Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Liberal or Conservative? That's too simple....

Woe is us. Sound-bite media, sound-bite politics. It's too easy and it's a deadening distraction to ask or answer the question: are you a Liberal or a Conservative? For those of us who suspect that we are very much too discriminating to be "lumped in" with one motley crowd or the other, the Pew Research Center for the People & the Press comes to the rescue. 

http://typology.people-press.org/typology/

The Pew folks have used their extensive and time-tested research to identify 9 "typologies" in the political spectrum (if you're a country boy like me, think "mutually exclusive categories" and you're in like Flynn).

Use the link above to answer a few questions (really, it takes a minute or two) and get Pew researchers'  feedback on where you stand in the lineup:    Liberal, Conservative Democrat, Social Conservative, you get the picture. There's considerable, easy to understand detail about what makes each group different from the others...probably you won't be too surprised.

You may be surprised AFTER you understand more fully why you belong to one of Pew's typologies.....you may be surprised when you realize that you understand more intuitively and in more empirical detail why it's downright dumb for the news media and our elected political representatives to talk blithely and belligerently about "Liberals" and "Conservatives." These two popularly named, deeply misunderstood and more or less undefined groups of people too often act out their fantasy that vilifying the other group is a downright satisfying way to express their beliefs and advance their cause....let's stop pretending that "Liberal" and "Conservative" are useful categories.

Go to the Pew Research Center site (link is above) and clarify your understanding of where you really stand, and find out who you're NOT in bed with, politically speaking...

Sunday, March 14, 2010

No Child Left Behind redux...

I care very much about improving education, and I mean the whole spectrum:  elementary, secondary and college level. I tend to support the notion of national standards for the public education system, but I hasten to mention that I feel strong ambivalence about it as I read more of the pros and cons:  see this Washington Post piece 
http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2010/03/10/AR2010031000024.html

So I'm gonna stay tuned as closely as I can in tracking the new education proposal:   see this item from The Slate     http://slatest.slate.com/id/2247825/?wpisrc=newsletter

I assume in some astral plane it’s just dandy to hope that every HS grad will be “college ready” but here on the planet we love I think that’s a goal that is a really deadly distraction………..it just ain’t possible that every single 18-yr-old 1) wants to go to college 2) is capable of doing college work 3) has parents who can foot the bill 4) etc etc……………with the possible exception of all the kids at Lake Wobegon

Ain’t enough colleges to handle our annual high school output, many or most colleges most likely wouldn’t offer admission to the bottom half of your local high school senior class, ain’t enough Pell grants, etc etc

Why do we need to confuse the issue by suggesting that the purpose of public education is making everybody ready for college? I’m in favor of reaching an actionable consensus that the purpose of public education is to produce high school graduates.   See this item from USA Today    http://www.usatoday.com/news/education/2010-03-16-1Acollegeforall16_CV_N.htm

Saturday, March 6, 2010

Movie review: "Hard Times" Charles Bronson 1975

I watch this movie every few years or so, because it is complete unto itself, because it permits the viewer to imagine the details that aren't specified and because it's all about true grit.  (I like that movie, too).

Think you've got what it takes? If you're like me, you've never really had any "hard times." Bronson (Chaney) shows what it's like to be down to your last six bucks with nothing else to lose, and still manage to be courageous, honest, affectionate, high-principled, strong-minded and in charge of your life. In the final scene Coburn (Speed) looks at Chaney walking away in the darkness and says "He sure was somethin'." He sure was.



Sign in for the Netflix summary:      http://www.netflix.com/

Hard Times

1975  PG    94 minutes

Chaney, an aging street fighter (Charles Bronson) travels to New Orleans to eke out a living during the Depression. Despite the tough times, he finds some success when Speed, a shady promoter (James Coburn), eases his way into the gambling underworld, and a lovely woman (Jill Ireland) falls for him. This gritty yet atmospheric drama served as the directorial debut for Walter Hill (48 Hours, Tales from the Crypt).

Cast: Charles Bronson, James Coburn, Jill Ireland, Strother Martin
Director:Walter Hill

The review on imdb.com







Friday, March 5, 2010

Any Health Care Reform Will Do.....

See the piece below by Diane Jones at The Chronicle of Higher Education,

http://chronicle.com/blogPost/Putting-Lipstick-on-the/21612/?sid=at&utm_source=at&utm_medium=en

certainly a comprehensive commentary without most of the media-hyped "sound bite" objections.............in fact, I support the current push to pass the health reform legislation, most certainly not because I believe it's the best or even a well-rounded step to address the very huge, very expensive health care problems, but almost exclusively (and desperately) because I strongly agree with Diane Jones' last sentence:

"And let's be honest about the fact that we might not be able to tackle all of these problems in a single piece of legislation, or within a single presidential term ... or even two."

I'm sickened by the grotesque, self-serving posturing on both sides of the aisle in Congress on this health care reform legislation, we have a rapidly growing monster that's going to eat Chicago and then every other city in the country if we don't tame the beast, and there seems to be little enlightened concept of serving the long-term overall public interest in the hallowed halls of Congress................

Oooops, I think I let a doctrinaire edge show through there, I'm flogging myself back into the cage........I'll try softly humming The Battle Hymn of the Republic....thanks for listening, I feel better now...