Hijacking the Rampage Narrative

From Evernote:

Hijacking the Rampage Narrative

Clipped from: http://www.nytimes.com/2011/01/09/us/politics/09shooter.html?pagewanted=2&_r=1&hp
The shootings of a United States Congresswoman and several citizens by a deranged man yesterday has led to a predictable flurry of editorial comments about the dangers of intemperate rhetoric. And there is something to this. It seems to me that the deranged young man was a magnet for talks-show ideas (the virtues of the gold standard, how media and college elites are indoctrinating our youth, etc.)  He took these conservative criticisms of modern mores and added his paranoia and we see the result.

Have we not met such people before?  The fervid true-believers and "useful Idiots" who drone on and on from a closed system that explains everything and nothing.  A John Bircher, the village atheist, and the overgrown delinquent smashing in a store window in the name of freedom are "of imagination all compact."

My guess is that when all the videos are viewed, we will be left with a pathetic whiner.

She here is how the New York Times describes his thinking:

Among other complaints, Mr. Loughner’s social networking pages suggest that he had grievances against Pima Community College, that he felt cheated in some way.

“If I’m not receiving the purchase from a payment then I’m a victim of fraud,” he wrote, referencing the school, in one of his many confusing phrases posted in his videos.

Let us see if the pundits conclude that it is the fault of the community colleges that the Congresswoman was attacked.  After all, they KNEW he was dangerous and could only reject him.

Bloom's Taxonmy of Educational Objectives


From Bloom, et al., 1956

As teachers we tend to ask questions in the "knowledge" category 80% to 90% of the time. These questions are not bad, but using them all the time is. Try to utilize higher order level of questions. These questions require much more "brain power" and a more extensive and elaborate answer. Below are the six question categories as defined by Bloom.

    • remembering;
    • memorizing;
    • recognizing;
    • recalling identification and
    • recall of information
      • Who, what, when, where, how ...?
      • Describe
    • interpreting;
    • translating from one medium to another;
    • describing in one's own words;
    • organization and selection of facts and ideas
      • Retell...
    • problem solving;
    • applying information to produce some result;
    • use of facts, rules and principles
      • How is...an example of...?
      • How is...related to...?
      • Why is...significant?
    • subdividing something to show how it is put together;
    • finding the underlying structure of a communication;
    • identifying motives;
    • separation of a whole into component parts
      • What are the parts or features of...?
      • Classify...according to...
      • Outline/diagram...
      • How does...compare/contrast with...?
      • What evidence can you list for...?
    • creating a unique, original product that may be in verbal form or may be a physical object;
    • combination of ideas to form a new whole
      • What would you predict/infer from...?
      • What ideas can you add to...?
      • How would you create/design a new...?
      • What might happen if you combined...?
      • What solutions would you suggest for...?
    • making value decisions about issues;
    • resolving controversies or differences of opinion;
    • development of opinions, judgements or decisions
      • Do you agree...?
      • What do you think about...?
      • What is the most important...?
      • Place the following in order of priority...
      • How would you decide about...?
      • What criteria would you use to assess...?

Return to Questioning Menu
Return to Faculty Development Teaching Guidebook Introduction
Return to Faculty Development Document Guide Menu
Jerry Cerny, jerry@hcc.hawaii.edu


Book review: The Enlightened Economy - WSJ.com

A Revolution Of the Mind

The Industrial Enlightenment put knowledge in the service of production, changing the course of history.


In the coming days and weeks, the Hamptons, the Vineyard and all the other August escapes from workaday life will likely see a bull market in pessimism as financiers and powerbrokers reach into their summer book bags to relive the recession or look ahead to even greater disaster. "Lofty geo- globaloney tomes on the future of the world" is how the economist Nouriel Roubini has described his summer reading list. Alan Greenspan has said that he will delve into "Lords of Finance: The Bankers Who Broke the World," which sounds more like a penance than poolside pleasure.

Which is why summer demands some more hopeful fare and why a last-minute claim for room in any escape should be allowed for Joel Mokyr's "The Enlightened Economy." A former editor in chief of the Oxford Encyclopedia of Economic History, Mr. Mokyr sets out to answer what, on the face of it, is an old question: Why did Britain have an industrial revolution first? Why not France or the Netherlands, given their economic power in the 17th century and, at the time, the increasingly free market in ideas between Paris, Amsterdam, Edinburgh and London?

Mr. Mokyr's answer—articulated in densely packed but gratifyingly lucid prose—is that in Britain ideas interacted vigorously with business interests in "a positive feedback loop that created the greatest sea change in economic history since the advent of culture."

Reduced to a thumbnail sketch, liberty and natural philosophy—a catch-all term for the study of "useful" knowledge— begat prosperity, which begat more liberty and useful knowledge, which in turn spread through Europe and the Americas.

Mr. Mokyr is well aware that marrying economics to intellectual history has little appeal for many economists who, he says, share a decidedly ironic affinity with Marx for some variant of historical materialism. Economic events are thus explained by the economic decisions that realize profit. But as historical explanation, this is thin gruel.

It ignores changing cultural values and the power of persuasion, not least by dint of appealing to reason. What Mr. Mokyr calls the "Industrial Enlightenment"—to distinguish it from the specifics of the French Enlightenment—was animated, he argues, by a belief "that material progress and economic growth could be achieved through increasing human knowledge of natural phenomena and making this knowledge accessible to those who could make use of it in production."

The goal was betterment, prosperity, personal happiness—the constellation of intellectual goods that came to dethrone salvation as the reason for human existence. Practical problems acquired a philosophical urgency, and where once innovation was "an efflorescence rather than a continuous process," nature came to be seen as something that could be controlled and exploited through inductive and experimental methods.

The Enlightened Economy

By Joel Mokyr
Yale, 564 pages, $45

But the power of knowledge would not, by itself, have given Britain its formidable economic edge; the Continent, too, had an array of scientific genius as brilliant as any in Scotland and England. (Think only of the French chemist Antoine Lavoisier.) The reason for Britain's exceptionalism, Mr. Mokyr says, lies in the increasing hostility to rent-seeking—the use of political power to redistribute rather than create wealth—among the country's most important intellectuals in the second half of the 18th century. Indeed, a host of liberal ideas, in the classic sense, took hold: the rejection of mercantilism's closed markets, the weakening of guilds and the expansion of internal free trade, and robust physical and intellectual property rights all put Britain far ahead of France, where violent revolution was needed to disrupt the privileges of the old regime.

Such political upheaval in Europe, notes Mr. Mokyr, disrupted trade, fostered uncertainty, and may well have created all kinds of knock-on social disincentives for technological and scientific innovation and collaboration with business. Much as we might deplore too many of our brightest students going into law rather than chemistry or engineering, it is not unreasonable to think that many of France's brightest thinkers were diverted by brute events into political rather than scientific activism (or chastened by poor Lavoisier's beheading during the Revolution).

Thus Montesquieu may have advocated free trade as passionately as Adam Smith, but Smith's "Wealth of Nations"—the canonical text of the Industrial Enlightenment—fell upon a society primed to judge and implement it as an operating system. Evangelical and liberal alike shared in the vision of "frugal" government, as Mr. Mokyr puts it. In the opening decades of the 19th century, Parliament took an ax to itself, pruning the books of what were now seen as harmfully restrictive laws.

It is impossible to do justice to the subtlety and detail of "The Enlightened Economy"; it is the product of a lifetime of research and thought, and stands as a landmark work of history; but more to the point, its perceptive examination of the birth of economic prosperity holds many arresting insights for our fraught economic times, where freedom is increasingly associated with government regulation and politicians appear all too-willing to accommodate new varieties of rent seeking.

It is also refreshing, and possibly redemptive, to be reminded of a time when scientists composed poetry—as Charles Darwin's polymathic grandfather, Erasmus, did praise of steel—and when the idea that agronomy and geology and metallurgy were as vital and as exciting as any of the arts.

Mr. Butterworth is the editor of STATS.org and a columnist for Forbes.com.



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More In Books

Good background information for the period.

The Savant and the Puritan: Benjamin Franklin and Cotton Mather

From Evernote:

No. 1611: Benjamin Franklin and Cotton Mather

Clipped from: http://www.uh.edu/engines/epi1611.htm

No. 1611:

by John H. Lienhard

Click here for audio of Episode 1611.

Today, Benjamin Franklin and Cotton Mather. The University of Houston's College of Engineering presents this series about the machines that make our civilization run, and the people whose ingenuity created them.

Benjamin Franklin was Colonial America's famous liberal rebel. Cotton Mather was the archetypical conservative Puritan leader. Like Mather, Franklin started out in Boston. They made unlikely bedfellows, yet when Franklin was eleven, he read Mather's book, Essays to Do Good. It had a lasting impact on him, and through his vast influence it has, ultimately, touched us as well.

Ben Franklin's older brother James was a printer and the publisher of the New England Courant. James went after Mather on many issues -- most stridently during a 1721 smallpox epidemic. Mather was promoting the unheard-of practice of inoculation, which he'd learned from his African servant. (The idea of averting disease by subjecting yourself to it was a very hard sell.)

Ben had served as James' apprentice during those times. Then, at seventeen, he found work as a journeyman printer in Philadelphia. He's been associated with that city ever since. After a year he returned to Boston for a visit, and the first thing he did was a surprise. He went to visit Cotton Mather.

Mather made no mention of the earlier attacks by James, and he received Ben graciously. Historian I.B. Cohen tells how, as Franklin was leaving, Mather shouted at him, "Stoop, stoop!"

Too late! Franklin struck his head on the low doorjamb, and Mather intoned: "You are young, and have the world before you; stoop as you go through it, and you will miss many hard thumps." Franklin did not miss the point. Later he said, "I often think of [Mather's words] when I see pride mortified, and misfortunes brought upon people by their carrying their heads too high."

The clergyman Mather also influenced Franklin the scientist. He wrote about spontaneous hybridization in plants. He wrote a treatise on medicine. Mather was an empiricist who called "the incomparable Sir Isaac Newton" his guide in science.

And so young Ben Franklin worked out his ethics by turning Mather's advice into the more compact and secular language of Poor Richard's Almanac. In an exhortation on service to the kingdom of God, Mather said that it means redressing "the miseries under which mankind is languishing." Poor Richard summarized that one in the words: "Serving God is doing good to man, but praying is thought an easier service, and therefore more generally chosen."

But Franklin didn't just preach. He followed Mather's advice and acted as well. In 1751, a Dr. Thomas Bond said that Philadelphia needed a hospital. That was radical. The Colonies had never seen a hospital. Franklin combined his skill as a printer, his passion as a social activist, and the guile of a superb fundraiser. He gave America its first hospital.

There's a wonderful lesson here. Franklin and Mather were stereotypical opposites, yet the best of each is woven into America. They are a wonderful reminder that we all need to keep weighing, sifting, and reassessing our own indignations.

I'm John Lienhard, at the University of Houston, where we're interested in the way inventive minds work.

(Theme music)

Cohen, I. B., Benjamin Franklin's Science. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1990. Chapter 10.

The Engines of Our Ingenuity is Copyright © 1988-2000 by John H. Lienhard.

The Dead of Night

November 23rd, 2010 11:53 am

The Dead of the Night

One big story that hasn’t yet made it across the Spanish-English divide is the epic of Don Alejo Garza, an elderly farmer who fought a one-man stand against a drug gang.  When they gave him a deadline to leave his property or else, Garza sent his ranch hands home and armed himself. There he waited. When the gang came in the dead of the night he met them with a fusilade and killed four and wounded two before the numerically superior drug enforcers finally took him out with gunfire and hand-grenades. The Mexican Marines arrived on the scene to find  bodies all over and an old man at the center of it all.


Sounds like the making of a Hollywood movie. Now this was a Don!

Closed market’s valediction ironically explains its failure

Closed market’s valediction ironically explains its failure

posted at 11:36 am on November 12, 2010 by Ed Morrissey

There are few things more annoying than people blaming their failures on others.  There are few things more ironically humorous than watching a clueless person publicly scold people and in the process reveal his or her own ignorance.  And since examples of both at the same time come along so rarely, we have to take a good look at the Boston Herald’s report on the closing of Don Otto’s Market, a niche food market in Boston’s South End, where the management briefly posted a tirade against its customers for failing to buy what the owners demanded:

The manager of Don Otto’s – a recently shuttered food market in the South End – is blaming neighborhood patrons for its untimely demise, cooking up an angry message to fair-weather fans of the Tremont Street eatery.

“Don Otto’s Market wants to say we had few customers that understood customer loyalty and its importance to our business,” a message on its Web site reads, later adding: “If you came in only for baguettes, the occasional piece of cheese, the occasional dinner . . . you can not tell yourself you were a supporter of our market.”

The scalding remonstrance was written by Erin McLaughlin, 28, who ran the shop and is engaged to the owner, Michael Otto, 31.

“It was quite frank,” she acknowledged yesterday. “People don’t understand their purchases make a difference, and that by buying something that wasn’t exactly what you want, it gets you closer to what you want. It’s an investment.”

Actually, it was more revealing than McLaughlin realizes.  Perhaps she has spent too much time in Barney Frank’s district (he was a customer), but businesses don’t succeed by telling customers what they should want to buy.  Customers have this annoying tendency to know how they want to spend their own money, and businesses succeed by adapting to demand, not demanding that customers adapt to the owner’s own tastes in supply.  And if people wanted to “invest” in Don Otto’s, they would have bought stock in it rather than food they don’t want at prices that discouraged sales.

In a way, though, this is an allegory of elitism in general.  McLaughlin couldn’t pass laws to make sure that people could only buy her $28-per-pound steak, but she certainly sounds as if she would have done so if given the opportunity.  Her contempt for her customers is not dissimilar to the contempt shown by those in political office who pass laws barring restaurants from using saturated fats in their cooking, who ban Happy Meals, and who overhaul entire economic sectors because they believe people can’t make their own choices.

It looks as though McLaughlin at least learned that blaming customers for not surrendering to her diktats in the name of “investment” makes for bad public relations.  The valediction has disappeared from the website, replaced by a simple notice that Don Otto’s is closed.

Update: It looks as though arrogance really was the business plan, and it only took six months to fail.  Lee Doren sent over a Boston Globe story from May reporting on the new ownership and its goals:

Prepared foods include duck leg confit and a popular veggie lasagna. Otto and Lundberg are continuing to smoke bacon in house. All of the meats sold at the shop are local; prices are high but Otto says customers are coming in regularly with weekly meat orders that top $400.

Otto’s mission is to help shift people’s thinking about what food should cost, especially non-manufactured, non-processed foods. Although pricey eggs may not be for everyone, salsa, made in nearby Jamaica Plain, is a bit more accessible for the everyday shopper. The same goes for a jar of cider jelly from Springfield, Vt., that Lundberg has incorporated into pork dishes.

Eggs, from free-range chickens, are $8.50 a dozen. When asked whether people will balk at the cost, Otto shrugs and explains these chickens’ laying routine. “Their lay cycles rely on the sun, not on artificial lamps that distort production,’’ he says.

And customers’ shopping habits rely on how much things cost in relation to value as they perceive it, a lesson Otto learned the hard way.  There is nothing wrong with trying a business model and failing; that’s how innovation works.  But it’s beyond arrogant to blame customers for not paying exorbitant amounts of money for items they didn’t perceive as valuable just to support a failing business model.

This story brought out the free-market types to make fun of the social engineering types. Why should I have to "support" a market? If it sells what I want, it will make money from me. If not, I will go elsewhere. Not that hard to understand...

O Rosa Bella--Ciconia

O Rosa Bella, ballata


Johannes Ciconia of Liège, though not an Italian, fluidly adapted to the musical climate of Italy. Apparently this Northern composer was first attached to the household of Cardinal Phillip d'Alençon and quickly moved into the musical life of papal Rome as well as the courtly circles of Visconti Milan and Pavia. Once in Italian-speaking lands, the composer apparently merged his career with burgeoning local traditions, including the poetic effluence of Venetian writer Leonardo Giustinian, whose influence was strong enough to place his name on an entire genre of poetry, the Giustiniani. It may have been a poem (in the form of an Italian ballata) by the great Giustinian that Ciconia set as his O rosa bella. Other composers, even native Italians, would essay compositions on the Giustinian text for years to come, but Ciconia the oltremontane foreigner offers us an extremely powerful reading of the text before them.

Despite the waves of 
fashion that were ebbing away from the form of the Italian ballata, Ciconia championed it for much of his life. He devoted a good deal of his musical talent to the composition of ballatas such as O rosa bella. This happens to be one of the longest, and one of the most exquisite in the entire repertory. The text borrows some conventional images -- the lover who dies of love again and again for the same woman, and he begs this beautiful rose of a woman (either an erotic symbol, or a Marian one) to have mercy and not allow him to die; Giustinian's facile poetry, however, rises above mere conventions. Ciconia responds with a phenomenonally passionate melody. He sets the poem for a melodic span wider than usual, and moves with powerful gestures across it. His most frequent gambit is the melodic sequence (somewhat unusual for his time). Right after the passionate opening "O" and the first phrase, he takes the singer through a sweeping upwards sequence, three times on "Oh, sweet soul of mine!" Immediately, he again uses a triple sequence striving upwards on "Do not let me die!" carefully balancing three downward motives "for courtesy's sake." Yet he reserves the high point of the entire wide melody for a fourfold sequence to the highest note yet in the second part of the form; the music happens twice, to the words "Oh, poor me" and then again on the lover's desperate plea, socorimi, "Help and relieve me!" Fourteenth century ears should melt. ~ Timothy Dickey, Rovi

Italian text

O rosa bella, o dolce anima mia,
non mi lassar morire in cortesia.
Ai lasso mi dolente dezo finire
per ben servire e lealmente amare.

O dio d'amore, che pena e questa amare,
Vedi che io moro tut' hora per ‘sta giudea,
Socorremi, ormai del mio languire,
Cor del corpo mio, non me lassar morire.

 Rough Translation by JV
O beautiful rose, o sweet soul of mine,
Do not let me die in courtesy (for courtesy= please, so a play on words)
Ah, I am sad, I must die
through serving well and loyally loving her.

O God of love, how full is this bitterness. (play on love/bitter amore/amare)
You see that I die this hour through (her guidance, this idea, this Jewess because iudea is Jewess)
Help me at last in my languishing,
Heart of my body, do not leave me to die.

Ellen Handler Spitz Reviews "The Grimm Reader: The Classic Tales Of The Brothers Grimm" | The New Republic

The Storytellers

Anne Anderson's "Snow White and the Seven Dwarves"

The Grimm Reader: The Classic Tales of the Brothers Grimm

translated and edited by Maria Tatar

W.W. Norton & Company, 368 pp., $16.95

Year after year, we print and re-print fairy tales. What is it that makes them valuable? Should we keep telling them, and if so, why? What about their detractors, the self-appointed child protectors who complain about their violence and cruelty, not to mention a different set of worriers who protest their “false” happy endings? And surely the tales do not teach morality. Remember the egregious brutality of that spoiled princess in The Frog King who, after hurling the little animal who helped her against the wall, gets rewarded. And we quail at even a mention of The Jew in the Brambles, an outrageous portrayal of barbarism and prejudice, which, in Maria Tatar’s new selection of the Grimm fairy tales, wisely appears only in a separate section marked for adults. 

via tnr.com

See link for the rest.

Matters of life and death – Prospect Magazine

Matters of life and death

  7th October 2010  —  Issue 175 Free entry
Interest in “trolleyology”—a way of studying moral quandaries—has taken off in recent years. Some philosophers say it sheds useful light on human behaviour, others see it as a pointless pursuit of the unknowable

The “trolley problem” thought experiment is designed to test our moral intuitions

A shocking memo leaked to Prospect, drafted by civil servants from the treasury and the department of health, exposes the stark reality of future cutbacks. Harsh decisions are inevitable, says the memo; in one NHS trust people on life-support systems are to be “finished off” on 1st November—either by smothering, or by having the plugs pulled out. Their organs are then to be used to save the lives of others on transplant-waiting lists, who have themselves become a considerable burden to the taxpayer. The total saving to the trust is estimated at £2.3m a year.

Hogwash, of course. But the government will make some tough choices in its spending review on 20th October, and these will cost lives. Whether “efficiencies” are made in the department of transport, the military or the NHS, there will be victims, even if they are unidentifiable. Governments always have to prioritise—choosing, for example, between a cheap medicine which benefits few people a little, and an expensive one which benefits many people a lot. But in hard financial times, such predicaments become more acute.

Moral philosophers have long debated under what circumstances it is acceptable to kill and why, for example, we object to killing a patient for their organs, but not to a distribution of resources that funds some drugs rather than others. To understand the debate you need to understand the trolley problem. It was conceived decades ago by two grande dames of philosophy: Philippa Foot of Oxford University (click here to read more about Foot) and Judith Jarvis Thomson of MIT. The core problem involves two thought experiments—call the first “Spur” and the second “Fat Man.”

In Spur, (see diagram one, below), an out-of-control trolley—or train—is hurtling towards five people on the track, who face certain death. You are nearby and, by turning a switch, could send the trolley onto a spur and save their lives. But one man is chained to the spur and would be killed if the trolley is diverted. Should you flick the switch?

In Fat Man (see diagram two), the same trolley is about to kill five people. This time, you are on a footbridge overlooking the track, next to a fat man. (The Fat Man is now sometimes described as a large gentleman. But fat or large, the fact of his corpulence is essential.) If you were to push him off the bridge onto the track his bulk would stop the trolley and save the lives of those five people—but kill him. Do you push him?

Study after study has shown that people will sacrifice the spur man but not the fat man. Yet in both cases, one person is killed to save five others. What, then, is the relevant ethical distinction between them? This question has spawned a thriving academic mini-industry, called trolleyology.

See link for the rest,,,,