Dec 29

Mad Cow Disease

For folks who haven’t read Fast Food Nation yet, (and why haven’t you?) a really amazing post (and comment afterwards) looking at why Mad Cow is just the start of the problem.

And here’s to John Kerry — still my favorite candidate on the issues — for addressing the issue of the total lack of accountability in meat inspections. This is a real issue, and Kerry is the only issue that I’ve seen who has thought to draw any kind of connection between agribusiness, lobbying and the rise in problems with our food industry.

Dec 29

It Bothers Me That They Are Bad at Lying

From Brad DeLong who found it on someone else’s site, evidence that the U.S. is recycling PR spin… and that our press isn’t even checking to see when they’ve been fed the same line over and over again.

Needlenose: They really do lie about everything, Part CCCXXVI: An Associated Press article today quotes Lt. Col. Steve Russell of the 4th Infantry Division on the progress we’re making against the guerrillas in Iraq:

At the same time, the cost of recruiting attackers is thought to have gone up, Russell said. Gunmen and other fighters that were rumored to be paid somewhere around $250 per attack are now said to be demanding as much as $1,000.

On a hunch, I did a quick Google search, and found the following in an article by a different Associated Press reporter in August, quoting Russell’s boss in the 4th Infantry Division, Maj. Gen. Ray Odierno:

The success of the raids has also made it more difficult for guerrilla leaders to mount attacks on U.S. troops, Odierno said. Guerrilla organizers have been forced to increase the amount they pay for attacks on coalition forces to $1,000 from $250.

”The pay has significantly gone up, which is a good thing because it shows they’re starting to have trouble recruiting people,” he said.

I wonder if the AP knows it’s getting recycled spin that’s at least five months old … or what they would do if someone brought it to their attention…

At what point do you think the press gets tired of getting lied to so completely that they actually start questioning what they are getting fed? Or am I asking too much?

Dec 28

A Desperate Plea for Good Reporting

From Kerry’s Blog, here’s Paul Krugman’s rules for political reporting in 2004.

By and large, these are smart, sensible rules that, honestly, really aren’t asking too much. And the stakes are really high this year, as Krugman writes:

I don’t really expect my journalistic colleagues to follow these rules. No doubt I myself, in moments of weakness, will break one or more of them. But history will not forgive us if we allow laziness and personal pettiness to shape this crucial election.  

So here’s my thought… what the political / educational blog community took up the call for a better media? Brad DeLong calls for it all the time. Let’s all pick up the call. Is it so much to ask that our political reporters actually report rather than just echo the PR releases that campaigns — usually the GOP campaigns — release?

Dec 27

Teacher-Sap Moment

There are times when I am a complete and total sap. I was just watching the West Wing marathon on Bravo. It was the episode with the sub-plot where Donna Moss tries to convince Josh to get the President to sign a proclamation for her retiring high school English teacher. Josh spends much of the episode explaining what a ridiculous idea that is… but, interestingly, there’s this very cool moment where both Donna and Josh mention the teacher who was most influential in their lives.

Dec 26

All Consuming.Net

For the sake of footnotes, I was looking at Joe Luft’s site which led me to Tim Lauer’s site which led me to Allconsuming.net, which allowed me to set up my own "Currently Reading" list on the right hand side of the site. More likely, this should be titled "Books in the Knapsack That I’m Trying to Get Through," but "Currently Reading" will do for now.

Expect a post about the Moore book, "Dude, Where’s My Country" any day now. It’s an interesting read to say the least.

Dec 23

Winter Break

There is something fun about the last week before break. Everyone at Beacon is exhausted but happy. There’s a sort of general agreement that we all want to go on break for a little while. And that’s a good thing.

For basketball, we’re going to go into the break with a win, which is always a good feeling… in both English classes, I feel good about where folks are… I’m loving having a few weeks away from grad school… and generally, as I sit here, framed by a menorah and a Christmas tree, life feels pretty good.

It’s a good feeling.

Dec 22

The Death of Horatio Alger

Paul Krugman writes in this week’s Nation about how even Business Week is reporting that fewer and fewer people are doing better than their parents did. Krugman really does an amazing job of writing about how the Bush Administration policies are doing away with the Horatio Alger dream of social mobility in favor of creating a caste system.

Krugman, especially in the Nation, writes in an inflammatory style, but he also is raising really important points. Bush’s vision of this country is different than most people’s views. This is not a man who is interested in the American Dream. Everything he’s done – from his economic policies to the bidding process on the Iraqi contracts to his non-policies on CEO white-collar crime – suggests this is a man making sure that he and his continue to amass wealth and power.

Dec 19

Tale of Two Grad School Classes

(or why pedagogy matters…)

This was my last week of classes for grad school. My experiences in my classes have been about as powerful of a contrast as you can imagine. In one class, the professor created the most amazing atmosphere I’ve experienced. It was part personality, part experience, and also part pedagogy. Student ideas were valued. He taught about an ethic of care, and he modeled that for us powerfully. He taught about transparency in the classroom, and his teaching was. He talked about teaching as transforming, and he made us believe that our thoughts could change him in the same ways that his transformed us.

When he finished his closing remarks, the class gave him a standing ovation. We didn’t want the class to end. The most distracting thing about the class for me was that, as the class went on, I found myself getting meta in the class. How was it that he was creating that environment? How did he make a bunch of cynical grad students try to out-do each other in a friendly competition to create something wonderful?