robertogreco + myths   85

How Did WeWork’s Adam Neumann Build a $47 Billion Company?
“The We Company’s headquarters in Chelsea, where more than a thousand of its employees work, is something of a testing ground for how it can serve even larger organizations. (The company will eventually move into the old Lord & Taylor flagship on Fifth Avenue, which it recently bought.) The sixth-floor entrance is flanked by a full-service barista and a “living room” with an array of couches and lounge chairs roughly the size and feel of a West Elm showroom. There are Foosball and bumper-pool tables, along with three video-game consoles. Beyond that is the WeMRKT, an “in-office bodega,” as a WeWork spokesperson called it, next to a kitchen with a dozen taps serving beer, cider, cold brew, Merlot, Pinot, several kombuchas, and seltzer. On one of my visits, signs advertised astrology readings for employees that afternoon.

Aside from a few offices reserved for Neumann and a handful of executives, the headquarters has almost no assigned desks, and some WeWork employees describe a near-constant mental and physical battle to find a space with enough quiet and privacy for concentration. (The private phone booths are coveted, as they are in most WeWorks.) Joel Steinhaus, a WeWork executive, told me that his previous office at Citi allocated 200-to-250 square feet per person, while WeWork has shrunk that number to around 50. (A WeWork spokesperson says the number is higher.) WeWork claims that additional common spaces and amenities make up the difference, but also that closeness has benefits. A half-dozen WeWork employees repeated the same talking point to me about the narrowness of its staircases and hallways, which are there to foster community by forcing people to physically interact with anyone they walk past. They say any cost savings from fitting in more people is merely a bonus.

Building community is what WeWork has always promised, and its pitch to large corporations is not just hip design and flexible leasing terms but what WeWork calls its “WeOS,” referring to its expertise in helping companies optimize both space and overall culture. (In 2017, McKelvey was named WeWork’s chief culture officer, and he’s fond of using one of WeWork’s many internal slogans: “Operationalize Love.”)

But in dozens of interviews, current and former WeWork employees and executives questioned whether the company’s culture is itself one worth spreading. Despite the company’s slogan “Make a Life, Not Just a Living,” employees at all levels have often reported working 60- or 70-hour weeks, and events like Thank God It’s Monday and Summer Camp were mandatory. At its annual summit, the company keeps track of employee attendance at panels and events by scanning wristbands given to each person; excessive absences are reported to managers. A number of employees describe a regular cycle at WeWork: New people would arrive, excited by the company’s mission, only to get burned out, leave, and replaced by a fresh crop. Multiple executives told me Neumann’s cheerleading was critical to the company’s success. “From a business perspective, the cult is working,” said one executive.

Employees say turnover at the company has been dizzying. Multiple people told me Neumann has expressed a desire to turn over 20 percent of WeWork’s staff every year — he denies this — whether through attrition or firings, as a means of keeping staff on its toes. There have been two publicly reported rounds of mass departures, both of which the company said involved culling unproductive workers. But employees say that restructurings, in which entire teams are suddenly disbanded, are a regular occurrence. “When you’re at WeWork, there’s a certain lack of culture, which is ironic for a company selling culture,” one former executive told me. “If there is a culture, it is that of a revolving door.” The need to hire employees at a rate to keep up with its growth has led to occasional hiccups in its hiring process: In 2015, Neumann chastised a group of employees for not Googling a job applicant after finding out that WeWork had hired the Hipster Grifter, a Brooklynite who had become briefly famous several years earlier for scamming her way into jobs and cheating people out of money.

The focus on growth often seemed to leave little room for other concerns. Two people told me that during an early town hall when WeWork had just over 100 employees, Neumann took questions alongside two other executives, Michael Gross and Noah Brodsky, and someone asked about the lack of diversity among the executive team. Neumann disputed the point by referring to himself and the other people onstage, saying, “I’m a brunette, Michael’s blond, and we have a Noah.” (Brodsky, who is gay, went bright red.)

Employees and executives say much of the culture stems from Neumann, whose rule by fiat could be frustrating. Last summer, he announced at the end of a companywide meeting that WeWork employees would no longer be permitted to expense meals that included meat. Several senior members of the company had no idea the announcement was coming or what it even meant. Hundreds of employees joined a Slack channel to debate the policy, while some found various ways around it: A person in the New York tech world said WeWork employees have asked her to expense the meat when they go out for meals.

Especially at the top, WeWork looked to some like a boys’ club. The executive ranks have been sprinkled with Neumann’s friends from Israel as well as his extended-family members. During an executive off-site meeting in Montauk, he gave a joking toast to the virtues of nepotism. In a job interview, the first question one former executive asked a young female applicant was whether she had a boyfriend (he was later fired). Last year, two female employees reported that they were having trouble getting a meeting with Adam Kimmel, the chief creative officer, to whom they reported. According to multiple people with knowledge of the situation, Kimmel later said he hadn’t met with the women because he and his wife, the actress Leelee Sobieski, had a rule against meeting alone with a member of the opposite sex. (WeWork disputes this.) In October, Ruby Anaya, the former head of culture, sued WeWork, alleging she had been groped at both the company summit and Summer Camp by colleagues (the lawsuit is pending).

Several people told me they worried about what the company’s younger employees might absorb from their experience. A former WeWorker who now runs a company told me, “I spend a lot of my time on culture and HR, and it fucking slows you down worrying about how people feel.” But one employee told me his WeWork experience had made him think about what he would do differently if he were ever to run his own start-up. “You can move fast and break things,” he said, citing Facebook’s widely adopted empire-building ethos. “But you can’t move fast and break people.””



“Will WeWork work? The company has existed entirely in an expanding economy, and its business has never been tested by a downturn. WeWork argues that in a recession, larger companies will downsize into its spaces while laid-off workers will need them to start their solo careers. But it’s also very possible that large companies who currently have ancillary spaces in WeWork will identify those as easy costs to cut, and entrepreneurs will revert to coffee shops. A third argument goes that WeWork occupies so much space that many landlords will have no choice but to renegotiate its leases.

During the dot-com boom, a company called Regus became a stock-market darling by offering similar but much blander flexible offices. In 2000, Fast Company published a story about Regus titled “Office of the Future,” highlighting its efforts to bring “community” to the workplace. But the bubble burst and Regus went bankrupt. The company recovered and rebranded as IWG, but its existence presents another conundrum for WeWork. IWG currently has roughly 3,000 locations and 2.5 million customers worldwide, numbers that dwarf WeWork’s. IWG is profitable and now has a hipper, WeWork-ish offering. It is publicly traded and worth around $3 billion.

Everyone in real estate expects the kind of flexible office space WeWork offers to become an increasingly large part of their world, and many of the company’s rivals are grateful to Neumann for preaching the gospel of co-working and shorter-term leases. Even people critical of WeWork’s culture, or skeptical of its focus on hypergrowth, say it will likely remain a force in commercial real estate. But many, too, have begun to wonder what can explain the $44 billion in valuation difference between WeWork and IWG. In a financial disclosure last year, when it was in the process of losing $1.9 billion to fund its growth, WeWork acknowledged, “We have a history of losses, and we may be unable to achieve profitability at a company level.” It also published a financial metric it called “community-adjusted EBITDA” — earnings before interest, tax, depreciation, and amortization, which is an accountant-approved way of measuring a company’s performance — that excluded many costs, like marketing, construction, and design, that WeWork claimed would disappear once it reached maturity, in an attempt to show it could make a healthy profit; the Financial Times dubbed WeWork’s doctored version “perhaps the most infamous financial metric of a generation.” WeWork employees told me they would be happy if the company were worth half of what SoftBank said it was going to be. “Even if it goes down to $5 billion, Adam’s still worth a billion dollars,” one rival said, expressing concern about the perverse incentives of the modern economy. “So from an objective perspective, was it a mistake to take this hemorrhage-inducing risk? You could argue that was the rational mode.”

Back in his office, Neumann remained upbeat. “Before you ask, let’s set an intention,” Neumann told me, after a WeWork spokesperson said I had time for … [more]
hucksters  cults  adamneumann  wework  2019  scams  realestate  bubbles  openfloorplans  fraternities  hiring  turnover  myths  diversity  privilege 
8 weeks ago by robertogreco
Liz Crocker, Ph.D. on Twitter: "#anthrotwitter: a reminder that the anti-semitic "cultural Marxism" conspiracy is part of extremist indoctrination. It includes misunderstanding of & anger towards anthropology & Franz Boas. We have a responsibility to know
[via: https://twitter.com/allergyPhD/status/1135175321811136514

"Great thread on anthropology and the origins of "cultural Marxism", an anti-Semitic, white supremacist dog whistle"]

"#anthrotwitter: a reminder that the anti-semitic "cultural Marxism" conspiracy is part of extremist indoctrination. It includes misunderstanding of & anger towards anthropology & Franz Boas. We have a responsibility to know it & be prepared to counter it in classrooms. /1

Warning that this thread will include screenshots of these conspiracies. But no direct links. These are sites that are part of the indoctrination for many of the white supremacist hate crimes lately. Some is highly upsetting though I've tried to avoid slurs /2

What they mean by "cultural Marxism" is poorly defined & sometimes just anything they dislike. But the general idea is in the 1910s the Frankfurt School tried to infiltrate academia to threaten "traditional western values". Anthro is seen as playing a crucial role in that /3

Generally, they adore colonialist anthropology & often even cite it. As we teach the history of the field, how many of us are doing so realizing those ideas and names are highly influential for contemporary hate movements? Are you spending that classroom time wisely?

Boas is a central focus of "cultural Marxism". They claim he was "anti-darwinist" & was actively trying to "destroy" Western values & identity. Much time is spent establishing Boas is Jewish so it can connect to their anti-semitic conspiracies. /4

They argue Boas and his students "infiltrated" anthropology including AAA. Note the focus not just on more liberal perspectives (anti- racism, loosening of gender restrictions) as dangerous but also the continued connections to their anti-semitism narratives /5

Marxism, socialism & communism are conflated & anyone who argues race isn't a biological/genetic concept or for cultural inclusion is called a Marxist & threat to "Western values." All modern anthro is therefore such a threat. /6

You'll notice the "noble savage" concept gets a lot of attention & Rousseau gets mentioned, too. We debunk Rousseau in classrooms but are we doing so aware of these narratives? Are you accidentally feeding these conspiracies? /7

I want to warn you that if you go looking for the sources you should not do so from a work computer. Many are grabbed from white supremacist hate group sites. Others more neutral wikipedia-ish sites and blogs. Some are "alt light" with popular podcasts /8

"Cultural Marxism" & connections to anthropology, anti-semitism & white supremacy are common themes of the alt light speakers who give talks on campuses. Anthro professors need to address these issues & give time to discuss so students can be equipped to counter those speakers /9

As we discuss how to #DecolonizeAnthropology it is not enough to add diverse voices & critical analysis. We must tackle racist colonialist anthro & its legacies head on. It is not your fault that these conspiracies began but it is our collective responsibility /10

My public engagement on @RedditScience & anthro subs shows we need 4 fields to do that. Cultural anthros need to learn genetics & human evolution. Biological anthros need culture & history. We all need ling & arch to counter ethno-supremacism. Anthropology is stronger together/11

For anyone unfamiliar with these conspiracies, @guardian recently had a good overview introduction /12"
marxism  communism  socialism  anthropology  lizcrocker  culturalmarxism  2019  myths  antisemitism  franzboas  whitesupremacy  science  conspiracytherories  genetics  race  racism  decolonizeanthropology  history 
11 weeks ago by robertogreco
Entrevista a Gastón Soublette - Parte I: La Sabiduría Tradicional - YouTube
"Realizada en Limache el 3 de octubre de 2015 en ocasión del Premio Nueva Civilización por su contribución al estudio y valorización de la cultura y la sabiduría popular creativa.
El Galardón será otorgado el Miércoles 25 de Noviembre, a las 18.30 hrs. en el marco del Simposio Internacional 'Desafíos de la Política en un Mundo Complejo', ocasión en que don Gastón Soublette ofrecerá una Conferencia Magistral."

[Parte II: El Arte
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wjn8B-aSFaE

Parte III: La Cultura Mapuche
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=N27LAd906yM

Parte IV: El Conocimiento Científico
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DjEj-i0dcUs

Parte V: Filosofía y Educación
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=neci7LTwH_8

Parte VI: Religión y Cultura
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=neyEPrRH_oQ

Parte VII: Una Nueva Civilización
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=930FCVu9_7M ]
gastónsoublette  chile  history  mapuche  science  education  philosophy  culture  religion  civilization  future  art  music  tradition  oraltradition  oral  orality  diegoportales  improvisation  wisdom  mexico  precolumbian  inca  maya  aztec  quechua  literature  epics  araucaria  aesthetics  transcendentalism  myths  myth  arthistory  2015  perú 
march 2019 by robertogreco
Dr Fish Philosopher🐟 on Twitter: "1. <Brews some coffee.> <puts on anthropologist hat> <cracks knuckles> So the theft of my wonderful colleague, @kahente's, daughter's name by a non-Indigenous film production raises the issue of how western/euro-americ
[images throughout with screenshots of citations]

"1. <Brews some coffee.> <puts on anthropologist hat> <cracks knuckles>

So the theft of my wonderful colleague, @kahente's, daughter's name by a non-Indigenous film production raises the issue of how western/euro-american folks understand 'culture'+ the erasure of Indigenous laws

2. Western/euro-american folks have employed the notion of 'culture' to describe the 'customs, traditions, languages, social institutions' of The Other for a long while now. Made perhaps famous in anthropology's embrace of this unit of analysis in the last few hundred years.

3. the thing about 'culture' in its emergence as anthro's unit of analysis (vs, say, sociology's also fraught but in different ways study of 'society') is that it was employed through colonial period (+ still) to displace the legal-governance standing of nations of 'The Other'.

4. While Euro nations/the West were deemed to have 'laws', everyone else (the Rest) were deemed to have 'customs'/'traditions'/'culture'. This coincided with vigorous efforts by British/American & other western actors to do everything possible to invalidate the laws of 'The Rest'

5. What happens when 'the Rest' have laws? It means that Euro-American actors ('The West') might actually have reciprocal responsibilities to those nations under emerging international law in colonial period & cannot just steal land and destroy nations without legal consequences.

6.(Interlude --- everything I know about this is from Joanne Barker's fabulous book "Sovereignty Matters" and Sylvia Wynter's crucial, canonical piece "Unsettling the Coloniality of Being/Power/Truth/Freedom: Towards the Human, After Man, Its Overrepresentation--An Argument").

7. As Barker (2005:4) shows us: law matters because this is medium through which nationhood/statehood were recognized+asserted. Both Treaties and Constitutions were mobilized to assert claims over lands/peoples. Genocide was done 'legally' within precepts of euro/american law

8. What happened when euro-american actors entered into treaties with Indigenous nations/confederacies in NA? Euro-american colonizers quickly realized recognition of the laws of the 'Other' meant their claims to lands were vulnerable to international challenge (Barker 2005)

9. So, euro-american colonizers had two handy little tricks up their sleeve: first, invalidate the humanity of those you colonize (Wynter 2003). Place them firmly in the category of the 'fallen flesh'/sinners/'Other' incapable of rational thought (law) ((Wynter 2003: 281-282)

(sorry, this one is a slow burn because I want to make sure I cite sources fairly and generously and provide ample material for folks to consult and check out)

10. This invalidation is helped by the papal bull of 1493, which establishes the 'Doctrine of Discovery' (aka: Spain and Portugal have the right to claim lands they 'find' in the name of God). This is re-asserted in 19th century USA http://www.papalencyclicals.net/Alex06/alex06inter.htm
https://upstanderproject.org/firstlight/doctrine/

11. Second, once you invalidate the humanity of those you colonized, & established that only euro-western/euro-american 'man' can possess rational thought/law, you invalidate the knowledge/being of the other as 'myth/ 'story'/ & 'CULTURE'. Law for the West, Culture for the Rest.

12. This is where the rise of Anthropology is so crucial. It arises at a time when euro-american actors are frantically looking for ways to invalidate the laws, sovereignty, nationhood, self-determination and humanity of everyone they colonized.

13. Just when euro-american actors are looking for ways to legally justify their breaking of treaties they entered into with folks they colonized, anthro trots in with its focus on 'culture'. Culture as embodiment of everything that comprises law without recognizing its authority

14. Once you've established a hierarchy of humanity with white western christian males as the only real '(hu)Man' (see Wynter (2003) and Zakiyyah Iman Jackson (2013)), you can set about bracketing out 'the Rest' from your notion of legal and scientific plurality.

15. All of this is crucial. The western 'modern' framing of White Western Christian Men as the only beings capable of rational thought. The anthro fascination w/ 'cultures' of 'The Rest'. (The west/rest framing I borrow from Colin Scott's "Science for the West/TEK for the Rest")

16. This is of course entangled with capitalist expansion. Who can possess things, people, lands is important to expanding claims to property. The designation of subhumanity/de-authorization of laws of The Other are crucial to the violent capitalist white supremacist project.

17. As Christina Sharpe (2016) teaches us: "the history of capital is inextricable from the history of Atlantic chattel slavery".

18. This all comes to matter, anthropologically, because anthro becomes the 'caretaker' of The Other and their de-authorized legal orders, laws, knowing, being. This is the white possessive, as Aileen Moreton-Robinson ((2015) and Moreton-Robinson (2014: 475)) demonstrates:

19. So, when western actors are shocked to discover that they cannot just take things from other nations/societies/confederacies/legal orders, this is because anthro has faithfully done its job as acting as 'caretaker' for the laws/knowing/being of all those nations dispossessed.

20. Remember that the invention/fetishization of small c plural 'cultures' was crucial to the de-authorization of laws, epistemes, ontologies, being of everyone but White European Christian Rational Man. Anthro is basically an epic legal argument against sovereignty of 'The Rest'

21. And this coincided, not innocently, with assertions of racial hierarchies that deemed certain peoples to possess rational law, science, sovereignty, authority. The possession of law coincides with western beliefs in rationality (Wynter 2003).

22. Anthro has a buddy, and that buddy is biology. Biology, as Wynter (2003) demonstrates, mobilizes in the 19th century to develop the notion of Man(2). Man(2) not only has rationality, but he has evolution on his side, justifying his white possessiveness (Wynter 2003: 314-315)

23. So, as long as The West has Law and the Rest has culture, white western actors will continue to dispossess, appropriate, steal,+violate the legal orders of those peoples they colonize, because they believe they have an ontological right to these things (Moreton-Robinson 2015)

24. And anthropology has a lot of answering to do, still, for its role in de-authorizing the legal orders of those colonized by western imperial actors. It is complicit in the re-framing of legal orders, being, and knowing as 'culture', 'myth', 'tradition', and 'custom'.

25. Finally, for an in-depth examination of the ways anthro works to de-authorize Indigenous law, please buy+read Audra Simpson's _Mohawk Interruptus_, which demonstrates how anthro's focus on 'cultures' is used to dispossess Haudenosaunee in North America

26. Please amend tweet 6 to read: Everything I know about this is from Joanne Barker, Aileen Moreton-Robinson, Audra Simpson+Sylvia Wynter!!! These 4 thinkers should be among the canon of work taught in Anthro theory courses to help displace its pervasive white possessiveness.

27. So, to wrap up this essay -- the incident this week was the theft of a Kanienkeha name. Audra Simpson (2014) here explains how the concept of 'culture' & western property (il)logics are used to deny Indigenous ownership of lands, knowing, being through white possessiveness:

28. Anthro must contend with this reality that Audra Simpson so clearly lays out in her work: it is built entirely on the denial of Indigenous sovereignty. And Anthro relies on racial hierarchies that emerge with assertion of 'rational' western white christian 'Man' (Wynter 2003)

Important addition to this morning's twitter essay! I cited Colin Scott's 'Science for the West, Myth for the Rest?',but David kindly points me towards the crucial work of Stuart Hall here (which I will now go read!!!) https://uq.rl.talis.com/items/EE89C061-C776-4B52-0BA3-F1D9B2F87212.html https://twitter.com/davidnbparent/status/1074748042845216773 "

[unrolled here: https://threadreaderapp.com/thread/1074624197639487488.html ]
zoetodd  2018  anthropology  cul;ture  sociology  socialsciences  colonialism  decolonization  capitalism  indigeneity  indigenous  law  joannebarker  sylviawynter  power  truth  freedom  treaties  constitutions  humanity  humanism  dehumanization  spain  portugal  españa  invalidation  thewest  hierarchy  hierarchies  colinscott  zakiyyahimanjackson  othering  rationality  biology  dispossession  colonization  audrasimpson  myth  myths  tradition  customs  aileenmoreton-robinson  property  possession  possessiveness  sovereignty  race  racism  stuarthall 
december 2018 by robertogreco
The Ubiquitous Collectivism that Enables America’s Fierce Individualism
"Forbes recently released their 2019 “30 Under 30” list of “the brashest entrepreneurs across the United States and Canada” who are also under 30 years old. A persistent criticism of the list is that many of the people on it are there because of family or other social advantages. As Helen Rosner tweeted of last year’s list:
My take is: all 30 Under 30 lists should include disclosure of parental assets

In a piece for Vox, Aditi Juneja, creator of the Resistance Manual and who was on the 30 Under 30 list last year, writes that Forbes does ask finalists a few questions about their background and finances but also notes they don’t publish those results. Juneja goes on to assert that no one in America is entirely self-made:
Most of us receive government support, for one thing. When asked, 71 percent of Americans say that they are part of a household that has used one of the six most commonly known government benefits — Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, food stamps, welfare, or unemployment benefits.

And many people who benefit from government largesse fail to realize it: Sixty percent of Americans who claim the mortgage-interest deduction, which applies to homeowners, say they have never used a government program. If you’ve driven on public roads, gone to public school, or used the postal service as part of your business — well, we all rely on collective infrastructure to get ahead.

And then she lists some of the ways in which she has specifically benefitted from things like government programs, having what sounds like a stable home environment, and her parents having sufficient income to save money for her higher education.
I went to public schools through eighth grade. My parents were able to save for some of my college costs through a plan that provides tax relief for those savings. I stayed on my parent’s health insurance until I was 26 under the Affordable Care Act. I have received the earned income tax credit, targeted at those with low or moderate income. I took out federal student loans to go to law school.

Juneja’s piece reminds me of this old post about how conservatives often gloss over all of the things that the government does for its citizens:
At the appropriate time as regulated by the US congress and kept accurate by the national institute of standards and technology and the US naval observatory, I get into my national highway traffic safety administration approved automobile and set out to work on the roads build by the local, state, and federal departments of transportation, possibly stopping to purchase additional fuel of a quality level determined by the environmental protection agency, using legal tender issed by the federal reserve bank. On the way out the door I deposit any mail I have to be sent out via the US postal service and drop the kids off at the public school.

And also of mayor Pete Buttigieg’s idea of a more progressive definition of freedom:
Or think about the idea of family, in the context of everyday life. It’s one thing to talk about family values as a theme, or a wedge — but what’s it actually like to have a family? Your family does better if you get a fair wage, if there’s good public education, if there’s good health care when you need it. These things intuitively make sense, but we’re out of practice talking about them.

I also think we need to talk about a different kind of patriotism: a fidelity to American greatness in its truest sense. You think about this as a local official, of course, but a truly great country is made of great communities. What makes a country great isn’t chauvinism. It’s the kinds of lives you enable people to lead. I think about wastewater management as freedom. If a resident of our city doesn’t have to give it a second thought, she’s freer.

Lists like 30 Under 30 reinforce the idea of American individualism at the expense of the deep spirit & practice of collectivism that pervades daily American life. America’s fierce individuals need each other. Let’s celebrate and enable that."
kottke  us  individualism  collectivism  aditijuneja  resistance  culture  government  publicgood  helenrosner  petebuttigieg  politics  30under30  class  society  delusions  myths  entrepreneurship  privilege  infrastructure 
november 2018 by robertogreco
Teju Cole en Instagram: “⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ Brushing my teeth last night, on the cusp of the hour-stutter, I asked myself how evil came into the world. Pandora, the one who…”
"Brushing my teeth last night, on the cusp of the hour-stutter, I asked myself how evil came into the world. Pandora, the one who bears all gifts, is first named in Hesiod’s “Works and Days.” A century or so later, in the 6th century BCE, unknown Hebrew authors write “Genesis,” probably while in Babylonian exile, likely influenced by the Greek story.
⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀
Pandora opens the jar. Eve eats the fruit. The misogyny in the narratives is one parallel; another is that evil enters the world through too much knowledge. ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀
The Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil, no less than Pandora’s Jar, is a device. The lid that is sprung, the knowledge that comes streaming out like arterial blood, the one-way torrent of pain that cannot be reversed or undone. ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀
⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀
The one who bears all gifts... ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀
Too much knowledge...
⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀
And no going back..."
tejucole  pandora  evil  knowledge  2018  ancientgreece  greekmyths  myths  religion  bible  babylonia  misogyny 
november 2018 by robertogreco
Kitsune - Wikipedia
"Kitsune (狐, キツネ, IPA: [kitsɯne] (About this sound listen)) is the Japanese word for the fox. Foxes are a common subject of Japanese folklore; in English, kitsune refers to them in this context. Stories depict them as intelligent beings and as possessing paranormal abilities that increase with their age and wisdom. According to Yōkai folklore, all foxes have the ability to shapeshift into human form. While some folktales speak of kitsune employing this ability to trick others—as foxes in folklore often do—other stories portray them as faithful guardians, friends, lovers, and wives.

Foxes and humans lived close together in ancient Japan; this companionship gave rise to legends about the creatures. Kitsune have become closely associated with Inari, a Shinto kami or spirit, and serve as its messengers. This role has reinforced the fox's supernatural significance. The more tails a kitsune has—they may have as many as nine—the older, wiser, and more powerful it is. Because of their potential power and influence, some people make sacrifices to them as to a deity.

Conversely foxes were often seen as "witch animals", especially during the superstitious Edo period (1603–1867), and were goblins who could not be trusted (similar to some badgers and cats).[1]"
foxes  japan  sestracat  myth  myths  mythology  shinto  trickster  folklore  cats  badgers  shapeshifting  companionship  multispecies  morethanhuman  inari  kami  spirits 
august 2018 by robertogreco
Fylgja - Wikipedia
"In Norse mythology, a fylgja (plural fylgjur) is a spirit who accompanies a person in connection to their fate or fortune. The word fylgja means "to accompany" similar to that of the Irish Fetch. It can also mean "afterbirth of a child"[1] meaning that the afterbirth and the fylgja are connected. In some instances, the fylgja can take on the form of the animal that shows itself when a baby is born or as the creature that eats the afterbirth. In some literature and sagas, the fylgjur can take the form of mice, dogs, foxes, cats, birds of prey, or carrion eaters because these were animals that would typically eat such afterbirths.[1] Other ideas of fylgjur are that the animals reflect the character of the person they represent. Men who were viewed as a leader would often have fylgja to show their true character. This means that if they had a "tame nature", their fylgja would typically be an ox, goat, or boar. If they had an "untame nature" they would have fylgjur such as a fox, wolf, deer, bear, eagle, falcon, leopard, lion, or a serpent.[2] In "Dreams in Icelandic Tradition" by Turville-Petre, it discussed commonalities between the various animals such as an evil wizard or sorcerer's fylgja would be a fox because they are sly and hiding something, or an enemy is depicted as a wolf.[1] Particularly in The Story of Howard the Halt otherwise known as Hárvarðar saga Ísfirðings, the character Atli has a dream about eighteen wolves running towards him with a vixen as their leader, predicting that he would be attacked by an army with a sorcerer at the front.[3]

Fylgjur may also "mark transformations between human and animal"[2] or shape shifting. In Egil's Saga, there are references to both Egil and Skallagrim transforming into wolves or bears, and there are examples of shape shifting in the Saga of King Hrolf Kraki, where Bodvar Bjarki turns into a bear during a battle as a last stand. These transformations are possibly implied in the saga descriptions of berserkers who transform into animals or display bestial abilities.

Fylgjur usually appear in the form of an animal or a human and commonly appear during sleep, but the sagas relate that they could appear while a person is awake as well, and that seeing one's fylgja is an omen of one's impending death. However, when fylgjur appear in the form of women, they are then supposedly guardian spirits for people or clans (ættir). According to Else Mundal, the women fylgja could also be considered a dís, a ghost or goddess that is attached to fate.[4] Both Andy Orchard and Rudolf Simek note parallels between the concept of the hamingja—a personification of a family's or individual's fortune—and the fylgja. An example of such an occurrence would be in Gisli Surrson's Saga where the main character, Gisli, is visited by two beautiful women, one who is trying to bring good fortune and one that is trying to edge him towards violence. These two women could represent the women ancestors of Gisli's family ties, such as the ties between his wife Aud and his sister Thordis, relating to the idea of the hamingja and dís."
myth  myths  mythology  norse  animals  multispecies  morethanhuman  spirits  daemons  fylgja  shapeshifting  sestracat 
august 2018 by robertogreco
Sigbin - Wikipedia
"The Sigbin or Sigben is a creature in Philippine mythology said to come out at night to suck the blood of victims from their shadows. It is said to walk backwards with its head lowered between its hind legs, and to have the ability to become invisible to other creatures, especially humans. It resembles a hornless goat, but has very large ears which it can clap like a pair of hands and a long, flexible tail that can be used as a whip.[1] The Sigbin is said to emit a nauseating odor.

It is believed to issue forth from its lair during Holy Week, looking for children that it will kill for their hearts, which it fashions into amulets.[2]

According to the legend, there are families known as Sigbinan ("those who own Sigbin") whose members possess the power to command these creatures, and are said to keep the Sigbin in jars made of clay. The Aswang are said to keep them as pets, along with another mythical creature, a bird known as the Wak Wak.[3]

There is speculation that the legend may be based on sightings of an actual animal species that is rarely seen; based on the description of the Sigbin in popular literature, the animal species might be related to the kangaroo.[3] With the recent discovery in the island of Borneo of the cat-fox,[4] a potential new species of carnivore described as having hind legs that are longer than its front legs, it has been postulated that reported sightings of Sigbin may actually be sightings of a member or relative of the cat-fox species.

The myth is popularly known in Visayas Islands and Mindanao. It is also said that it looks like a dog and owned by rich people who hid those creatures in a jar."
myths  myth  philippines  animals  multispecies 
august 2018 by robertogreco
OCCULTURE: 52. John Michael Greer in “The Polymath” // Druidry, Storytelling & the History of the Occult
"The best beard in occultism, John Michael Greer, is in the house. We’re talking “The Occult Book”, a collection of 100 of the most important stories and anecdotes from the history of the occult in western society. We also touch on the subject of storytelling as well as some other recent material from John, including his book “The Coelbren Alphabet: The Forgotten Oracle of the Welsh Bards” and his translation of a neat little number called “Academy of the Sword”."



"What you contemplate [too much] you imitate." [Uses the example of atheists contemplating religious fundamentalists and how the atheists begin acting like them.] "People always become what they hate. That’s why it's not good idea to wallow in hate."
2017  johnmichaelgreer  druidry  craft  druids  polymaths  autodidacts  learning  occulture  occult  ryanpeverly  celts  druidrevival  history  spirituality  thedivine  nature  belief  dogma  animism  practice  life  living  myths  mythology  stories  storytelling  wisdom  writing  howwewrite  editing  writersblock  criticism  writer'sblock  self-criticism  creativity  schools  schooling  television  tv  coelbrenalphabet  1980s  ronaldreagan  sustainability  environment  us  politics  lies  margaretthatcher  oraltradition  books  reading  howweread  howwelearn  unschooling  deschooling  facetime  social  socializing  cardgames  humans  human  humanism  work  labor  boredom  economics  society  suffering  misery  trapped  progress  socialmedia  computing  smarthphones  bullshitjobs  shinto  talismans  amulets  sex  christianity  religion  atheism  scientism  mainstream  counterculture  magic  materialism  enlightenment  delusion  judgement  contemplation  imitation  fundamentalism  hate  knowledge 
february 2018 by robertogreco
OCCULTURE: 67. Carl Abrahamsson & Mitch Horowitz in “Occulture (Meta)” // Anton LaVey, Real Magic & the Nature of the Mind
"Look, I’m not gonna lie to you - we have a pretty badass show this time around. Carl Abrahamsson and Mitch Horowitz are in the house.

Carl Abrahamsson is a Swedish freelance writer, lecturer, filmmaker and photographer specializing in material about the arts & entertainment, esoteric history and occulture. Carl is the author of several books, including a forthcoming title from Inner Traditions called Occulture: The Unseen Forces That Drive Culture Forward.

Mitch Horowitz is the author of One Simple Idea: How Positive Thinking Reshaped Modern Life; Occult America, which received the 2010 PEN Oakland/Josephine Miles Award for literary excellence; and Mind As Builder: The Positive-Mind Metaphysics of Edgar Cayce. Mitch has written for The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, The Washington Post, Salon, Time.com, and Politico. Mitch is currently in the midst of publishing a series of articles on Medium called "Real Magic".

And it is that series paired with Carl’s book that lays the foundation for our conversation here."
carlabrahamsson  mitchhorowitz  occult  culture  occulture  magic  belief  mind  ouijaboard  astrology  mindfulness  buddhism  religion  academia  antonlavey  materialism  mainstream  intellectualism  elitism  mindbodyspirit  2018  esotericism  authority  norms  nuance  change  enlightenment  popculture  science  humanities  socialsciences  medicine  conservatism  churches  newage  cosmology  migration  california  hippies  meaning  psychology  siliconvalley  ingenuity  human  humans  humannature  spirituality  openmindedness  nature  urbanization  urban  nyc  us  society  santería  vodou  voodoo  voudoun  climate  light  davidlynch  innovation  population  environment  meaningmaking  mikenesmith  californianideology  thought  thinking  philosophy  hoodoo  blackmetal  norway  beauty  survival  wholeperson  churchofsatan  satanism  agency  ambition  mysticism  self  stories  storytelling  mythology  humanism  beinghuman  surrealism  cv  repetition  radicalism  myths  history  renaissance  fiction  fantasy  reenchantment  counterculture  consciousness  highered  highereducation  cynicism  inquiry  realitytele 
february 2018 by robertogreco
The Goddesses of Venus
"Last year, Eleanor Lutz made a medieval-style map of Mars. As a follow-up, she’s made a topographical map of Venus. The features on Venus are named for female mythological figures & notable women and Lutz provides a small biography for each one on the map. Among those featured on the map are:

Anne Frank
Selu (Cherokee Corn Goddess)
Kali (Hindu Goddess, Mother of Death)
Virginia Woolf
Sedna (Eskimo Whose Fingers Became Seals and Whales)
Ubastet (Egyptian Cat Goddess)
Beatrix Potter
Edith Piaf

Here are the full lists of the craters, mountains, and coronae on Venus."
maps  mapping  women  eleanorlutz  mars  venus  myths  mythology  myth  history  biographies  biography  2017  infoviz  religion  science  space  astronomy 
january 2018 by robertogreco
10 Fascinating Facts About Ravens | Mental Floss
"Edgar Allan Poe knew what he was doing when he used the raven instead of some other bird to croak out “nevermore” in his famous poem. The raven has long been associated with death and dark omens, but the real bird is somewhat of a mystery. Unlike its smaller cousin the crow, not a lot has been written about this remarkable bird. Here are 10 fascinating facts about ravens.

1. Ravens are one of the smartest animals.
When it comes to intelligence, these birds rate up there with chimpanzees and dolphins. In one logic test, the raven had to get a hanging piece of food by pulling up a bit of the string, anchoring it with its claw, and repeating until the food was in reach. Many ravens got the food on the first try, some within 30 seconds. In the wild, ravens have pushed rocks on people to keep them from climbing to their nests, stolen fish by pulling a fishermen’s line out of ice holes, and played dead beside a beaver carcass to scare other ravens away from a delicious feast.

If a raven knows another raven is watching it hide its food, it will pretend to put the food in one place while really hiding it in another. Since the other ravens are smart too, this only works sometimes.

2. Ravens can imitate human speech.
In captivity, ravens can learn to talk better than some parrots. They also mimic other noises, like car engines, toilets flushing, and animal and birdcalls. Ravens have been known to imitate wolves or foxes to attract them to carcasses that the raven isn’t capable of breaking open. When the wolf is done eating, the raven gets the leftovers.

3. Europeans often saw ravens as evil in disguise.
Many European cultures took one look at this large black bird with an intense gaze and thought it was evil in the flesh … er, feather. In France, people believed ravens were the souls of wicked priests, while crows were wicked nuns. In Germany, ravens were the incarnation of damned souls or sometimes Satan himself. In Sweden, ravens that croaked at night were thought to be the souls of murdered people who didn’t have proper Christian burials. And in Denmark, people believed that night ravens were exorcized spirits, and you’d better not look up at them in case there was a hole in the bird’s wing, because you might look through the hole and turn into a raven yourself.

4. Ravens have been featured in many myths.
Cultures from Tibet to Greece have seen the raven as a messenger for the gods. Celtic goddesses of warfare often took the form of ravens during battles. The Viking god, Odin, had two ravens, Hugin (thought) and Munin (memory), which flew around the world every day and reported back to Odin every night about what they saw. The Chinese said ravens caused bad weather in the forests to warn people that the gods were going to pass by. And some Native American tribes worshipped the raven as a deity in and of itself. Called simply Raven, he is described as a sly trickster who is involved in the creation of the world.

5. Ravens are extremely playful.
The Native Americans weren’t far off about the raven’s mischievous nature. They have been observed in Alaska and Canada using snow-covered roofs as slides. In Maine, they have been seen rolling down snowy hills. They often play keep-away with other animals like wolves, otters, and dogs. Ravens even make toys—a rare animal behavior—by using sticks, pinecones, golf balls, or rocks to play with each other or by themselves. And sometimes they just taunt or mock other creatures because it’s funny.

6. Ravens do weird things with ants.
They lie in anthills and roll around so the ants swarm on them, or they chew the ants up and rub their guts on their feathers. The scientific name for this is called “anting.” Songbirds, crows, and jays do it too. The behavior is not well understood; theories range from the ants acting as an insecticide and fungicide for the bird to ant secretion soothing a molting bird’s skin to the whole performance being a mild addiction. One thing seems clear, though: anting feels great if you’re a bird.

7. Ravens use “hand” gestures.
It turns out that ravens make “very sophisticated nonvocal signals,” according to researchers. In other words, they gesture to communicate. A study in Austria found that ravens point with their beaks to indicate an object to another bird, just as we do with our fingers. They also hold up an object to get another bird’s attention. This is the first time researchers have observed naturally occurring gestures in any animal other than primates.

8. Ravens are adaptable.
Evolutionarily speaking, the deck is stacked in the raven’s favor. They can live in a variety of habitats, from snow to desert to mountains to forests. They are scavengers with a huge diet that includes fish, meat, seeds, fruit, carrion, and garbage. They are not above tricking animals out of their food—one raven will distract the other animal, for example, and the other will steal its food. They have few predators and live a long time: 17 years in the wild and up to 40 years in captivity.

9. Ravens show empathy for each other.
Despite their mischievous nature, ravens seem capable of feeling empathy. When a raven’s friend loses in a fight, they will seem to console the losing bird. They also remember birds they like and will respond in a friendly way to certain birds for at least three years after seeing them. (They also respond negatively to enemies and suspiciously to strange ravens.) Although a flock of ravens is called an “unkindness,” the birds appear to be anything but.

10. Ravens roam around in teenage gangs.
Ravens mate for life and live in pairs in a fixed territory. When their children reach adolescence, they leave home and join gangs, like every human mother’s worst nightmare. These flocks of young birds live and eat together until they mate and pair off. Interestingly, living among teenagers seems to be stressful for the raven. Scientists have found higher levels of stress hormones in teenage raven droppings than in the droppings of mated adults. It’s never easy being a teenage rebel."
ravens  corvids  classideas  birds  animals  behavior  myth  myths  2016  play  intelligence  ants  tools  empathy  toys  adaptability  gestures  communication 
december 2017 by robertogreco
The myth of the male bumbler
"There's a reason for this plague of know-nothings: The bumbler's perpetual amazement exonerates him. Incompetence is less damaging than malice. And men — particularly powerful men — use that loophole like corporations use off-shore accounts. The bumbler takes one of our culture's most muscular myths — that men are clueless — and weaponizes it into an alibi.

Allow me to make a controversial proposition: Men are every bit as sneaky and calculating and venomous as women are widely suspected to be. And the bumbler — the very figure that shelters them from this ugly truth — is the best and hardest proof.

Breaking that alibi means dissecting that myth. The line on men has been that they're the only gender qualified to hold important jobs and too incompetent to be responsible for their conduct. Men are great but transparent, the story goes: What you see is what you get. They lack guile.

The "privilege" argument holds that this is partly true because men have never needed to deceive. This interesting Twitter thread by Holden Shearer has been making the rounds: "One of the oldest canards in low-denominator comedy is that women are inscrutable and men can't understand them. There's a reason for this and it ain't funny," he writes. The thread is right about the structural problems with lowbrow "women are so confusing!" comedy. "Women VERY frequently say one thing and mean another, display expressions or reactions that don't jibe with their feelings, and so on. But it's actually really easy to decode once you understand why it happens. It is survival behavior," Shearer writes.

But nested in that account is the assumption that the broad majority of men are not dissemblers. The majority are — you guessed it — bumblers! If you've noticed a tendency to treat girls — like the 14-year-old whom now-Senate candidate Roy Moore allegedly picked up at her custody hearing — as knowing adults and men in their 30s — like Trump foreign policy adviser George Papadopoulos and Donald Trump, Jr. — as erring youngsters, large sons and "coffee boys," this is why. Our culture makes that script available. It's why Sessions is so often referred to as an "elf" instead of a gifted manipulator (here's a very clever analysis of his strategy, which weaponizes our tendency to read white men — even very old attorneys with a long history of maliciously undermining civil rights — as slow, meandering children who know not what they do.)

It's counterintuitive, I know. For decades now, the very idea of a duplicitous, calculating man has been so exceptional as to be almost monstrous; this is the domain of cult leaders, of con artists, of evil men like the husband in Gaslight. And while folks provisionally accept that there are men who "groom" children and "gaslight" women, the reluctance to attach that behavior to any real, flesh-and-blood man we know is extreme. Many people don't actually believe that normal men are capable of it.

Back when Dylan Farrow's allegations about Woody Allen were in the news, people quickly glommed onto Allen's exculpatory claim that Mia Farrow "brainwashed" her children into lying about him. It was fascinating, both because the claim was pretty evidence-free and because Woody Allen had blatantly and repeatedly admitted to manipulating and grooming Soon-Yi Previn. But, because Allen so skillfully deployed the script of the bumbler, everyone failed to see his behavior in those terms. Allen's portrayal of himself — he barely knows what he had for breakfast! — was just that effective. Never mind that he's so organized, ambitious, driven, confident, and purposeful that he successfully puts out a movie a year.

As the accusations of sexual misconduct roiling politics, publishing, and Hollywood continue to stack up, a few things are going to happen. The first stage of a phenomenon like this will always be to characterize the accused men as exceptions, as bad apples. #NotAllMen, the saying goes. But the second is that everyone is going to try to naturalize sexual harassment. If there are this many men doing these things, then surely this is just how men are! that argument will go. There's a corollary lurking underneath there: They can't help themselves. They're bumblers."



"Back when Dylan Farrow's allegations about Woody Allen were in the news, people quickly glommed onto Allen's exculpatory claim that Mia Farrow "brainwashed" her children into lying about him. It was fascinating, both because the claim was pretty evidence-free and because Woody Allen had blatantly and repeatedly admitted to manipulating and grooming Soon-Yi Previn. But, because Allen so skillfully deployed the script of the bumbler, everyone failed to see his behavior in those terms. Allen's portrayal of himself — he barely knows what he had for breakfast! — was just that effective. Never mind that he's so organized, ambitious, driven, confident, and purposeful that he successfully puts out a movie a year.

As the accusations of sexual misconduct roiling politics, publishing, and Hollywood continue to stack up, a few things are going to happen. The first stage of a phenomenon like this will always be to characterize the accused men as exceptions, as bad apples. #NotAllMen, the saying goes. But the second is that everyone is going to try to naturalize sexual harassment. If there are this many men doing these things, then surely this is just how men are! that argument will go. There's a corollary lurking underneath there: They can't help themselves. They're bumblers."
millicentsomer  ignorance  guile  gender  privilege  men  patriarchy  2017  louisck  mikepence  michaelflynn  elijahcummings  davebecky  jeffsessions  woodyallen  power  cluelessness  alibis  loopholes  malice  bumblers  georgepapadopoulos  donaldtrumpjr  roymoore  gaslighting  sexism  dylanfarrow  miafarrow  #notallmen  harveyweinstein  billo'reilly  brettratner  benjamingenocchio  sexualharrassment  myths  control  romanpolanski  oliverstone  donaldtrump  volkerschlöndorff  dustinhoffman  nancywells  jamestoback  rachelmcadams  rogerailes 
november 2017 by robertogreco
BBC - Earth - We went hunting for trolls and found a deeper truth
"BBC Earth's Melissa Hogenboom travelled to Iceland to search for trolls. It did not go quite the way she expected."
iceland  trolls  elves  myth  myths  folklore  melissahogenboom  2015 
october 2015 by robertogreco
Why do people believe myths about the Confederacy? Because our textbooks and monuments are wrong. - The Washington Post
"History is the polemics of the victor, William F. Buckley allegedly said. Not so in the United States, at least not regarding the Civil War. As soon as Confederates laid down their arms, some picked up their pens and began to distort what they had done, and why. Their resulting mythology went national a generation later and persists — which is why a presidential candidate can suggest that slavery was somehow pro-family, and the public believes that the war was mainly fought over states’ rights.

The Confederates won with the pen (and the noose) what they could not win on the battlefield: the cause of white supremacy and the dominant understanding of what the war was all about. We are still digging ourselves out from under the misinformation that they spread, which has manifested in both our history books and our public monuments.

Take Kentucky. Kentucky’s legislature voted not to secede, and early in the war, Confederate Gen. Albert Sidney Johnston ventured through the western part of the state and found “no enthusiasm as we imagined and hoped but hostility … in Kentucky.” Eventually, 90,000 Kentuckians would fight for the United States, while 35,000 fought for the Confederate States. Nevertheless, according to historian Thomas Clark, the state now has 72 Confederate monuments and only two Union ones.

Neo-Confederates also won western Maryland. In 1913, the United Daughters of the Confederacy (UDC) put a soldier on a pedestal at the Rockville courthouse. Montgomery County never seceded, of course. While Maryland did send 24,000 men to the Confederate armed forces, it sent 63,000 to the U.S. Army and Navy. Nevertheless, the UDC’s monument tells visitors to take the other side: “To our heroes of Montgomery Co. Maryland / That we through life may not forget to love the Thin Gray Line.”

In fact, the Thin Grey Line came through Montgomery and adjoining Frederick counties at least three times, en route to Antietam, Gettysburg and Washington. Lee’s army expected to find recruits and help with food, clothing and information. They didn’t. Maryland residents greeted Union soldiers as liberators when they came through on the way to Antietam. Recognizing the residents of Frederick as hostile, Confederate cavalry leader Jubal Early demanded and got $300,000 from them lest he burn their town, a sum equal to at least $5,000,000 today. Today, however, Frederick boasts what it calls the “Maryland Confederate Memorial,” and the manager of the Frederick cemetery — filled with Union and Confederate dead — told me in an interview, “Very little is done on the Union side” around Memorial Day. “It’s mostly Confederate.”

In addition to winning the battle for public monuments, neo-Confederates also managed to rename the war, calling it “the War Between the States.” Nevermind that while it was going on, no one called it that. Even Jeopardy! accepts it.

Perhaps most perniciously, neo-Confederates now claim that the South seceded for states’ rights. When each state left the Union, its leaders made clear that they were seceding because they were for slavery and against states’ rights. In its “Declaration Of The Causes Which Impel The State Of Texas To Secede From The Federal Union,” for example, the secession convention of Texas listed the states that had offended them: Maine, Vermont, New Hampshire, Connecticut, Rhode Island, Massachusetts, New York, Pennsylvania, Ohio, Wisconsin, Michigan and Iowa. These states had in fact exercised states’ rights by passing laws that interfered with the federal government’s attempts to enforce the Fugitive Slave Act. Some also no longer let slaveowners “transit” through their states with their slaves. “States’ rights” were what Texas was seceding against. Texas also made clear what it was seceding for: white supremacy.

We hold as undeniable truths that the governments of the various States, and of the confederacy itself, were established exclusively by the white race, for themselves and their posterity; that the African race had no agency in their establishment; that they were rightfully held and regarded as an inferior and dependent race, and in that condition only could their existence in this country be rendered beneficial or tolerable.

Despite such statements, during and after the Nadir, neo-Confederates put up monuments that flatly lied about the Confederate cause. For example, South Carolina’s monument at Gettysburg, dedicated in 1965, claims to explain why the state seceded: “Abiding faith in the sacredness of states rights provided their creed here.” This tells us nothing about 1863, when abiding opposition to states’ rights as claimed by free states provided South Carolinians’ creed. In 1965, however, its leaders did support states’ rights. Indeed, they were desperately trying to keep the federal government from enforcing school desegregation and civil rights. The one constant was that the leaders of South Carolina in 1860 and 1965 were acting on behalf of white supremacy.

[The racist assumptions behind how we talk about shootings]

So thoroughly did this mythology take hold that our textbooks still stand history on its head and say secession was for, rather than against, states’ rights. Publishers mystify secession because they don’t want to offend Southern school districts and thereby lose sales. Consider this passage from “The American Journey,” the largest textbook ever foisted on middle-school students and perhaps the best-selling U.S. history textbook:
The South Secedes

Lincoln and the Republicans had promised not to disturb slavery where it already existed. Nevertheless, many people in the South mistrusted the party, fearing that the Republican government would not protect Southern rights and liberties. On December 20, 1860, the South’s long-standing threat to leave the Union became a reality when South Carolina held a special convention and voted to secede.

Teachers and students infer from that passage that slavery was not the reason for secession. Instead, the reason is completely vague: [white] Southerners feared for their “rights and liberties.” On the next page, however, “Journey” becomes more precise: [White] Southerners claimed that since “the national government” had been derelict “by refusing to enforce the Fugitive Slave Act and by denying the Southern states equal rights in the territories — the states were justified in leaving the Union.”

“Journey” offers no evidence to support this claim. It cannot. No Southern state made any such charge against the federal government in any secession document I have ever seen. Presidents Buchanan and before him, Pierce, were part of the pro-Southern wing of the Democratic Party. For 10 years, the federal government had vigorously enforced the Fugitive Slave Act. Buchanan had supported pro-slavery forces in Kansas even after his own minion, the Mississippi slave owner Robert Walker, ruled that they had won only by fraud. The seven states that seceded before February 1861 had no quarrel with “the national government.”

Teaching or implying that the Confederate states seceded for states’ rights is not accurate history. It is white, Confederate-apologist history. It bends — even breaks — the facts of what happened. Like other U.S. history textbooks, “Journey” needs to be de-Confederatized. So does the history test we give to immigrants who want to become U.S. citizens. Item 74 asks, “Name one problem that led to the Civil War.” It then gives three acceptable answers: “slavery, economic reasons, and states’ rights.” If by “economic reasons” it means issues about tariffs and taxes, which most people infer, then two of its three “correct answers” are wrong! No other question on this 100-item test has more than one “right” answer. The reason is not because the history is unclear, but because neo-Confederates still wielded considerable influence in our culture and our Congress until quite recently, when a mass of politicians rushed to declare the Confederate flag unsuitable for display on government grounds.

Now the dean of the National Cathedral in Washington, D.C., has noted that the cathedral needs to de-Confederatize its stained glass windows. That would be a start for D.C., which also needs to remove its statue of Albert Pike, Confederate general and leader of the Arkansas Ku Klux Klan, from Judiciary Square. The Pentagon also needs to de-Confederatize the Army. No more Fort A.P. Hill. No more Fort Bragg, named for a general who was not only Confederate but also incompetent. No more Fort Benning, named for a general who, after he had helped get his home state of Georgia to secede, made the following argument to the Virginia legislature:
What was the reason that induced Georgia to take the step of secession? This reason may be summed up in one single proposition. It was a conviction … that a separation from the North was the only thing that could prevent the abolition of her slavery…. If things are allowed to go on as they are, it is certain that slavery is to be abolished. By the time the north shall have attained the power, the black race will be in a large majority, and then we will have black governors, black legislatures, black juries, black everything. … The consequence will be that our men will be all exterminated or expelled to wander as vagabonds over a hostile earth, and as for our women, their fate will be too horrible to contemplate even in fancy.

With our monuments lying about secession, our textbooks obfuscating what the Confederacy was about, and our army honoring its generals, no wonder so many Americans supported the Confederacy until last week. We can literally see the impact Confederate symbols and thinking had on Dylann Roof, but other examples abound. In his mugshot, Timothy McVeigh, who bombed the Murrah Building in Oklahoma City in 1995, wore a neo-Confederate T-shirt showing Abraham Lincoln and the words… [more]
history  myths  confederacy  civilwar  slavery  whitesupremacy  2015  racism  race  kentucky  maryland  noe-confederates  misinformation  jamesloewen 
july 2015 by robertogreco
A Christian Nation? Since When? - NYTimes.com
""AMERICA may be a nation of believers, but when it comes to this country’s identity as a “Christian nation,” our beliefs are all over the map.

Just a few weeks ago, Public Policy Polling reported that 57 percent of Republicans favored officially making the United States a Christian nation. But in 2007, a survey by the First Amendment Center showed that 55 percent of Americans believed it already was one.

The confusion is understandable. For all our talk about separation of church and state, religious language has been written into our political culture in countless ways. It is inscribed in our pledge of patriotism, marked on our money, carved into the walls of our courts and our Capitol. Perhaps because it is everywhere, we assume it has been from the beginning.

But the founding fathers didn’t create the ceremonies and slogans that come to mind when we consider whether this is a Christian nation. Our grandfathers did.

Back in the 1930s, business leaders found themselves on the defensive. Their public prestige had plummeted with the Great Crash; their private businesses were under attack by Franklin D. Roosevelt’s New Deal from above and labor from below. To regain the upper hand, corporate leaders fought back on all fronts. They waged a figurative war in statehouses and, occasionally, a literal one in the streets; their campaigns extended from courts of law to the court of public opinion. But nothing worked particularly well until they began an inspired public relations offensive that cast capitalism as the handmaiden of Christianity.

The two had been described as soul mates before, but in this campaign they were wedded in pointed opposition to the “creeping socialism” of the New Deal. The federal government had never really factored into Americans’ thinking about the relationship between faith and free enterprise, mostly because it had never loomed that large over business interests. But now it cast a long and ominous shadow.

Accordingly, throughout the 1930s and ’40s, corporate leaders marketed a new ideology that combined elements of Christianity with an anti-federal libertarianism. Powerful business lobbies like the United States Chamber of Commerce and the National Association of Manufacturers led the way, promoting this ideology’s appeal in conferences and P.R. campaigns. Generous funding came from prominent businessmen, from household names like Harvey Firestone, Conrad Hilton, E. F. Hutton, Fred Maytag and Henry R. Luce to lesser-known leaders at U.S. Steel, General Motors and DuPont.

In a shrewd decision, these executives made clergymen their spokesmen. As Sun Oil’s J. Howard Pew noted, polls proved that ministers could mold public opinion more than any other profession. And so these businessmen worked to recruit clergy through private meetings and public appeals. Many answered the call, but three deserve special attention.

The Rev. James W. Fifield — known as “the 13th Apostle of Big Business” and “Saint Paul of the Prosperous” — emerged as an early evangelist for the cause. Preaching to pews of millionaires at the elite First Congregational Church in Los Angeles, Mr. Fifield said reading the Bible was “like eating fish — we take the bones out to enjoy the meat. All parts are not of equal value.” He dismissed New Testament warnings about the corrupting nature of wealth. Instead, he paired Christianity and capitalism against the New Deal’s “pagan statism.”

Through his national organization, Spiritual Mobilization, founded in 1935, Mr. Fifield promoted “freedom under God.” By the late 1940s, his group was spreading the gospel of faith and free enterprise in a mass-circulated monthly magazine and a weekly radio program that eventually aired on more than 800 stations nationwide. It even encouraged ministers to preach sermons on its themes in competitions for cash prizes. Liberals howled at the group’s conflation of God and greed; in 1948, the radical journalist Carey McWilliams denounced it in a withering exposé. But Mr. Fifield exploited such criticism to raise more funds and redouble his efforts.

Meanwhile, the Rev. Abraham Vereide advanced the Christian libertarian cause with a national network of prayer groups. After ministering to industrialists facing huge labor strikes in Seattle and San Francisco in the mid-1930s, Mr. Vereide began building prayer breakfast groups in cities across America to bring business and political elites together in common cause. “The big men and the real leaders in New York and Chicago,” he wrote his wife, “look up to me in an embarrassing way.” In Manhattan alone, James Cash Penney, I.B.M.’s Thomas Watson, Norman Vincent Peale and Mayor Fiorello H. La Guardia all sought audiences with him.

In 1942, Mr. Vereide’s influence spread to Washington. He persuaded the House and Senate to start weekly prayer meetings “in order that we might be a God-directed and God-controlled nation.” Mr. Vereide opened headquarters in Washington — “God’s Embassy,” he called it — and became a powerful force in its previously secular institutions. Among other activities, he held “dedication ceremonies” for several justices of the Supreme Court. “No country or civilization can last,” Justice Tom C. Clark announced at his 1949 consecration, “unless it is founded on Christian values.”

The most important clergyman for Christian libertarianism, though, was the Rev. Billy Graham. In his initial ministry, in the early 1950s, Mr. Graham supported corporate interests so zealously that a London paper called him “the Big Business evangelist.” The Garden of Eden, he informed revival attendees, was a paradise with “no union dues, no labor leaders, no snakes, no disease.” In the same spirit, he denounced all “government restrictions” in economic affairs, which he invariably attacked as “socialism.”

In 1952, Mr. Graham went to Washington and made Congress his congregation. He recruited representatives to serve as ushers at packed revival meetings and staged the first formal religious service held on the Capitol steps. That year, at his urging, Congress established an annual National Day of Prayer. “If I would run for president of the United States today on a platform of calling people back to God, back to Christ, back to the Bible,” he predicted, “I’d be elected.”

Dwight D. Eisenhower fulfilled that prediction. With Mr. Graham offering Scripture for Ike’s speeches, the Republican nominee campaigned in what he called a “great crusade for freedom.” His military record made the general a formidable candidate, but on the trail he emphasized spiritual issues over worldly concerns. As the journalist John Temple Graves observed: “America isn’t just a land of the free in Eisenhower’s conception. It is a land of freedom under God.” Elected in a landslide, Eisenhower told Mr. Graham that he had a mandate for a “spiritual renewal.”

Although Eisenhower relied on Christian libertarian groups in the campaign, he parted ways with their agenda once elected. The movement’s corporate sponsors had seen religious rhetoric as a way to dismantle the New Deal state. But the newly elected president thought that a fool’s errand. “Should any political party attempt to abolish Social Security, unemployment insurance, and eliminate labor laws and farm programs,” he noted privately, “you would not hear of that party again in our political history.” Unlike those who held public spirituality as a means to an end, Eisenhower embraced it as an end unto itself.

Uncoupling the language of “freedom under God” from its Christian libertarian roots, Eisenhower erected a bigger revival tent, welcoming Jews and Catholics alongside Protestants, and Democrats as well as Republicans. Rallying the country, he advanced a revolutionary array of new religious ceremonies and slogans.

The first week of February 1953 set the dizzying pace: On Sunday morning, he was baptized; that night, he broadcast an Oval Office address for the American Legion’s “Back to God” campaign; on Thursday, he appeared with Mr. Vereide at the inaugural National Prayer Breakfast; on Friday, he instituted the first opening prayers at a cabinet meeting.

The rest of Washington consecrated itself, too. The Pentagon, State Department and other executive agencies quickly instituted prayer services of their own. In 1954, Congress added “under God” to the previously secular Pledge of Allegiance. It placed a similar slogan, “In God We Trust,” on postage that year and voted the following year to add it to paper money; in 1956, it became the nation’s official motto.

During these years, Americans were told, time and time again, not just that the country should be a Christian nation, but that it always had been one. They soon came to think of the United States as “one nation under God.” They’ve believed it ever since.""
us  history  christianity  myths  2015  capitalism  propaganda  evangelism  libertarianism  1930s  1940s  1950s  socialism  government  politics  business  ealth  abrahamvereide  jamesfifield  jhowardpew  billygraham  corporatism  economics  labor  unions  newdeal 
march 2015 by robertogreco
The High Cost of Neuromyths in Education | Edutopia
"The Left/Right Brain Myth
Take for example the myth of left and right brains. Why has it taken over two decades to debunk the left brain/right brain myths? There was never any neuroscience research supporting claims that both sides of the brain needed physical exercise that "crosses the midline," such as tapping the left shoulder with the right hand. Yet individuals and school districts spent considerable sums for programs claiming to provide critical activation of both sides of the brain to overcome the deficiencies of weak right or left brains that held back student intelligence and success.

But more problematic than a single myth is the difficulty in eroding that myth. Over 20 years ago, neuroimaging demonstrated that both sides of the brain are in constant communication, transmitting neural signals from one hemisphere to the other. Although parts of the brain are particularly active during certain memory or learning activities, all brain activities requiring cognition activate neural networks on both sides of the brain. Yet the myth persists.

The Learning-Style Myth
Despite absence of valid supporting research, many products continue to promise more effective results when learning style is matched to teaching modality. Programs promise that their surveys or analytic tools yield vital information defining students' specific learning styles. Their prescribed instruction differentiates not by mastery or interest, but on the sensory modality declared to be most effective for each learner and his or her "learning style."

No reliable research has ever demonstrated that instruction designated as appropriate for any "tested" learning style is effective because it matches that style. The research is missing several important control validations. For example, there are no statistically valid studies comparing the response of a mixed-learning-style control group with the results of a learning-style-matched group. To qualify as "effective," there must be support of claims that superior outcomes are the direct result of teaching to individual learning styles and not a general result to the instruction. There is no evidence that "visual learners" have better outcomes to instruction designed for "visual learners" than do mixed-style learners taught using the same instruction. Without comparison groups, the before and after results could simply mean that the particular instruction is the most effective method for teaching that specific content to all students (Pashler, et al).

The "We Use Only 10 Percent of Our Brains" Myth
Some neuromyths take on life because the language of neuroscience is not familiar or easily translatable. This is certainly true with some of our own "eduspeak" (consider the reaction to phonemic awareness or summative feedback outside of a school). The neuromyth that we use only ten percent of our brainpower is beyond "lost in translation" -- it's a bad translation to begin with.

Some attribute the myth to mistranslations of mistranslations. In a book forward, journalist Lowell Thomas over-interpreted this statement written in the mid 1800s by William James, the father of modern psychology: "As a rule, men habitually use only a small part of their powers which they actually possess." Thomas made that generalization more concrete by: "Professor William James of Harvard used to say that the average person develops only ten per cent of his latent mental ability."

To clarify the science, consider that the brain weighs three pounds and uses about 20 percent of the body's limited oxygen and glucose resources. The brain has built-in efficiency systems to keep it trim -- it destroys unused or disconnected islands of brain connections. When networks are not activated frequently enough to build up the strong walls of myelin and multiple dendrite connections, they are pruned away, assuring more availability of metabolic resources for the most-used brain networks. Hence, we have "neurons that fire together" (the construction aspect of neuroplasticity) and its flipside, "use it or lose it."

Further myth-busting comes from neuroimaging research techniques, such as PET (positron emission tomography) and fMRI (functional magnetic resonance imaging) scans. These scans show that we use and activate most of our brains most of the time, and essentially all of our brains at some time each day."
neuroscience  2015  education  myths  learningstyles  leftrightbrain  leftbrain  rightbrain  brain  science 
march 2015 by robertogreco
All You Need to Know About the 'Learning Styles' Myth, in Two Minutes | WIRED
"On a sunny hike along a Madeiran levada a couple of years ago, I got chatting to a retired school teacher and I told him about the brain myths book I was writing. An affable chap, he listened with interest about the 10 percent myth and other classic misconceptions, but his mood changed when I mentioned learning styles. This is the mistaken idea that we learn better when the instruction we receive is tailored to our preferred way of learning. The friendly teacher was passionate about the concept’s merit – his own preferred style, he said, was to learn “by doing” and no-one would ever convince him otherwise.

How widely believed is the myth?
The teacher I met in Madeira is far from alone in endorsing the myth. It is propagated not only in hundreds of popular books, but also through international conferences and associations, by commercial companies who sell ways of measuring learning styles, and in teacher training programs. The TeachingEnglish website published by the British Council and the BBC states boldly “Your students will be more successful if you match your teaching style to their learning styles” – this includes, they claim, being: right- or left-brained, analytic vs. dynamic, and visual vs. auditory. A recent international survey of teachers from the UK, China and elsewhere found that 96 percent believed in the idea of preferred learning styles.

Why is the idea so popular?
Parents, understandably, like to think that their children are receiving a tailored education. Teachers, also understandably, like to think that they are sensitive to each child’s needs and many are clearly motivated to find out more about how to fulfill this ideal. Also, no-one likes to think of themselves as low in ability. It’s more comforting to my ego to think that a class was difficult because of a teaching style I didn’t like than because I wasn’t concentrating or because I’m simply not clever or motivated enough.

Is there any evidence to support the learning styles concept?
Yes there is a little, but experts on the topic like Harold Pashler and Doug Rohrer point out that most of this evidence is weak. Convincing evidence for learning styles would show that people of one preferred learning style learned better when taught material in their favored way, whereas a different group with a different preference learned the same material better when taught in their favored fashion. Yet surprisingly few studies of this format have produced supporting evidence for learning styles; far more evidence (such as this study) runs counter to the myth. What often happens is that both groups perform better when taught by one particular style. This makes sense because although each of us is unique, usually the most effective way for us to learn is based not on our individual preferences but on the nature of the material we’re being taught – just try learning French grammar pictorially, or learning geometry purely verbally.

Are there any other problems with the myth?
Oh yes! Another major problem is that there are so many different possible ways to describe people’s preferred learning styles. Indeed, a review published in 2004 identified over 71 different styles mooted in the literature. As Paul Kirschner and Jeroen Merrienboer explained in their recent article on “urban legends” in education, if we view each learning style as dichotomous (e.g. visual vs. verbal) that means there are 2 to the power of 71 combinations of identified learning styles – more than the number of people alive on earth! What’s more, even if we accept a particular scheme for measuring learning styles, evidence shows that learning style questionnaires are unreliable and people’s self-reported preferences are poorly correlated with their actual performance. In other words, a person might think they learn better, say, visually rather than verbally, but their performance says otherwise! The fact is, the more accurate predictor for how well a person will fare in a math learning task, is most likely not the degree of match between their preferred learning style and the teaching style, but their past performance on math tests.

So, should we completely give up on tailoring our teaching styles?
No. While people are often poor at judging which teaching methods are most effective for them, and while there is little strong evidence for the benefits of matching teaching style to preferred learning style, this does not mean there is no scope for tailoring teaching style to improve learning. For example, as Kirschner and Merrienboer point out, there is evidence that novices learn better from studying examples, whereas those with more expertise learn better by solving problems themselves. Other research shows how learning is improved (for most everyone) by combining different activities – such as drawing alongside more passive study.

Let’s bury this harmful myth
Many leading experts believe the myth of preferred learning styles is not just a benign misconception, but is likely causing harm. As Scott Lilienfeld and colleagues write in 50 Great Myths of Popular Psychology, the approach “encourages teachers to teach to students’ intellectual strengths rather than their weaknesses.” Yet, they add: “students need to correct and compensate for their shortcomings, not avoid them.” There’s also an economic case. Many learning style questionnaires and training programs are expensive. “Given the costs of assessing students’ supposed learning styles and offering differentiated instruction,” write Rohrer and Pashler, the news of the lack of scientific evidence for learning styles “should come as good news to educators at all levels.”"
education  myths  myth  learning  learningstyles  2015  via:audreywatters  christianjarrett  haroldpashler  dougrohrer  howwelearn  paulkirschner  jeroenmerrienboer  scottlilienfeld  differentiation 
january 2015 by robertogreco
Why Your Family Name Did Not Come From a Mistake at Ellis Island | Mental Floss
"When my great-grandfather Yuroslav Hieronymous O’Kagan vaan de Schulevitzberg arrived at Ellis Island in 1909 he didn’t speak much English. He was 17 and hoping to make his fortune quickly and bring the rest of his family over from the old country. He knew he would be asked a number of questions at arrival about his occupation, his health status, his living arrangements, etc., and he was prepared. As he approached the immigration officer, the first American he had ever met, the answers tumbled out in a nervous jumble, “Work factory! No coff-coff! Tooths very good! Go to Chicago! Buy house! Big house!”

The officer shook his head, laughed, and asked, “Name?”

Thinking the officer was mocking his presumptuous housing plan, he replied, “OK. OK … rent.” And that’s how we became the Okrent family.

This story is not true. Most stories of this kind are not true. Because, as Philip Sutton of the New York Public Library explains, the inspectors at Ellis Island “did not create records of immigration; rather they checked the names of the people moving through Ellis Island against those recorded in the ship’s passenger list, or manifest.” No names were changed at Ellis Island, because no names were taken at Ellis Island.

It is also highly unlikely that such comically inept communication would have ever taken place at Ellis Island. According to this article at U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, the Ellis Island immigrant inspectors all “spoke an average of three languages. They were assigned to inspect immigrant groups based on the languages they spoke. If the inspector could not communicate, Ellis Island employed a full-time army of interpreters and would call in temporary interpreters under contract to translate for immigrants speaking the most obscure tongues.”

So how did Jensen become Johnson, Koenigsberger become Kingsley, Mlodzianowski become Murphy, and so on? In some cases, names were entered incorrectly on the passenger list when travelers bought their tickets abroad. For example, a Portuguese named Teixeira, leaving from a French port, might have been entered as Techera. These types of mistakes were in fact sometimes corrected by Ellis Island inspectors (by lightly marking corrections, at the request of the passenger, above the name written in the manifest).

In other cases, immigrants were given alternate names by neighbors, bosses, co-workers, or teachers who couldn’t pronounce the originals. Those alternate names were then adopted by the immigrants when they submitted their applications for naturalization. Though the idea for the new name might have come from someone else, the name did not become official unless the immigrant chose to make it official when becoming a citizen.

The name you used when you applied for your naturalization papers did not have to match the manifest at Ellis Island. Names were adjusted, sometimes slightly, in order to fit new surroundings, and sometimes drastically, in order to fit new identities. My name, which was Okręt in the old country, was changed to Okrent to get as close as possible to the intended pronunciation (the ę is a nasalized e in Polish). Official name changes did not come about through haphazard errors, but because immigrants deliberately chose them. Chalk it up to the urge to assimilate, the drive for self-reinvention, or the excitement of using a freedom they hadn’t had before, but don’t blame it on the hardworking, multilingual clerks at Ellis Island."
history  arikaokrent  ellisisland  immigration  us  spelling  names  naming  2015  myths  ins  surnames 
january 2015 by robertogreco
Sjón, Happy Nihilist - The Reykjavik Grapevine
"It is understandable, then, why Sjón would be so excited about our own great moment in history.” We are torn,” he says. “On the one hand we have created technology which demands we use our potentials more fully, and on the other hand we have used technologies to devise our own demise.” The theme of the extinction of the human race lurks throughout our conversation like a hunter stalking his prey. Albeit less quietly, like an unseasoned hunter, crashing through the woods raucously, swinging a machete and screaming. But the idea is no less intense than it is real. Which is precisely why Sjón turns to the fantastic. Specifically, to the myths.

“Myths are always about the ‘big’ realities we are facing. All the ‘big’ questions can be found in mythology,” he says. They are yet another tool that Sjón wields in the face of the “here and now,” another platform to stand on and observe things in their entirety. He elaborates: “The myths allow us to think about these things on the scale they really are. They place man in the universe, they bring us down to scale. For an author, the myths are really an amazing tool to work with.”"
sjón  iceland  literature  2014  nihilism  history  climatechange  myth  myths  mythology  storytelling 
december 2014 by robertogreco
Icelandic Author Sjón on Myths and Crackpot Theories - Publishing Perspectives
"The Icelandic writer Sjón, whose international breakthrough came with his novel The Blue Fox, is a renaissance man. Sjón started his career as a poet at age 15, and took part in Reykjavik’s cultural explosion in the 1980s when “there was no hierarchy in the arts.”

He was a member of a neo-surrealist group called Medusa. “We then all became anarcho-surrealists,” he added.

It was during this period that he met singer-songwriter Björk and began his collaboration writing lyrics for her that has lasted until today; Sjón has three songs on Björk’s newly released album Biophilia. In 2000, one of his songs for Björk was used in the Lars von Trier’s film “Dancer in the Dark” and nominated for an Academy Award. Sjón went to Hollywood for the ceremony. “That was one of the experiences in my life that I can truly call surreal,” he said.

Sjón is not foreign to the world of film as he also pens screenplays. He wrote a screenplay for a film that made the rounds of horror film festivals several years ago entitled “Reykjavik Whale Watching Massacre.”

“It’s a nitty-gritty splatter film, a dark comedy about innocent tourists massacred by disgruntled whale hunters,” he commented.

The Blue Fox, a story about a priest hunting for an enigmatic blue fox, won the Nordic Literary Prize and has been translated into 21 languages. Sjón is currently finishing his eighth novel, which is the last volume of a trilogy that he began in 1994. His UK publisher, Telegram Books, has world rights to his works in English. Besides The Blue Fox, Telegram has published From the Mouth of the Whale and next year will bring out The Whispering Muse (working title) that was published in Iceland in 2005 and has already been translated into six languages.

“It’s the story of an 80-year-old guy, a former editor of Fish and Culture magazine that focuses on the Nordic race and its consumption of fish. He is invited on the maiden journey of a ship exporting paper pulp from Norway to Russia. One of the crew members claims to have been on the Argo with Jason. They begin to tell each other tales,” said Sjón.

Sjón’s inspiration has always come from melding ancient Icelandic traditions with the avant-garde. “I go into pockets of Icelandic history . . . I love to bring diverse cosmologies alive on the page. I mix myths and crackpot theories together with my need to tell a story.”

Working with 17th century Icelandic texts is also a motivation for Sjón, who said he enjoys managing “the peculiarities of the Icelandic language and its twists and turns.”

This is not easy for his translators, he acknowledges, but because of his excellent grasp of English, he has been able to work closely with Victoria Cribb, his English translator. In other languages Sjón said, “of course I can’t know if the translation is good but I can tell if the person is a good translator by the questions they ask. I am open to working relationships with translators and always find a way.”

At Frankfurt, Sjón said he was enjoying meeting some of his foreign publishers for the first time from Serbia, Portugal, Lithuania and Turkey, where The Blue Fox was published last week. His experience with foreign publishers has taught him that, “it’s better to go with small publishers who are truly dedicated.”

Sjón is currently working on an adaptation of his novel The Whispering Muse for opera (his wife is a mezzo soprano) and is putting the finishing touches to his eighth novel.

In the end, said Sjón, “Man is a narrative animal.”"
sjón  narrative  iceland  myths  mythology  literature  storytelling  belief  myth  2011 
december 2014 by robertogreco
Interview with Sjón | The White Review
"Q: THE WHITE REVIEW — Where are you from? And how did you come to write?

A: SJÓN — I was born in Reykjavík in 1962. From the beginning I read everything, from children’s books to newspapers – whatever printed material came into the house. At the age of 8 I discovered Icelandic folk stories, which is when I truly started waking up to literature. A year later, I discovered poetry. In school we were given a big collection of poetry, which was to last us throughout our school years, and I started reading this book for pleasure at home. I was reading detective novels, Icelandic folk stories, and Icelandic romantic poetry from very early on. Early reading teaches you the different possibilities of text.

When I came into my teenage years I became a huge David Bowie fan. To be a David Bowie fan in Iceland you more or less had to teach yourself English – to translate the lyrics, to be able to read the interviews in NME. My infatuation with Bowie prepared me for my discovery of modernist poetry, first in translation. At the age of 15 I found a book of Icelandic modernists from the end of the Second World War. That’s when modernism came to Iceland – and they were very much influenced by the surrealists. Somehow, I was bitten by the bug. It simply fascinated me that you were allowed to use the Icelandic language in this way, to create these incredible images and metaphors, and to present such ideas with the Icelandic language. I felt like I should be a part of it. So I started writing poetry and in a few months time I had written enough poetry for a book. I published my first book of poetry the summer I turned 16.

Q: THE WHITE REVIEW — You speak of an early interest in the various kinds of text, and your own writing is not easily assimilated into any single textual mode. As a writer, lyricist and poet, you move in and out of these different formats. What do you classify yourself as first and foremost, if anything? How might this resistance to categorisation link in to your interest in surrealism?

A: SJÓN — I’m a novelist who occasionally writes poetry. I write librettos, lyrics and children’s books but these are all collaborations that I do in between working on novels and poetry. One of the wonders of the novel is how easily it absorbs diverse texts. Everything that is written, whether it is non-fiction, old archives, newspaper articles, lullabies – somehow it can always find its place in the novel, and for that reason the novel became more important to me than the poem.

The novel is encyclopaedic: all of the different manners of expressing oneself in words can find their place there. In the Eighties my friends and I formed a group of surrealist poets called Medusa. Surrealism brings so much with it and one of the first things I realised when I became excited by surrealism was its link with folk stories. Surrealism is always non-academic, always looking for the source of human activity, looking into the back alleys and the darkest clearing in the forest for excitement. Somehow it was always very natural for me to bring all these different things together in what I was doing.

Q: THE WHITE REVIEW — Your novels are hybrids – a crossbreed of narrative fiction, historical fact, myth, music…

A: SJÓN — I like my novels to be made up of different parts, realities, states of consciousness. I now see my work as realist because everything I write is grounded in at least the experience of the character, here, in earthly life. The strange things that happen in the books are what happens in people’s minds, what they experience as truth. That of course creates a hybrid, when your standard is something normalised and accepted as the only way to experience reality.

Q: THE WHITE REVIEW — Music is a great part of this assortment – you’ve mentioned Bowie as an influence, and you have collaborated with musicians such as Björk. Do you think that words can achieve the condition of music, which has a much greater immediacy and is far less freighted with multiple meanings?

A: SJÓN — I think it’s very important to be open to influence from diverse artistic forms and forms of expression. I have been very much influenced by music and one of the routes I took to literature was through the music of David Bowie. I have worked with musicians in all fields – contemporary composers, pop artists – and I’ve worked with very diverse styles of music. But there is a huge difference between words being sung, spoken or read. The emotion that the singing voice brings to the world when sung out loud is something you cannot recreate on paper. I don’t think you should even try.

Q: THE WHITE REVIEW — You have spoken of realising that ‘you could take the classical string quartet as a model for the composition of THE BLUE FOX’. How did you achieve this?

A: SJÓN — I think the fact that I can take the form of the string quartet and use it as the basis of a novel is another proof of how dynamic the novel is. I’m sure that a composer writing a string quartet can learn something from a movie or the structure of film. It was music that gave me the idea of constantly breaking up the narrative. THE BLUE FOX would be a completely different novel if it were chronological. In it, there are constant cliff-hangers and repeated refrains – I’m playing with the element of two melodies that come together but never fully, only in the end finding a solution. It was very interesting that the first people who commented on the book were composers. They said it was very clear to them that I was always playing with volume of information versus text, which is the same thing they do – volume of tones versus time. You can take a melody and stretch it over five minutes, or compress it down to three seconds. They were very much aware of how I was playing with text versus information.

Q: THE WHITE REVIEW — Does your involvement in the world of music, and the musicality of your novels, betray some sort of frustration with the limits of the written word?

A: SJÓN — No. I am in the position where I can move between those different ways of writing. For me, it is a celebration of the many possibilities given to an author. I play no instruments, my only involvement with music is in collaborations with people who know how to do it. It is a privilege to be working with these musicians and to be allowed to bring my words to their work. To hear the words sung is a wonderful present from these people."



"This view actually went against everything that I had been taught in school. The Reformation is presented in Icelandic history books as something very benevolent and it was convenient to ignore that in the first decade after the Reformation life was very difficult for the common man and for scholars. The Methodist church became very dogmatic, and everything that had to do with the old Nordic religion, with old wisdom or old medicine, was banished as sorcery. He is the only historical voice that we have speaking against this. It was an opportunity to put a seed inside somebody’s skull, and take a walk through those times with his eyes."



"The reason that I felt it right to enter this world, this state of complaint against a world going to pieces, is because he lived through the period when the Catholic Church, the only socially responsible institution, was all of a sudden taken away. In Iceland, it is a fact that the Catholic Church was the only welfare structure in the country – we had no king, no dukes, we had no one to take over the social responsibilities when the Catholic Church vanished overnight. All the monasteries were closed down, all the orphanages, the old people’s shelters – everything, overnight. And the duty that the rich had – to keep the livestock alive on behalf of the religious priests who fed the poor – that vanished too.

Jón Guðmundsson is unique in that he is the only one who wrote about this. He bore witness to a world in which man had been relieved of his duty to show charity to his fellow men. This is very much what the last decade has felt like, at least in Iceland, if not many parts of the West. With the deregulation of the economic system, social responsibility was thrown out of the window and all of a sudden the rich became richer and they had no duties any more. This is something that happened with the fall of the Eastern Bloc – the message that we were told then was that capitalism had won and communism was the dark art. The Left lost its voice, at least in Iceland. The centre Left – the social democrats – they decided to start playing along with the capitalists, which is what you would call New Labour here. The real Left was all of a sudden presented as the losers of history, even though these people had been in opposition to the totalitarian regimes in the East for decades. All of a sudden everything that began with the word ‘social’ was a dirty word. The social contract that was established in most of the West after the Second World War, was dealt the final blow."



"In times where grand narratives are needed we look to the grand narratives of our culture. In our case it is the great myths, and sometimes it is to give name to something like the panic after September 11. Myth always puts man down to size, and man realises he is just this tiny figure moving from one meal to another on his way to the grave.

Q: THE WHITE REVIEW — Oral tradition is very much a part of myth. Is this something that can still exist today?

A: SJÓN — You have a whole continent, Africa, which has so many languages that have still not found a written form. There are places that have an unbroken tradition, stretching thousands of years back, of telling the same stories over and over again. Mostly here in the West we have lost the ability to protect our culture orally, and maybe we are in danger. What will happen when all the books have flared up and all the Kindles lost their battery power?

Q: THE WHITE REVIEW — Literary translation and the rise of world … [more]
sjón  2012  interviews  iceland  poems  poetry  novels  literature  writing  music  björk  reality  collaboration  surrealism  existence  humans  storytelling  davidbowie  mogenrukov  dogme95  life  living  perspective  curiosity  translation  africa  diversity  myths  myth  mythology  charity  catholicism  history  capitalism  economics  society  collectivism  interdependence  individualism  insignificance  folklore  nature  reformation  religion  magic  mysticism  enlightenment  catholicchurch  9/11  oraltradition  ebooks  books  words  coldwar  socialism  communism  jónguðmundsson  sorcery  songs  posthumanism 
december 2014 by robertogreco
Sjón & Hari Kunzru — Work in Progress — Medium
[video: https://vimeo.com/72354976 ]
[Björk introduction: http://www.fsgworkinprogress.com/2013/08/bjork-introduces-sjon/
more: http://www.theparisreview.org/blog/2013/05/16/sjon-bjork-and-the-furry-trout/ ]

"Sjón: It writes me. I’m better sticking to being visual when I write. No, but for me, to go in that direction, I actually do think most literature is visual arts."



"Sjón: I think we were typical second-wave punks. I mean, obviously, the generation that started the punk movement in England, the first punk bands—The Clash and The Sex Pistols and the Buzzcocks and all these bands—these were all kids that were quite a bit older than we were. They were born around 1953, ’55, so they were all about the anger, and they were all about … I think Johnny Rotten said it came from the liver.

We came to it as teenagers, and it’s interesting that while you can clearly see similarities between punk and Dada, this absolute nihilism, and you can say that the punks were actually fulfilling one of Tristan Tzara’s battle cries where he said, “Musicians, break your instruments on the stage.”

Just as Surrealism followed Dada, something happened when you had seen all this raw anger leading to nothing but raw anger, maybe good old Surrealism became the good and right remedy to all that anger. Like Björk said, it really felt like it fit together, and we were really looking for the revolutionary, the rebellious aspect of Surrealism.

Hari: The idea that it’s sort of dreaming and an escape from reality can be rebellious and revolutionary?

Sjón: As a good Surrealist would say, an escape into reality through dreaming. Ah!

Hari: I was thinking about Jonas Palmason in From the Mouth of the Whale. He goes to Copenhagen, and it’s this huge city filled with more things and people than he’s ever seen before. He imagines that he’s in an ancient version of the city, and I was trying to square that kind of dreaming with this revolutionary dreaming. Are they the same thing? Are they different things? Is the visionary Sjón also an escapist dreamer?

Sjón: One of the first things I learned from Surrealism is that it’s not fantasy, that Surrealism makes a very clear distinction between fantasy and the marvelous. You’re always looking for the marvelous in reality, and that’s where poetry happens. It happens when you hit upon these incredible moments in your reality. In Reykjavik, we had a city of rather small size to go walking around, but this idea of walking around, getting into the spirit, surreal spirit, and awaiting the poetic to manifest in a marvelous way in your reality—that’s very much what I’m looking for."



"Sjón: No. [Pause.] I’m really interested in how people become obsessed with ideas and how they become obsessed with certain cosmologies, and how the obsessed mind starts finding proofs of its truths. How it looks for the manifestation of these truths all around it in reality. This happens all the time—that things start to manifest if you’ve got them on your brain. They start manifesting all around you.

Hari: That’s there in all your fiction, this sense that a certain kind of attention is repaid by this. You start seeing the visionary aspect of the world.

Hari: You’re fond of mythic explanations for things that maybe other people wouldn’t use that for. I saw an interview where you started riffing on the idea that maybe 9-11 was something to do with the power of the great god Pan.

Sjón: I am actually absolutely sure that the great god Pan slipped through some sort of a gateway into our world, on that day.

We’ve been living in panic ever since. Actually, when we were in Athens for Björk’s performance of our song at the Olympics in 2004, I had direct experience of one of the gods there: One day, I was in a group that went down to the peninsula south of Athens, and there is a great Poseidon temple sitting there on a rock. As we came closer to the temple, we saw better and better what a sad state it was in. Obviously, this used to be the place of great sacrifices, 500 bulls sacrificed and burned in one day and all that, and the crowds coming to bow in front of the image of Poseidon.

I thought as we got closer, “Oh, look at you, great Poseidon. Look at the sad state you’re in.” This is how the Icelandic poet’s mind works. That’s how we think when we’re traveling.

We came to the temple and started walking around and looking at these sad ruins, but then I walked to the edge of the cliff. Who was there, who hadn’t moved and left his temple, but Poseidon? The whole ocean stretched out from the cliffs. Poseidon was still there, even though man had stopped sacrificing to Poseidon, Poseidon was still there. Then, Poseidon, of course, feeling a little bit annoyed that people were forgetting him, he moved just a little finger, his little finger a tiny bit, and we had the tsunami in Indonesia.

The myths are really about man confronting the fact that nature is always bigger and stronger.

Hari: It seems that in Iceland, there’s this particular kind of negotiation with nature that has to go on, because it’s a very unstable place, geologically if in no other way. I always think of the island of Surtsey coming out of the sea in the 1960s, and suddenly, you’ve got a new southernmost tip of Iceland that’s been generated by an undersea volcano. Is this sense that things are capable of shifting and that even the ground under your feet could potentially change, do you think this has any link to Iceland’s notorious belief in hidden folk and that sense that the landscape is actually populated with forces that are beyond our immediate understanding?

Sjón: Yes, I think we experience nature as a living thing, and a part of it is to go to the extremes of actually believing that nature has a character, or if not character, that it can manifest itself in different forms. We have folk stories about the hidden people, Huldufólk, who live in rocks and fields and cliffs, and they look exactly like us except they’ve only got one nostril. Apart from having only one nostril, they always lead a much richer and better life than those of us who have to survive above ground. They’re having musical parties all the time. They dress in silk, and whenever an Icelander gives a person from that nation a helping hand, he is rewarded with a cloth of silver or a goblet of gold. We know that the earth is rich, and we know that it’s more powerful than here, so I think when you live in a place that is obviously alive, you tend to populate it with different creatures.

For example, Katla, is this great volcano that possibly will explode fairly soon, and Katla is a woman’s name. It’s the name of a giantess. It’s more than likely that it will wipe out all the habitat that is sitting there on the beach. Man’s existence is—

Hari: Precarious."



"Sjón: I’m interested in the language of faith, and I’m interested in the literature of faith. In Iceland, like in so many Lutheran countries, the translation of the New Testament into the local language was a big moment. The church defined charity and love and all these terms.

I’ve always been interested in religious texts, not only because of the language but because I see religions as cosmologies, and I’m interested in cosmologies, and I’m interested in obsessed people and where to look for obsessed people. The best place is in religion. I think I’ve really taken advantage of the language of religion just in the same way that I’ve taken advantage of the language of myths and the world of myths.

For me, these are all attempts at explaining the same thing, which is to try to answer the question, “Is it possible that in the beginning there was nothing, and now we’re here sitting on these two nice chairs here in this Scandinavia House?”

We know that our cosmology will become obsolete, and it’s really amazing that the biggest given fact of our time is that cosmology, which is the hard science, is so unstable. I love it.

Hari: You take a real aesthetic pleasure in cosmologies, don’t you? What’s the joy of a big system, a big complicated system with lots of moving, whizzing, parts?

Sjón: My joy is the joy of the Trickster. It’s the joy of Loki. It’s the joy of the Coyote, because I know it’s an unstable system, and it will be overthrown, no matter how majestic it is. With the right little tricks, you will have an apocalypse. You will have the twilight of the gods. The gods will fight the last battle, and there will be a new world that rises up from it, and the Trickster can start thinking of new dirty tricks to topple that system."



"Audience Question: You were talking about how you enjoy cosmology and I wondered how you reconcile that with science and with your own art.

Sjón: Well of course it’s the scientists who are destroying each others’ cosmologies all the time. It’s very interesting that most people today live with a cosmology that absolutely ignores the theory of relativity, for example. Most people live as if the theory of relativity never happened because nobody understands it really.

It’s amazing how unaffected we are by these wonderful amazing things. We just continue. That’s one of the ways of overturning cosmologies: just keep brushing your teeth no matter how they say the universe was made."
sjón  iceland  harikunzru  2013  interviews  literature  poetry  davidbowie  surrealism  writing  escapism  punk  reality  björk  fantasy  fiction  nature  myth  mythology  trickster  greekmyths  obsessions  ideas  cosmologies  perspective  science  learning  unlearning  relearning  collaboration  translation  howwewrite  language  icelandic  loki  faith  belief  anthropology  hunting  geology  animals  folklore  folktales  precarity  life  living  myths 
december 2014 by robertogreco
Why Schools Can’t Teach Sex Ed in the Internet Age
"But school board members contend that 9th grade students have already been exposed to the contents of the book—and much, much more. They argue that even relatively modern sex ed has even not begun to reckon with what kids are now exposed to in person and online.

The singer Rihanna, for example, has legions of young fans. Her music video for the song “S&M”—viewed more than 57 million times on YouTube so far—shows the artist, pig-tied and writhing, cooing “chains and whips excite me.” It then cuts to her using a whip on men and women with mouths covered in duct tape.

“I think denying that [sex] is part of our culture in 2014 is really not serving our kids well,” says Lara Calvert-York, president of the Fremont school board, who argues that kids are already seeing hyper-sexualized content—on after school TV. “So, let’s have a frank conversation about what these things are if that’s what the kids need to talk about,” she says. “And let’s do it in classroom setting, with highly qualified, credentialed teachers, who know how to have those conversations. Because a lot of parents don’t know how to have that conversation when they’re sitting next to their kids and it comes up in a TV show. Everyone is feeling a little awkward.”

But the Fremont parents aren’t budging. “Any good parent monitors what their child has access to,” says Topham. “We don’t say, ‘they’re going to drink anyway, let’s give them a car with bigger airbags.’” The parents note that the book was actually written for college students, and refers to college-related activities like bar crawls. (While acknowledging this, the book’s author Sara L. C. Mackenzie, believes it’s appropriate for high schoolers; her children read it at 13.)

The book has been shelved, at least for this year. But the problem isn’t going away. The Fremont showdown is a local skirmish in what has become a complicated and exhausting battle that schools and parents are facing across the nation. How, when, and what to tell kids about sex today? TIME reviewed the leading research on the subject as well as currently available resources to produce the information that follows, as well as specific guides to how and when to talk to kids on individual topics."



"On paper, the United States is checking all the right boxes of managing teen sexual behavior. The national pregnancy rate is at a record low and it appears teens are waiting longer to have sex, and those that are sexually active are using birth control more than previous years. But these numbers only tell a tiny snippet of the story.

“Sex education in the U.S. has only gotten worse,” says Victor Strasburger, an adolescent medicine expert and distinguished professor of pediatrics at the University of New Mexico School of Medicine. “Most of the time they don’t talk about contraception, they don’t talk about risk of pregnancy, STIs [sexually transmitted infections]—certainly not abortion. At some point you would think adults would come to their senses and say hey we have to counteract this.”

Strasburger says the U.S. shouldn’t base success on its teen pregnancy numbers: “Everyone else’s teen pregnancy rate has gone down too. Before we pat ourselves on the back, we should acknowledge that we still have the highest rate in the Western World.”

Not only does sex education still virtually not exist in some areas of the country, but school programs that do teach kids about what used to be called the facts of life start too late. A recent CDC study showed that among teens ages 15-17 who have had sex, nearly 80% did not receive any formal sex education before they lost their virginity. Or, if they did, it was only to discourage them from being sexually active. “Parents and legislators fail to understand that although they may favor abstinence-only sex education (despite the lack of any evidence of its effectiveness), the media are decidedly not abstinence only,” reads a 2010 American Academy of Pediatrics policy statement.

“I had sex with my older boyfriend at 16,” says Ashley Jones, 22, a young Georgia woman. “Suddenly my dad wanted to talk about the birds and the bees. I was like, what? It’s too late!” (The Kinsey institute puts the average age that kids have first have sex at 16.9 for boys and 17.4 for girls.)

Current sex education, where it does exist, often teaches the basic plumbing, but it’s not answering the questions young people really have when it comes to sexuality: What should I do when my girlfriend/boyfriend is pressuring me to have sex? What on earth was happening in that video I probably shouldn’t have clicked online? What do I do when my best friend tells me they’re gay—or I think I am?

School-wide sex education largely ignores gay men and women. “I think the Internet is one of the most commonly used sources for young LGBT folks to gain information,” says Adrian Nava, 19, who says his question about same sex relationships in his Colorado high school sex ed class that was shot down by the teacher. “In some ways it’s great because online forums tend to be supportive and positive. But there’s so much misinformation that reinforces negative feelings.”

Sex ed courses tends to hyper-focus on the girls. “Girls are the ones who have babies,” says Victoria Jennings, director of the Institute for Reproductive Health at Georgetown University, whose research has shown there are globally more programs developed to help young girls navigate their sexuality than to help boys. Given the fact that recent CDC literature shows 43.9% of women have experienced some form of unwanted sexual violence that was not rape, and 23.4% of men have experienced the same, public health experts agree both sexes need education on appropriate behavior.

It doesn’t help that the two groups are getting quite different messages. “The way we talk to boys is antiquated and stereotypical,” says Rosalind Wiseman, educator and author of Queen Bees and Wannabes, about teen girls and Masterminds and Wingmen, on boys. “There’s an assumption that they’re insensitive, sex-crazed, hormone-crazed. It’s no surprise that so many boys disengage from so many conversations about sex ed.”

We teach girls how to protect themselves, adds Wiseman, and their rights to say yes and no to sexual behaviors. But we don’t teach boys the complexities of these situations or that they’re a part of the conversation. “We talk to them in sound bites: ‘no means no.’ Well, of course it does, but it’s really confusing when you’re a 15-year-old boy and you’re interacting with girls that are trying out their sexuality,” she adds. Data show that boys are less likely than girls to talk to their parents about birth control or “how to say no to sex,” and 46% of sexually experienced teen boys do not receive formal instruction about contraception before they first have sex compared to 33% of teen girls.

Yet completely reshaping the sex education landscape is currently almost impossible, not just because of disagreements like the one in Fremont, but because schools lack resources. There’s historically large funding for abstinence-only education, but supporters of comprehensive sex education—which deals with contraception, sexually transmitted diseases and relationships—face significant logistical and financial barriers."
sexed  children  adolescence  media  teens  behavior  sexuality  trust  2014  alexandrasifferlin  controversy  pressure  relationships  emilyweinstein  victorstrasburger  socialmedia  sexting  parenting  myths  pornography  education  policy  politics  curriculum  sex 
november 2014 by robertogreco
Amazon.com: The Myth of Continents: A Critique of Metageography (9780520207431): Martin W. Lewis, Kären Wigen: Books
"In this thoughtful and engaging critique, geographer Martin W. Lewis and historian Kären Wigen reexamine the basic geographical divisions we take for granted, and challenge the unconscious spatial frameworks that govern the way we perceive the world. Arguing that notions of East vs. West, First World vs. Third World, and even the sevenfold continental system are simplistic and misconceived, the authors trace the history of such misconceptions. Their up-to-the-minute study reflects both on the global scale and its relation to the specific continents of Europe, Asia, and Africa—actually part of one contiguous landmass.

The Myth of Continents sheds new light on how our metageographical assumptions grew out of cultural concepts: how the first continental divisions developed from classical times; how the Urals became the division between the so-called continents of Europe and Asia; how countries like Pakistan and Afghanistan recently shifted macroregions in the general consciousness.

This extremely readable and thought-provoking analysis also explores the ways that new economic regions, the end of the cold war, and the proliferation of communication technologies change our understanding of the world. It stimulates thinking about the role of large-scale spatial constructs as driving forces behind particular worldviews and encourages everyone to take a more thoughtful, geographically informed approach to the task of describing and interpreting the human diversity of the planet."

[via: https://twitter.com/publichistorian/status/516316481605218304 ]
books  toread  via:publichistorian  continents  geography  martinlewis  kärenwigen  misconceptions  myths  landmasses 
september 2014 by robertogreco
STEM Graduates Can't Find Jobs - US News
"All credible research finds the same evidence about the STEM workforce: ample supply, stagnant wages and, by industry accounts, thousands of applicants for any advertised job. The real concern should be about the dim employment prospects for our best STEM graduates: The National Institutes of Health, for example, has developed a program to help new biomedical Ph.D.s find alternative careers in the face of “unattractive” job prospects in the field. Opportunities for engineers vary by the field and economic cycle – as oil exploration has increased, so has demand (and salaries) for petroleum engineers, resulting in a near tripling of petroleum engineering graduates. In contrast, average wages in the IT industry are the same as those that prevailed when Bill Clinton was president despite industry cries of a “shortage.” Overall, U.S. colleges produce twice the number of STEM graduates annually as find jobs in those fields.

In the face of these stark facts, we now see several studies that seem to be desperate Hail Mary passes, using rather unconventional means to find “shortages.” Some analysts do this by expanding the definition of STEM jobs – traditionally those involved in innovation, discovery and development – to include air conditioning technicians and even some retail jobs to make the case that this workforce is large and growing. Without any coherent meaning, such analyses now serve only rhetorical purposes to advance particular legislation.

Cries that “the STEM sky is falling” are just the latest in a cyclical pattern of shortage predictions over the past half-century, none of which were even remotely accurate. In a desert of evidence, the growth of STEM shortage claims is driven by heavy industry funding for lobbyists and think tanks. Their goal is government intervention in the market under the guise of solving national economic problems. The highly profitable IT industry, for example, is devoting millions to convince Congress and the White House to provide its employers with more low-cost, foreign guestworkers instead of trying to attract and retain employees from an ample domestic labor pool of native and immigrant citizens and permanent residents. Guestworkers currently make up two-thirds of all new IT hires, but employers are demanding further increases. If such lobbying efforts succeed, firms will have enough guestworkers for at least 100 percent of their new hiring and can continue to legally substitute these younger workers for current employees, holding down wages for both them and new hires.

Claiming there is a skills shortage by denying the strength of the U.S. STEM workforce and student supply is possible only by ignoring the most obvious and direct evidence and obscuring the issue with statistical smokescreens – especially when the Census Bureau reports that only about one in four STEM bachelor’s degree holders has a STEM job, and Microsoft plans to downsize by 18,000 workers over the next year.

Educational and skills improvement is needed for low-income and low-skilled workers, but these problems are masked by cries of shortages or “mismatches” based on unsubstantiated claims about employees or students with the “wrong skills.” Such polemics divert attention away from the true clear-and-present danger to our STEM system – namely, debased STEM jobs that discourage domestic students and workers from pursuing STEM careers. In doing so, the ultimate outcome will be a nation weakened by the outsourcing of its core competencies."
stem  myths  jobs  employment  visas  corporatism  salaries  2014  guestworkers  labor  economics  shortage 
september 2014 by robertogreco
Mythical Icelandic Creatures: Skoffín | Iceland, Defrosted
"Over the next few weeks, I wanted to feature a series of mythical (or are they?) Icelandic creatures. I was inspired by a visit to the Sea-Monster Museum in Bíldudalur a couple of years ago. Since then, I’ve kept an eye open for anything on the folklore and legends of Iceland’s strangest beasts. If you have any further information on them, or I’ve made an error with your favourite oddball animal, please just let me know!

Are we ready? Then I shall begin. With the Skoffín. The Skoffín is the fierce, dreaded offspring of an Arctic Fox mating with a female cat. The other option (male cat, and vixen) would produce a Skuggabaldur; a different beast altogether.

Skoffín are partially hairless, with formidable teeth and claws.

Skoffín are supposedly able to kill humans simply by looking directly into their eyes. I have met girls able to do something similar. Anyway, avert your gaze if you come across a Skoffín.
A newborn Skoffín is likely to disappear quickly, and may not return to their place of birth for up to three years, when they will feast on any nearby animal.

Most Skoffín are killed before they get to maturity, but if they do reach adulthood, killing them is not so easy. You’ll need some silver bullets, or the potentially risky strategy of using another Skoffín against the one you are trying to dispose of, in a kind of fatal staring competition. Steer clear of the Skoffín, I say."

[See also: http://www.allbordercollies.com/forums/index.php?page=Thread&threadID=4193 ]

[More creatures: http://griffinworldgeo.edublogs.org/2013/12/08/icelandic-mythical-creatures/
http://forteanzoology.blogspot.com/2009/04/g.html
http://imagehost.vendio.com/a/35092550/view/Iceland.2010.Creatures.SS.jpg
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=irRk4mKYH08
http://icelandreview.com/news/2008/07/18/meet-icelands-monstershttp://books.google.com/books/about/Meeting_with_Monsters.html?id=P65WcgAACAAJ http://www.fauna.is/pagee.asp?lysing=publications

http://grapevine.is/mag/articles/2008/09/26/more-monsters-and-mythical-beings-thorgeirsboli/
http://grapevine.is/mag/column-opinion/2008/10/10/more-monsters-and-mythical-beings-miklabaejar-solveig/http://grapevine.is/mag/articles/2008/09/03/more-monsters-and-mythical-beings-skoffin/
http://grapevine.is/mag/articles/2008/09/12/more-monsters-and-mythical-beings-utburdur/
http://grapevine.is/mag/feature/2009/02/13/monsters-and-mythical-beings-tilberi/
http://grapevine.is/mag/articles/2008/07/29/hugleikurandmonsters/
http://grapevine.is/mag/articles/2009/04/03/monsters-and-mythical-beings-nabuxur/
http://grapevine.is/mag/articles/2009/05/08/monsters-and-mythical-beings-gryla/
http://grapevine.is/mag/column-opinion/2008/11/06/monsters-and-mythical-beings-the-worm-of-lagarfljot/
http://grapevine.is/culture/art/2008/12/10/the-christmas-cat/http://grapevine.is/mag/articles/2009/01/12/monsters-and-mythical-beings-x-the-hidden-people-as-depicted-by-hugleikur-dagsson/
http://grapevine.is/travel/traveling-on-your-own/2008/05/09/chasing-monsters-in-east-iceland/

http://grapevine.is/travel/traveling-on-your-own/2011/06/24/you-will-believe-in-bildudalur-visiting-the-sea-monster-museum/
http://www.skrimsli.is/

http://galdrasyning.is/ ]

[from http://stamps.postur.is/en/desktopdefault.aspx/tabid-387/523_read-2648/522_view-590/

"Icelandic legends abound with tales of strange creatures on land, in air and sea. There is an entire genre of legends involving “beings in lochs and sea”. Skoffin is said to be the offspring of a cat and a fox. Beachwalker, a creature of the sea, posed danger to sheep in the mating season. Shellmonster was a multilegged creature, rusty brown and hairy, which made a rattling sound when it moves. There was the poisonous Reverse-Fin Trout with all fins turning forward instead of backward. Iceland Post has issued a sheet with ten stamps featuring an artist’s conception of some of these creatures. Among them are the Horse-Whale, the Ghoul Cat, Sea Cattle, Seal Mother, Mouse-Whale and Red-Crest. A recently published book, “Meeting with Monsters” covers the best known of these legendary creatures. The book is available in Icelandic and English and can be ordered from Postphil Iceland." ]
iceland  myths  mythology  animals  monsters  skoffín  skuggabaldur 
july 2014 by robertogreco
skuggabaldur - Wiktionary
"skuggabaldur m (genitive singular skuggabaldurs, nominative plural skuggabaldrar)

1. (mythological creature, mythology) a creature from Icelandic folk belief who is the offspring of a tomcat (a male cat) and a vixen (female fox) or a bitch (female dog)

2. an evil spirit

3. an evildoer who anonymously commits outrages or evil deeds; a sneak"
myths  iceland  animals  mythology  monsters  skuggabaldur  skoffín 
july 2014 by robertogreco
Wendell Berry: Letter to Wes Jackson… | UKIAH BLOG
"From WENDELL BERRY
Home Economics (1982)

[This evening, August 3rd, will be our second First Friday of Neighbors Reading at Mulligan Books downtown Ukiah, 6-7pm. We share favorite passages from favorite books around topics of community, transition, resilience, or anything else, as part of the second semester of Mendo Free Skool. We video the readings for Community TV and invite your participation. I will be reading from one of my favorite authors, Wendell Berry... passages from an essay The Family Farm, from his book Home Economics. What follows is the opening essay from that book... -DS]

Dear Wes,

I want to try to complete the thought about “randomness” that I was working on when we talked the other day.

The Hans Jenny paragraph that started me off is the last one on page twenty-one of The Soil Resource:
Raindrops that pass in random fashion through an imaginary plane above the forest canopy are intercepted by leaves and twigs and channeled into distinctive vert space patterns of through-drip, crown-drip, and stem flow. The soil surface, as receiver, transmits the “rain message” downward, but as the subsoils lack a power source to mold a flow design, the water tends to leave the ecosystem as it entered it, in randomized fashion.

My question is: Does “random” in this (or any) context describe a verifiable condition or a limit of perception?

My answer is: It describes a limit of perception. This is, of course, not a scientist’s answer, but it may be that anybody’s answer would be unscientific. My answer is based on the belief that pattern is verifiable by limited information, whereas the information required to verify randomness is unlimited. As I think you said when we talked, what is perceived as random within a given limit may be seen as part of a pattern within a wider limit.

If this is so then Dr. Jenny, for accuracy’s sake, should have said that rainwater moves from mystery through pattern back into mystery.

If “mystery” is a necessary (that is, honest) term in such a description, then the modern scientific program has not altered the ancient perception of the human condition a jot. If, in using the word “random,” scientists only mean “random so far as we can tell,” then we are back at about the Book of Job. Some truth meets the eye; some does not. We are up against mystery. To call this mystery “randomness” or “chance” or a “fluke” is to take charge of it on behalf of those who do not respect pattern. To call the unknown “random” is to plant the flag by which to colonize and exploit the known. (A result that our friend Dr. Jenny, of course, did not propose and would not condone.)

To call the unknown by its right name, “mystery,” is to suggest that we had better respect the possibility of a larger, unseen pattern that can be damaged or destroyed and, with it, the smaller patterns.

This respecting of mystery obviously has something or other to do with religion, and we moderns have defended ourselves against it by turning it over to religion specialists, who take advantage of our indifference by claiming to know a lot about it.

What impresses me about it, however is the insistent practicality implicit in it. If we are up against mystery, then we dare act only on the most modest assumptions. The modern scientific program has held that we must act on the basis of knowledge, which, because its effects are so manifestly large, we have assumed to be ample. But if we are up against mystery, then knowledge is relatively small, and the ancient program is the right one: Act on the basis of ignorance. Acting on the basis of ignorance, paradoxically, requires one to know things, remember things— for instance, that failure is possible, that error is possible, that second chances are desirable (so don’t risk everything on the first chance), and so on.

What I think you and I and a few others are working on is a definition of agriculture as up against mystery and ignorance-based. I think we think that this is its necessary definition, just as I think we think that several kinds of ruin are the necessary result of an agriculture defined as knowledge-based and up against randomness. Such an agriculture conforms exactly to what the ancient program, or programs, understood as evil or hubris. Both the Greeks and the Hebrews told us to watch out for humans who assume that they make all the patterns."

[via Charlie's newsletter 6, 5 http://tinyletter.com/vruba/letters/6-5-hills ]
wendellberry  via:vruba  1982  mystery  science  random  patterns  patternsensing  zoominginandout  religion  belief  myth  myths  information  perspective  perception  modernism  indifference  ignorance  local  global  knowledge 
march 2014 by robertogreco
Reaching My Autistic Son Through Disney - NYTimes.com
[Don't read this here, go read the entire article.]
[Update (20 Sept 2014): Now Radio Lab has done a story. http://www.radiolab.org/story/juicervose/ ]

"Owen’s chosen affinity clearly opened a window to myth, fable and legend that Disney lifted and retooled, just as the Grimm Brothers did, from a vast repository of folklore. Countless cultures have told versions of “Beauty and the Beast,” which dates back 2,000 years to the Latin “Cupid and Psyche” and certainly beyond that. These are stories human beings have always told themselves to make their way in the world.

But what draws kids like Owen to these movies is something even more elemental. Walt Disney told his early animators that the characters and the scenes should be so vivid and clear that they could be understood with the sound turned off. Inadvertently, this creates a dream portal for those who struggle with auditory processing, especially, in recent decades, when the films can be rewound and replayed many times.

The latest research that Cornelia and I came across seems to show that a feature of autism is a lack of traditional habituation, or the way we become used to things. Typically, people sort various inputs, keep or discard them and then store those they keep. Our brains thus become accustomed to the familiar. After the third viewing of a good movie, or a 10th viewing of a real favorite, you’ve had your fill. Many autistic people, though, can watch that favorite a hundred times and seemingly feel the same sensations as the first time. While they are soothed by the repetition, they may also be looking for new details and patterns in each viewing, so-called hypersystemizing, a theory that asserts that the repetitive urge underlies special abilities for some of those on the spectrum.

Disney provided raw material, publicly available and ubiquitous, that Owen, with our help, built into a language and a tool kit. I’m sure, with enough creativity and energy, this can be done with any number of interests and disciplines. For some kids, their affinity is for train schedules; for others, it’s maps. While our household may not be typical, with a pair of writerly parents and a fixation on stories — all of which may have accentuated and amplified Owen’s native inclinations — we have no doubt that he shares a basic neurological architecture with people on the autism spectrum everywhere.

The challenge is how to make our example useful to other families and other kids, whatever their burning interest. That’s what Team Owen seems to be talking about. How does this work? Is there a methodology? Can it be translated from anecdote to analysis and be helpful to others in need?"



"The room gets quiet. It’s clear that many of these students have rarely, if ever, had their passion for Disney treated as something serious and meaningful.

One young woman talks about how her gentle nature, something that leaves her vulnerable, is a great strength in how she handles rescue dogs. Another mentions “my brain, because it can take me on adventures of imagination.”

A young man, speaking in a very routinized way with speech patterns that closely match the “Rain Man” characterization of autism, asks me the date of my birth. I tell him, and his eyes flicker. “That was a Friday.”

When I ask the group which Disney character they most identify with, the same student, now enlivened, says Pinocchio and eventually explains, “I feel like a wooden boy, and I’ve always dreamed of feeling what real boys feel.” The dorm counselor, who told me ahead of time that this student has disciplinary issues and an unreachable emotional core, then compliments him — “That was beautiful,” she says — and looks at me with astonishment. I shrug. He’d already bonded in a soul-searching way with his character. I just asked him which one.

It goes on this way for an hour. Like a broken dam. The students, many of whom have very modest expressive speech, summon subtle and deeply moving truths.

There’s a reason — a good-enough reason — that each autistic person has embraced a particular interest. Find that reason, and you will find them, hiding in there, and maybe get a glimpse of their underlying capacities. In our experience, we found that showing authentic interest will help them feel dignity and impel them to show you more, complete with maps and navigational tools that may help to guide their development, their growth. Revealed capability, in turn, may lead to a better understanding of what’s possible in the lives of many people who are challenged."



"For nearly a decade, Owen has been coming to see Griffin in this basement office, trying to decipher the subtle patterns of how people grow close to one another. That desire to connect has always been there as, the latest research indicates, it may be in all autistic people; their neurological barriers don’t kill the desire, even if it’s deeply submerged. And this is the way he still is — autism isn’t a spell that has been broken; it’s a way of being. That means the world will continue to be inhospitable to him, walking about, as he does, uncertain, missing cues, his heart exposed. But he has desperately wanted to connect, to feel his life, fully, and — using his movies and the improvised tool kit we helped him build — he’s finding his footing. For so many years, it was about us finding him, a search joined by Griffin and others. Now it was about him finding himself.

“Owen, my good friend,” Griffin says, his eyes glistening, “it’s fair to say, you’re on your way.”

Owen stands up, that little curly-haired boy now a man, almost Griffin’s height, and smiles, a knowing smile of self-awareness.

“Thank you, Rafiki,” Owen says to Griffin. “For everything.”

“Is friendship forever?” Owen asks me.

“Yes, Owen, it often is.”

“But not always.”

“No, not always.”

It’s later that night, and we’re driving down Connecticut Avenue after seeing the latest from Disney (and Pixar), “Brave.” I think I understand now, from a deeper place, how Owen, and some of his Disney Club friends, use the movies and why it feels so improbable. Most of us grow from a different direction, starting as utterly experiential, sorting through the blooming and buzzing confusion to learn this feels good, that not so much, this works, that doesn’t, as we gradually form a set of rules that we live by, with moral judgments at the peak.

Owen, with his reliance from an early age on myth and fable, each carrying the clarity of black and white, good and evil, inverts this pyramid. He starts with the moral — beauty lies within, be true to yourself, love conquers all — and tests them in a world colored by shades of gray. It’s the sidekicks who help him navigate that eternal debate, as they often do for the heroes in their movies.

“I know love lasts forever!” Owen says after a few minutes.

We’re approaching Chevy Chase Circle, five minutes from where we live. I know I need to touch, gently, upon the notion that making friends or finding love entails risk. There’s no guarantee of forever. There may be heartbreak. But we do it anyway. I drop this bitter morsel into the mix, folding around it an affirmation that he took a risk when he went to an unfamiliar place on Cape Cod, far from his friends and home, and found love. The lesson, I begin, is “to never be afraid to reach out.”

He cuts me off. “I know, I know,” he says, and then summons a voice for support. It’s Laverne, the gargoyle from “The Hunchback of Notre Dame.”

“Quasi,” he says. “Take it from an old spectator. Life’s not a spectator sport. If watchin’s all you’re gonna do, then you’re gonna watch your life go by without you.”

He giggles under his breath, then does a little shoulder roll, something he does when a jolt of emotion runs through him. “You know, they’re not like the other sidekicks.”

He has jumped ahead of me again. I scramble. “No? How?”

“All the other sidekicks live within their movies as characters, walk around, do things. The gargoyles only live when Quasimodo is alone with them.”

“And why’s that?”

“Because he breathes life into them. They only live in his imagination.”

Everything goes still. “What’s that mean, buddy?”

He purses his lips and smiles, chin out, as if he got caught in a game of chess. But maybe he wanted to. “It means the answers are inside of him,” he says.

“Then why did he need the gargoyles?”

“He needed to breathe life into them so he could talk to himself. It’s the only way he could find out who he was.”

“You know anyone else like that?”

“Me.” He laughs a sweet, little laugh, soft and deep. And then there’s a long pause.

“But it can get so lonely, talking to yourself,” my son Owen finally says. “You have to live in the world.”"
autism  learning  parenting  comics  disney  health  movies  communication  fables  myths  legends  morals  ablerism  capabilities  abilities  differentlyabled  capacities  howwelearn  howweteach  neurotypical  psychology  dignity  interestedness  connection  love  howwelove  friednship  teaching  listening  folklore  via:timmaly  ronsuskind  interested 
march 2014 by robertogreco
Shocking Truth About Piranhas Revealed! - NYTimes.com
"This is an awful lot of hype for piranhas to live up to, and predictably, they disappoint. To test the colorful mythology of the ferocious piranha, I once climbed into a tank of hungry red-bellied piranhas at the Dallas World Aquarium. (They fled to the opposite corner.) In the Peruvian Amazon, I stood waist-deep in the Rio Napo while catching and releasing piranhas on a hook-and-line. (The nibbles were strictly of the usual kind.) In the flooded grasslands of Venezuela, I drove around tossing a chicken carcass into various bodies of water to time how long it took for the flesh-maddened swarms to strip it to feathers. (There was enough chicken left at the end of the day to feed a family of four.)

The point of this exercise, recounted in my book “Swimming With Piranhas at Feeding Time,” was that piranhas do that swarming, blood-crazed, flesh-ripping thing only in a couple of rare circumstances, both involving a highly concentrated food source: They will swarm around bird rookeries, where the fledglings leaving the nest often tumble straight down into the water. And they’ll do it around docks where fishermen clean their catch and heave the guts into the water.

Otherwise, you can swim without fear."
animals  fish  myths  piranhas  nature  2014 
january 2014 by robertogreco
I'm an atheist so why am I a committed Quaker? – Nat Case – Aeon
"I contradict myself. I am an atheist and committed Quaker. Does it matter what I believe, when I recognise that religion is something I need?"



"If you are really going to be part of a community, just showing up for the main meal is not enough: you need to help cook and clean up. So it has been with me and the Quakers: I’m concerned with how my community works, and so I’ve served on committees (Quakerism is all about committees). There’s pastoral care to accomplish, a building to maintain, First-Day School (Quakerese for Sunday School) to organise. And there’s the matter of how we as a religious community will bring our witness into the world. Perhaps this language sounds odd coming from a non-theist, but as I hope I’ve shown, I’m not a non-theist first. I’ve been involved in prison visiting, and have been struck at the variety of religious attitudes among volunteers: some for whom the visiting is in itself ministry, and others for whom it’s simply social action towards justice (the programme grew out of visiting conscientious objectors in the Vietnam era). The point is: theological differences are not necessarily an issue when there’s work to be done."



"How can we do that? How can I do that? Submitting to something I am pretty sure doesn’t exist? How can I bow down to a fiction? I did it all the time as a child. Open the cover of the book, and I’m in that world. If I’m lucky, and the book is good enough, some of that world comes with me out into the world of atoms and weather, taxes and death. It’s a story, and sometimes stories are stronger than stuff.

Maybe part of the trick is realising that it doesn’t have to be just my little bubble of fiction. I can read a novel, or I can go gaming into the evening with friends. I can watch a ballet on a darkened stage, or I can roar along to my favourite band in the mosh pit. I hated school dances with a passion, yet I have been a morris dancer for 23 years now: I just had to find the form that was a right fit. I don’t pray aloud, or with prescribed formulas. But I can ask Whatever-There-Is a question, or ask for help from the universe, or say thank you. And now that I’m in a place with a better fit, sometimes I get answers back. And so there I am, a confirmed skeptic, praying in a congregation."



"A year and a half ago, our family began worshipping with a smaller Conservative Friends group. Conservative Friends are socially and theologically liberal but stricter in adhering to older Quaker practices. The group uses the Montessori-based Godly Play curriculum for the children: it’s all about stories. Every session begins with a quieting and a focusing. The leader tells a story from the Bible or from the Quaker story book. Then ‘wondering’ questions are asked that spur the children to reflect on what’s going on, and what they would do in the same situation.

I wish I’d had this great programme as a child. The teacher is a good storyteller who clearly loves the kids, and they love the stories and the time with their friends. To me, it’s such an improvement on school-style lessons. It says: this is a different kind of knowing and learning — this is not about facts and theories you need to learn, but about the stories we want to become part of your life.

I love facts and theories, the stuff of the world. I spend most of my life wrestling and dancing with all this amazing matter. As the Australian comic Tim Minchin says in his rant-poem ‘Storm’ (2008): ‘Isn’t this enough? Just this world? Just this beautiful, complex, wonderfully unfathomable world?’ And yes, it’s enough. We don’t need to tell lies about the real world in order to make it magical. But we do still need impossible magic for our own irrational selves. At any rate, I do.

Because I don’t feel stuff-and-logic-based explanations deep down in my toes. There are no miracle stories of flying children there, or brothers reborn into the land where the sagas come from. The language of ‘stuff is all there is’ tells me that I can — even ought to — be rational and sensible, but it doesn’t make me want to be. ‘Atheism’ tells me what I am not, and I yearn to know what I am. What I am has a spine, it’s a thing I must be true to, because otherwise it evaporates into the air, dirt and water of the hard world.

Maybe I — we — need to start small, rebuilding gods that we talk to, and who talk back. Or just one whom we can plausibly imagine, our invisible friend. Maybe part of our problem is that we don’t actually want to talk to the voice of Everything, because Everything has gotten so unfathomably huge. George Fox, the founder of Quakerism, didn’t have to think about light years, let alone billions of light years. The stars now are too far away to be our friends or speak to us in our need. Maybe we could talk to a god whom we imagined in our house. Maybe we could ask what is wanted, and hear what is needed. Maybe that god would tell us not to tramp over the earth in armies, pretending we are bigger than we are, and that dying is OK, because it’s just something that happens when your life is over. Maybe we would ask for help and comfort from unexpected places, and often enough receive it and be thankful for it.

Maybe we need to name that little god something other than God, because maybe our God has a boss who has a boss whose boss runs the universe. Maybe we name this god Ethel, or Larry, or Murgatroyd. Maybe there is no god but God... or maybe there just is no God. And maybe it doesn’t matter. Maybe we just tell stories that ring true to us and say up-front that we know they are fiction. We can let people love these stories or hate them. Maybe imagining impossible things — such as flying, the land where sagas come from, God — is what is needed. Maybe we don’t need the gods to be real. Maybe all we need is to trust more leaps of the imagination."
philosophy  quakers  atheism  2013  natcase  religion  belief  literature  fiction  skepticism  stories  storytelling  listening  learning  life  magic  wonder  truth  logic  trust  imagination  community  committees  myth  myths  josephcampbell  robert  barclay  via:jenlowe  everyday  quaker 
august 2013 by robertogreco
Paris Review - The Art of Poetry No. 91, Jack Gilbert
"He failed out of high school and worked as an exterminator and door-to-door salesman before being admitted, thanks to a clerical error, to the University of Pittsburgh. There he met the poet Gerald Stern, his exact contemporary. Gilbert started writing poetry, he says, because Stern did."



'INTERVIEWER: Do you think it’s important for American writers to live abroad?

GILBERT: At least at some point—so you have something to compare to what you think is normal, and you encounter things you aren’t used to. One of the great dangers is familiarity."



"INTERVIEWER: Did being removed from the literary community benefit you?

GILBERT: Sure.

INTERVIEWER: What did you like most about it?

GILBERT: Paying attention to being alive. This is hard—when I try to explain, it sounds false. But I don’t know any other way to say it. I’m so grateful. There’s nothing I’ve wanted that I haven’t had. Michiko dying, I regret terribly, and losing Linda’s love, I regret equally. And not doing some of the things I wanted to do. But I still feel grateful. It’s almost unfair to have been as happy as I’ve been. I didn’t earn it; I had a lot of luck. But I was also very, very stubborn. I was determined to get what I wanted as a life.

INTERVIEWER: Do you think that your idea of happiness differs from most people’s idea of happiness?

GILBERT: Sure. I’m vain enough to think that I’ve made a successful life. I’ve had everything I’ve ever wanted. You can’t beat that."



"INTERVIEWER: Did school influence you as a young writer?

GILBERT: No, I failed high school; I got into college by mistake. I failed freshman English eight times. I was interested in learning, but I wanted to understand too, which meant I was fighting with the teachers all the time. Everybody accepted the fact that I was smart but I wouldn’t obey. I didn’t believe what they said unless they could prove it.

INTERVIEWER: Was your defiance—your resistance—ultimately an advantage?

GILBERT: Yes and no. It takes much longer if you have to find it all and do it all for yourself. My mind was not available for the impress of teachers or other people’s styles. The other arts were important to me. At one time I was working in photography with Ansel Adams. He offered to help me with my photographs if I would help him write his books, which was fine until we ran short of money and the woman I was with finally said she was tired of cooking pancakes.

INTERVIEWER: How did you get involved with Ansel Adams?

GILBERT: I was teaching a class and some of his students got to know me. I wish I’d been able to continue working with him, but it was either him or the woman. I chose the woman. After that I went to Italy and everything went into my falling in love for the first time. I did some painting there and won a fourth prize. I wish I had continued with painting and photography—novels too. But I was excited.

INTERVIEWER: What was Ansel Adams like?

GILBERT: Very German.

INTERVIEWER: Have you ever looked to other writers for inspiration?

GILBERT: I liked many writers but never found a teacher."



"INTERVIEWER: Do you think this has anything to do with the fact that so many poets come out of M.F.A. programs and go right on to teach?

GILBERT: If I answer that I’ll get into a rant, but I’ll tell you—I think poetry was killed by money. When I started out, no poet in America could make a living in poetry except Ogden Nash. And he did it with light verse."



INTERVIEWER: You taught in universities very rarely, only when you had to—just enough so that you could travel and write. Do you think writing poetry can be taught?

GILBERT: I can teach people how to write poetry, but I can’t teach people how to have poetry, which is more than just technique. You have to feel it—to experience it, whether in a daze or brightly. Often you don’t know what you have. I once worked on a poem for twelve years before I found it."



"INTERVIEWER: What, other than yourself, is the subject of your poems?

GILBERT: Those I love. Being. Living my life without being diverted into things that people so often get diverted into. Being alive is so extraordinary I don’t know why people limit it to riches, pride, security—all of those things life is built on. People miss so much because they want money and comfort and pride, a house and a job to pay for the house. And they have to get a car. You can’t see anything from a car. It’s moving too fast. People take vacations. That’s their reward—the vacation. Why not the life? Vacations are second-rate. People deprive themselves of so much of their lives—until it’s too late. Though I understand that often you don’t have a choice."



"INTERVIEWER: It sounds like even in your San Francisco days you sustained a rather remote life away from others. Is solitude important for you?

GILBERT: I don’t know how to answer that because I’ve always lived a life with a lot of quiet in it—either alone or with someone I’m in love with."



"INTERVIEWER: Is being childless good for a poet?

GILBERT: I could never have lived my life the way I have if I had children. There used to be a saying that every baby is a failed novel. I couldn’t have roamed or taken so many chances or lived a life of deprivation. I couldn’t have wasted great chunks of my life. But that would be a mistake for other people. Fine people. Smart people."



"INTERVIEWER: Do you keep to a work schedule?

GILBERT: No, I have an approximate rhythm, but I don’t like the idea of anything creative being mechanical. That’ll kill you. On the other hand, if I was not satisfied with how much I’d written in a year, then I would set out to write a hundred poems in a hundred days. I force myself to write poems even though I don’t approve of it because it does keep something alive. So I guess I have a little bit of a pattern that I live by. For instance, the other day I woke up at one in the morning and worked until four in the afternoon. I do that a lot. I can do that because I don’t have to accommodate anybody but me.

INTERVIEWER: So discipline is important to you?

GILBERT: Yes, because I’m lazy. If you have it in you, you want to create, but I won’t force myself—because it’s dangerous. People who are organized are in danger of making a process out of it and doing it by the numbers."



"INTERVIEWER: What’s your relationship with the contemporary literary community now?

GILBERT: I don’t have one.

INTERVIEWER: Does that bother you?

GILBERT: No. Why? Why would it bother me? Those people are in business. They’re hardworking.

INTERVIEWER: Don’t you work hard?

GILBERT: Not in the same meaning of the word hard. I put in a lot of effort because it matters to me. Many of these people who teach would do anything not to teach. I don’t have any obligations. I don’t have a mortgage. These people are working hard at a great price.

INTERVIEWER: I’m struck by how rarely I see your poems in anthologies and how 
often I see the same poems by other poets over and over again. Do you think there’s a disadvantage to spending most of your life abroad or outside of literary circles?

GILBERT: It’s fatal, which is all right with me.

INTERVIEWER: Do you ever feel any professional antagonism toward other writers?

GILBERT: Them toward me or me toward them?

INTERVIEWER: You toward them.

GILBERT: No.

INTERVIEWER: Do you feel it from them toward you?

GILBERT: Sure. I contradict a lot of what they’re doing. I don’t go to the meetings and dinners. I don’t hang out."



"INTERVIEWER: Have you ever followed a particular religion?

GILBERT: Presbyterianism. Till I was about seven, I guess. My mother never went to church, but she was a believer. She loved God and believed God would be good to her. She sang when she cleaned the house on Sunday mornings.

INTERVIEWER: Do you consider yourself religious now?

GILBERT: I’d like to be. I think I’m very religious by temperament. I think it would be a great comfort to believe. But you don’t have a choice. Either you believe or you don’t. It’s not a practical matter. Religion is a beautiful idea, but I don’t have a choice.

INTERVIEWER: Where does your preoccupation with mythology and the gods come from?

GILBERT: Careless reading. I never read mythology or any fiction as if I were in a class. Myths give shape to what I feel about the world and my instinct about what I’m looking at. They inform what I think about the past."



"INTERVIEWER: Have you ever thought of writing your memoirs?

GILBERT: Yes. Every once in a while someone asks to do it for me. Sometimes I’m interested because I’ve forgotten so much of the past and I like the idea of walking through my life. What’s more, it’s a profound experience to be with people from my past again. To be with my memories. Things that I thought I’d forgotten all of a sudden become visible, become present.

INTERVIEWER: Like a film?

GILBERT: Different than that. It’s more like a feeling rising from the tops of my knees. Then I start remembering. It’s complicated; a child seldom remembers anything before he’s four years old. I just wonder how much I know, how much I’ve been through, that I no longer remember."



"INTERVIEWER: Does the United States—Northampton—feel like home to you now?

GILBERT: No, I don’t have a home. Not anymore. When Linda’s not teaching anymore we’ll probably leave this lovely Massachusetts world for another fine world. To be happy. Very happy."
jackgilbert  jackspicer  allenginsberg  anseladams  poems  poetry  writing  howwewrite  teaching  learning  dropouts  education  life  living  happiness  loneliness  solitude  quiet  love  children  parenting  community  purpose  experience  travel  livingabroad  expatriates  business  mfa  mfas  obligations  work  labor  howwework  relationships  inspiration  geraldstern  familiarity  difference  routine  process  success  photography  ogdennash  aging  death  organization  laziness  schedules  interviews  parisreview  nomads  nomadism  belonging  place  memory  memories  forgetting  religion  belief  myths  reading  howweread  mythology  sarahfay  idleness 
may 2013 by robertogreco
A Child’s Wild Kingdom - NYTimes.com
"Most parents won’t be surprised to learn that when a Purdue University child psychologist pulled a random sample of 100 children’s books, she found only 11 that did not have animals in them.

But what’s baffled me most nights at bedtime is how rarely the animals in these books even have anything to do with nature. Usually, they’re just arbitrary stand-ins for people, like the ungainly pig that yearns to be a figure skater, or the family of raccoons that bakes hamantaschen for the family of beavers at Purim. And once I tuned in to that — into the startling strangeness of how insistently our culture connects kids and wild creatures — all the animal paraphernalia in our house started to feel slightly insane. As Kieran Suckling, the executive director of the conservation group Center for Biological Diversity, pointed out to me, “Right when someone is learning to be human, we surround them with nonhumans.”"



"SCIENCE has some explanations to offer. Almost from birth, children seem drawn to other creatures all on their own. In studies, babies as young as 6 months try to get closer to, and provoke more physical contact with, actual dogs and cats than they do with battery-operated imitations.

Infants will smile more at a living rabbit than at a toy rabbit. Even 2-day-old babies have been shown to pay closer attention to “a dozen spotlights representing the joints and contours of a walking hen” than to a similar, randomly generated pattern of lights.

It all provides evidence for what the Harvard entomologist Edward O. Wilson calls “biophilia” — his theory that human beings are inherently attuned to other life-forms. It’s as though we have a deep well of attention set aside for animals, a powerful but uncategorized interest waiting to be channeled into more cogent feelings, like fascination or fear."



"Kids under the age of 6 especially “were found to be egocentric, domineering, and self-serving,” Dr. Kellert later wrote, summarizing the study. “Young children reveal little recognition or appreciation of the autonomous feelings and independence of animals” and “also express the greatest fear of the natural world.” It was the younger kids, not the 8th or 11th graders, who were more likely to believe that farmers should “kill all the foxes” if a particular fox ate their chickens; that it’s O.K. to slaughter animals for fur coats; that most wild animals are “dangerous to people”; and that all poisonous animals, like rattlesnakes, “should be gotten rid of.” It was the younger kids who were more likely to agree with the statement “It’s silly when people love animals as much as they love people,” whereas virtually none of the teenagers believed it was silly. Most second graders agreed with the statement “If they found oil where wild animals lived, we would have to get the oil, even if it harmed the animals.” Eleventh graders overwhelmingly did not."



"Ultimately, all these animals that we fill our children’s lives with — the frustrated goats who learn to compromise, the worried skunk who makes it through her first day of school, the teddy bear that needs to be hugged and tucked in — are also just proxies. They are useful, adorable props, props that we sense command our kids’ attention in some deep, biophilic way. And so we use them to teach our children basic lessons of kindness or self-possession or compassion — to show our kids what sort of animals we’d like them to grow up to be."
animals  children  human-animalrelations  storytelling  childrensbooks  childrensliterature  biophilia  eowilson  society  parenting  psychology  animalness  nature  myths  davidfoulkes  judithheerwagen  gordonorians  kieransuckling  southersalazar  2013  anthropomorphism  human-animalrelationships 
may 2013 by robertogreco
Nine Dangerous Things You Were Taught In School - Forbes
"1. The people in charge have all the answers…

2. Learning ends when you leave the classroom…

3. The best and brightest follow the rules. You will be rewarded for your subordination, just not as much as your superiors, who, of course, have their own rules.

4. What the books say is always true…

5. There is a very clear, single path to success…called college. Everyone can join the top 1% if they do well enough in school & ignore the basic math problem inherent in that idea.

6. Behaving yourself is as important as getting good marks.
Whistle-blowing, questioning the status quo, & thinking your own thoughts are no-nos. Be quiet & get back on the assembly line.

7. Standardized tests measure your value…

8. Days off are always more fun than sitting in the classroom.
You're trained from a young age to base your life around dribbles of allocated vacation…

9. The purpose of your education is your future career.
And so you will be taught to be a good worker…"
lcproject  statusquo  rules  conformity  2012  jessicahagy  schooliness  schools  success  hierarchy  information  standardizedtesting  grading  grades  subordination  myths  tcsnmy  education  deschooling  unschooling  from delicious
may 2012 by robertogreco
23 Things They Don't Tell You About Capitalism - YouTube
"Development economics expert Ha-Joon Chang dispels the myths and prejudices that have come to dominate our understanding of how the world works in a lecture at the RSA."
ideology  taxes  taxation  freemarkets  growth  regulation  trickledowneconomics  inequality  wealthcreation  financialcrisis  myths  via:chrisberthelsen  2010  economics  capitalism  ha-joonchang  from delicious
february 2012 by robertogreco
How Aerotropolis May Destroy Us Yet | varnelis.net
"One of the most annoying & pervasive myths pundits like to spout today is that living in cities is, de facto, greener.

All things is being equal, yes, it would be.

It disturbs me, however, that these same pundits spend jet around the globe much of the year, bragging about how many miles they've logged.

Check out Getting There Green, a fascinating report from the Union of Concerned Scientists that I came across in our research for rebuilding the Port Authority Bus Terminal. It turns out that plane travel is much, much worse for the environment. Try it out for yourself at the Terrapass Carbon Footprint Calculator. Alas, that calculator doesn't include first class travel, which pundits prefer, but if we can assume that one first class trip is equal to two coach trips (it may be worse than this), all it takes is 2 first class trips from NY to Europe to equal a year of carbon output from an SUV. 

Is there a surprise in Getting There Green? Yes, the bus is the greenest mode of travel."
buses  myths  gettingtheregreen  green  carbonfootprint  2012  kazysvarnelis  petpeeves  environment  sustainability  aerotropolis  hypocrisy  travel  from delicious
february 2012 by robertogreco
Freaky field guide: Tokyo's top 10 mythical beasts | CNNGo.com
"You won't find these bizarre creatures in any zoo, but they're watching over us all right"
myths  tokyo  japan  classideas  beasts  from delicious
september 2011 by robertogreco
Amazon.com: The Genealogy of Greek Mythology: An Illustrated Family Tree of Greek Myth from the First Gods to the Founders of Rome (9781592400133): Vanessa James: Books
"A stunning, fully illustrated and comprehensively annotated genealogical map of the universe of Greek myth, presented in a unique, easy-to-use format. <br />
From the television hit Xena, to the Oscar-winning box-office smash Gladiator and to Broadway's Medea, the sagas of antiquity continue to attract avid audiences. Now the lore and legend of Ancient Greece have been distilled into one spectacularly illustrated resource. The Genealogy of Greek Mythology brings to life the complete cast of characters, mortal and mythic alike. <br />
Accompanied by more than 125 captivating full-color photographs of art and artifacts, the narratives and bloodlines mapped out in The Genealogy of Greek Mythology are wonderfully user friendly. Beginning with Chaos-the period before the Earth was born-Vanessa James traces the succession of gods and titans through to the first generations of historically verifiable people of the ancient Aegean…"
books  toorder  classideas  greekmyths  greeks  myths  ancientgreece  genealogy  mythology  from delicious
august 2011 by robertogreco
Open University research explodes myth of 'digital native'
"So, in conclusion, first, there’s no evidence of a clear-cut digital divide. Use of technology varies with age, but it does so predictably, over the whole age span. And secondly, although younger people are more likely to be positive about technology, there is evidence that a good attitude to technology, at any age, correlates with good study habits."
digitalnatives  marcprensky  learning  technology  research  2011  digital  myths  truth  from delicious
august 2011 by robertogreco
steelweaver - Reality as failed state - tl;dr version (I like doing this)
"I believe part of the meta-problem is this: people no longer inhabit a single reality.

Collectively, there is no longer a single cultural arena of dialogue…

The point, for the climate denier, is not that the truth should be sought with open-minded sincerity – it is that he has declared the independence of his corner of reality from control by the overarching, techno-scientific consensus reality. He has withdrawn from the reality forced upon him & has retreated to a more comfortable, human-sized bubble.

…denier’s retreat from consensus reality approximates role of the cellular insurgents in Afghanistan vis-a-vis the American occupying force: this overarching behemoth I rebel against may well represent something larger, more free, more wealthy, more democratic, or more in touch with objective reality, but it has been imposed upon me…so I am going to withdraw from it into illogic, emotion & superstition & from there I am going to declare war upon it."
reality  climatechange  climatechangedeniers  alternatereality  philosophy  mind  conspiracy  afghanistan  dialogue  environment  environmentalism  2011  awareness  conviviality  sharedhumanpresence  change  division  staugustine  truth  politics  policy  voting  politicalprocess  conflict  control  freedom  agency  technocrats  science  scientists  consensus  intuition  intuitivethinking  thinking  myths  narrative  meaning  meaningmaking  understanding  psychology  birthers  teaparty  realityinsurgents  dialog  from delicious
july 2011 by robertogreco
Six Common Misperceptions about Teamwork - J. Richard Hackman - The Conversation - Harvard Business Review [Wish someone I knew could get #1, #2, #3, and #5 straightened out]
"Teamwork and collaboration are critical to mission achievement in any organization that has to respond quickly to changing circumstances. My research in the U.S. intelligence community has not only affirmed that idea but also surfaced a number of mistaken beliefs about teamwork that can sidetrack productive collaboration…

Misperception #1: Harmony helps. Smooth interaction among collaborators avoids time-wasting debates about how best to proceed… [A description of what actually is the case follows each]

Misperception #2: It's good to mix it up. New members bring energy and fresh ideas to a team…

Misperception #3: Bigger is better…

Misperception #4: Face-to-face interaction is passé…

Misperception #5: It all depends on the leader…

Misperception #6: Teamwork is magical."
collaboration  business  management  leadership  administration  tcsnmy  via:steelemaley  culture  teams  work  small  groups  harmony  disagreement  teamwork  consistency  time  meetings  productivity  problemsolving  classideas  lcproject  myths  from delicious
june 2011 by robertogreco
10 Myths About Introverts || CarlKingCreative.com || Los Angeles, CA
"Unfortunately, according to the book, only about 25% of people are Introverts. There are even fewer that are as extreme as I am. This leads to a lot of misunderstandings, since society doesn’t have very much experience with my people. (I love being able to say that.)

So here are a few common misconceptions about Introverts (I put this list together myself, some of them are things I actually believed):"
introverts  science  psychology  creativity  cv  myths  carlking  books  via:lukeneff  martilaney  extroverts  interaction  social  from delicious
may 2011 by robertogreco
The Myth of the Digital Native | Betchablog
"Prensky’s logic falls down for me when I see older folk - those who were clearly born before most people had even heard of a microchip - behave with just as much “native-ness” as many of their Gen-Y counterparts.  Many of the cleverest, most insightful technology users I’ve ever met are in their 40s, 50s and 60s, and should - according to Prensky - be speaking with an almost unrecognizable “digital accent”; and yet they don’t.  So I’m convinced that age has very little to do with it.  I’ve seen 80 years olds who can surf the web effectively, use a digital camera, carry their music around on an iPod and use a mobile phone.  And I’ve seen teenagers that can’t figure out how to Google a piece of information properly, don’t realise that Wikipedia can be edited, and have no idea how to listen to a podcast."
digitalnatives  technology  truth  edtech  marcprensky  myths  2009  via:cburell  ageism  usandthem  from delicious
april 2011 by robertogreco
conscious star stuff: Left Brain vs Right Brain and Other Myths About the Brain
"Last night I ran across Mercedes-Benz’s newest cool-yet-so-cringe-worthy ad campaign.  While the artwork itself is pretty damn awesome, the idea that our personalities and skills are a product of the prevalence of one hemisphere of our brain over another is rubbish. Another popular claim is the one that we only use 10% of our brains, while geniuses like Newton, Einstein, Michaelangelo and Da Vinci used much more.  Yes, this one is rubbish too."
mythbusting  neuroscience  brain  rightbrain  leftbrain  misconceptions  myths  imtiredofthistoo  learning  education  tcsnmy  classideas  advertising  from delicious
march 2011 by robertogreco
The Technium: Possibilians vs Agnostics
"Eagleman: "Our ignorance of the cosmos is too vast to commit to atheism, and yet we know too much to commit to a particular religion. A third position, agnosticism, is often an uninteresting stance in which a person simply questions whether his traditional religious story is true or not true. But with Possibilianism I'm hoping to define a new position -- one that emphasizes the exploration of new, unconsidered possibilities. Possibilianism is comfortable holding multiple ideas in mind; it is not interested in committing to any particular story."

…Agnostics end w/ lack of an answer. Possibilians begin w/ lack of an answer. Agnostics say, we can't decide between this & that. Possibilians say, there are other choices… Agnostics say, I Don't Know, it's impossible to answer that question. Possibilians say, I Don't Know, there must be better questions. Both start in humility, but agnosticism is bounded by our great ignorance, while possibilism is unbounded by our limited knowledge."
davideagleman  kevinkelly  uncertainty  possibility  possibilianism  religion  certainty  science  belief  agnosticism  atheism  doubt  curiosity  humility  skepticism  storytelling  criticalthinking  philosophy  ambiguity  hubble  ultradeepfield  ralphwaldoemerson  literature  myths  greekmyths  greeks  romans  creationstories  stories  from delicious
february 2011 by robertogreco
David Eagleman on Possibilianism on Vimeo
"Neuroscientist and best-selling author David Eagleman introduces the concept of Possibilianism, a new philosophy that simultaneously embraces a scientific toolbox while exploring new, unconsidered uncertainties about the world around us."
davideagleman  religion  atheism  agnosticism  possibilianism  philosophy  science  ambiguity  uncertainty  certainty  belief  curiosity  hubble  ultradeepfield  ralphwaldoemerson  literature  myths  greekmyths  greeks  romans  creationstories  storytelling  stories  possibility  doubt  humility  skepticism  criticalthinking  from delicious
february 2011 by robertogreco
Myths Related to Learning in Schools
"This chapter focuses on the intellectual stultification of learners, the first of three fundamental problems that limit the quality of thinking and efficacy of the educational experience. Students in increasingly lower grades and educators at increasingly earlier points in their careers lose their joy for their work. They become jaded by the limitations on their imaginations, frustrated by the questions they are not allowed to pursue, and depressed by the more experienced peers around them who seem uninterested in their ideas. Somewhere along the way, we—educators, parents, and students alike—decided that schooling was supposed to feel this way, that the drudgery of school was necessary in order for learning to happen. We are all culpable for perpetuating this reality."
unschooling  deschooling  schooliness  learning  schools  education  via:hrheingold  drudgery  pedagogy  teaching  lcproject  tcsnmy  criticalthinking  curiosity  engagement  boredom  coping  wastedtime  attention  homework  superficiality  myths  grades  grading  motivation  speed  slowlearning  slowness  slowpedagogy  slow  intelligence  pace  risk  riskaversion  treadmill  treadmilleducation  racetonowhere  sageonthestage  hierarchy  freedom  autonomy  burnout  creativity  curriculum  from delicious
december 2010 by robertogreco
Matthew Yglesias » Poor People Are Much Poorer Than You Think [via: http://scudmissile.tumblr.com/post/1230275595/abbyjean-actual-represents-the-actual]
"Via Tim Noah, a striking chart from Daniel Ariely and Michael I. Norton’s paper (PDF) “Building a Better America One Wealth Quintile at a Time”: [graph here]<br />
<br />
Actual represents the actual distribution of wealth. Estimated is what people think the distribution of wealth is. I agree with Noah that the methodology that generated the “ideal” numbers is a bit odd so I’ll ignore it.<br />
<br />
Both Noah and Ariely & Norton focus on what this shows us about the top twenty percent, but I don’t think that’s news. We already know from polling that the median voter supports “soak the rich” tax policies far beyond what the right people who run the Democratic Party are prepared to propose. What’s interesting here is the extent to which the public vastly overestimates the prosperity of lower-income Americans. The public thinks the 4th quintile has more money than the median quintile actually has. And the public thinks the 5th quintile has vastly more wealth than it really has."
matthewyglesias  inequality  us  wealth  taxes  policy  politics  myths  misconception  wealthdistribution  from delicious
october 2010 by robertogreco
There's No Such Thing as "Cyberbullying" - Anil Dash
"By creating language like "cyberbullying", they abdicate their own role in the hateful actions, and blame the (presumably mysterious and unknowable) new technologies that their kids use for these awful situations.…

The truth of it is, calling the cruelty that kids show to one another, based on race or gender identity or class or any other imaginary difference, by a name like "cyberbullying" is a cop-out. It's a group of parents, school administrators and lazy reporters working together to shirk their own responsibility for the meanspirited, hateful, incomprehensible things their own kids do.

And it's a myth. There's no such thing as cyberbullying. There's only the cruelty in all of us, and the cowardice of making words to hide from it."

[via: http://bettyann.tumblr.com/post/1225365840 ]
bullying  anildash  cyberbullying  media  myths  cruelty  parenting  schools  danahboyd  cowardice  racism  race  genderidentity  gender  class  differences  difference  journalism  socialmedia  technology  homophobia  children  teens  youth  toshare  topost  from delicious
october 2010 by robertogreco
snollygoster - Wiktionary
"19th century American English. Possibly from snallygaster, a mythical beast that preys on poultry and children < possibly from Pennsylvania Dutch schnelle geeschter < German snēl, quick + geist, spirit."

[More at: http://www.worldwidewords.org/weirdwords/ww-sno1.htm ]
[Follow-up to: http://www.waywordradio.org/spendthrift-snollygosters/ ]
words  monsters  children  poultry  myth  myths  pennsylvaniadutch  from delicious
august 2010 by robertogreco
Children's street culture - Wikipedia
"Children's street culture refers to the cumulative culture created by young children. Collectively, this body of knowledge is passed down from one generation of urban children to the next, and can also be passed between different groups of children (e.g. in the form of crazes, but also in intergenerational mixing). It is most common in children between the ages of seven and twelve. It is strongest in urban working class industrial districts where children are traditionally free to "play out" in the streets for long periods without supervision."
colinward  children  streetculture  culture  urban  urbanlegends  myth  play  history  games  folklore  myths 
july 2010 by robertogreco
Encyclopedia Mythica: Pronunciation guide [via: http://ayjay.jottit.com/links_for_students]
"This pronunciation guide is mainly for English speaking readers. The pronunciation of Greek and Latin words in other languages, such as Dutch or German or Spanish, is quite different. We can expect that the pronunciation of some words will remain highly disputable and we will never get consensus about. The main function of this guide is to give readers at least some idea of how to pronounce the names of the various deities mentioned in this encyclopedia."
tohare  tcsnmy  ancientgreece  pronunciation  greek  greece  mythology  myths  literature  classics  ancient  srg 
july 2010 by robertogreco
Demos: Time to trust the digital generation says think tank
"Schools and parents need to stop listening to internet myths to help children get the best out of technology. In a report launched today (Thursday) the influential think tank Demos calls on schools to get past fears about children’s internet use and harness its learning potential. The report Their Space: Education for a digital generation draws on research showing that a generation of children have made online activity a part of everyday life, with parents and schools still far behind."
demos  via:hrheingold  media  technology  schools  tcsnmy  internet  myths  educations  education 
june 2010 by robertogreco
List of common misconceptions - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
"This list of common or popular misconceptions corrects various fallacious, misleading, or otherwise flawed ideas that are described by multiple reliable sources as widely held. The statements below are not the misconceptions, but are the actual facts regarding those misconceptions."
misconceptions  astronomy  cooking  history  literature  music  politics  law  religion  science  health  sport  technology  chemistry  physics  biology  evolution  myths  misconception  culture 
march 2010 by robertogreco
Weird California - Villa Montezuma Mansion
"So regardless of if strange spiritual activity occurs around and in the Villa Montezuma, regardless of if has at least two ghosts reside in the house, regardless of if there is buried treasure, regardless of it the ghosts of countless séances still pass through the property, and regardless of if a curse lies on the occupants of the house causing them to fall into financial ruin, the stately Villa Montezuma still stands proud in San Diego, overlooking the coastline. Weird but proud."

[more "Weird San Diego": http://www.weirdca.com/search2.php?city=San%20Diego ]
sandiego  myths  myth  legend  stories  buildings  architecture 
january 2010 by robertogreco
Hidden San Diego: The Midget Houses Of La Jolla
"There's nothing like a a good urban legend to fuel the imagination, and San Diego has its own enduring one. It's not an overly known one, it seems, but if you've grown up here or gone to college in town, you've likely hear rumors of "the munchkin houses" or "the midget homes."
myth  legend  sandiego  lajolla  munchkins  myths  tcsnmy  urbanlegends 
january 2010 by robertogreco
Brain Rules: The brain cannot multitask
"Multitasking, when it comes to paying attention, is a myth. The brain naturally focuses on concepts sequentially, one at a time. At first that might sound confusing; at one level the brain does multitask. You can walk and talk at the same time. Your brain controls your heartbeat while you read a book. Pianists can play a piece with left hand and right hand simultaneously. Surely this is multitasking. But I am talking about the brain’s ability to pay attention. It is the resource you forcibly deploy while trying to listen to a boring lecture at school. It is the activity that collapses as your brain wanders during a tedious presentation at work. This attentional ability is not capable of multitasking."
multitasking  brain  attention  productivity  brainrules  concentration  science  research  cognition  concepts  continuouspartialattention  distraction  myths  single 
august 2009 by robertogreco
Null And Void - "Adults, in their dealing with children, are insane. And children know it, too"
"Adults, in their dealing with children, are insane. And children know it, too. Adults lay down rules they would not think of following, speak truths they do not believe. And yet they expect children to obey the rules, believe the truths, and admire and respect their parents for this nonsense. Children must be very wise and secret to tolerate adults at all. And the greatest nonsense of all that adults expect children to believe is that people learn by experience. No greater lie was ever revered. And its falseness is immediately discerned by children since their parents obviously have not learned anything by experience. Far from learning, adults simply become set in a maze of prejudices and dreams and sets of rules whose origins they do not know and would not dare inspect for fear the whole structure might topple over on them. I think children instinctively know this. Intelligent children learn to conceal their knowledge and keep free of this howling mania."
johnsteinbeck  quotes  children  childhood  adults  rules  hypocrisy  teaching  learning  society  dreams  culture  unschooling  deschooling  trust  authority  hierarchy  myths  obedience  wisdom  prejudice  change  mania  sickness  knowledge 
may 2009 by robertogreco
Mind Hacks: The myth of the concentration oasis
"New technology has not created some sort of unnatural cyber-world, but is just moving us away from a relatively short blip of focus that pervaded parts of the Western world for probably about 50 years at most.

And when we compare the level of stress and distraction it causes in comparison to the life of the average low-tech family, it's nothing. It actually allows us to focus, because it makes things less urgent, it controls the consequences and allows us to suffer no more than social indignation if we don't respond immediately.

The past, and for most people on the planet, the present, have never been an oasis of mental calm and creativity. And anyone who thinks they have it hard because people keep emailing them should trying bringing up a room of kids with nothing but two pairs of hands and a cooking pot."
distraction  attention  history  perspective  luddism  technology  children  mobile  phones  myths  concentration  infooverload  mindhacks  singletasking  psychology  pedagogy  science  internet  productivity  parenting  brain  twitter  society  flow  focus  leisure  continuouspartialattention  maggiejackson  culture  multitasking  monotasking 
february 2009 by robertogreco
Terminus (god) - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
"In Roman religion, Terminus was the god who protected boundary markers; his name was the Latin word for such a marker. Sacrifices were performed to sanctify each boundary stone, and landowners celebrated a festival called the Terminalia in Terminus' honor each year on February 23. The Temple of Jupiter Optimus Maximus on the Capitoline Hill was thought to have been built over a shrine to Terminus, and he was occasionally identified as an aspect of Jupiter under the name Jupiter Terminalis.
via:blackbeltjones  boundaries  borders  cities  gods  mythology  myths  ancientrome  ancients  tcsnmy 
february 2009 by robertogreco
ed4wb » Blog Archive » Five Educational Myths
"1. Boosting self-esteem improves academic performance and diminishes troublesome behavior 2. Learning Styles Don’t Exist 3. Students will not learn unless they are given grades 4. Homework promotes higher achievement and promotes responsibility 5. Getting through the curriculum is what’s important. Slowing down and getting deep into a topic might have to wait. Higher order thinking skills have to come after low-level skills have been taught."
teaching  education  self-esteem  homework  myths  learningstyles  curriculum  grading  assessment  tcsnmy  deschooling  unschooling  homeschool  slow 
october 2008 by robertogreco
Siren Funerary Statue on Flickr - Photo Sharing!
"Hellenistic funerary sculpture, 4th century CE. A rather gentle-looking Siren originally decorated a tomb. I'm guessing she symbolizes death luring the unwary, but she certainly won my heart. I love this statue."
srg  greeks  sculpture  art  glvo  mythology  myths  sirens  hybrids  animals 
september 2008 by robertogreco
The Liberal: Writing & Society - On Myth
"Borges liked myth because he believed in the principle of ‘reasoned imagination’: that knowing old stories, and retrieving and reworking them, brought about illumination in a different way from rational inquiry."
borges  wisdom  myths  mythology  myth  intertextuality  literature  stories  writing  culture 
august 2008 by robertogreco
Modern myths of learning: You only remember 10% of what you read - 30 Jun 2008 - "We do not have a profession. A real profession would have more concern about what was acceptable data rather than adopting things uncritically because they look pretty."
"There are too many myths and half-truths in the world of learning. They deserve to be uncovered and we need to ask ourselves hard questions about why the learning profession seems to love myth-making so much." [downes.ca/cgi-bin/page.cgi?post=45433]
e-learning  education  learning  psychology  teaching  myths 
july 2008 by robertogreco
Neurophilosophy : The left brain/ right brain myth
"So the notion that someone is "left-brained" or "right-brained" is absolute nonsense. All complex behaviours and cognitive functions require the integrated actions of multiple brain regions in both hemispheres of the brain."
psychology  illusion  neuroscience  mind  learning  thinking  brain  myths 
july 2008 by robertogreco
Mythography | Exploring Greek, Roman, and Celtic Mythology and Art
"Explore mythology and art with information about the classic stories of heroes and gods...from the myths of ancient Greece and Rome, to the legends of the Celts. Mythography also presents resources and reference materials about mythology - including reco
mythology  greeks  greek  history  myth  myths  literature  reference  heroes  encyclopedia  classics  gods 
may 2008 by robertogreco
Greek Mythology
"This site is devoted to the heroes, gods and monsters of Greek mythology."
mythology  greeks  greek  history  myth  myths  literature  reference  heroes  encyclopedia  classics  gods 
may 2008 by robertogreco
McClatchy Washington Bureau | 02/18/2008 | Fears of Internet predators unfounded, study finds
"A lot of parental worries about Internet sex predators are unjustified, according to new research by a leading center that studies crimes against children."
internet  web  online  parenting  fear  children  teens  youth  risk  statistics  safety  myths  crime  technology 
february 2008 by robertogreco
Your Mom Lied: 5 Common Body Myths Debunked | Cracked.com
:shave & your facial hair will grow back thicker!"..."eat sugar, you'll be bouncing off the walls!"..."Reading in the dark will ruin your eyes"..."gum takes seven years to pass through your digestive system!"..."Put a jacket on! You'll catch a cold!"
myths  humor  health  parenting  medicine  myth  science 
february 2008 by robertogreco
The Quick and the Ed - Helicopter Parents and Other Exaggerations
"filtered through sensibility of top 10% college students&institutions, clustered on coasts&big cities...disproporionate share of consumers & overwhelming % of producers of elite media...Helicopter parents aren't prevalent&problematic, they're rare&benefi
myths  media  elite  wealth  colleges  universities  parenting  class  education  students  activism  involvement  schools  society  trends  falsetrends  helicopterparents  helicopterparenting 
february 2008 by robertogreco
Will at Work Learning: People remember 10%, 20%...Oh Really?
"It will seem obvious, but each and every one of us must take responsibility for the information we transmit to ensure its integrity. More importantly, we must be actively skeptical of the information we receive."
myths  myth  cognition  coneofexperience  pseudoscience  pedagogy  education  statistics  learning  teaching  training  memory  trust  information  literacy  reading  knowledge  instruction  learningstyles  experience  research  media  retention  debunking  coneoflearning 
january 2008 by robertogreco
The myth of short sleepers | overstated
"Sleep researchers believe that short sleepers are not prevalent , and that those who claim to be short sleepers are simply redefining what sleep is (and sleeping on the job, in the limo, on the plane, etc.) or are just used to functioning on insufficient
sleep  via:migurski  myths  productivity  work  life  time  society  business  politics  success 
january 2008 by robertogreco
The Truth About Homework
"Needless Assignments Persist Because of Widespread Misconceptions About Learning"
alfiekohn  via:cburell  homework  parenting  pedagogy  education  learning  myths  schools  philosophy  teaching  statistics  children  anxiety  culture  psychology  truth  homeschool  unschooling 
november 2007 by robertogreco
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