The British data-crunchers who say they helped Donald Trump to win

It’s the Brits wot won it. That is, the US presidential election was won for Donald Trump with the help…

Source: The British data-crunchers who say they helped Donald Trump to win

Boxes

Since Education is back in the news because of the appointment of a Dutch Calvinist from my neck of the woods, I thought it might be a good time for people to examine just what is an “education”. John Taylor Gatto makes the distinction between ‘”education” and “schooling”. I have read his book “The Underground History of American Education”. He wrote an article in 2003 in Harper’s called “Against Education”. You have to subscribe to Harper’s to read the essay, but there are excerpts available on line. I’m not sure of some of his ideas about but definitely like some of his observations about how awful and mind numbing school can be.

You are made to sit in BOXES and are taught to behave so that when you graduate you can sit in another BOX all day long. And at the end of your life you end up in a hospital BOX and then a real BOX. Every four years, in preparation for the ballot BOX, for 18 months we were being herded into two awful BOXES called political parties.  The whole process looked more like that cartoon of the cow staring at a meat packing plant with a sign that said “Enter Left” and “Enter Right”.
My 2¢ is that we need shorter work weeks with one parent working so they have more time to spend with their kids. I learned more from helping my Dad build a barn than I did from awful Miss Bloemendal who kicked me out in the hall every week. As an educator himself, he said, “Children should be hand made and not mass produced.”  I read a lot of books. And I spent a lot of time in the woods making up stories of elves and other mythical creatures.

We hear an awful lot of yapping about “freedom”, but we imprison our children and literally imprision lots of teenagers.  We imprison in prisons around 2.3 million people, more than any other nation.  However, we are a big country.  Proportionately though, we still imprison more than any other nation except maybe North Korea and Cuba.  But according to Politofact, we don’t have accurate information on prison populations in those 2 countries, but they could be ahead of us.  The point is whether we are first or third, it’s a disgrace.

Freedom should not be about the so-called free market of freedom to choose between 20 different cereals.  It should more appropriately be about freedom to think differently and being able to freely express those different thoughts.  But….(there is always a but), as much as we should respect individual freedom, with freedom comes responsibility to “do unto others as you would have them do unto you.”  Children should be free to have safe places to run and holler at the top of their lungs.  They should also have mutual respect for others and the good manners not to scream in other peoples spaces.  That goes for adults too!

Good manners and mutual respect for others opinions and cultures are great goals for an educated person.  Since education is a journey, there will be many stops and starts along the way.  So when you come across a different opinion, it is wise to take the PACE approach.  Be Playful, Accepting, Curious, and Empathetic.   Not an easy task especially the Playful part if it’s been knocked out of you due to years of being stuffed in boxes.

The Maven

Notes:  I got the boxes idea from the anthropologist and anarchist thinker David Graeber in his essay on “Revolutions in Reverse” and PACE from cognitive behavioral therapist Dorothy Dacar.

How Half Of America Lost Its F**king Mind

I’m going to explain the Donald Trump phenomenon in three movies. And then some text.

Source: How Half Of America Lost Its F**king Mind

After Trump vs. Clinton | The American Conservative

The 2016 election presents the starkest choice American voters have faced in at least 40 years. On one side is a nominee unlike any the country has seen before: a billionaire businessman and celebrity

Source: After Trump vs. Clinton | The American Conservative

New Year’s Letter – 2016

Howdy!

Christmas2003015Christo Cows

 

Yes, after 23 years here in Sweet Grass County, I can report that there is still no parallel parking in Big Timber. You can still pull your outfit in vertically with it’s nose facing the store. **Yes, “outfit” is something you drive not wear and “Gant” means thin and not a famous shirt maker. A Mexican drag line is a shovel not a bunch of Carmen Miranda impersonators kicking up their heels. And ‘casting a cow” is not getting her a good part in “City Slickers III” but tying her down on the ground.

There is still not one stoplight in a county whose square miles equal the state of Rhode Island. The anarchist in me loves that idea as much as I love roundabouts instead of 4 way stoplights. Hate being told to stay put when there is no good reason.

****************

Mike continues to impart the Tao of Cow.

A Haiku – Advice

“Remember that it’ll all work out;

Until it doesn’t;

Then switch to Plan B.”

Haiku 2 – Rules

The number one rule

Of the cows at feeding time;

Let the big dog eat.

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That’s Just Mean

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Daphne had been laying awake at break of dawn because Mr. Robin Redbreast had started his infernal tweeting even earlier.  She remembered listening to the rattling of the garbage trucks in New York City as they made their way down Columbus Avenue early in the morning when she had lived there many years ago.  She had gotten used to them and they rarely woke her up.  But Mr. Harbinger of Spring, was another story.  She had to resort to ear plugs to get a good night sleep.  She fell asleep wondering if the robin felt any ill will toward her or whether anthropomorphizing was ever a good idea.

But anyway it was time to get up and don her bathing suit, slip on a bathrobe and sandals, grab her beach towel and head to the 6AM water aerobics class in town. As she drove up to the city park, other women were getting out of their cars, also in long bathrobes, waddling their way up to the door of the tiny pool house like a gaggle of geese.

There were already a bevy of bathing beauties in the teeny pool. And soon the  class of nineteen ladies would fill it three quarters full.  As always, the usual gabfest was going on as they pumped their styrofoam dumbbells and did the Water Jog.  (The gabfest was what really attracted Daphne to the class as it was a great source of information on all kinds of news.)  The first topic was last night’s Jeopardy category of “The Simpsons” (way too hard unless you were a Simpsons’ fan or a crossword puzzle enthusiast) to the joy of eating hot dogs.

Daphne found the hot dog discussion particularly interesting.  These tough rural and ranch gals wanted little to do with sausages that they had not made themselves, normally from the elk they had shot in hunting season.  When Daphne had moved to Little Twig twenty years ago, she was surprised that her rancher husband ate every kind of meat except hot dogs and veal because he “knew too much about how they are made” to be comfortable with devouring those delicacies.  And these women too wanted no part of mystery meat.  Oddly enough, three of us had hot dogs yesterday for lunch.

Earleen said that she hadn’t had a hot dog in two years, but suddenly found herself buying and scarfing one down yesterday.  Gail said that sometimes a hot dog is the best thing on a hot day like yesterday.

The water aerobics instructor, Sharon, yelled out (and she had to yell over the din of the class’s chattering hot dog talk), “OK, let’s switch to the Bicycle!”

As Daphne started to bicycle sideways and swirling her dumbbells, she said, “I bought some organic hot dogs at the Community Coop” and ate one yesterday too.”

Gail snorted, “Organic?  A Hot Dog?”

Daphne said, “OK, it just says it doesn’t have anything too obnoxious in them and the cows are grass-fed.”

Gail said, “I’ll stick to my elk.  We put up 500 pounds last fall.”

“That’s a lot of sausage,” Earleen replied.

“Yup”.

Sharon yelled out, “Lawn Chair!” and the women started laying out flat and then tucking their tummies in.

Suddenly one of the Ospreys that live in the park swooped over the gals.  She was carrying a twig in her mouth.

“Look, they’re building a new nest on that telephone pole,” said Becky.

Earleen looked perplexed, “What’s wrong with the old nest on the other pole over there?”

“I heard that they lost their eggs in the hail storm last week,”Gail replied sadly.

“Yes, and then a bald eagle decided to take it for himself,” Sharon said indignantly.

“Well, that’s just mean,” Earleen retorted.

For once, the pool was quiet and all that could be heard was the swish, swish, swish of mermaids and their dumbbells.

Daphne quietly paddled in the opposite direction and wondered if her robin also “was just mean”.  “No”, she thought, “he just can’t help himself.  It was going to be a beautiful day in Big Sky Country and he just had to sing about it.”  And yes, what a warm and uncomplicated way to start the day.  Paddling around with big- hearted gals and determined ospreys.

 

My Mother Made Me a Commie

My mother and I watched lots of old movies in the 1950s on a tiny TV screen in our tiny winterized screened in breezeway.  My mother knew all the supporting players by name.  Her own sisters had been MGM contract players.  She was never political and always voted Republican except for George McGovern.  But without her knowing it, the movies we watched left a deep impression on me.  They reinforced the idea of “getting in other people’s shoes whether they were worn out with holes in the bottom or velvet ones studded with pearls. I could feel for the “down and out” while coveting the lacy ball gowns, crystal goblets, and fox furs. It nurtured my love of contradiction that persists to this day.

The economist, Milton Friedman, was right in one respect. He once said, “When a crisis occurs, the actions taken depend on the ideas lying around.” This statement became the basis for Naomi Klein’s frightening book “The Shock Doctrine.” In it, she chronicles the ways his followers jammed his free market ideas down the throats of citizens in various countries when a crisis, man made or natural, occurred. Some of the ideas lying around during the 1930s and 1940s that produced movies like “It’s a Wonderful Life” (1946) were often anti-capitalist, labor friendly and surprisingly saturated with feminism.  I watched “It Happened on Fifth Avenue” (1947) this past Christmas. It’s about a hobo who occupies (YES, Occupies!) a rich man’s mansion every winter when the rich guy goes to his winter home in Virginia.   The hobo wears his clothes, smokes his cigars, and drinks his wine. Year after year nobody noticed anything awry.

One day on his daily stroll through Central Park. The hobo happens upon a homeless WWII vet (YES, veterans are always treated like crap even after [1]“the good war”.) Against his better judgment the hobo takes in the veteran. The daughter of the rich man runs away from her snooty college and decides to hide in her father’s mansion. She overhears the hobo confessing that he’s a hobo to the vet. She decides to pretend to be poor so she can stay there too and cuz the Vet is cute. Turns out that the vet has a bunch of ex GI buddies and their wives and kids who also need housing, so, somewhat reluctantly, the hobo takes in all of them. The vet and his buddies then hatch a plan to purchase an army barracks and turn it into communal housing. Well there are many more complications when the rich man (who started out poor) comes back to New York to look for his missing daughter. When they finally meet, the spunky girl confronts her father. She tells him that she doesn’t understand why they should have big empty houses when there are people who need them. Then she convinces him to disguise himself as a bum and join the merry band of people inhabiting his mansion. And soon her divorced socialite mother joins up disguised as a poor cook.

Other movies of that era also have spunky females like Barbara Stanwyck in “Christmas in Connecticut” (1945) who writes a Martha Stewart-like column in a NY newspaper about her Connecticut stately farm. Truth is she’s a poorly paid journalist who lives in a one bedroom flat in NYC.  “Holiday Affair” (1949) is about a war widow raising her son and trying to find a good father while trying to maintain her dignity and independence. “My Man Godfrey” (1936) is my favorite film. Filmed at the height of the Depression, it opens with a bunch of rich people going on a scavenger hunt. One of the “items” they must find is a “forgotten man”. So they go to where all the homeless are shacked up tin order to find one. And audiences loved these stories of people struggling together in an often dog eat dog world. They still do if given the chance. “The Devil Wears Prada” is in this tradition, but not quite as subversive as the old movies.

Besides giving people work on sewer systems and dams in the 1930s, the WPA funded writers, artists and photographers. It certainly wouldn’t hurt to have another WPA type deal in order to have writers and artists come up with other ideas.  Margaret Thatcher once famously said about financial capitalism  aka Milton Friedman’s“free market” that “there is no alternative,” referred to as TINA.  But there must be.  There were other ideas not so very long ago.  Time to dig them up and repot them.  We need to  “imagine” a better world that we can actually Occupy rather than watch on the TV.  I was lucky to watch old movies with my mother.  No, she didn’t make me a Commie, but she did help make me a Contrarian.

[1] “The Good War” was the name of the 1985 book by Studs Terkel. It is composed of first hand accounts of veterans of World War II.