velvetpage: (Default)
I stumbled across this on my brother's facebook.

Let's see, where to begin?

Or, in simpler terms, a stable marriage is a clear route to a better life, but society has steadily chipped away at respect for that very institution.

Actually, the truth is exactly the opposite. When people are able to get out of marriages that aren't working, the strength of the ones that ARE is increased. How is it "respecting the institution of marriage" to force abused women to stay with their abusers, for example? On the other side of the coin, how is it disrespecting that institution to allow anyone who wants to, to enter into it?

So, educated women get married, pick more reliable partners, and enjoy much better outcomes. That would seem to contradict the feminist notion that men are largely unnecessary appendages, required as sperm-providers but otherwise expendable once that duty has been performed. It would also run counter to the view of family courts that fathers are largely unnecessary in upbringing children, other than to provide financial support.

First, the "feminist notion" he's talking about is not the bulk of feminists, and it's been oversimplified here. Certainly some women are better off without their sperm donors, because the sperm donors were beating them and the kids, or otherwise causing more problems than they solved. Why not discuss the fact that college-educated women have more access to privileged men, including the privilege that raised them to see being an involved husband and father as a good thing? As for the family courts, did the National Post miss the fact that in Ontario, joint custody is the default, precisely because fathers are seen as valuable and having rights to their children? This is a Canadian newspaper and should be aware of things like that.

I'm certainly not denying that two-parent (or three-parent, but I don't think the NP is ready to acknowledge families like mine, more's the pity) families generally manage better by their kids. That's a simple fact borne out by numerous statistics. What I'm denying is that this is a simple choice on anyone's part. The state of marriage as a middle-class institution is both an effect and a cause of privilege.

The pot shot at abortion at the end is priceless. The middle-class women who do not have babies out of wedlock had more access to abortion and contraceptives when they were younger than did the poor women who had babies. They didn't have fewer abortions - in fact they probably had more.

Pouring money into social programs is not meant to pull people out of poverty (though perhaps it should be, if we focused more on supporting people to work.) It's meant to close some of the gaps between rich and poor so that they can pull themselves the rest of the way. As usual, the NP has misrepresented the goals of social justice movements.
velvetpage: (Canada rainbow)


For those not from around here, that's Nathan Phillips Square, the public space in front of Toronto's City Hall. Jack Layton was a councillor for the city of Toronto for years before he ran for and got the leadership of the New Democratic Party at the national level. The square is huge, and since Monday, it has been absolutely covered in chalk messages of condolence as the city of Toronto mourns one of its foremost citizens.

Of course, this all washed away in last night's storm. I predict that between now and the funeral on Saturday it will fill up again.

If he had remained with his family's traditional party - the Progressive Conservatives - or if he had continued in the party of his youth - Trudeau's Liberals - he would in all likelihood have been Prime Minister. In fact, he may have acheived the same had he lived five years longer. He had a powerful charisma paired with intense intellect and rock-solid integrity.

He was a socialist, which means he spoke for those who had no voice, for the homeless, for the poor, and for the LGBT community even before it was common for politicians to do so. He also spoke for the greater good of all citizens, advocating for improvements to infrastructure and health care and workers' rights. When American conservatives use the word "socialist" as an insult, Jack Layton is the reason Canadians look at them like they've grown horns.

His final letter to Canadians is already being quoted widely and I suspect will be among the most well-known political documents in Canada for years to come.

Wouldn't the world be a better place if all politicans thought like this: "My friends, love is better than anger. Hope is better than fear. Optimism is better than despair. So let us be loving, hopeful and optimistic. And we’ll change the world." Jack Layton, 1950-2011
velvetpage: (Default)
I was linked in another forum to a roundtable discussion on God and Government. For American viewers, go here. For non-Americans, here it is. You'll need to watch one piece at a time. I watched only the roundtable discussion, so my comments are only for that.
My response )
velvetpage: (strong women)
Originally posted by [livejournal.com profile] lavenderfrost at ...WTF.
Well, there goes my good mood for the day.

NYTimes, the bastion of quality reporting, reported on the gang-rape of an 11 year-old girl in Texas  that's led to charges against 18 high-school boys so far - all well and good so far, right?  Shit like this NEEDS publicity to raise awareness. 

Only problem is, they repeated - without refutation or critical commentary - the claims that the girl brought the rape on herself because of the way she was dressed.

Choice Quotes (No cut b/c everyone needs to see this - DEAL.):

“It’s just destroyed our community,” said Sheila Harrison, 48, a hospital worker who says she knows several of the defendants. “These boys have to live with this the rest of their lives.  As opposed to the victim, who's gonna bounce back lickety-fucking-split, right?

Residents in the neighborhood where the abandoned trailer stands — known as the Quarters — said the victim had been visiting various friends there for months. They said she dressed older than her age, wearing makeup and fashions more appropriate to a woman in her 20s. She would hang out with teenage boys at a playground, some said.  TOTALLY BEGGING FOR IT.

THIS IS RAPE CULTURE, PEOPLE.

Now, what's being said and done in this community is bad enough, but the NY Times should be fucking ashamed of themselves right now.

Here's how to contact NYT: )

velvetpage: (outraged)
What a lousy, cowardly cretin! He split the union-busting portion of the bill from the part that spends money. They don't need a quorum for any bill that doesn't spend money, so they could pass the union-busting portion even without the fourteen senators who went to Illinois.

I hope they recall the bastard, but I'm terribly afraid that if they do, he'll run for President and get it.

http://www.nytimes.com/aponline/2011/03/09/us/AP-US-Wisconsin-Budget-Unions.html?_r=1&emc=na
velvetpage: (Default)
I was linked to this book in my Discussions about Religion forum on Ravelry. It's not religious; it's about authoritarianism and people who are authoritarian followers and leaders. It's fascinating stuff. I'm about a third of the way through it, and it really pulls a lot of things together.

One of the very early things in the book is a personality test - a short one, only twenty questions. I'd love to know what other people got on it, and after a few people have listed their scores, I'll tell mine. I'm laying bets with myself about how different people on my friends list will score.

In any case, I'm quite engrossed and I wish I had the time and attention necessary to read the rest of it tonight. But I don't, so I'm going to bed.
velvetpage: (Default)
This short essay describes the negative and unlooked-for (but easy to predict) effects of attempting to marry measurement of results with paying people for achieving them. Someone needs to forward it to the U.S. Department of Education, and to a variety of state departments of education. It's a clear, concise explanation of why merit pay is an absolutely abysmal idea, guaranteed to result in poorer outcomes for the students most in need of better ones. It's in the context of the British health care system.
velvetpage: (punctuation saves lives)
An excellent article about the failings of the film "Waiting for Superman." I know I'm preaching to the choir, here, but have a link.
velvetpage: (Default)
This morning's offering: a brief discussion of This article. Exciting, I know.

The article concludes that drilling for some knowledge, some of the time, in a way that isn't boring, is necessary to academic achievement. I agree. However, I'm going to go one step further and say exactly when material should be drilled, and a little bit of how and how much.

First, when: drill should only take place after the students thoroughly understand how a process works. Drilling is then useful to fix the specifics in their heads. For example, I will never drill multiplication for a kid who can't line up a rectangle made of blocks into an array that shows a given multiplication fact, or draw that same rectangle on graph paper, or group objects in a set number of groups with a set number of pieces to show how multiplication works. While they can probably learn the facts by rote even if they don't understand them, they won't know how or when to use them and they won't be able to manipulate them - for example, they will struggle with reversing the multiplication fact to get a division fact.

This is one of the biggest mistakes teachers make in math: if a student doesn't grasp a concept on the teacher's timetable, the teacher pushes ahead anyway, saying something like, "Just learn it." If they don't have the conceptual framework in place to learn it, then they won't, and years later some other teacher is going to discover they don't know this, and that they don't know any of the things that naturally flow from it, either. When a student truly doesn't get it, the best thing to do is put more and more things in place to help them see the connection you're trying to paint for them, until the light goes on. After they get it, THEN you drill them.

Second, how: for heaven's sake make it FUN. I don't care how you make it fun. Games between two or three students are a great way to do it. Flashy computer games to drill those facts are wonderful if you have access to computers in your classroom. Some kids like flash cards. Most kids like the feeling of being tested briefly on something they know, and getting a reward for it - a quick oral test of one multiplication table gets them a sticker on a chart and they're puffed up with pride. And there's nothing wrong with that. The two keys are that it doesn't feel like heavy work, and once they know a certain set of facts, they stop practising those facts. Giving students work to do that they already know is just as soul-killing as giving them work to do that is way above what they know.

Third, how much: it should be less than 20% of a math program. The bulk of math instruction should be problem-solving, analyzing strategies for problem-solving, and extending the problems. Drill fills in the gaps in this program. It does not replace it, ever, even for low-functioning students, because the studies show that teachers tend to underestimate the abilities of those who came to them with a label of "level 1" student already attached. So we give all students the opportunity to problem-solve, adjusting the numbers or number of steps in the problem rather than eliminating the problem itself, and follow up with drill for those students in about the same quantity as we do for those more able. I can guarantee that sometimes, those level 1 kids will surprise their teachers if they're given a chance to do so.

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