Saturday, December 26, 2009
"Imagine that you are a teacher of Roman history and the Latin language, anxious to impart your enthusiasm for the ancient world- for the elegiacs of Ovid and the odes of Horace, the sinewy economy of Latin grammar as exhibited in the oratory of Cicero, the strategic niceties of the Punis Wars, the generalship of Julius Ceasar, and the voluptious excesses of the later emperors. That's a big undertaking, and it takes time, concentration, dedication. Yet you find your precious time continually preyed upon, and your class's attention distracted, by a baying pack of ignoramuses who with strong political and especially financial support, scurry about tirelessly attempting to persuade your unfortunate pupils that the Romans never existed. There never was a Roman Empire. The entire world came into existence only just beyond living memory. Spanish, Italian, French, Portugese: all these langauges and their constituent dialects sprang spontaneously and separately into being and owe nothing to any predecessor such as Latin. Instead of devoting your full attention to the noble vocation of classical scholar and teacher, you are forced to divert your time and energy to a reargaurd defense of the proposition that the Romans existed at all: a defense against an exhibition of ignorant prejudice that would make you weep if you weren't too busy fighting it.
If my fantasy of the Latin teacher seems too wayward, here's a more realistic example. Imagine you are a teacher of more recent history, and your lessons on twentieth cetnruy Europe are boycotted, heckled, or otherwise disrupted by well-organized, well-financed, and politically muscular groups of Holocaust-deniers. Unlike my hypothetical Rome deniers, Holocaust deniers really exist. They are vocal, superficially plausible, and adept at seeming learned. They are supported by the president of at least one currently powerful staTe, and they include at least one bishop of the ROman Catholic Church. Imagine that, as a teacher of European history, you are continually faced with belligernet demands to "teach the controversay" and to give "equal time" to the "alternative theory" that the Holocaust never happened but was invented by a bunch of Zionist fabricators. Fashionably relativist intellectuals chime in to insist that there is no absolute truth: whether the Holocuast happened is a matter of personal belief; all points of view are equally valid and should be equally "respected".
The plight of many science teachers today is not less dire. When they attempt to expound the central and guiding principle of biology; when they honestly place the living world in its historical context- which means evolutionl when they explore and explain the very nature of life itself, they are harried and stymied, hassled and bullied, even threatened with the loss of their jobs...
Richard Dawkins (taken from Free Inquiry magazine, December 2009)
Tuesday, December 22, 2009
The story takes place at East Great Falls High, ten years after the first American Pie movie. The new protagonists of this movie are three brand new hapless virgins: Rob (Bug Hall), Nathan (Kevin M. Horton) and Lube (Brandon Hardesty). One night Rob accidentally sets fire to the school library, and finds the bible, Mr. Levenstein's (Eugene Levy) creation. Unfortunately for them, the book is ruined. The book had incomplete advice, and embarks them on a helpless journey to lose their virginity. After trying and failing for most of the time, they pledge to restore the book, and to do this, they must find the original author of the book (Levenstein) and all the other people who wrote on the book, and start the restoration.
The film was said to be the most similar to the original trilogy, with three new 'hapless virgins' and a copy of the original Stiffler.
Saturday, December 19, 2009
The main takeaway from lesson 1 is the idea of scarcity - which i am to teach is the fundamental problem that economics addresses. But wait! Is scarcity the number one problem that economics addresses, or is scarcity a product of our economic system!? oh man I hate this.
somebody please teach this class for me. thanks.
I'm gonna get fired!
Friday, December 18, 2009
Thursday, December 10, 2009
Tuesday, December 8, 2009
They are five best friends who for whatever reason have not seem one another since Middle School, its a tale about aging and friendship, new families and old.
I'm not sure if I just don't care about it all, or if it makes me sad.
When Ben Franklin invented the lightning rod, clergy on both sides of the Atlantic proclaimed it to be an insult to God, who, as we all know, uses lightning to punish sinners. Pastors said that the dreaded "iron points" would allow criminals to escape heavenly justice. When The north east was rocked by earthquakes during the mid-late 18th century, the church took this as proof (not unlike Katrina) that God was punishing the New Englanders for thwarting his will by erecting lightning rods all over their towns.
Monday, December 7, 2009
I have a number of concerns with this.
1. I have never, at any point, taken any class on economics, and my knowledge of the subject comes mainly from the newspaper and what I have read in my own time. That's all well and good, but it hardly helps me with things like the supply and demand curve
2.My conception of economics is diametrically opposed to the conception of economics that is taught as fact in public high schools.
The California Standards say : Students will Understand the role of a free market economy in establishing and securing personal liberty...
this is an issue, as I believe that the statement "free market economy establishes and secures personal liberty" is, at best a lie, and at worst, a malicious lie.
3. I am going to be teaching second semester seniors (very different from first semester juniors), who have literally never met me or heard of me and who have no idea that they will have a new teacher for the second semester.
Sunday, December 6, 2009
Holy shit. What an awesome fucking movie.
I never watched star trek growing up, in fact I don't think I have ever watched more than a few minutes of any episode of the television show, and the only movie I ever saw was the one with the Borg. Matt and I saw it in the theater. But this was just about the best thing ever.
As might be expected, Hitchens easily wins the day, something I feel comfortably saying despite my bias, as all of the religious sites I investigated (belief.net for example), conceded that Hitchens won the day.
Worth listening to, but don't try to watch unless fortified with a strong stomach.
AH- filmmaker is Darren Doane. He is a fundamentalist christian who has directed music videos for Blink182, AFI, and BuckCherry! There you go!
Saturday, December 5, 2009
I was thinking about this today because I'm reading some essays of Bertrand Russell's from the late 1940's. Russell was talking about the future of the "global anarchy" between the forces of Russian totalitarian 'communism' and American capitalism, and the how this conflict would, in short order, lead inexorably to the end of life on earth as we knew it.
Not that this renders prediction useless, we can learn a great deal from the exercise of prediction even if the predicted results have no bearing on actual events, but it struck me as a reminder of how dramatically unpredictable events can change the course of history.
Friday, December 4, 2009
Wednesday, December 2, 2009
If I ever go to Berkeley to get a degree in History, this guy can teach me!
I decided to read this to prepare for some lessons I will be teaching in the spring on Fascism in Europe between the wars. Specifically, i wanted to make sure I could explain as best as possible why Fascism and Socialism might appeal to different citizens at the same time.
Fascism is fascinating in that, out of all of the "isms", its the only one that appeared in the 20th century, additionally, it had never occurred to radical political theorists that a mass movement could be rightist. For seventy years, marxist, socialist and anarchist groups had monopolized the issues of class resentment and workers' anger, this all changed after the Great War.
As Paxton writes, "Fascists rejected the view that economic forces are the prime movers of history", instead relying on a burgeoning nationalism and xenophobia born of the resentment of what was seen as an unfair peace at the end of the first world war. Russia was never a workers' state, Trotsky wrote that Socialism had moved forward on the path of least resistance, i.e., as Czarist Russia was least capable of stopping socialist revolution, it was in Czarist Russia that the first socialist revolution took place. Socialist internationalists had long promoted the ideas of class solidarity, Fascistic politicians relied instead on middle class fear and resentment. They used that classic political trick, to make those who have little fear encroachment from those who have nothing, the same trick used by the right in the United States to make the working poor fear immigration, socialism, and black presidents.
Also interesting were the links between Fascism and Socialism, often thought of as diametrically opposed political philosophies, many Fascists had been under the influence of socialism before the war, Fascism was not so much a movement of the right as it was a movement opposed to centrism and leftism, sort of allying itself with conservatism because centrists and leftists wanted no part of it. But a surprising number of Fascists wanted the same sort of nationalization and well, socialization that the communists did, the key difference (beyond the pomp and militarism), was nationalism versus internationalism. Many early fascists were socialists but for the fact that they desired the supremacy of there own nation over the freedom of the workers of the world.
Resentment caused by the loss of empire stirred a nascent nationalism in the citizens of Germany, Austria, and Hungary (whose territories were often more than halved), and Italy (who lost know territory, but also gained none). Paxton remarks on this, "Italy, exceptionally, had belonged to the victorious alliance, but it had failed to achieve tha national expansion that the Italian nationalists who led Italy into the war had counted on. The victory was, in their eyes a vittoria mutilata.".
As a materialist, I agree only to some small extent with the notion that nationalism can be stronger than class, but only in that nationalism can SEEM to exert a stronger influence. In actuality, I believe that this sort of nationalism is an aftereffect of economic discrepancy.
Paxton goes on to discuss the possibility of some sort of fascist or neo-fascist movement arising today, including in the United States. He makes the point that any such movement will be defined not by the traditional memes of Fascism, but by patriotic ones. e.g. in the US, a neo-fascist movement will have as its symbols the stars and stripes and the Bald Eagle, and will be marked by pledges of allegiance, etc.
Obviously the notion of the American Right as fascist has become a cliche, but it is instructive to note how many of the traits of fascistic society are common the the neo-conservative movement.
Paxton defines Fascism on the final page of his book as,
"a form of political behavior marked by obsessive preoccupation with a community decline, humilation, or victim-hood and by compensatory cults of unity, energy, and purity, in which a mass-based party of committed nationalist militants, working in uneasy but effective collaboration with traditional elites, abandons democratic liberties and pursues with redemptive violence, and without ethical or legal restraints goals of internal cleansing and external expansion".
Tuesday, December 1, 2009
Wednesday, November 25, 2009
Monday, November 23, 2009
Friday, November 20, 2009
Thursday, November 19, 2009
They DO in fact have a number of employees who are paid only to listen to music all day and then say what different things sound like. It's not done with some sort of program.
Wednesday, November 18, 2009
Thursday, November 12, 2009
After reading through Deutscher's Trotsky Prophet series, any biography would seem like a disappointment, particularly one whose subject matter was so similar. This was certainly a thorough treatment, but I found myself having to slog through it quite a bit.
I felt that the book suffered from a lack of economic or social theory, something which can only partly be laid at the feet of the biographer, as Khrushchev contribute basically nothing in that regard. Taubman's Khrushchev is perhaps not as boorish or loutish as I had believed before reading, but it was a sort of animal instinct and cunning that allowed him to succeed, not any sort of true intellect.
Khrushchev's rule seems sort of aimless, and I had a hard time figuring out what (beyond perfunctory references to a future communist utopia) his life and leadership really had to do with socialism.
I suppose I think that Khrushchev is most interesting when playing a supporting role, in describing Khrushchev's part of Stalin's court intrigue, the cognitive dissonance he was forced to take on during the 20th party congress, and in his struggles for power against Molotov and Beria, the book is fascinating.
When Khrushchev stands alone, like in his early life and his autonomy when running the party in Ukraine, or even atop the largest country in the world, the narrative seems to fall flat.
All in all, it is an excellent biography, as far as such things go, but something less than an excellent book.
For those of you going through withdrawals since your favourite dope-smoking, rum-and-Coke drinking, sailor-mouthed characters left the small screen in 2008, Showcase has given the green light to six episodes of The Drunk and on Drugs Happy Funtime Hour (working title), brought to you by none other than the former Trailer Park Boys.
The sketch-style show is written by and will star Mike Smith, Robb Wells and JP Tremblay, which you may know as Bubbles, Ricky and Julian, respectively.
Monday, November 9, 2009
12:00- Billy came over
12:30-took medicine (for our backs)
1:00 walked to the park near my house
1:15-3:15- read about krushchev
3:15-5:00- ate sandwiches outside
6:007:00- grocery shopping
7:00-10:00- billy made me dinner and bill and brian and I watched the 1st 2.25 episodes of the Wire
what a great day
Sunday, November 8, 2009
I find that I use exclamation points in my texts, because otherwise too much of what I say would seem sarcastic.
Brian - design an app for this.
one of the shitty things about teaching in a lot of public schools is that the funds do not exist to teach classes other than: 9th grade geography, 10th grade world [european] history, 11th grade us history, and 12th grade govt and econ.
It was pretty rad that I got to take journalism and creative writing and russian history, and its whack how rare that is.
I think I may need to eventually go to private school (or try to teach college), so that I can design my own classes, which seems infinitely more satisfying than just designing my own way to teach other people's curriculum.
Thursday, November 5, 2009
Wednesday, November 4, 2009
the prophet unarmed 1921-1929
the prophet outcast 1929-1940
I am not yet quite finished with the third book, but these/ this is certainly the best biography I have ever read. Few people are aware today the extent to which Trotsky was isolated and marginalized during his own life. People on the right had no interest in one of the two most prominent living Bolsheviks. And the vast majority of the left sympathetic to socialism/ communism was taken in by Stalin's lies that Trotsky was an enemy of the people (or if not convinced if this impossible-to-believe notion, ambivalent about whether or not they should criticize the USSR).
Deutscher, a Polish Trotskyist active in the 1930's was one of the first public figures to successfully rehabilitate his Trotsky's character (it didn't hurt that the books came out around the same time of Stalin's death, when Kruschev gave his "cult of personality' speech about the Soviet Leadership of the past 28 years.
Trotsky did not shy away from brutality when he found it necessary, but I have a hard time agreeing with recent re-revisionists like Robert Service who wrote, "the only thing Trotsky didn't like about Stalin was that he was shooting the wrong people".
Trotsky was an unwavering Bolshevik, but as early as 1923 was deeply critical of the monolithic aspect of party politics, desiring a more free exchange of ideas. He was in favor of repression, but not liquidation, of censure, but not of censoring.
He was the first writer (of any political leaning), to understand the dangers of Hitler's National Socialism, protesting as early as 1930 (Hitler took power in 1933-34) that if Hitler tried to take control, the USSR should provide troops and arms to communists dissidents – for this, he was labeled a fear-monger.
He spent the last ten years of his life exiled from the country he had helped to found, using all his energy to write in favor of permanent revolution, and to pick apart the lunacy of Stalin's purges.
The following, taken from Deutscher's second book was written about Trotsky's banishment in 1929, sums up the differences between Stalin and Trotsky
"Here indeed the film of revolution ran backwards, at least in the sense that Stalin represented an amalgamation of Marxism with all that was primitive and archaically semi-Asiatic in Russia: with the illiteracy and barbarism of the muzhik on the one hand, and the absolutist traditions of the old ruling groups on the other. Against this, Trotsky stood for undiluted classical Marxism, in all its intellectual and moral strength and also in all its political weakness– a weakness which resulted from its own incompatibility with Russian backwardness and from the failures of socialism in the West. In banish Trotsky, Stalin banished classical Marxism from Russia."
Tuesday, November 3, 2009
Monday, November 2, 2009
it was, I guess not as bad as I expected, but it was pretty crazy. Structurally I think it reminded me of playing a video game, particularly a scene where Wolverine has to box the blog in order to get information about the wehreabouts of a secret island while being coached by Will.I.Am with a western accent...yes that is really a part of the movie.
The whole film can be easily divided into 10 minute (or so) adventure segments connected by brief plot development, totally like every superhero adventure video game ever.
It was pretty shitty.
That being said, it was roughly 4 million times better than Fantastic Four, and from moment to moment was fairly entertaining.
I give it a 3.9 out of 10
Saturday, October 31, 2009
Sunday, October 25, 2009
Warren Beatty stars as John Reed, an American socialist from the 1910's who edited The Masses, he went to Russia in 1917 and wrote 10 Days the Shook the World about the Bolshevik revolution (which I am reading right now).
It has Jack Nicholson in it as Eugene O'Neill.
It's interspersed with interviews of old as shit socialists who knew Jack Reed and Emma Goldman and went to Russia to fight.
I think a lot of the appeal is how desperately interested in the subject matter I am, but it's definitely worth seeing.