You can’t go back to the Garden

You may not be able to get back to the garden, but you can buy your merch here!

It is difficult to get into the reasons why the 50th anniversary of Woodstock was cancelled this year, but it was set to go on the 16th of August. For that, you have to avoid the major networks and newspapers, and that means CBC, CTV, The Globe and Mail, CNN and the New York Times. The major media is not that much invested in the politicking and intrigue underlying the music business.

It is so much better to give a detailed read of the trade publications themselves, because, they can’t get it wrong, or be vague if a little more research or a few more interviews would give the story more flesh. What Billboard and Variety magazines provide is a much more sobering read about the ill-fated concert. I even got quite an education just from reading the comment section of Billboard, which is more than I could say for the journalists in the major media who are trying to make a living on stories like this.

It is a story of organizers getting screwed by promoters, venue changes when the old one couldn’t be secured, a lack of planning (apparently, very little thought to security or how to manage vehicle traffic into or out of a concert which had a target attendance of over 160,000).

Billboard is where I learned that, as a condition of performing at a large venue such as a theatre or stadium, many performers have a “radius clause” imposed on them, meaning that they could not have any concerts within a certain radius of the venue they signed up for. If these performers were performing, say in Virginia, or any place along the middle part of the American Eastern Seaboard, they had to cancel their Woodstock appearance when it was announced that Woodstock was being moved from Bethel, New York to Maryland.

Alas, it was not to be, and seven hours ago, the organizers cancelled Woodstock’s 50th anniversary altogether.

Woodstock 50 was to have among its lineup, original acts such as Santana, Canned Heat, David Crosbie, Melanie, John Sebastian, John Fogerty, Country Joe MacDonald and Hot Tuna (two members of Hot Tuna are from what used to be Jefferson Airplane); and a big name from “classic rock”: Robert Plant; and then a lot of “cool” modern performers, such as Pussy Riot, The Black Keys, and Brandi Carlile. It is not clear that Miley Cyrus fit the general theme of a concert like Woodstock 50, and many thought that by admitting her and some others, that organizers had diverged from the peace/love/positive vibe that they should have been conveying.

This is a parody by Christopher Guest for the National Lampoon in the early 1970s.

Notes on Free Speech — Only for some?

I have been conflicted over the idea that, in the name of free dialogue and advancing discussion of topics of social and political import, that some university campuses have banned certain speakers from talking at their campus. Of course, this has been going on for decades.

Most people (such as I) react incredulously to such totalitarian measures, and dismiss this as academics having their heads in the clouds to the point that they have become out of touch with the meaning of their own rhetoric (is it possible to advocate free speech while banning people from speaking?). But so too, I have had the experience of people (on a personal level) whose dialog is toxic to frank discussion.

Related image
From: XKCD Comics (https://xkcd.com/261/). Under the Creative Commons license v 2.5 (Attribution-Non-commercial-Generic). These comics may be copied and shared but not sold.

There is the kind of rhetoric that is intended to shut down open discussion of issues. It ranges from hate speech to science discussions to discussions about sex. We have banned free speech over several internet media, the most famous kind of banning has to do with “Godwin’s Law”, which unfortunately specifically targets references or comparisons with Adolf Hitler. I think the spirit of the intent of forum moderators invoking it was (or should be) to ban speech which is designed to intimidate others from expressing themselves, that is, creating a toxic environment designed to shut down opposition rather than enable them to fully express themselves and be heard. Views are not shared, because sharing views is no longer safe.

 

Quote of the day – found on these here Interwebs

I was not a fan of Big Bang Theory (as I don’t watch a whole lot of TV), so I found this end card to one of their episodes, which apparently flashed for a couple of seconds. The quote is repeated below, if you can’t read the image.

“‘Make America great again’ is a bumper sticker for victimhood,” Lorre writes, referencing Trump’s campaign slogan. “But we are not victims. We are the creators of opportunity. Sure the system’s rigged. It always has been. So what?! We are a nation of immigrants who have consistently ignored the rigging. You won’t let us join your club? %#&@ you, we’ll start our own club. You won’t let us go to your school? %#&@ you, we’ll start our own school. You won’t let us earn money your way? %#&@ you, we’ll earn it our way. You won’t give us a chance here? %#&@ you, we will go elsewhere. You want to know what makes America great? I got two words for you.”

— Chuck Lorrie (Big Bang Theory)

As I have said elsewhere …

I have been saying for the past six months that the coverage of Donald Trump has the effect of support for the Republican presidential candidate. Other events also contributed, most notably the coronation of Trump which constituted the whole Republican convention from start to finish. The mediocre crop of candidates surrounding Trump did not want to team up to bring him down, effectively dividing the vote in Donald’s favour, and everyone was in on the punch line except those same Republican candidates.

But the media play a big role, and all coverage follows a pattern of Trump saying something stupid, and like a Greek Chorus, the media then reacts with pundits buy generic viagra with american express and, oh yeah, the Democratic candidates as well. The rest of the media, including the Democratic party, and anyone else with an informed and responsible opinion all seem to act as the “straight man” to the Donald’s “zingers”.  But it has always been clear that Donald plays the lead.

It is like a sitcom, a serious process of choosing the leader of the free world, which has now become indistinguishable from show business. A person who contributes nothing to any democratic debate, and advances no topic worthy of serious discussion. There is also this slogan — I think it was “Make America Hate Again”, wasn’t it? Seems about right.

The popularity of “Child Poverty”

Over the past decade or so, this human rights cause “flavour of the month” called “child poverty” has been in style as something to say and for human rights groups and politicians to champion. Before that, we only had “poverty”, until sometime in the late ’90s, when someone discovered “child poverty”, and now it’s all the rage, and everyone’s talking about it.

The nice thing, is that it made poverty go away. No one has poverty anymore. We only have child poverty now. Images of starving children living in squalor with no education, no running water and no Nintendo while their Ivy League fatcat parents live on caviar and crumpets served with china and silverware and playing World of Warcraft on their X-boxes. Down with fatcat parents!

Of course, that isn’t true, but that is the image it conjures up for me. I just want to ask: when we speak of “child poverty”, don’t we just mean “poverty”? Why do we need to separate the poverty of children from the poverty of the entire family they came from? Doesn’t fixing poverty for children mean fixing poverty for their families?

It also turns out, but you have to do some digging in Google to see it, that there are other kinds of poverty that are up and coming on the poverty hit parade. There is also “elderly poverty” and “working age poverty”. You know, children living high on the hog while the parents have to beg for scraps. I think that’s how it works … In addition, “working age poverty” can still mean children in some parts of the world.

These are not so popular, even though those in “working age poverty” are likely to be parents of children living in “child poverty”, whose grandparents live in “elderly poverty”. Indeed, poverty has become a complicated science. After all, you can’t just “redistribute wealth” because “socialism has failed”. It failed because no one in charge wanted it to succeed. At any rate, social safety nets are soooo ’70’s!

I don’t wish to make light of poverty. I believe all poverty is a social problem. I just don’t think it is advancing any cause to balkanize people in poverty into different factions as if they are in competition against each other for donations, government funding, or anything else of the sort. These new classifications are just rhetoric that make the problem seem more complicated than it is.

Famous Teetotalers 012: Right-wingers

thenuge
Theodore Anthony Nugent

Ted Nugent or “The Nuge” is a hard rock/psychedelic guitarist whose musical career dates back to 1963. He has made his stance against drug and alcohol abuse part of his right-wing activism. He is an ardent Republican supporter, and is strongly in favour of gun rights. It is said that his stance against substance abuse had an influence on a part of the Punk Rock movement known as the “Straight Edge” movement.

Bill O'Reilly
Bill O’Reilly

Bill O’Reilly, a host on Fox-TV, also won’t ever be accused of accusing the Republicans of anything is it legal to buy tramadol online wrong, unless it involves Donald Trump. And he is also teetotal. His show The O’Reilly Factor, was the highest-rated news show on the Fox network, and brought in the style of news commentary where afflicting the afflicted and comforting the comforted becomes the norm. But he would tell you that his roots are working class. This, like much of what he says, is disputed. However, he there is no disputing that he studied at Harvard; that he has had much experience in journalism before becoming part of the punditry machine that is Fox News.

OOC Recipients 010: You would want your kids to look up to them

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Marc Garneau

Marc Garneau — Kids all want to be astronauts. Or firefighters. Or race car drivers. Most kids stand a better chance at being one of the latter two. Engineer Marc Garneau got the first one: he went on three NASA Space Shuttle flights. And in going full circle with this, he is now, after a stint as chancellor at the University of Ottawa, the Liberal Minister of Transport, and MP of NDG-Westmount, on the Montreal island. He received the Order of Canada membership in 1984, just after his first flight.

arbour
Louise Arbour

Louise Arbour — Another Montraler who served as the High Commissioner for Human Rights at the United Nations at The Hague. In 1999, she was later appointed to the Supreme Court of Canada by then-Prime Minister Jean Chretien. She has a long list of honorary degrees and awards from all over Canada.

Recognizable OOC Recipients 03: David Suzuki and Clayton Ruby

suzuki
David Suzuki, Ph D., OC, OBC

David Suzuki, geneticist, outspoken environmentalist, university professor, Long-time host of CBC’s The Nature of Things, writer of many biology books and textbooks, was appointed as Officer of the Order of Canada back in 1977, and became a Companion of the OOC in 2005. He now runs The David Suzuki Foundation, a charitable organization which is involved in environmentalist causes. In a CBC poll in answer to the question “Who is the greatest Canadian of all time”, he ranked #5, but that being said, he had the highest ranking of those great Candians still alive.

Clayton Ruby
Clayton Ruby

Clayton Ruby is a Toronto lawyer whose list of high-profile clients range from Vancouver-based Adbusters Foundation to Human Rights Watch to The Church of Scientology. He represented Guantanamo Bay prisoner Abdurahman Khadr, Mayor Rob Ford, MP Svend Robinson, and cleared the name of Guy Paul Morin. Ruby was made an OOC member in 2005.

Thank God for the secret Canadian AAEVPC Party!

The political party with the instantly forgettable name of “Animal Alliance Environment Voters Party of Canada” and the equally forgettable acronym “AAEVP” have a lot of flaky positions on many issues and thank God they remain a secret party that no one has ever heard of outside of small gatherings here and there.

There are a lot of things to be said in advocacy for the environment, and I am as angry as anyone should be at politicians who turn a deaf ear to things like global warming. The other issue, one of animal rights, is fine, but animal rights seem to trump more immediate human rights concerns in too many communities. We see things like more animal shelters and such (ok I suppose), and in the same communities, PIRGs (Public Interest Research Groups) and human rights associations closing their doors for lack of funding (definitely NOT ok!). I have seen social activism being reduced to rescuing puppies while the real dirty work of social activism — advocating for the rights of the human species — being sidelined and taken for granted.

“Tough on crime” agendas seem focused more on populating prisons with people guilty or not than of actually lessening crime. “Lessening crime” is a bit of a nonexistent social issue, an illusory one, since crime statistics are the lowest they have been in decades. It is often an empty-headed vote-grabbing issue done by politicians with no real platform to offer their voters. Yet activists and politicians to the left appear to be going to sleep on this issue, or not offering real solutions.

While the environment is something governments must act on, it has additional baggage of being something that will call upon us as citizens to change our personal habits in a profound way and usually in a disruptive way. A vote killer if there ever was one. The painful contradiction of this is that on this score, the AAEVP is right. Somehow, everyone must get it into their heads that the environment is what supports us, and it is the environment that can destroy us. And the environment does not care if you voted in favour of it or not. On the face of it then, there is nothing you can do in support of the environment that will ever be democratic, and that is because the environment imposes its own totality (read: totalitarian dictatorship), and there is no human that you can get angry at for this.

It would be a failure of the human species for the AAEVP to become popular, since your rights would be (quite properly) ignored in favour of the environment, but ignored again in favour of animal rights.

It is true, the Earth can do without humans, and if we wiped ourselves off the Earth (in some other way than through nuclear arms), the Earth can proceed onward, and probably in much better condition over time, creating a paradise that no human will ever know.

If our picture of our world in the future includes our survival, then the only way we can do it is to become stewards of the Earth. Every utterance of the AAEVP concerns protecting the environment and its animal species, so it looks to me that they view themselves as stewards of the environment. But to support animal rights while saying nothing about the more pressing human rights issues that affect us at our very doorstep could give the impression that the AAEVP doesn’t care whether we exist after voting day either.

A reading of their polical platform gives one the impression that they are not that serious. They seem to feel themselves more as persuaders of the other parties than in actually getting themselves elected. I guess I can go back to sleep. Nothing to fear here.

Sounding off on the end of CanCon and the CRTC

I guess with the recent decision to axe all cancon requirements for daytime programming in Canada, the CRTC is crawling toward its own irrelevance. Let’s not be naive, Canadian culture is that much more weakened without the protection it partially enjoyed from American influence. With much less Canadian culture left to protect, and with Canadian voices now playing a smaller role in Canadian media, the CRTC really has less of a job to do these days.

To be more level here, one needs to be reminded that the CRTC kept the Cancon requirements for prime time. In addition, the CRTC cites the fact that television must now compete alongside streaming video, and the world-wide web for quite possibly the same viewers who listen and view “content” from just about anywhere and everywhere.

If I watch a video on YouTube, I am usually not aware whether or not the video is Canadian content or not. Sometimes there are clues, and sometimes the video is so famous that its country of origin is unmistakeable (Gangam Style, anyone?). There is a certain amount of reality to the CRTC’s concerns. My viewing habits have made much of what the CRTC is doing to make me more part of Canadian culture, irrelevant. But then, I don’t really know for sure, because to be honest, I don’t really check whether the video is CanCon before I see it. Same for websites.

We feared the encroachment of American culture when we set up the CRTC. Back then, radio and TV were the only games in town. Now we have the Internet, and the prospect of entertainment and information being viewed on all household and personal devices. Not all of that is American. I would say most of it is. After all, the USA is the heart of Google, YouTube, Yahoo, NetFlix, and AOL. The other players are not quite so big. Also, the USA accounts for an outsized proportion of the Internet traffic in the world. While 43% of a country’s citizens on average use the Internet, in the US, it is more like 87%.

I would like to think that I get “world” culture when I go online, but I watch British, American and Canadian documentaries, and usually British or American-produced videos on YouTube regarding phenomena in science or math. My online mailing lists consist of Candians and Americans mostly. I wonder now if having a “Canadian voice” can be said to mean anything these days? It used to mean a way to air “my” concerns with “my” voice. Others living in my country would do the same thing. And in sum, it would turn out that our concerns would be distinctively different from concerns across the border. It is healthy to know our common concerns as a culture.

The CRTC needs to be reminded that we must hear ourselves or be lost in the cacophony of other voices that are not our own. That is the only way we can have more confidence sharing our dialogue with the rest of the world, taking pride in our identity.

Critique of the “Mindblowing Fact” video on income inequality

The video in question  is quite “mind-blowing” as promised, indeed, at over 13 million hits, it can even be called “viral”, but there are problems in how it presents and handles facts and references. While I don’t have a problem with the facts, and I am quite certain they are based on serious numbers, the presentation was too slick, with style clearly triumphing over detail.

The speaker begins by saying he was disturbed by a Harvard study that said that the actual distribution of wealth, what Americans think that distribution is, and the distribution of wealth idealized by Americans is totally out of whack. Americans are aware of existing inequalities, but have not the slightest idea of the extent of those inequalities. While he cites the Harvard study in his presentation, his only printed citation in his list of references at the end was the Mother Jones website, which, if you scroll down, you will find the “source”. In effect, the speaker, whom I didn’t catch the name of, is in effect citing Mother Jones citing the study by Professor Norton of Harvard Business School. I am aware of “Worstall’s Fallacy”, touted most of all by Forbes commentator Tim Worstall himself (Fellow of the Adam Smith Institute, and self-described as a “world expert on Scandium”, a transition metal), that “income” and “wealth” are different ideas that seem similar, and that the speaker in this video was committing “Worstall’s Fallacy” by confusing the two. I am never told quite where the speaker in the video does this. But then I thought that even if you corrected for that in the video, it would not change the overall message, just dull it a little bit.

But an even more worrisome statement in the video was at around 2:24 or so, where he derides socialism. Why does he feel he has to separate himself from socialists? Socialism should not be considered a dirty word. The distribution he labels “socialism” is actually Communism. You can only have absolutely equal wealth distributions (as in Communism) in a command economy where you have “no freedom to choose your major”, as Abbie Hoffman once said about Maoist China in the late ’60s (why else other than in an unfree society would you study medicine if you were only going to make as much as a janitor?). And the “ideal” American distribution cited as supportable by 9/10 Americans (where rich and poor coexist) would only be possible through wealth redistribution. I think the word for that second option begins with “S” and ends with “m” and rhymes with “populism”, and exists to some extent in most advanced capitalist democracies around the world. In fact, capitalist democracies are the only places I think that socialism is possible.

A choice joke I heard making the rounds is the one about a Union worker, a Tea Party supporter, and a millionaire Industrialist in the same room where there is a plate with a dozen cookies. The Industrialist takes 11 of them, and whispers to the Tea Party supporter: “That Union guy is trying to steal your cookie!”

Nobody wins

This is a story about Nobody getting arrested. Nobody getting a brutal police beating. Nobody spending three days in hospital. Nobody being jailed, and Nobody being let go, because the charges didn’t stick.

While hearing reports about Adam Nobody seems humourous, with reporters having to, as they always do for people they are discussing, referring to them by their last names, this gives the G20 protest a frightfully Orwellian ring to it. I find it slightly unnerving for reporters to now be allowed to say that at the G20 protest three years ago, “Nobody got arrested”, or “Nobody was kicked and bruised”, but yet “Nobody was found Not Guilty of all charges”. How about this: “Nobody did not assault the officers”. There is a video of Nobody on YouTube.

This just writes itself. There is nothing left to say.

I’ll try not to talk in overly joyful terms of the beginning of the end of Rupert Murdoch

For one thing, it is too soon to know whether he will be merely decimated as a media tycoon or ruined altogether. But the fact that the political influence counter in Britain has seemingly been re-set to zero is quite telling.

I`ll try not to engage in schadenfreude.

Yippee!

(oops, sorry!)

Jello Biafra’s predictions made manifest (reported to you entirely in lolcat lingo)

If u recall teh instalment ov “wwjd?”, Jello Biafra discusd bout teh effects an politics ov all dat “toxic crap” which r affecshunately refr 2 as teh tar sandz.

Yesturdai, i read in da globe an mail dat pipeline rupturd on teh top ov hill. Teh crude bitumen flowd down into teh muskeg below.  Nearby aboriginal community wuz gettin sick frum teh stench, especially teh children. They had 2 close teh skool down 4 at least 3 weekz. Teh dai aftr Stefen Harpr got electd, it wuz finally admittd by teh alberta gubment dat 250,000 barrels ov crude tar sandz bitumen had spilld into teh muskeg, killin local animals an plants, an makin peeps sick. Dat didnt taek long 2 proov itself out.

[HUMAN TRANSLATION:]

If you recall the installment of “WWJD?”,Jello Biafra discussed about the effects and politics of all that “toxic crap” which are affectionately referred to as the tar sands.

Yesterday, I read in the Toronto Globe and Mail that a pipeline ruptured on the top of a hill. The crude bitumen flowed down into the muskeg below.  A nearby aboriginal community got sick from the stench, especially the children. They had to close the school down for at least three weeks. The day after Stephen Harper got elected, it was finally admitted by the Alberta government that 250,000 barrels of crude tar sands bitumen had spilled into the muskeg, killing local animals and plants, and making people sick. That didn’t take long to prove itself out.

Food for thought during the Canadian Federal Election Campaign

I have been a big fan of Jello Biafra’s spoken word stuff. This time, he does his spoken word thing around some mannequins, and he’s discussing the Alberta Tar Sands, and how dirty the fuel is to refine, and how dependent the United States is on our oil.

To those who haven’t heard him before, he has strong views. But in the typical punk rock/anarchist tradition, you are encouraged not to take his word for it — why not search out the truth for yourself? Get it from the source, or as close to the source as you can. Jello is a Green Party member in the U. S., and is likely to be quite well-read on environmental issues.

One problem, although it is a minor point: While I distrust Stephen Harper as much as anyone, his religion is evangelical, but not fundamentalist as Jello suggested in his piece below. He may try to convert you 🙂 but he probably doesn’t believe that the Earth is 5000 years old or that the Bible is literally true. Nor would they agree with the idea of speaking in tongues. In fact, his church, The Christian and Missionary Alliance, has been a participant in a lot of human relief efforts worldwide. Just the same, who knows? Maybe Harper really does believe that Jesus will make a rainforest grow from the tailings of the refinery, and make the cancerous tumors of the Miskew Cree disappear. Check out this article for more info on the effects of the refinery tailings on the Athabasca River, downstream from the tar sands mine.

So overall, Jello’s speech kind of makes me want to go out and become a card-carrying Green Party member.

This is from an ongoing series on Jello’s blog, called “What would Jello do?“. You should check out the others.

Meanwhile, there is an election on May 2nd, and while cynics say that voting doesn’t change things much, the only thing worse than voting is not voting. Clicking on the graphic below the video leads you to Elections Canada, where you can get to know a few things about your local candidates. If you are a Canadian citizen of legal age, be sure you are registered to vote.

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Schooling and Unschooling

It is not clear as to whether Dayna Leigh Martin has the lock on the market of ideas comprising the “Unschooling” movement, however, her meandering explanations, when put together, make it unclear to an onlooker such as myself as to whether this is viable, and if it is, whether it is something every family can do.

Well, Ms Martin is not even close to being the only one advocating unschooling. In fact, there are many in her company that have their own radical ideas.

I like radical ideas. I agree with her sentiments. Personally, I sucked at math until I was out of school and taught it to myself. That included calculus, also. I am also largely self-taught in computer languages, have built my own computers, and also have enough knowledge of my car and my moped to do minor to mid-size repairs. I am living proof that learning is just what humans naturally do, and it might appear that school is unnecessary.

But of course to say so, I misrepresent the facts. If we only look at my numeracy, technical, and trades knowledge, I clearly benefitted from unstructured, independent self-teaching. But without school I still would not have had the facility I have for literature, for Shakespeare, would never have bothered with Chaucer (but was glad someone had exposed me to it), for the importance of keeping up with current events, and for rounding out my literacy generally. Without my teachers in early school, I probably would not have had the confidence I had in adulthood to fill in my own gaps in math.

Self teaching is not for everyone. For one thing, as I understand it, only a teacher can grant credit, leading to graduation and a grade-12 equivalency to proceed to college. But even so, not everyone would have had my patience or persistence in teaching myself the basics of the math I failed to learn in the earlier grades.

Martin has confidence that if learning feels good to a child then that is the learning that should be facilitated. However, a child cannot see the future further than their own nose, and sometimes, if they want to become an oceanographer, for example, then that requries study in a surprising number of fields, many of which may seem unrelated to their topic as a child. Sometimes the learning experience may be unpleasant, since it may require the learning of things the child perceives as boring. There are many kinds of learning which may seem unpleasant at the time, but the rewards were delayed until later. I found this for teaching myself computer languages. You could try compiling a program literally hundreds of times before it would work, but once it did, it was a great feeling. There is a lot of learning that in this way, involves tolerating a great deal of frustration and not giving up. I am unsure if a child would see that on their own.

Children also change their minds, as well. Today’s budding oceanographer becomes tomorrow’s budding astronaut. Is a parent really going to follow the whims of the child around that much, or will there come a time when today’s lesson will be on “focus” and “persistence” (a lesson that the child may not want to hear)? A child in a public system can accomodate the changing of a child’s mind more easily than a parent.

Another problem I have is that for the most can you buy female viagra over the counter part “Unschooling” takes as its basis an assumption (not enitrely untrue) that schools act as enforcers of social norms and of a pecking order in society. Seen from this perspective, schools teach obedience, and there is an overwhelming consciousness that this is the way schools always were.

This is far, far from the case. Schools have been around in its present form for less than 200 years. Unschooling, as I see it, is a return to the days before organised schooling, when parents passed their knowledge and literacy, and skills on to their children. This was a necessity on the farm, as well as at the Blacksmith shop in town.

The family, thus, had an exceedingly important role that nowadays is being invaded by psychologists, psychiatrists, educators, counsellors, test-taking agencies, and even marketers, who have jointly acted to remove that power from the family. This saddens me, and in the past decade, the Internet, cell phones, and other electronic gizmos has further invaded their consciousness, even minimizing further the sphere of influence of parents. It is becoming apparent that nowadays, parents feel they have so little to pass on to their children that they become as disposable as cogs in an assembly line which must make way for next year’s model of car.

Also, children learn better in an environment where they are not judged. In a school they are passed, failed, diagnosed with ADD and the like; they compete for attention with 24 other children, and the teacher is somehow expected to reach all of them. But I don’t think that will even happen in the best classrooms of that size. In a family setting, they are more likely to be understood on their own terms and judged less often. Making mistakes becomes less of a public embarrassment and more a part of the learning process.

But not every parent believes that “not controlling” their children is the way to raise them. I can see many parents having a problem with that mentality. Obviously, you have to know what you are doing, and what is it exactly do you mean by “control”, anyway? Children have a kind of wisdom that is unburdened by later biases and indoctrinations; but at the same time, they do not have the gift of foresight and wisdom that allows parents to pass on worldly knowledge to the young which they could have not learned any other way. Far from merely facilitating learning, adults have something meaningful and worthwhile to pass on to children. Discipline is also something to pass on. It gives you the gift of pursuing bigger and better learning goals. The kind of goals you can’t achieve by digging things out of the dirt or by reading a book with pictures in it.

A child who is unschooled can only be as competent as his or her parents. The parents involved cannot be expected to be competent at all subjects. I don’t think I would be competent in all subjects either.

Judging by the blogs I’ve read on the subject, many which have not been updated for some years, for most parents the passion tends to burn out soon enough, and it becomes a fad. Dayna still practices un-schooling, and preaching the gospel to anyone who will listen. However, for whatever reason, one of her websites, http://unschoolamerica.com, has been taken down and its domain parked.

Nuts with guts: Crazy iPhone lady

Caught a vid of a nutty lady with a cell phone railing against cell phones. Going by the palm trees, I guess this is likely California, where being a wingnut is socially acceptable.

The basic schtick appears to be: don’t be seduced by technology, they’re taking over your brain! I feel sorry for her in a way. She does have a point. I take her point to be for us not to be slaves to technology. Tell the kids to turn the cell phone off. Go outside and play. Get on your bicycle, your skateboard; play catch. Chat with each other face-to-face.

Brothers In Arms: A belated review of the versions

Not really having heard the original Dire Straits version of “Brothers in Arms” when it came out (it was one of these things I was planning on “getting around to”), my first experience with the song was through protest singer Joan Baez in 1988, with a radio-only compilation back when I was a university DJ. I feel that it was at least her best since “Love Song To a Stranger”, another song that grabs my emotions in a similar way.

Brothers in Arms is about a quintessential Baez theme: anti-war. It is hard to listen to lyrics like “There’s  a million different worlds/and a million different suns/we have just one world/and live in different ones” and not get choked up.

I have heard some remarks in recent blogs regarding the appropriateness of a woman singing this song. Well, I think that war is not just a “man’s issue”. It is an issue for all mankind. I feel no conflict with Baez singing this song. Women have sons, brothers, and husbands that are lost in war, too.  And when you hear Baez sing, believe me, any questions of appropriateness quickly fly out the window. She definitely makes this song her own.

[youtube zJeNPS2tLdA]

She does a better job of the vocals than anyone I have heard, including Mark Knopfler, the writer of the tune. But there is an element missing.The music in the background serves as a vehicle for her voice. It is maudlin, and its mediocrity doesn’t become obvious until the song’s ending where the musicians no longer have the power of Baez’s voice to carry the ending.

Finally, after all these years, I sat down and had an un-interrupted, quiet, sustained listen to Dire Straits doing the original song.

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Its strength is its weakness: Knopfler’s Gibson guitar. When most people talk to me about Dire Straits’ Brothers in Arms being a “good song”, they are referring to the guitar work. The words of the song, which Knopfler nearly mumbles his way through, takes a back seat to the the guitar playing. In a real sense, the problem is the reverse of the Baez problem: while the voice is just “kind of there”, it is just a vehicle for the guitar. And as Baez shows us in no uncertain terms, the lyrics of the song have their own power in the hands of the right vocalist, making the most of what are powerful, poetic lyrics.

If only we had Knopfler’s guitar, and Baez’s voice doing that tune … we can only dream.