the like. It’s a different form of social communication, but communication nonetheless, and a whole new set of social skills… that perhaps maybe the bobblebot isn’t too fond of (CALL ME, JERKFACE! YOU KNOW WHO YOU ARE I RUV YOU!!! ::shakes fist:: ) but there isn’t a lack of socialization.

What is “character-building” btw, omg, brb, lol, insert-emoticon? This question has ze bobblebot’s bull(y)-sh*t sensors up and running.

People may argue that social skills education belongs in the home, not in the schools, and I’d be the first to agree. But, our schools have become a war zone, where teachers spend more time disciplining students and trying to keep order than they do teaching!

Okay, yeppers, there’s some of that OH-GAWD-SAVE-THE-CHILDREN language going on up in here, but what interests me is this framing: Our Schools Have Become a War Zone. WHAT has become a war zone? The SCHOOLS. Okay, I’m listening, I’m listening…

The good news is that there is a better way.

Really?

::grabs credit card and waits for the toll-free number::

Social skills education works, when properly implemented.

So does a tree branch to the back of your legs when you’re 7, but some social workers aren’t too fond of that one, either.

::SIGH::

Okay, okay, I’m listening. What is this social skills education you speak of?

The good news is that there is a better way. Social skills education works, when properly implemented. Bullying is not just reduced — it’s eliminated. Not because there are more “enforcers” around, in the form of extra administrators, counselors, or police, but because the students won’t stand for it. A comprehensive social skills program, integrated into the core curriculum, can restore order, sanity, and productivity to the schools. It raises student and teacher morale — it even contributes to better test scores. It helps produce not only good students, but good people.

Rhetoric, rhetoric, rhetoric — dudes, rhetoric is MY (unpaid) JOB! Where are the stats (as much as I distrust statistical evidence), where is the EMPIRICAL EVIDENCE that bullying is reduced. What EXACTLY is social skills education? All I know is what it supposedly DOES (restores order, sanity, and productivity while raising morale and better test scores while baking you a plate o warm, Toll House cookies), but not what it IS.

What, exactly, allows for them to make the connection between higher test scores and social skills programming? WHATEVER. What concerns me are the effects that we’re supposed to desire from this type of programming: ORDER, SANITY, PRODUCTIVITY.

We need to keep this well-oiled machine up and running! Especially when we’re short on oil. Sorry, bobblebot’s going on tangentials again.

How many more of our kids must be intimidated, hurt, or killed before it becomes important enough to do something about instead of just talk about it around the water cooler the next morning? Our children deserve to feel safe, to feel valued when they leave our homes to go to school. We as parents and as taxpayers must insist that the increasing cycle of school violence be stopped.

Instead of just shaking our heads and saying what a shame it all is, let’s ask ourselves the tough questions about why it happened, and actually be willing to be honest with the answer. Then we can start doing something to fix it.

Ahhhhhrgh. I need to post up an excerpt about the state of Holiness our “children” have been anointed with by Lee Edelmann. (one n or 2?) ANYWHO, another post, another time, folks!

As you can tell, I’m not really feeling this whole PROTECT OUR CHILDREN schpiel tugging away at ze heartstrings. Save it for an ABC Family After School Special, puh-LEEZ, sheez!

Okay, IS bullying on the rise? Because as far as I know, it’s been around for a while — and not just in America. It’s been a probs in Southie Korea and is known as ijime in Japan. BTW — a gREAT drama to watch would be GTO: Great Teacher Onizuka — kyaaaaaaaaaa! It’s awesome! And Onizuka sensei is, like, the SAXIEST virgin arrive! Ahhhh!

great teacher onizuka

though ze bobblebot would highly recommend the live-action drama in lieu of the movie or anime. FOR SERIOUS.

Anyway, back to bullying and blaming it on culture, on the home, on the lack of social skills in “today’s generation” — and perhaps it is a result of ALL THESE THINGS interacting with one another — but is it also possible that bullying is a phenomenon that is built into the very structure of the school system?

A school is an institution that’s supposed to be educating students (though THAT assessment could be up for debate), but it’s also a system that works to police our children, isn’t it? Administrators, counselors, faculty members and the like are just as invested in creating an understanding of what is and isn’t acceptable behavior.

No facial piercings, no punky-colored hair dye, uniforms, skirts have to be of a certain length, you can eat your trans-fat laden snack we sold to you HERE, but not over THERE, even though no one’s hanging out over there, hey — you, yeah, you, what are you doing, can you open up your backpack? Yeah, thanks. No, I don’t care who started it, both of you will cooperate with your friendly neighborhood officers. Pens down — I said PENS DOWN — ten points off your final exam.

Yeah — and since when were cops an integral staple OF our schools?

I dunno about y’all, but since graduating from Rosemont Middle School, a set of 8-foot-high steel bars have been erected around the perimeter, supposedly to keep our students “safe”, but from the outside, it looks like a really sad cage, keeping the students from escaping from all that “safety.”

Let’s say a school is an institution of edumacation. But it’s also just as much a tool for behavioral conditioning. And in tandem with a hormonally raging teen who’s got its own sh*t to deal with in and outside the home, there’s school to deal with as well. The enforcement of behavioral bureaucracy. So how do you THINK this repression is going to manifest in the publicly-funded corridors of ORDER and PRODUCTIVITY?

Okay, it’s official: the bobblebot is now speaking babblebot.

::wires fried — and crispy!::

May 12, 2008

“Science Versus Religion”: What Doth This All MEME?!!

It annoys me when the very idea of spirituality is equated with stuperstition in favor of science’s empirical evidence. This is not to say that we should be ruled solely by myth, legend, or religion — or that science and spirituality cannot be reconciled. Whether or not Religion or Spirituality is accepted as Truth or Reality, it is the human imagination and intellect that created and continues to create and refine these rituals, these codes of human ethics, and I do believe there’s got to be something more than human irrationality that allows for these patterns, practices, and belief systems to persist.

stained glass

But then again, this is all coming from a gal who has a weak spot for, oh, I don’t know, Neon Genesis Evangelion, LOST, Gargoyles (greatest American animated series of my generation), Ayashi no Ceres, Calculating God, Octavia E. Butler stuff, and Death Note. And did I mention that I’ve been particularly enamored with Battlestar Galactica for the past 52 hours? In the midst of FINALS???

gargoyes

Sure, I had a crush on Goliath, like 92% of the audience, but I always had a soft spot for Lexington!  BTW, am I the only one who found Xanatos hot?  ::fans self to cool down circuits::

I am not going to romanticize the unexplained phenomenon ingrained within the very fibers of science or bash the “pseudo-scientific” qualities of established fields such as psychoanalysis. Science is just as rationally irrational and driven by speculation and human imagination as spirituality and the ideological values we are willing to die for. Whether it is the as hokey as The Secret or as moving as those hidden meanings in formation of water crystals, it is important to have seemingly contradictory fields engage in a process of dialectics — having their ideas bounce off one another until alternatives are found and new contradictions are produced. ANYWAY, I’ll get on with the uber cool article I picked up on Truthdig.com.

From Truthdig.com

Render Unto Darwin That Which Is Darwin’s

The German chemist August Kekulé fell asleep in his study after a fruitless struggle to identify the chemical structure of benzene. He dreamed of a snake eating its own tail and awoke instantly. The dream gave him, through the ancient language of symbolism, the circular structure of the benzene ring that had eluded his conscious mind. The dream may have had its basis in Kekulé’s experiments, but it was the nonrational that brought him his discovery…

Science is often as inexact and intuitive as theology, philosophy and every other human endeavor. A mirror demonstrates the randomness of nature. A mirror reflects about 95 percent of light hitting it. The other 5 percent passes through the mirror. Photons, which are invisible, are either reflected or pass through the mirror’s surface. But there is no way of knowing which photons will be reflected and which will be absorbed. Electrons are also subject to these quantum effects. This led Werner Heisenberg to formulate his “uncertainty principle.” This principle states that we cannot know everything about a particle. If we can determine a particle’s position we cannot determine its momentum. We can measure momentum, but in this measurement we lose the particle’s exact position. We can know a particle’s momentum or its position. We cannot know both with definitive accuracy.

Science is not always directly empirical. Science is not governed by absolute, immutable laws. Science, and especially quantum mechanics, far from telling us we can know everything, tells us there will always be things we cannot know. No one ultimately understands. Science affirms the complexity and mystery of the universe. Science, like the religious impulse, opens us up to a world where we face mystery. There are forces in the universe that will always lie beyond the capacity of the human mind.

Another bone of contention: why is it that when we do not know the answer, cannot find the answer, that we go off on a holy grail search for an empirical explanation? AGAIN, I am not saying that for every answer we cannot find, we should ascribe to the holy hands of God(s). I mean, that would be an intellectual cop-out as well. But would it be so horrible to find a rationale, a mode of logic, that lies outside the linearity of empiricism?

water crystals

Dr. Masaru Emoto, a Japanese quantum physicist, performed a series of experiments on water crystals and revealed the fact that water is receptive to external messages. The formation of water crystals is positively correlated to exposure of the water to messages from human language, music, and printed characters.

The New Atheist writers from Richard Dawkins to E.O. Wilson to Sam Harris have become the high priests not of science but the cult of science. Dawkins, Daniel Dennett and Susan Blackmore, for example, call religious beliefs “memes.” Memes are defined as cultural artifacts—prototypical ideas—that invade and restructure minds in order to reproduce themselves. A meme replicates in human minds, they argue, the way genes replicate in human bodies. Memes include a word, belief, thought, religious ritual, dance, poem or any of the myriad of behaviors that are copied and reproduced in human societies. Although memes, unlike genes, are not identifiable physical structures, Dawkins uses the image of a virus to describe them. Religion, for Dawkins, is equated with a disease, and the religiously inclined are disease carriers.

Again, religion, like homosexuality, femininity, and trans fats are pathologized in the Name of Science. No, I belong to no church and believe that religious doctrine is about as problematic as the protective ideologies that lie behind the idea of the nation state — but it’s interesting when it is framed as a disease. A disease erodes health, which therefore implies that without this “disease” human society would be healthy. Without religion, human society would be that much stronger. Just like in the past when science classified homosexuality as a mental illness, or that female brains were that much smaller and limited in intellectual capacity in comparison to male brains (assuming a binary division of gender.)

And yet I don’t want to totally reject the idea of memes. This IDEA (ie, speculation, ie product of irrational logic) holds value. If inherent human behaviors and ideology are things encoded within our very genes, then there must be something in its persistence and survival that contributes to a much larger pattern and design that may lie beyond the capacity of strictly empirical understanding.

tap that WATER

yeeeeah, TAP that water! Tap it, now!

Random question: who OWNS Science, anyway? Who does ScienCe BELONG to? (I ask this question a lot in relation to Culture with a capital C.)

The attempt to equate patterns of human society with the behavior of genes, while it sounds plausible, and may even be instructive in some settings, is part of this cult of science. The genetic coding that permits the transfer of DNA-encoded units of information is fairly precise. But this model fails to work for the transfer of cultural, social, ethical and political behavior. Patterns of morality are easily reversed or erased, especially in ages of revolutionary fervor, war, anarchy, fear, social decline and despotism. Those who are schooled in identical religious texts, even within the same communities, have different views of morality and ethics. It is possible to transfer literal meaning. It is possible to transfer genetic information. It is possible to pass on heritable characteristics mediated by hard-and-fast rules of chemistry and physics. These rules, however, have no counterpart in the dissemination of ideas. Ideas do not replicate like genes. Ideas are snuffed out or forgotten, often for centuries. Ideas that prevail are often not the best ideas but more often ideas backed by power. The rise of Christianity owed more to the brutality of Constantine and the Holy Roman Empire than it did its particular theology. Those who advocate the theory of memes ignore the role of power, repression, persecution and force in human history, as well as the inherent chaos and irrationality of human thought. Human thought cannot be treated like an object in a laboratory. There is no scientific mechanism that explains cultural evolution.

goliath vs

Those who endorse the meme theory speak of memetic engineering. This memetic engineering would involve the conscious manipulation of intellectual evolution by disseminating good memes and curtailing bad ones. The question of who decides which memes are good and which bad is not raised.

CYLON!

Hmmm… looks like “SCIENCE” can be as scary as that oft-talked-about “Hand of GOD.” Still, I am wary of the bashing of an idea because there are holes that which cannot be explained…YET. This is where I disagree with the writer — “Well, you can’t explain THIS, therefore this idea of MEMES is BULLSH*T.” Of course, as delicious as the prospect of mimetic engineering and, from the fragments of our human flaws, the behavioral construction of Cylons sounds, perhaps it would be wise to not ignore these quibbles.

Einstein’s quest for a unified field theory explaining subatomic structure or the Big Bang no more undermined religious contemplation than evolutionary biology. The questions of science are not the questions of religion. Science does not attempt to address, nor is it capable of addressing, the final mystery of existence, our moments of transcendence, the moral life, love, our search for meaning and our mortality. Science, limited to what can be proved and disproved, is a morally neutral discipline. It serves human needs and human ambitions. There are times when it protects and advances life. There are times when it empowers ambitions that are immoral and deadly. Science, like all human endeavors, comes with good and bad, possibilities of hope and possibilities of destruction.

Speak on it, Mister! Science, like spirituality, is a tool and can be utilized in an endless variety of ways. Science has no endeavor, no final aim or goal. But there is a design to it. A pattern that can sometimes be supported by mathematics — but not always. In any case, it is the ulterior motives of those who use science or spirituality that determine its direction and its capacity for destruction/reconstruction. If there is anything that can be described as a potential pathogen, it would probably be human ideology. Hm… let me refine that — ideology that divides the world into 2 categories: Inferior and Superior.

death note ryuk

People interested in the greed behind holding the keys to deciding what is Inferior and Superior, the barometer of human life value, should definitely check out Death Note. (De-su Noo-to.) Are you more of an L or a Yagami Light? I’m quite partial to both.

When Darwin published “On the Origin of Species by Means of Natural Selection, or the Preservation of Favored Races in the Struggle for Life” in 1859, he named natural selection as the mechanism that drives and defines life. Evolutionary science, however, swiftly became for many a surrogate religion. It was used to promote racism and pseudo-science, such as eugenics, a theory of biological determinism invented by Francis Galton, Darwin’s cousin. It was turned like a club on religion and used to justify exploitation and neglect of the poor and disadvantaged.

There are unfortunate implications in Darwin’s theory of evolution. Darwin believes in the possibility of compassion and benevolence. He argues that these adaptations give one species advantage over another. He uses compassion to insist that sooner or later the “superior” races—those with compassion—will exterminate the “more savage” races. Compassion, he implies, does not exist, or certainly not in the same abundance, in others as it does in us. But Darwin left the championing of these implications to others such as Herbert Spencer, a utopian and a doctrinaire Malthusian. It was Spencer, not Darwin, who argued that step by step we were progressing as a species and would end with the perfect human being. And it was Spencer who coined the phrase “survival of the fittest.”

neon genesis evangelion

Darwin would sooooooo be a Yagami Rai-tto. (Yagami Light.)

Wilson and Dawkins build their vision of human perfectibility out of the legitimate theory that human beings are shaped by the laws of heredity and natural selection. They depart from this position when they assert that we can leave that determinism behind. There is nothing in science that implies that our genetic makeup allows us to perfect ourselves. Those who, in the name of science, claim that we can overcome our imperfect human nature make a leap of faith. In this leap they leave the realm of science. They operate on a belief system that functions like religion. It gives meaning. It gives purpose and hope. But it is a myth. It is not true. And there is nothing, when you cut through their scientific jargon, which supports their absurd proposition.

dharma initiative

There is value in this assessment. Science and religion aren’t exactly incompatible or mutually exclusive. Both can operate on disturbingly similar wavelengths when it comes to pushing towards an idea of an Ultimate Truth. The idea that there is One Truth, like there is only One God, or One Religion, can be as dangerous as those who work to promote this.

The attempt to impose the methodology of science onto collective and personal relationships also has grave consequences. If a scientific hypothesis does not work it is discarded. Pluralism has no place in science. Neither do competing truths. Science, when set up as a model for our moral and social existence, implicitly banishes compromise and tolerance. Scientific ideas, because they can be demonstrated or disproved, are embraced or rejected on quantifiable evidence. But human relationships and social organizations interact and function effectively when they are not rigid, accept morally ambiguity and take into account the irrational. Politics, for example, is about channeling and managing human drives and desires. It is only fitfully in contact with reason. This profound understanding of the irrational element in politics led Sigmund Freud to write his masterpiece “Civilization and Its Discontents.” The secular fundamentalists, in a gross misuse of Darwin and of science, turn biological evolution into a methodology to champion moral progress for the human race. They seek to give to their arguments the patina of unassailable truth. But what they sell are myths, bizarre utopian visions of a new heaven and a new earth dressed up in the language of scientific rationalism.

ayashi no ceres

Oh, Chris Hedges — you ALMOST had it — ALMOST! For me, at least. Sometimes when trying to counter the argument of one party, we BECOME the other party, or use the very methods we argue against. This is Hedges’ One Truth. He’s not anti-religion and is critical of science that uses the same ideological methods to assail religion — but in the end, Hedges also uses the very same methods to assail some of the nefarious aspects of Science with a capital “S”.

stained glass

Picking sides won’t help propel us beyond the binary or trying to understand new truths and creative practices. When it comes to fields of science and spirituality, sometimes it’s most helpful to follow what’s helped me digest Freud in my gender politics class: “You’ve got to assume that he’s always right and that he’s always wrong.” Sometimes getting stuck on just one inconsistency or contradiction can paralyze us from finding new alternatives, visions, and solutions.

Bottom line: instead of bashing contradictions, maybe we should try diving into them to see what we can come up with.

Bottom line #2: I dunno about y’all but I am craving the first season of Gargoyles. I still get chills every time I hear the opening theme of Gargoyles: <– please click to shiver along with me!

“One thousand years ago, Superstition and the Sword ruled.

It was a time of Darkness, it was a world of Fear.

It was the age of Gargoyles.

Stone by day, warriors by night,

we were Betrayed by the humans we had sworn to protect,

frozen in stone by a magic spell for a thousand years…

Now, here, in Manhattan,

the spell is broken, AND WE LIVE AGAIN!

::THEMATIC INTERLUDE, TRAMP, TRAMP, TRAMP::

We are defenders of the night!

We. Are. GARGOYLES!”

goliath and desdemona

Okay, as much as I was an Elisa Maza/Goliath fan (interracial coupling, anyone?) I still felt quite torn about and secretly rooted for the connection between Desdemona and Goliath. Sometimes politics trumps the irrational mind of RUV, but when one does embrace the heart of the illogicaL (Goliath + Maza = 4EVA!), sometimes one will be pleasantly surprised by the productive forces that proliferate.

Do not be prisoner of history, my friends! We all have the capacity to endlessly create ourselves!!!

::circuitry experiencing sensory overload::

May 10, 2008

I’ll Hump 2 THAT: An Orgasm a Day…

Filed under: Culture,Education,Gender,Health,Higher Education,Labor,Randomness,Sex — bobbleheadedbob @ 8:52 am

Photo courtesy of Pony Xpress.

This may not exactly be news — ie, “Sex is GREAT for Your Health!” (unless it’s unprotected and shared with a stranger under the influence of imbibed, injected, or snorted substances) — but it’s a good reminder to get your groove on now that spring’s in full-on, lusty swing. Especially when you’re doing your heart a favor, maintaining that saxy, saxy weight, physically keeping that headache and menstrual crampage at bay, and possibly saving you a case of prostate cancer. Cuz we all know what a huge issue THAT is for us ladies, am I right? ::rolls eyes::

Photo courtesy of Gmodels.com

Alternet reports on The Sexy Path to Good Health:

Heart

There, I’ve said it. But looking around, I’m certainly not the only one saying it. In fact, the bigwigs at Forbes Magazine — premiere reading for the wealthy and their admirers — devoted pages and pages to the benefits of sex. Among other treats, they relate that in a 2001 study at Queen’s University (Belfast), higher rates of bonking produced half the risk of heart attack and stroke.

A parallel German study at the University of Tubingen reinforced the belief that the quantity of sex directly impacted on both blood pressure and heart strength in the 51 men they followed. Quantity seems to bring a particular glow to men, whereas some researchers, such as Dr. Gina Ogden, find that for women it’s all about quality.

How flippin romantic. It’s good for the heart.

Though, if you think about it, Sex = EXERCISE. DUH, it’s gonna be good for the heart! That said, you won’t hear this bobblebot complaining when it comes to kickin off them running shoes and knocking zem boots. Unlike they’re a crappy pair of boots. In which case she shall gladly re-stick her feet into a pair of trainers and hit the track, Jack. (pun INTENDED)

Weight

Women and men alike enjoy assuming that active ardor leads to a slender silhouette — and they’re not half wrong, as long as you do plenty of it. There’s wide agreement that you can burn at least 150 calories in an average session (of course “average” is here an elastic concept), which is equal to a game of squash or a quarter-of-an-hour on the treadmill.

Again, Sex = Exercise, and if it doesn’t for you, then I don’t know what kind of sex YOU’RE having. Unless it’s boring sex. Lethargic sex. LAZY sex. Not that this bobblebot’s judging… (but secretly IS)

Pain

Lots of studies indicate that the various hormones connected with arousal and excitement — so intoxicating that people are now said to become “addicted” to sex — are fabulous pain relievers. Migraines? Arthritis? Why, just get laid. Dr. Beverly Whipple from Rutgers University says that even whiplash can be relieved by the oxytocin surge — leading to the release of morphine-like endorphins — that people often experience during serious groping.

photo courtesy of galadarlingIcing.

Yay! Apparently “serious groping” counts in this arena, in which case I can get rid of that headache in someone’s dingy bathroom at someone’s dingy house party, in the front seat of a PARKED car (safety first!), underneath the dinner table at a fancy restaurant — and the list continues! So if you’re not down to take that aspirin a day, grope, grope, grope away! I believe “heavy petting” also falls under this category. The possibilities are ENDLESS, PEOPLE!

“Yo, StranGer! I’ve got this massive headache and was hoping you could help me relieve it. With your BODY.”

Sniffles

A study from Pennsylvania’s Wilkes University, “claims that individuals who have sex once or twice a week show 30% higher levels of an antibody called immunoglobulin A, which is known to boost the immune system.”

photo courtesy of indieporn.

This is great for when cold season comes around in the fall — you know, that season that follows saxy spring and hormone-laden summer. Hey — it’s cheaper than getting that flu shot and is needle-free!

And for those with prostates…

Prostate health

In Australia, 1,000 men with prostate cancer and 1,250 without were questioned about their masturbatory practices and according to the BBC:

“They found those who had ejaculated the most between the ages of 20 and 50 were the least likely to develop the cancer … Men who ejaculated more than five times a week were a third less likely to develop prostate cancer later in life.”Screwing isn’t as efficacious as the one-hand cuddle because of the diseases one can pick up (raising the statistical vulnerability to cancer). Apparently, cumming helps rinse away any little nasties that are nestling into the balls, according to this “prostatic stagnation hypothesis.”

More than FIVE TIMES A WEEK? Might as well make it a part of the daily routine, though I would like to see more research into the health benefits for female masturbation. Not that health benefits should justify the practice of it. I mean, if it feels DAMN GOOD, then is there any further need for justification?

So, to recap — have sex! Lots of it! But preferably with the glove, or at the very least with someone’s who’s tested CLEAN, if you know what I mean. (and if you don’t, get thee to a Planned Parenthood!)

Safety first, pleasure second, and health benefits — well, that’s like that spritz o lemon on that glistening, ocean-fresh oyster. Not necessary, but a nice palatable perk.

Photo courtesy of ponyxpress.

May 6, 2008

Dozens of Arrests in University Drug Sting

Filed under: Culture,Education,OMGZCUTE — disciplepete @ 4:10 pm

NYT:

SAN DIEGO — A drug ring operating out of San Diego State University was broken up today after a five-month sting operation, resulting in the arrests of nearly 100 people, many of them college students accused of selling drugs to fellow classmates, the Drug Enforcement Administration said.

The ring apparently operated out of three different fraternity houses and distributed a wide variety of drugs to other students, the authorities said. They said the ring included 75 students and 21 non-students.

During a raid of the fraternity houses, investigators said they uncovered more than $100,000 worth of cocaine, ecstasy, prescription drugs and marijuana, and several weapons, including a shotgun and four handguns

Damon Mosler, the chief of the San Diego District Attorney’s Office’s narcotics division, called the operation the largest university-related drug bust in San Diego County history.

April 28, 2008

School Superintendent Threatened over Pledge of Allegiance in Spanish

Filed under: Culture,Education,Race — disciplepete @ 5:05 pm

Xenophobes gone wild…

The Progressive: The Pledge of Allegiance is creating an uproar in a high school in southern Wisconsin. Not the Pledge itself, but the language it’s recited in.

For many years now, Edgerton High School in Wisconsin has allowed students in its Spanish class to recite the Pledge of Allegiance in Spanish over the Intercom one day of the school year. It also invites foreign exchange students (the school now has three) to say it in their own language.

This year, when Spanish students recited the Pledge on March 11, it caused a ruckus.

Parents complained. They demanded that the Spanish teacher, the principal, and the superintendent be fired. And they intend to press the issue at the school board meeting on April 28.

The superintendent, Dr. Norman Fjelstad, has even been physically threatened.

Oh, don’t worry, these intellectual heavyweights have good reasons for being upset:

“This is America; we speak English,” said Dix, who retired from the National Guard last year. “I don’t want any of my three boys coming home saying, ‘Dad, we did the Pledge of Allegiance in Spanish.’ ”

His son Kyle told the paper that he thought it was disrespectful to the troops…

…One said: “I go to Edgerton High School and I don’t appreciate Mexicans saying the Pledge in Spanish. . . . If you think Mexicans can waltz right in this school and have an influence on these American students, then you’re wrong. This is America, home of the free and not the illegal.”

The Superintendent defends the foreign language Pledge:

“I’ve heard their frustration,” says Superintendent Fjelstad. “I understand what they’re saying. They feel it dishonors our troops serving in Iraq and Afghanistan. My response is this: I know there are 400 Hispanic speaking soldiers that won’t disagree with them. They can’t disagree because they gave their lives in Iraq and Afghanistan. However, there are 110,000 Spanish-speaking Hispanics serving in the military that I believe would agree with me that speaking Spanish does not dishonor the military.”…

…On top of that, Fjelstad invokes the First Amendment to the Constitution. “Government should never mandate that the Pledge or the National Anthem be said in one language,” he says.

Well, the school board is supposed to be addressing the issue today. It’s a sign of the times that it’s just now that this Pledge is causing such a controversy, when it’s been going on for years.

March 13, 2008

State adopts sex education standards for public school students

Filed under: Education,K-12 Education,Legislation — Tranimal @ 5:24 pm

San Jose Mercury News:

In fifth grade, students will learn about sexually transmitted diseases, including HIV and AIDS. In seventh and eighth grades, they will discuss the emotional, psychological and physical consequences of rape and sexual assault. By high school, students will be talking about condoms and even the morning after pill. California quietly adopted its first-ever set of health education standards Wednesday, following the passage of a 2004 law.

This is great! Sometimes CA can really set the standards.

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