dangerousmeta!, the original new mexican miscellany, offering eclectic linkage since 1999.

NY Times Sunday Book Review:

History Lessons. Remember the “Maine”, Osama.

07/06/04 • 09:21 AM • BooksChildhoodHistory • (0) Comments • (0) Trackbacks


Teaching rap in schools.  “Why is it there? Principally, the authorities argue, because it gets kids reading - and, just like marijuana, it leads on to the hard stuff, like Shakespeare.”  The mistake schools make, is that Shakespeare is meant to be performed, not force-fed to youngsters a half-dozen pages at a time.  It is not ‘hard’.  Reading “Romeo and Juliet” seems torture to youths; seeing it performed live will change kids’ perceptions of Shakespeare forever:

“If it were now to die,

‘Twere now to be most happy; for, I fear,

My soul hath her content so absolute

That not another comfort like to this

Succeeds in unknown fate ...”

Yeah, you know which one.

07/06/04 • 08:58 AM • ArtsBooksChildhoodEntertainmentMusic • (4) Comments • (0) Trackbacks

NY Times Op-Ed:

Kristof, Calling Bush a Liar.  “Indeed, there’s some evidence that Mr. Bush carefully avoids the most blatant lies — witness his meticulous descriptions of the periods in which he did not use illegal drugs.”  A lie of omission is still a lie.  Mr Kristof pines for the balanced criticism of the Fairness Doctrine years; something the modern infotainment machine has made impossible.  I had already contemplated the concept of a right-wing Moore, roasting Clinton via funny sight-gags and media innuendo.  Or an investigative ‘docudrama’ on Vince Foster.  But, as the Left has been unable to invent a Rush clone, so maybe the Right will be unable to invent a Moore clone; but if one does surface, just wait to hear the outrage on the Leftward side of the aisle.  Restore the Fairness Doctrine.

Interestingly, most people I talk to are going to “Farenheit 9/11” because they’ve seen snippets of clips with Mr Bush in the previews that they’ve never encountered before.  The lack of press conferences, the stilted speaking, the managed public events makes us all curious as to what the man is really like.  This film is not the venue to get a balanced perspective, obviously, but in the vacuum of footage this is what folks will use to render judgment.

I hope to make time to see the film; I’ll be looking for jump-cuts, the video equivalent of an Op-Ed page.  I used to instruct kids on this.  I’d interview a teacher, or aide on video, asking them innocuous questions about the kids.  Swapping head-shots; you’ve seen the technique many times.  As long as you’re careful to use the same background, you can even include the back of your head in the edge of the frame, as the other person is interviewed.  I would then cut in footage of myself asking questions about Hitler and the Holocaust.  Showing it to the children later, after the shock of hearing their teachers say such things, they fully understood how a reality distortion field is manufactured.  It’s like a magic trick; people believe what they see, until the technique is revealed ... and they realize they’ve been duped.  For a journalist, it’s a grave breach of trust, IMHO.

Some of the more prominent news-magazines on television still use the technique.  Turn it off, when you see it.

06/30/04 • 07:00 AM • ChildhoodEntertainmentHuman RightsPolitics • (3) Comments • (0) Trackbacks

NY Times Letters to the Editor:

Lazy on the Internet.  More on the ‘inch-deep’ phenom, from a librarian.  A bit harsh, however, to my ears.  The internet certainly helps on the journey to real knowledge.  For me, the shallowness drives the urge to deepen with real authoritative sources.

If nothing else, it works wonderfully as a memory-trigger.  A quick Google can light up a whole floor of brain-storage ...

06/25/04 • 12:02 PM • BooksChildhoodInternetScholarly • (0) Comments • (0) Trackbacks

NY Times Letters to the Editor:

Online Research Is So Easy, So Unreliable.  I’ve spoken about this same situation many times.  “Inch-deepness.”  One must triangulate important information, and not just with Google-fingers.  A triangulation for factual verification off-line is weighted quite a bit more, when I’m fishing for facts.  Usually, once hitting a good authoritarian book-source, I can then find a good website afterwards.  This has already started to change, but one must have good baloney-detection skills at the start.  Students don’t possess this toolkit; something we must remedy.

06/23/04 • 09:43 AM • BooksChildhoodHistoryInternetScholarlyWeblogs • (3) Comments • (0) Trackbacks

NY Times:

Mixing morals with education.  “How preposterous! This is a tearing asunder that is not only impossible but undesirable. Whatever became of Emerson (‘Character is higher than intellect,’ he declaimed at Harvard), let alone of Socrates?”  One of the problems, is that youth don’t read as widely anymore.  Literature ... in general (the novel), you read a couple hundred pages to get a chance to bat around a few moral lessons.  Education-by-classics requires the skills that youth seem to no longer possess: reading, writing, contemplating.  Patience. 

I’m sure the next step will be to find a ‘Cliff’s Notes” method of instilling morality into students, which won’t work.  Or instruction-by-excerpt, snipping the middle of philosophical threads; “just the good stuff”.  Trivializing knowledge, to a degree; we become a collection of facts and figures, bits and bites of famous works, but without the deeper context from which to fully leverage our intellects.  After all, what is an excerpt, or even a piece of literature, without context to the time in which it was written?  Can’t learn morality by excerpt, IMHO.

Then there is a preference for the prepackaged ethics marketed by movies and television, magazines and newspapers.  Even weblogs.  A college can’t effectively compete with the bombardment of the media.  How many shootings do we experience in a week, via the ‘boob tube”?  “Friends” over Plato, “Dennis Miller” over Machiavelli.

Read.  Read widely, read deeply.  No rush.  Let it steep.

06/22/04 • 08:25 AM • ChildhoodHuman RightsPsychologyScholarly • (3) Comments • (1) Trackbacks

NY Times Editorial:

The College Aid Crisis.  “Backers of the loan reform bill say it could channel enough money into Pell Grants to increase the size of the awards by more than a third at some public colleges, raising the maximum grant to about $6,000 a year.”

05/25/04 • 06:57 AM • ChildhoodHuman RightsScholarly • (0) Comments • (0) Trackbacks

NY Times:

The nine months of living anxiously.

05/24/04 • 12:02 PM • ChildhoodHealthPsychology • (0) Comments • (0) Trackbacks

SF New Mexican:

Chess may help strugging students?

05/24/04 • 06:08 AM • ChildhoodPsychologyScholarly • (0) Comments • (0) Trackbacks

New Statesman:

The belief that more education will create more equal opportunities has been proved wrong.  “The hard truth is that advantage is passed on through a variety of social, economic and cultural mechanisms, many of which are beyond the reach of public policy. The most obvious example is the family, and more particularly the inegalitarian tendency of parents to try to help their own children. Parents with greater resources - financial, physical, intellectual or emotional - will give their children a better start in life.”

05/21/04 • 06:50 AM • ChildhoodHuman RightsScholarly • (0) Comments • (0) Trackbacks


Graphic, Violent Images Can Curb Kids’ Aggression.  I believe I’ve told the story of the young black man, in gangster drag, I encountered in a Manhattan emergency room in the ‘90’s.  Gunshot.  He was screaming, “It ain’t supposed to hurt so much, man” in between shrieks.  “This ain’t cool!”  Expletives, well-placed.

When minicam crews first hit the streets, in the late 70’s, we had gore on every evening news show.  I believe, when Reagan reached office in the 80’s, the novelty had worn off.  Still, it illustrated graphically the results of violence.  I’d never want to go back there, but maybe teenagers should be exposed to such things, as a balance to the dozens of gunshots they experience through television every night.

05/18/04 • 03:42 PM • ChildhoodHealthHuman RightsPsychology • (0) Comments • (0) Trackbacks


Adults find exercise in an old playground favorite.  Hmmm.  “Dodgeball”, we knew as “Bombardment.”  It was used in middle school (6-8 grade) by early-maturing males to physically intimidate, and *hurt*,  any and all others.  Fond memories?  Memories of bruises, derisive laughter.  I’ll take volleyball instead; it doesn’t inflame in the same manner.

05/18/04 • 03:21 PM • ChildhoodEntertainmentHealthPersonal • (2) Comments • (0) Trackbacks


Pediatrician warns parents about cicadas.  You’ve *got* to be kidding.  The 17 year cicadas were a laugh and a half when I was a kid.  Tremendous fun.  Don’t be a party pooper.  Frightening?  Only the first encounter.  After that, it’s gravy.  Very soon, everyone will simply want to stop their ears.

05/14/04 • 12:25 PM • ChildhoodHealth • (0) Comments • (0) Trackbacks

NY Times Op-Ed Contributor:

And the Rich get Smarter.  I can’t recall exactly, but one entire class of Princeton graduates, 1912 or 1914, all became self-made millionaires.  Meant a lot more, at that time.

Recent surveys have pretty much shut down the concept that Ivy League schools confer some sort of income premium; that circumstance has been eliminated by the sharp increase in quality at other schools over the past 40 years.

But the measure of a school, to me, is in how educated the graduate is.  Profit is not the sole measure of education, is it?  Have we devolved into a purely mercantile elite?

04/30/04 • 08:28 AM • ChildhoodScholarly • (0) Comments • (0) Trackbacks

NY Times Letters to the Editor:

An “A” at Princeton.  Made me chuckle.

04/30/04 • 08:15 AM • ChildhoodScholarly • (0) Comments • (0) Trackbacks

Great shot

of Ian.

04/28/04 • 07:56 AM • ChildhoodPersonalWeblogs • (1) Comments • (0) Trackbacks

NY Times:

Study links childhood obesity and soft drinks.  Get the drink machines out of schools.  Corn syrup isn’t one of the major food groups.

04/23/04 • 07:15 AM • ChildhoodHealthHuman Rights • (2) Comments • (0) Trackbacks

NY Times:

“Newman’s Day” at Princeton University.  Alas, the famous eating clubs have devolved into a fraternity atmosphere; the only archetype students cared about was “Animal House.”  I remember walking past an eating club in springtime, at least a decade ago.  I heard shouting, so I went to investigate.  Peering through an open door, I saw a tableau lit as if by a Renaissance master painter.  The room was architecturally beautiful and ornate.  There were about a dozen young barefoot men in matching boxer shorts and t-shirts, holding an upended comrade and dunking his head in a bucket of beer, shouting in rhythm.  I turned to my companion and said, “This is what higher education has evolved into?  Extended adolescence?”

Princeton is not the only example of such behaviour; and the history of the P-Rade is certainly beer- and whisky-soaked ...

04/22/04 • 10:23 AM • Childhood • (0) Comments • (0) Trackbacks

NY Times:

The wealthy are edging out the middle class at top universities.

“All who have meditated on the art of governing mankind have been convinced that the fate of empires depends on the education of youth.”
— Aristotle.

“Human history becomes more and more a race between education and catastrophe.”
— HG Wells.

04/22/04 • 10:17 AM • ChildhoodScholarly • (0) Comments • (0) Trackbacks

NY Times:

‘No Junk Food’ the Rule in Conn. District.  “But the program has met some resistance, particularly among school officials who fear that the program will trade healthy budgets for healthy eating.”

What are they *really* trading?  Think about it.  I can foresee a more studious student body, due to the sharp drop in simple-sugar consumption. Less hyperactivity.  Leaving teachers more energy to teach, rather than to merely manage.  I predict the existing $$ will likely go much farther towards their intended goal ... education.

04/21/04 • 06:53 AM • ChildhoodFoodHealth • (0) Comments • (0) Trackbacks

NY Times Magazine:

Diversity’s false solace.  Good, this gives me an excuse to field an opinion I expressed in email over the weekend:  “If the Republicans [Horowitz; I won’t tar all Republicans] who have fits over liberals in education would insist on a hard logics course and basics of law course as requirements for graduation from high school (guaranteeing the greatest saturation), they’d be doing everyone a greater benefit than playing to the stereotypes of the age.  It’s the old ‘teach a man to fish, and you’ll feed him in perpetuity’ argument.  Teach a kid to think, and everything else is secondary.”  I will add, that doing so would inoculate against not just one or two extremist mentalities, but all.  A better solution, to my mind.

04/12/04 • 10:06 AM • ChildhoodHuman Rights • (2) Comments • (0) Trackbacks


Arts education is endangered.

04/07/04 • 11:18 AM • ArtsChildhood • (0) Comments • (0) Trackbacks

SF New Mexican via Washington Post/LA Times:

Tots’ TV-watching spurs attention disorder, research suggests.  I can’t say as I’m especially surprised.  What you train a growing brain to do, it will do.  I have a hard enough time following the ‘white flash’ commercials these days ... I mute, and switch to a black video screen until approximately done.  ‘Television as a babysitter’ always seems to reap unwanted dividends ...

04/05/04 • 06:33 AM • ChildhoodPsychology • (4) Comments • (0) Trackbacks

City Pages

looks at No Child Left Behind.

03/15/04 • 07:35 AM • ChildhoodPoliticsScholarly • (0) Comments • (0) Trackbacks

NY Times Letters to the Editor:

Two excellent ones:

Closing America’s Education Gap.  [the last is particularly poignant]
Is Hard Work Enough to Escape from Poverty?  [Another fluff article from Mr. Brooks]

03/05/04 • 07:14 AM • ChildhoodHuman RightsPolitics • (0) Comments • (0) Trackbacks
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