The Scapegoating Machine – The New Inquiry
In fact, those who adopt scapegoating as a political program saw Trump as one of their own and hailed him as such early on. This doesn’t only include white supremacists like David Duke or Stephen Bannon. Silicon Valley venture capitalist Peter Thiel, whose support for Trump earned him a place on the transition team, is a former student of the most significant theorist of scapegoating, the late literary scholar and anthropologist of religion René Girard. Girard built an ambitious theory around the claim that scapegoating pervades social life in an occluded form and plays a foundational role in religion and politics. For Girard, the task of modern thought is to reveal and overcome the scapegoat mechanism–to defuse its immense potency by explaining its operation. Conversely, Thiel’s political agenda and successful career setting up the new pillars of our social world bear the unmistakable traces of someone who believes in the salvationary power of scapegoating as a positive project.
11 weeks ago
From Scapegoating to Solidarity: 2016 Is the Year to Turn the Immigration Debate Around
There are two surprising facts that most mainstream US media outlets have studiously ignored in their coverage of immigration and the 2016 presidential campaign:

First, the Republican candidates are promising to end a wave of unauthorized immigration that actually ended eight years ago.

And second, the same working-class white people who cheer billionaire candidate Donald Trump's anti-immigrant rants would themselves benefit from legalizing the immigration status of the approximately 11 million people who currently lack legal papers.
11 weeks ago
there’s no conflict here
I see a lot of people going on about a supposed conflict between something called “identity politics” and something called “economic populism,” which is strange because I doubt any of them thinks there’s an actual substantive conflict. Instead there’s just a liberal managerial class that has essentially abandoned any interest in economic justice at all and so has cooked up a phony pretense that these things are somehow contradictory. Liberals talk constantly about “class first” or “class only” leftists, but with my very large network of left-wing connections I can name not a single actual person who holds that position. Instead I see a lot of class-never liberals who clearly have no particular interest in fighting poverty as such, inequality as such, or the 1% as such and have ginned-up a phony fight as a distraction.
12 weeks ago
You Are Still Crying Wolf
Stop writing articles breathlessly following everything the KKK says. Stop writing several times more articles about the KKK than there are actual Klansmen. Remember that thing where Trump started out as a random joke, and then the media covered him way more than any other candidate because he was so outrageous, and gave him what was essentially free advertising, and then he became President-elect of the United States? Is the lesson you learned from this experience that you need 24-7 coverage of the Ku Klux Klan?
november 2016
Against Activism | The Baffler
While there are notable exceptions, many strands of contemporary activism risk emphasizing the self over the collective. By contrast, organizing is cooperative by definition: it aims to bring others into the fold, to build and exercise shared power. Organizing, as Smucker smartly defines it, involves turning “a social bloc into a political force.” Today, anyone can be an activist, even someone who operates alone, accountable to no one—for example, relentlessly trying to raise awareness about an important issue. Raising awareness—one of contemporary activism’s preferred aims—can be extremely valuable (at least I hope so, since I have spent so much time trying to do it), but education is not organizing, which involves not just enlightening whoever happens to encounter your message, but also aggregating people around common interests so that they can strategically wield their combined strength. Organizing is long-term and often tedious work that entails creating infrastructure and institutions, finding points of vulnerability and leverage in the situation you want to transform, and convincing atomized individuals to recognize that they are on the same team (and to behave like it).
november 2016
The “They Had Their Minds Made Up Anyway” Excuse
I’ve said many times that all social software trains you to be something. The process that Facebook encourages, of looking at these short cards of information and forcing you to immediately decide whether to support or not support them trains people to be extremists. It takes a moment of ambivalence or nuance, and by design pushes the person to go deeper into their support for whatever theory or argument they are staring at. When you consider that people are being trained in this way by Facebook for hours each day, that should scare the living daylights out of you.
november 2016
Bullshit Jobs, the Caring Classes, and the Future of Labor: An Interview with David Graeber I The Hampton Institute
But I don't think we can solve the problem by mass individual defection. Or some kind of spiritual awakening. That's what a lot of people tried in the '60s and the result was a savage counter-offensive which made the situation even worse. I think we need to attack the core of the problem, which is that we have an economic system that, by its very nature, will always reward people who make other people's lives worse and punish those who make them better. I'm thinking of a labor movement, but one very different than the kind we've already seen. A labor movement that manages to finally ditch all traces of the ideology that says that work is a value in itself, but rather redefines labor as caring for other people. I think we saw the first stirrings of that kind of movement during Occupy. I remember being particularly struck with the "We are the 99%" web page-this was a page where people who supported the movement, but were mostly too busy to actually take part in the occupations or assemblies, could contribute by posting pictures of themselves holding up signs where they'd written out their life situation. Demographically it was a very telling. Maybe 80% of them were women. And even those who were men were mostly in caring professions: health care, social services, education. And the complaints were surprisingly uniform: basically they were all saying, "I want to do something with my life that actually benefits others; but if I go into a line of work where I care for other people, they pay me so little, and they put so much in debt, that I can't even take care of my own family! This is ridiculous!"
november 2016
John King's Evidence-Based Revisionist History
In fact (and here's the irony part), it's hard to imagine this document being produced by the process that it depicts. Which local stakeholders were consulted, what data collected that resulted in a needs assessment tat said, "School districts don't know the process for implementing programs." And then who scanned the world of possible solutions and said, "The best answer to this problem is to publish an encyclical with a graphic." And how will the department be following up on this to see if it worked.
september 2016
Teacher: What It’s Like to Teach at a Charter Middle School in Detroit | Diane Ravitch's blog
“The true solutions require messy answers, holistic and complex answers, and they require the rich white men to give back some of their money, not just using their money to tell other people how to live- people that they don’t know, black faces in black spaces, places that these men would themselves never step foot in.
august 2016
check out this Harry Potter and the Cursed Child fan theory!!! – Fredrik deBoer
My wild fan theory is that, while it can be fun to escape into children’s literature sometimes, and there are wonders and value to be had there, too many seemingly functional adults now never want to return to actual adult mental life.
august 2016
Bella Caledonia "The UK Scotland voted to stay in doesn't exist any more"
The first time she saw a Ciabatta
Was on one sunny springlike day
In a snack bar, by the meadows
Sometime round ‘92 I’d say.
She stopped and gasped, ‘A Ciabatta?
I never thought I’d see the day.
A ciabatta, here in Edinburgh.
And look – so casually displayed
Just tossed into a world of pies
Like some cosmopolitan grenade.’
july 2016
Here's why I'm skeptical of Roland Fryer's new, much-hyped study on police shootings - Vox
As a general rule, when somebody claims that a new academic study finally looks into the data behind a controversial news issue, you should be skeptical.
july 2016
The Cost of Choice – EduShyster
Arsen: When we looked at the impact of charter schools we found that overall their effect on the finances of districts statewide was modest. Then we looked to see if there were nonlinear, or disproportionate, impacts in those districts where charters enrolled very high and sustained shares of resident students. And then the results got huge. We saw very significant and large impacts of charter penetration on district fund balances for different thresholds, whether there were 15, 20 or 25 % of the students going to charter schools. That was really striking. At every one of those thresholds, the higher the charter penetration, the higher the adverse impact on district finances. They’re big jumps, and they’re all very significant statistically. What’s clear is that when the percentage gets up to the neighborhood of 20% or so, these are sizeable adverse impacts on district finances.
july 2016
Sanders Didn’t Lose the Black Vote: He Never Had It, and Never Asked Why | Black Agenda Report
To shake loose a good percentage of the black vote, Sanders would have had to go to war against black congressmen, black mayors and the entire black political establishment, all of the Democrats, in a Democratic primary election.  That was never going to happen.  Not ever, not insde the Democratic party.  Such a campaign can only be waged OUTSIDE the Democratic party and outside the bonds of fake black unity which prevail inside it.
july 2016
Social democracy and the dignity of work: The U.S. must learn from Scandinavian “utopias” for Bernie’s revolution to move forward -
Every single receipt in Denmark and Sweden breaks down the percentage of payment that goes to taxes. And the public also sees what they get in return. Central Copenhagen is engaged in a 3-year construction effort to build more subway lines. In Kongens Nytorv, one of the city’s main squares, people are invited to step onto a riser and watch the construction in progress. Connected to the riser are reams of information about the cost of the operation, and how it will impact individual commutes. All cities try to tout their local improvement projects, but perhaps only in Denmark are you invited to watch workers working, and receive a direct cost-benefit breakdown of their labor.
july 2016
3/4 | Slate Star Codex
The only problem is when two psychiatrists meet. One of my attendings tried to [awkward silence] me at the same time I was trying to [awkward silence] him, and we ended up just staring at each other for five minutes until finally I broke down laughing.

“I see you find something funny,” he said. “Tell me more.”
july 2016
The World Has Always Been a Shit Show And It’s Always Been Beautiful
That doesn’t mean “do nothing”, it means do what you’re reasonably able to do, and don’t sweat the rest. There are billions of people on Earth, you aren’t personally responsible for this, and your contribution is not going to be the key if other people don’t also get off their asses. Be realistic, accept no more than your tiny bit of blame, and then go eat a good meal, make love, and listen to some beautiful music. Don’t destroy your real happiness over events you are almost entirely not responsible for, and which you do not have the power to change.
july 2016
The Disruption of America's (Broken) Education System - The Atlantic
Whatever the intentions of policy leaders, this “broken system” narrative has had some serious unintended consequences. And perhaps the most obvious of those has been an increased tolerance for half-baked plans. Generally speaking, the public has a relatively high bar for replacing something that works, particularly if there is a risk of failure, and especially when their children are concerned. Historically, this has been the case in education. A half century ago, for instance, the Phi Delta Kappa/Gallup poll asked public-school parents what the schools were doing right. The response: Almost everything. The standard curriculum, the quality of teachers, and school facilities came in first, second, and third on the list. Not surprisingly, when parents were asked in another PDK/Gallup poll if the schools were “interested enough in trying new ways and methods,” 42 percent responded that the schools were striking the right balance. Twenty-one percent felt that the schools were “too ready to try new ideas,” and 20 percent felt that the schools were “not interested enough.”
june 2016
UK RIP | Nicola Griffith
Here’s the thing: it won’t always be bad. If the EU breaks it will eventually be remade, and remade better. But it could take a very loooong time. And meanwhile many people will suffer and die—I mean many and I mean die. I am thinking of those millions of refugees for starters. And people like me: crips and queers and people of colour, those the disgruntled turn on when the going gets sticky.
june 2016
welcome to the future – Fredrik deBoer
This is the future of the West: a contest between elitist greed and populist proto-fascism. On one side, the limitless self-interest of a financial and social elite that has created not only an economic system that siphons more and more money into their own pockets but also a bizarre, jury-rigged ideology of cultural liberalism divorced from any foundations in economic egalitarianism which argues that anyone who opposes the neoliberal order is not worthy even of trying to convince. On the other side, an increasingly-unhinged movement of racist grievance-mongering and fear-stoking populist demagoguery, which utilizes the age-old tactic of pitting different groups of poor people against each other to powerful effect, helped immensely by the corruption and callousness of the pro-austerity class. These sides share nothing except for an absolute commitment to preventing the kind of robustly redistributive platform of economic and social justice that could unite the needs of all suffering people into a formidable political bloc that is devoted to opposing austerity, inequality, racism, sexism, nativism, nationalism, and the rest of humanity’s political ills.
june 2016
More on Post Brexit and Why It Happened. | Ian Welsh
Now some people will scream “racism”.  Well, perhaps, but I return to this simple fact: racism, nativism, fascism and all that nasty shit thrives when large numbers of people are destroyed economically.
june 2016
The Limits of “Grit” - The New Yorker
Tautology haunts the shape of these fervent lessons. “Grittier spellers practiced more than less gritty spellers,” Duckworth assures us. Well, yes. She is looking for winners, and winners of a certain sort: survivors in highly competitive activities in which a single physical, mental, or technical skill can be cultivated through relentless practice. As examples, however, instances of success in soccer, spelling bees, and crossword-puzzle design suffer from the same weakness as success during Barracks Beast—they may not offer much help to people engaged in work that demands more diffuse or improvisatory skills. In many careers, you can grind away for years and get nowhere if you aren’t adaptable, creative, alert. In modern offices, many people work in teams, present ideas to a group, move from one project to another. Grit may be beside the point.
june 2016
A Reminder: What Your Students Do Is Hard | Hapgood
When people say ludicrous things like “we don’t need to remember things any more because we have Google!” you can assume they haven’t tried to learn anything outside their domain for a long time.
june 2016
How political pressure works - Hullabaloo
At an annual home brewers festival here yesterday, I met two, under-35 couples I really liked. (It helped that I also liked their beer.) We talked beer and politics. They are relatively new to the area, so later I checked the state's public database to see where in the county they vote. Three only voted in presidential years. One registered early in 2014, but skipped the election.
june 2016
Champerty and maintenance explainer (Gawker/Hogan/Thiel edition) - Overlawyered
Once the old ethical qualms about champerty and maintenance fall, it seems unlikely that they will be revived only as to some causes or persons. Funding someone else’s lawsuit for ideological reasons, long perceived as a dangerous stirring up of social conflict that might otherwise have remained at rest, is now applauded as a means of holding powerful institutions accountable, ensuring wronged parties their day in court, and so forth. Inevitably, once all parties grow comfortable with this tool, it will be used not just against the originally contemplated targets, such as large business or government defendants, but against a wide range of others — journalistic defendants included.
may 2016
Eschaton: Disruption
Leaving aside the issue that the charter movement (not all charters schools) is basically a grift, I do not understand how our supposed education reformer experts (they aren't experts, of course, just grifters) and the people who listen to them don't get that closing down schools and reshuffling teachers and moving kids around all the time has an incredibly negative effect on a child's education and mental/emotional well-being.
may 2016
Learning to Understand the World
Cultural anthropology remains the best antidote to the sort of fools who try and pronounce that everything a human does is because of selfishness, or utility or any other one thing.
may 2016
Fair tax. Coming and going. | Fred Klonsky
I always tell the story about how when I came to Chicago in 1973, every city neighborhood had a neighborhood school, a place of worship, a bar and a factory.

Now the factories are gone, the neighborhood schools are being closed or are often half-filled but with a charter school across the street and the places of worship are still around as are the bars.
may 2016
TFA’s Diversity Paradox
What bothers me is that we have a national rhetoric about wanting diversity when at the same time we’re actually manufacturing the lack of diversity in the way in which we craft our policies. And we mete them out in a racially discriminatory way. So in many ways we’re creating the problem we say we want to fix.
april 2016
Eschaton: Headlines
No, they ruled against the School District of Philadelphia, which is a corrupt and evil organization run by the state, not the city. It's not a ruling against "Philly Schools."
april 2016
Snapshot of a broken system: How a profitable company justifies laying off 1,400 people & moved their jobs to Mexico -
Things like free trade and opening the doors to competition with China are the tools by which shareholders are satiated with hefty corporate profits. But the cause is the philosophy of shareholder value, the idea that a corporation exists solely for the benefit of its investors. While this may sound intuitive, that’s just because it’s been drummed into our heads by every business page and CNBC shouting head for decades. The thing is, shareholder value is actually a relatively new phenomenon.
march 2016
Why Do Poor People 'Waste' Money On Luxury Goods?
In contrast, "acceptable" is about gaining access to a limited set of rewards granted upon group membership. I cannot know exactly how often my presentation of acceptable has helped me but I have enough feedback to know it is not inconsequential. One manager at the apartment complex where I worked while in college told me, repeatedly, that she knew I was "Okay" because my little Nissan was clean. That I had worn a Jones of New York suit to the interview really sealed the deal. She could call the suit by name because she asked me about the label in the interview. Another hiring manager at my first professional job looked me up and down in the waiting room, cataloging my outfit, and later told me that she had decided I was too classy to be on the call center floor. I was hired as a trainer instead. The difference meant no shift work, greater prestige, better pay and a baseline salary for all my future employment.
march 2016
Despair Fatigue | David Graeber
Twenty-first century problems are likely to be entirely different: How, in a world of potentially skyrocketing productivity and decreasing demand for labor, will it be possible to maintain equitable distribution without at the same time destroying the earth? Might the United Kingdom become a pioneer for such a new economic dispensation? The new Labour leadership is making the initial moves: calling for new economic models (“socialism with an iPad”) and seeking potential allies in high-tech industry. If we really are moving toward a future of decentralized, small, high-tech, robotized production, it’s quite possible that the United Kingdom’s peculiar traditions of small-scale enterprise and amateur science—which never made it particularly amenable to the giant bureaucratized conglomerates that did so well in the United States and Germany, in either their capitalist or socialist manifestations—might prove unusually apt. It’s all a colossal gamble. But then, that’s what historical change is like.
march 2016
c’mon, guys | Fredrik deBoer
Look, the world has changed. The relative military capacity of regular people compared to establishment governments has changed, especially in fully developed, technology-enabled countries like the United States. The Czar had his armies, yes, but the Czar’s armies depended on manpower above and beyond everything else. The fighting was still mostly different groups of people with rifles shooting at each other. If tomorrow you could rally as many people as the Bolsheviks had at their revolutionary peak, you’re still left in a world of F-15s, drones, and cluster bombs. And that’s to say nothing of the fact that establishment governments in the developed world can rely on the numbing agents of capitalist luxuries and the American dream to damper revolutionary enthusiasm even among the many millions who have been marginalized and impoverished. This just isn’t 1950s Cuba, guys. It’s just not. In a very real way, modern technology effectively lowers the odds of armed political revolution in a country like the United States to zero, and so much the worse for us.
march 2016
Why Not Say What Happened? | Online Only | n+1
To point this out does not require an opposition to radical violence—I remember talking to an anarchist who spoke favorably about a conservative historian’s book on Haymarket because it took anarchist politics seriously, even if only to damn them. If you can’t acknowledge radical violence, radicals are reduced to mere victims of repression, rather than political actors who made definite tactical choices under given political circumstances. You might find their choices understandable or lamentable.2 But you will learn nothing from the past unless you are willing to consider the unvarnished details, like those presented by Burrough’s interview subjects.
march 2016
The Rise of Trump Shows the Danger and Sham of Compelled Journalistic “Neutrality”
Imagine calling yourself a journalist, and then – as you watch an authoritarian politician get closer to power by threatening and unleashing violence and stoking the ugliest impulses – denounce not that politician but, rather, other journalists who warn of the dangers. That is the embodiment of the ethos of corporate journalism in America, and a potent illustration of why its fetishized reverence for “objectivity” is so rotted and even dangerous. Indeed, Roberts herself agreed that it was justified for her to speak out only because she’s in the role of NPR commentator and not reporter: “If I were doing it in your role” as a reporter, Roberts told Greene, “you should be disappointed.”
march 2016
The city of Philadelphia presents a microcosm of skateboarding’s shift from outsider activity to mainstream culture. Love’s ultimate demolition and the creation of Paine’s Park, a skate plaza opened in 2013 on the outskirts of the city center, are two moments in a long narrative that demonstrate that change. But before we get into the park’s historicity and the greater social and economic forces that played into its destruction, it’s important to understand just what exactly made Love Park such a gem to skateboarders everywhere.
march 2016
Ten Theses In Support of Teaching and Against Learning Outcomes | Jeff Noonan: Interventions and Evocations
1. Teaching at the university level is not a practice of communicating or transferring information but awakening in students a desire to think by revealing to them the questionability of things. The desire to think is awakened in students if the teacher is able to reveal the importance of the discipline as a way of exposing to question established “solutions” to fundamental problems of human experience, thought, activity, relationship, and organization. Teaching does not instruct or transmit information, it embodies and exemplifies the commitment to thinking.
march 2016
The Body Politick: Uncovering the Bad Math and Logic (and the Bias) at the New York Times
Once we understand what Friedman is doing, the next sentence becomes clear. His is a view of the economy according to which government spending can encourage private investment, which can increase productivity, which increases output levels. The increase in output levels which results from higher productivity (from higher private investment) remains after the temporary government spending which encouraged that investment - substantial spending on badly neglected core infrastructure - ends. And the evidence for that view of the economy is good.
march 2016
what Thomas Hardy taught me | Fredrik deBoer
Never mind that the idea of salvation through technology is the hoariest old cliche in the history of education, stretching back to the fear among the educated classes that the invention of the printing press would render education obsolete. Never mind that the radio was sure to change teaching forever, or that the television was too, or that the VCR was, as was the personal computer. Never mind that I still hear people talking about what the internet will surely do for the schools of the future, despite the fact that we had the internet in our classroom when I was in junior high school 21 years ago, the school of the past. Never mind that one of the most easily predicted outcomes in educational research is that a highly-touted educational technology will result in no meaningful difference in learning gains. Nope: it’s the same old shit. We’re better and smarter than those other guys who told you that they were better and smarter than the guys who came before them. Our jargon is newer and better. Gamify the cloud with synergistic flipped classrooms that take an active learning approach to emergent technologies and the internet of things. Our app has flavor crystals. Rinse and repeat, now and for forever.
march 2016
DownWithTyranny!: Progressives Betrayed By The Establishment... Again
One more thing before I get into the why of the Obama endorsement. By 2008, no one considered reactionary Georgia Blue Dog John Barrow an actual Democrat. He was voting with the Republicans more frequently than a dozen Republicans were! That year progressives in Georgia felt they had finally found a candidate who could beat him in a primary, highly respected and accomplished state Sen. Regina Thomas, once Deputy Majority Whip of the Georgia House and in synch-- unlike Barrow-- with every issue Obama was presenting to the American people. When Obama endorsed Barrow and recorded a radio spot for black radio stations heralding him as a hero of working families, it was a knife right into the heart of Regina's campaign-- the ultimate betrayal. Of course, no one who remembered Obama's fulsome endorsement of Joe Lieberman against Ned Lamont could have been that surprised.
march 2016
Is Sanders Done? | Ian Welsh
The constant refusal of people and groups (like unions endorsing Clinton) to get behind and work for candidates who actually would act on their behalf is one of the reasons that one can often only shrug at what is happening in America.  Clearly, based on actions, not words, this is what too many Americans want.
march 2016
The rise of American authoritarianism - Vox
Together, those three insights added up to one terrifying theory: that if social change and physical threats coincided at the same time, it could awaken a potentially enormous population of American authoritarians, who would demand a strongman leader and the extreme policies necessary, in their view, to meet the rising threats.
march 2016
LBO News from Doug Henwood | Insta-punditry on political economy.
Not mentioned here: race. Hillary clearly has a huge base of support among black voters, and it would be ugly and unproductive of me to type out a lecture on how they’re mistaken in that preference. I don’t understand it, but it’s not my business to second-guess it. What I will say, though, is that the Democratic establishment is playing a cynical game, relying on that “firewall” of support while they court moderate Republicans in the Columbus suburbs by running against social democracy and amping up the fear factor. Because as the man from Uber says, “Hope and change, not so much. More like hate and castrate.”
march 2016
Democrats always prove the commies right | Fredrik deBoer
In 2008, the record will show that I wrote dozens of blog posts supporting Barack Obama, that I had the campaign sign, that I went to the rallies. My Democrat friends said “hope and change!” I believed them. I said it as well. The financial crisis happened; people said politics would never be the same. My commie friends said it was all a smokescreen for business as usual. Obama immediately proceeded to give people like Larry Summers and Tim Geithner, who had a hand in the creation of the financial crisis, seats of power in his administration. That’s the definition of business as usual. I pushed hard for Obamacare, arguing against left-wing critics that the reforms were worthwhile even while they were inadequate. My Democrat friends assured me that we would get a public option in through the back door. My commie friends said that the bill was a way to give even greater control over our medical system. Today reforms that go beyond Obamacare look less possible than ever. My Democrat friends said that 2016 would be the year of a truly emboldened left-wing within the Democratic party, that even if Bernie Sanders didn’t win, Hillary would feel such pressure to move left that we’d win either way. The commies said that Hillary was the epitome of the Democrat’s embrace of the affluent and powerful. Hillary has spent the primary denouncing cherished left-wing goals like single payer health care, universal access to higher education, meaningful reform of investment banks, and similar. Her campaign has also worked tirelessly to drive a wedge between the traditional constituencies of the left, engaging in vicious smear tactics against Sanders and his supporters, playing feminism against the campaign for economic justice and treating any concern for class as ipso facto racist and sexist. All of this before her inevitable hard-right turn in the general election.
february 2016
Current Affairs | Culture & Politics
It’s easy to see that Trump has every single advantage. Because the Republican primary will be over, he can come at her from both right and left as he pleases. As the candidate who thundered against the Iraq War at the Republican debate, he can taunt Clinton over her support for it. He will paint her as a member of the corrupt political establishment, and will even offer proof: “Well, I know you can buy politicians, because I bought Senator Clinton. I gave her money, she came to my wedding.” He can make it appear that Hillary Clinton can be bought, that he can’t, and that he is in charge. It’s also hard to defend against, because it appears to be partly true. Any denial looks like a lie, thus making Hillary’s situation look even worse. And then, when she stumbles, he will mock her as incompetent.
february 2016
Can Sanders Do It? | J. W. Mason
If you believe that any demand-induced acceleration of nominal wage growth will be passed to higher prices, or if you think that price stability should be the sole concern of macro policy, then there will be a hard floor on unemployment, which may not be much lower than where we are today. But if you think some appreciable fraction of faster nominal wage growth would go to an increase in the wage share (or faster productivity growth) rather than to inflation, and if you think some acceleration in inflation is acceptable (or even desirable), then “full employment” becomes a broad region rather than a sharp line. (I wrote a bit about these issues here.) In this case there will even be an argument — made by plenty of mainstream people, including some of the ones criticizing Friedman now  — that a period of “overfull” employment would be desirable to bring the wage share back up from its current historically low levels. To believe that a 3.8% unemployment rate is ruled out by price stability considerations is to claim that faster wage growth cannot raise the wage share, which I don’t think is well supported either theoretically or empirically. (Or that raising the wage share is not desirable.) Also worth recalling: In the debates around the NAIRU in the 1990s, the general conclusion was that the idea of a hard floor to unemployment below which inflation will rise uncontrollably, is not in fact a useful guide for policy.
february 2016
The FBI wants a backdoor only it can use – but wanting it doesn’t make it possible | Technology | The Guardian
The thing about this controversy is that it isn’t one. Independent cryptographers are virtually unanimous in their view that you can’t properly secure a system while simultaneously ensuring that it ships with a pre-broken mode that police can exploit.
february 2016
Problems We Don't Really Want to Solve — Strong Towns
I have a lot of conversations with people about the challenge of doing fill-in-the-blank: improving public schools, building affordable housing, replacing corporate chains with local mom and pop shops, getting public infrastructure expenditures in line with the local tax base… And here’s my general response. We, as a society, don’t want to solve these problems. Not really. So we won’t.
february 2016
KIPP – spottedtoad
On the other hand, when I visited a Harlem Success charter school, Eva Moskowitz told me and the other visitors that the problem with education was that too many people with classroom experience were in charge, and that the reason for the achievement gap was that teachers were all racists, including all her teachers at the Success Academy schools. That was about five minutes after meeting us.
february 2016
“Where to Invade Next” Is the Most Subversive Movie Michael Moore Has Ever Made
You’ll also perceive clearly why we’ve built these prisons. It’s because the core ideology of the United States isn’t capitalism, or American exceptionalism, but something even deeper: People are bad. People are so bad that they have to be constantly controlled and threatened with punishment, and if they get a moment of freedom they’ll go crazy and ruin everything.
february 2016
Why the Pundits Ignore the Truth About Sanders Youth Support – MattBruenig | Politics
I think part of the answer is that, for many of these pundits, being leftist (nay “very liberal”) is a big part of their self-identity. They cut their teeth being the “very liberal” bloggers and pundits of the 2000s. And they just cannot stand the idea that they are more conservative than the generation coming up behind them. Even though their politics have not changed, they are now the lamewads because the youth are actually more left than they are. They cannot countenance this and so they refuse to countenance it.
february 2016
Transactions and Transformations
But advocates of education reform have, intentionally or not, worked to redefine teachers as transactional coaches. We are supposed to be there just to get that good test score out of each kid. We should use test prep, rewards, threats-- whatever works to get the student to make the right marks on the Big Standardized Test so that we can have that easily measured, numerically-coded win. Charter schools have the additional freedom to sort students based on which ones can best complete the transaction and which ones need to be benched. And since the transaction is a fairly simple, we have no shortage of ideas about how to have it broken into short, simple competency-based transactions that can be handled by a computer.
january 2016
How Will History Handle Herr Trumpf? Or Is He Already Destined For The Trash Heap Of History?
This is not a man who is planning to occupy the White House. This is not the man who personifies the rage that is rippling through our culture. When you talk with Donald, you get the distinct impression that he's enjoying this other person, this fellow named Donald Trump, out there tuning up the rubes.
january 2016
Time for Education Advocates to Get Behind Bernie Sanders? - Living in Dialogue
Our students and schools have suffered as the concentration of wealth has accelerated over the past decade. President Obama has not confronted or curtailed this trend, and, sadly, there is little to indicate that Hillary Clinton will either. Bernie Sanders is the only candidate who has rejected support from super-PACS and spurned Wall Street. His education platform could be stronger, but he is not captive to the wealthy donors that have controlled both parties for years. Our students need a president who confronts the scourge of poverty, and I believe Bernie Sanders is the best for that task.
january 2016
How One Whistle-Blower Saved NYC Schools $727 Million
It's encouraging that this contract was cancelled and substituted with a far less costly one; but it should never have been approved by the DOE and the PEP in the first place. To propose awarding up to $2 billion to a contractor found to have engaged in a kickback scheme just a few years before is evidence of either extreme incompetence or corruption. In either case, the people in charge of contracting at DOE should have been replaced.
january 2016
Free and Prosperous Societies Occur Only When the Basis of Power Is People
Most people are superfluous. As such there is no reason for elites to allow them freedom, power, or prosperity.
january 2016
One Wrong Move
Instead, what they hear over and over is, "You are balanced on the edge of disaster, and if you make one wrong move, you will topple over into the pit, and knowing you, you're probably going to make that one wrong move."
december 2015
Mast Brothers: What Lies Behind the Beards (Part 1, Taste/Texture) –
Let’s turn the spotlight towards the elephant in the room. The fine chocolate community scorns the Mast Brothers because they are thought to have launched their business with a fundamental fraud: that of pretending to be a bean-to-bar chocolate company.
december 2015
yes Virginia, there is a left-wing reform movement | Fredrik deBoer
In fact, I critique that practice because I am on the left. I’m part of a small but growing collection of people who feel that the left has lost its way, and that it must be steered back to its traditional roots: in materialism, in class solidarity as the basis of political organizing, in recognizing that racism and sexism can only be meaningfully addressed through structural economic change, in privileging the material over the symbolic or the linguistic, and in defining our purpose as building a mass movement — and thus necessarily reaching out and convincing those who are not already convinced. This tendency is not a moderating or rightward-bearing tendency. In fact, most of the many people I know who participate in this reformist push believe that they are the true inheritors of the left-wing tradition, because they prefer the economic, material means of change common to historical socialist movements.
december 2015
Schools Are Incredibly Segregated, But Teaching Kids In Two Languages Could Help
Still, there are concerns. Nelson Flores, an assistant professor in the Educational Linguistics Division at University of Pennsylvania, is an advocate for dual-language programs, noting that "they're really the only programs when implemented effectively to close the achievement gap" for ELL students. However, he worries that these programs are only going to become prevalent in affluent areas, at the expense of disadvantaged schools. 
"There seems to be a trend that’s beginning to emerge where dual-language programs are starting to pop up in areas where parents are well-connected and middle-class," said Flores. "My concern is not about the program per se, but that they are widely available to all students." 
december 2015
Glum job prospects, say officials
Graphed below is the educational distribution for the decade’s projected occupational growth. Just over half, 51%, require no more than a high school diploma for entry, and another 14% some post-high school education short of a bachelor’s. Just 35% require a bachelor’s, and 9% an advanced degree. The educational distribution of the workforce will change little from today. For example, 25.6% of today’s jobs require a bachelor’s or more for entry; in a decade, that will rise 0.6 point to a dizzying 26.2%. Today, 63.6% of jobs require no more than a high school diploma; in 2024, that will plummet by 0.8 point to 62.8%.
december 2015
The Late (Internet) Telecom Revolution Is Not So Big a Deal | Ian Welsh
Now none of this is to say that the Telecom revolution is not important.  It is, and it has had vast affects on our lives.  It will continue to do so as the logic of it is run thru.  But as technological revolutions go, it is neither the most important in recent history, nor is it the most beneficial.  It is nowhere near as beneficial as the revolution in sanitation in the 19th century, for example. It does not change how we live nearly as much as automobiles and trains did, or washing machines or air conditioners.  (When asked how Singapore’s succeeded, Lee Kuan Yu said it would have been impossible without air conditioning.)
december 2015
CEO Martin Shkreli Arrested For Securities Fraud | Ian Welsh
Securities arrests don’t happen by accident, and they don’t happen just because someone has committed securities fraud.  There is so much securities fraud that practically anyone involved the markets beyond the retail investor level could be charged with something.  Many investigations are ongoing at any given time, only a few can or will be prosecuted and prosecuting someone as rich as Shkreli is always a political decision.
december 2015
dy/dan » Blog Archive » Marbleslides Is Here
Purposeful Practice. Picture two students, both graphing dozens of rational functions. One finds the experience dreary and the other finds it purposeful. The difference is the wrapper around that graphing task. If the wrapper is no more purposeful than a worksheet of graphing tasks, your student may fatigue after the first few graphs. In our Marbleslides classroom tests, we watched students transform the same function dozens of times – stretching it, shrinking it, nudging it up, down, left, and right by tiny amounts. That’s the Marbleslides wrapper. Students have a goal. Their pursuit of that goal will put you in a position to have some interesting conversations about these functions and their transformations.
december 2015
I Think It Could Be Trump
Like two zen masters facing off in a martial arts classic or perhaps two wizards do battle in The Lord of the Rings, we have an epic confrontation between two master who have trained for decades in the arts of assholery and bullying. But their powers equally matched, it is a stand off.
december 2015
The Weak Hillary Case | MattBruenig | Politics
The ultimate burying of Hillary Clinton’s political career by a lifelong independent socialist would carry many positive symbolic gains. It would embolden discussion and pride among the left about how, in America of all places, we ended an establishment “inevitable” neoliberal warhawk welfare cutter’s career by running a self-proclaimed socialist of all things. That would be a beautiful symbolic experience, even if gridlock in Washington greatly limited its practical importance. It’d also send a message to Democratic politicians about the need to be less garbage going forward.
december 2015
The strangely muted response to RI's PARCC test scores
Finally, if our schools were truly as bad as PARCC says, our leaders have no plausible plans to fix them. They believe in the course which has led us to this point and have no intention of turning in a different direction. But that's ok, "it's just a baseline!"
december 2015
Pinboard on the Next Economy Conference (with tweets) · bnwlfsn · Storify
Middle aged white dude here, watching panel of four middle-aged and one elderly white dude discussing the revolutionary future.
november 2015
Wisdom From Josh
Next time Donald Trump says something outrageous, offensive, ridiculous or demonstrably unconstitutional and you find yourself saying he's now going to decline in the polls, let me help. No. That's not going to happen.
november 2015
Eschaton: Soak The Rich
Denying government benefits to rich people just makes it that much harder for less than rich people to qualify. You know, eligibility, forms, a bureaucracy to determine that eligibility, etc. The way to not give Donald Trump's kids free college involves increasing his taxes. Then give the kids "free college." Democrats really need to get rid of their obsession with means testing everything. There's a simple way to means test everything: increase taxes on rich people. It isn't welfare. It's what the government provides, to everyone, and the price of that is taxes.
november 2015
Are Students Workers or Nonworkers?
In my view, this framing has it entirely backwards. If you are going to argue for student benefits, you should not do so on the grounds that students are workers, but rather on the grounds that students are nonworkers. That is, instead of rhetorically grouping them with the workforce and justifying their entitlement as quasi-paychecks, they should be grouped with other nonworkers receiving social benefits like the elderly, the disabled, and the unemployed. The argument should be that all people whose life circumstances make it difficult or impossible to work should be receiving generous welfare benefits, including students.
november 2015
The Philanthropy Hustle | Jacobin
Eisenberg, a well-known philanthropy scholar, calls for legislative limits on the size of foundations: reducing their endowment size to no more than $10 or $15 billion. Gara LaMarche, a former executive at George Soros’s Open Society Institute and Chuck Feeney’s Atlantic Philanthropies, suggests that so little philanthropic money is actually trickling down to the global poor that we need to consider whether tax deductions are warranted at all.
november 2015
Hardball Questions For The Next Debate | Slate Star Codex
So my question for you is – what do you think happens to that person who is in an empty hemisphere, locked out of all sensory input and motor control? Do you think they’re conscious? Do you think they’re wondering what happened? Do you think they’re happy that the other half of them is living a happy normal life? Do they sit rapt in unconditioned contemplation of their own consciousness like an Aristotelian god? Or do they go mad with boredom, constantly desiring their own death but unable to effect it?
november 2015
EngageNY Math, now Eureka, A Common Core Dropping | IGNITE! … Fire is Catching
My school district approved this program at a school board meeting in December 2013. It did not go through a review process with a group of math experts in the district. In fact, the math committee reviewing math curricular materials was disbanded in the Spring of 2013. Why? The reason given was there were no “viable math curricular materials to review that align with Common Core”.

Bye Bye Math Committee.

Yet, in November 2013, a person downtown (hired for one year in a .5 position) was instructed to put together a binder of EngageNY sample materials. This binder was presented to the Spokane School Board in December 2013. Parents were in the audience with letters from New York State teachers with recommendations to avoid this math program. It still was approved.
november 2015
David Cameron hasn’t the faintest idea how deep his cuts go. This letter proves it | George Monbiot | Comment is free | The Guardian
Have you ever wondered how the prime minister sleeps at night? How can he live with himself after imposing such gratuitous pain upon the people of this nation? Well now, it seems, you have your answer: he appears to be blissfully unaware of the impact of his own policies.
november 2015
Daring Fireball: The iPad Pro
We’ve now reached an inflection point. The new MacBook is slower, gets worse battery life, and even its cheapest configuration costs $200 more than the top-of-the-line iPad Pro. The iPad Pro is more powerful, cheaper, has a better display, and gets better battery life. It’s not a clear cut-and-dry win — MacBooks still have more RAM (the iPad Pro, in all configurations, has 4 GB of RAM, although Apple still isn’t publishing this information — MacBook Pros have either 8 or 16 GB), are expandable, and offer far more storage. But at a fundamental level — CPU speed, GPU speed, quality of the display, quality of the sound output, and overall responsiveness of interface — the iPad Pro is a better computer than a MacBook or MacBook Air, and a worthy rival to the far more expensive MacBook Pros.
november 2015
Bald Eagles nest in Providence County, Rhode Island
I will not reveal the exact location of this nest publicly nor privately. If you know the location, I ask that you please do not mention it when linking to this blog or any of my photos. While some people do know the location, they did not hear it from me – and I am proud of that. It’s not an easy secret to keep.
november 2015
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