No Child Left Behind: A Few Thoughts

To speak against No Child Left Behind, it seems to be attempting a kind of equality through top-down legislation.   There are benefits and drawbacks to this, I suppose. 

Most of what happens that is truly valuable in education, obviously, can’t be quantified by such methods.   No Child left behind has reduced some schools to a reward/punishment system to attain government funding.   

Those of us who attended public schools are all too familiar with reward/punishment…and being swallowed by boredom…and busy work…and for Christ’s sake not another pep rally.   

So here’s a question?

WHy should the well-prepared, often highly intelligent, children of doctors and lawyers, diplomats and wealthy businessman, be involved in the project of public education at all?

What are the reasons and how good do they sound?

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The Chinese Military

The Chinese military celebrates it’s 80th birthday.

Things to worry about:  All the extra boys and men in China.  All the poor, often jobless men in and around China’s cities.  The Japanese, Chinese, North and South Koreans, Tawainese etc… don’t get along that well.  The U.S. and China have eyes on the same resources

Things to be happy about:  If we try and get along with the Chinese, it might just work.  They’re young, our economies are intertwined…ahem.  They’re pragmatic.  They’re shrewd.  They like classical music and science.  We have a lot more in common than we think.


Related On This Site: Kissinger says our relations with China are incredibly fragile, and that due to its own past, it may not fit as easily into the Western models of statecraft as some would think: From The Online WSJ: ‘Henry Kissinger on China. Or Not.’


From The WSJ-Exclusive: ‘Eric Schmidt Unloads On China In New Book’


From The China Daily Mail: ‘The Cultures Of North Korea And China: Conflict Escalation Explained’


Over a billion people and a culturally homogenous Han core.  Rapid industrialization atop an ancient civilization.  There is state-sponsored hacking and espionage, a good bit of corruption and a lot of young men floating around fast-growing cities.   There are people fighting for their freedoms, better laws, and making their way forward.  There is an often lawless, ruthless capitalism (and hefty State involvement and cronyism) and it will take smart leadership to maintain steady growth. Can they do it?  TED Via Youtube: Martin Jacques ‘Understanding The Rise Of China’From Foreign Affairs: ‘The Geography Of Chinese Power’From Via Media At The American Interest: ‘History Made; Media Blind’From The New Perspectives Quarterly: Francis Fukuyama’s ‘Is America Ready for a Post-American World?’

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Daniel Deudney on Bloggingheads

Here is an interesting conversation about Daniel Deudney’s new book, Bounding Power.

Here are a few thoughts I had never thought to think:

1.  America is in part designed by the founders to avoid the extremes of anarchy and hierarchy; and was a conscious project to not merely recreate the centralized power structures of Europe. 

2.  By extension, America continues a Western dialogue that stretches all the way back to the Greeks.   A dialogue that has proposed the basic rights to life and right to subsistence that are taken for granted in our daily lives.

3.  Present day American liberal internationalism can be redirected back to the founding principles and political traditions of our country.  Liberals can do the work they need to do here in order to do it everywhere.

4.  Libertarians should get back to the basic right of freedom from violence.

Fascinating and very well done. 

Has anyone ever read the Republic, by Plato?  Oh, so grim, and oh so accurate.  

Addition:  Are there dangers of idealism/German idealism that come with a Kantian influence:  From The Internet Encyclopedia Of Knowledge: Immanuel Kant And Utilitarianism.

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Cornel West and Clarence Thomas: A comparison

Here is a recent discussion of Michael Fletcher’s book about Clarence Thomas

I’d like to offer some ideas about both Cornel West and Clarence Thomas:

For Immanuel Kant“Virtue is, therefore, the moral strength of a human being’s will in fulfilling his duty, a moral constraint through his own law-giving reason…”

For Kant, man’s dignity comes from his ability to reason.  Our reason is capable of making laws (the golden rule, the laws of gravity, laws of the state) and we are born with it.  It is what separates us from the animals.   However,  our reason must make laws it is willing to follow.  From this comes our dignity. 

In Cornel West, you have a man of great gifts.  He is an eloquent, engaging speaker with an agile, wide-ranging mind.  I do not see his activities in the black community as a failure of duty, but often as a fulfillment of duty.  It is mostly the means and the ideas by which he pursues this duty that I disagree with. 

I would offer that West sees himself as a bridge between two vastly different sets of ideas, economic opportunities and hopes, as well as cultures.  And bridges can burn, fail, and be used until ruined.  He has deeply sacrificed his time and life according to his lights. 

Clarence Thomas’s achievement has been through the law.  He honors the law by serving as one of its highest gatekeepers.  To do this, he must abide by the law and live an exemplary life of deep moral sacrifice, even though he might have special knowldege that the laws of man can be rooted in prejudice and enforced with savage cruelty and injustice.  Men have failed and will fail to make laws that don’t violate their own reason, and Thomas has likely suffered directly as a result of this failure. 

Honestly, I find much to admire in both men.  But does one meet such a standard more closely?

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Al Gore will save us!

Here is a link to an article by Frank Furedi in the spiked review of books.  It’s quite good.

He examines Gore’s ideas fairly thoroughly, so I don’t have too much to add.

Typically, when politicians write books, they’re boring, topical and well…..political.  They’re worse than reading policy, because while policy is dry and boring and hugely consequential, books about policy are often not consequential and you have to bask in the politicans’ persona.  Half the intelligence, twice the ego.   

So what gives Al Gore his sanctimonious attitude?   Well, as the article points out, he believes in the ignorance of Americans, that this ignorance runs deep, and that they must be helped, preferably by Al Gore.. 

It’s the media’s fault!  It’s the republican’s fault!  

It’s anybody’s fault but Al Gore’s, of course.  Like Gore I believe ignorance is the rule, not the exception.   I admire his career, his service, and the wisdom he no doubt gained from it.

However,  as Furedi points out, Al Gore’s ideas are part of the problem.   Maybe Gore could actually doubt the positions he holds, examine the inconsistencies…anything…instead of adopting the pose of righteous crusader.   It just seems like he should get away from politics, let the past go, and maybe then do the little he can to make the world better, now that he is out of office.

Note to Self: Beware of people who want to control the “media”, left or right;  they’re unwilling to think about their own ideas. 

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Am I A Libertarian?

Before, I posted a limited critique of both parties, or mistakes people who end up voting for both parties can often make in their thinking.

The Libertarians?

Well, there’s Ron Paul.   Like many libertarians, he’s enough a part of the establishment to make political sense.  I am refreshed every time I hear a public criticism of our government being too large, and I admire his career.

Like many libertarians, though,  he’s out there just far enough that I get worried he’s too committed to ideas that may be logically inconsistent, and not always politically feasible.  He’s been an outsider for a long time.

If actually elected, we’d be goverened by a tiny, chaotic, suddenly powerful group of people who’ve never had many of their ideas practially applied, and that doesn’t sound pretty.  A more sane Ross Perot maybe?

Anyways, here’s a political test (updated link).  Maybe I’m not a libertarian after all.

“An Arctic Tale”: Please Pet the Polar Bears

Really, these stories write themselves.   

The NY Times gives us An Arctic Tale in this Sunday’s paper.  It chronicles two filmmakers chronicling polar bears.  The film will be narrated by Queen Latifah.

For all you kids out there: sloppy logic, anthropomorphism, and untested conclusions are what’s most important to teach you.  As a race (if we survive global warming) these sentimental lessons matter most.  Hopefully, when you see a real polar bear at the zoo, you’ll be inspired enough to climb into the enclosure and pet him.

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Immigration: Will a wall work?

Clearly, Mexico does not have the political will to examine why so many of its citizens come here to work.   Mexico has corruption, lack of education, and an enormous wealth disparity to deal with, among other things.  They’re getting angry at us for not solving their problems to their satisfaction.

A wall could work as a deterrent, but personally, I don’t think think it’s the most effective long term solution.  People climb around walls, or under them, or tear them down.  Walls can get covered in resentment, graffiti and wasted dollars.  I think it’s more of a way for some politicians to release the steam of their constituents at the moment.  

Here’s a current wall proposal:

  • from 10 miles west of the Tecate, California, port of entry to 10 miles east of the Tecate, California, port of entry;
  • from 10 miles west of the Calexico, California, port of entry to 5 miles east of the Douglas, Arizona, port of entry;
  • from 5 miles west of the Columbus, New Mexico, port of entry to 10 miles east of El Paso, Texas;
  • from 5 miles northwest of the Del Rio, Texas, port of entry to 5 miles southeast of the Eagle Pass, Texas, port of entry; and
  • 15 miles northwest of the Laredo, Texas, port of entry to the Brownsville, Texas, port of entry.
  • Estimated cost: at least $2.1 billion dollars

    Here’s some Robert Frost

    How good are our reasons?

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