Saturday, June 30, 2012

Applying Socratic Questions In Real Life

I don't want to be accused of poaching a good idea so I'm telling you from jump street that this post was inspired by David Straker's site, Changing Minds. Dude is deep into well of looking at the various forms of persuasion.

It was also inspired by some of the nuttiness about how we have discussions in America about very serious, complicated topics.The most recent set furor is about education.

The 2012 Texas Republican Platform does encode the belief system of many Americans. There is no point in denying it. The orginal text as printed and accepted by the convention is:
We oppose the teaching of Higher Order Thinking Skills (HOTS) (values clarification), critical thinking skills and similar programs that are simply a relabeling of Outcome-Based Education (OBE) (mastery learning) which focus on behavior modification and have the purpose of challenging the student’s fixed beliefs and undermining parental authority.
I am not making this stuff up or distorting the text. You can read or download the 23 page document here.

Now to be fair, when asked by Talking Points Memo the Communications director said that the inclusion of the critical thinking statement was a mistake but it was approved and cannot be corrected until 2014.

Like Janis Joplin said, break a little piece of my heart. Except this does not make me feel good. Which is why I like hanging out at sites like Changing Minds.

You know, a Texas school could probably get in trouble linking to that site. This joint is nine kinds of deep kind of place

But this is where Socrates comes in. There is a list of Socratic questions. Those of us that actively use critical thinking skills (or want to) can employ these questions to get at the deeper intent of a speaker's message.

Now you shouldn't waste time on the stupid, the ridiculous or the mean spirit nature of personal attacks. Cause stupid is a finite form. You can't argue a brick wall or a group of people determined to create a system of living drones.

But if you are in a discussion with a reasonable person and want to understand what is being said this is a good starting point.  You don't have to ask the questions out loud but it couldn't hurt.

The Questions:
  1. Why are you saying that? 
  2. What exactly does this mean? 
  3. How does this relate to what we have been talking about? 
  4. What is the nature of ...? 
  5. What do we already know about this? 
  6. Can you give me an example? 
  7. Are you saying?
  8. Can you rephrase that, please? 
So if you got some brain cells to spare you might want to read the full platform of the Texas GOP and then, at your own person risk and responsibility, apply the questions to what you have just read. 

This is not for the faint of heart. I gave up after question 1.  Many because it is too nice a day to be wasting time inside dealing with a fear generated document.

It is fear based based document. It is about power and control. Hell, it is always about fear, power and control when it comes to modern politics.

Just so you know, I have the hots for HOTS and I'm not letting it go. The rest of you come to your own conclusions unless you live in Texas.

Thursday, June 21, 2012

This Is Bullying and We Are Responsible

I have been trying to post to Twitter and it won't let me. It is just as well. I have a lot to say and I might have left too long a comment at Lynette Young's G+ page. I want to put in my two cents about what happened to Karen Klein.

This woman is a school bus monitor who was subjected to ten minutes of abuse by kids, pre-teens, teens it doesn't matter. The little haters let their mouths run wild and free.

I can't get past more than three minutes of it. It get's worse.

I'm going to incorporate some of my comments that I posted on Lynette's page and more thoughts as well.

I know everyone is extremely angry and rightfully so. There is no excuse. None. But who wants to take a bet that some of the little demons go to church? Get good grades? Present one face to mom and pop and another to their friends? There is a lot of stuff happening in that video. Crowd mentality, No internal filters, playing to the crowd.
Pre-teens and teens are not good at considering anyone other than themselves. They are still growing up. Short term thinking. If not for the video they might not even remember that they did this.

You hope the lessons parents try to drill in their skull take hold. For some parents it is all they can do to get their children to wash themselves and not stink up the room. Parents do the best they can but sometimes normal kids do profoundly stupid things.

Yes, there needs to be discipline, as in invoking a personal discipline as a life long tool, not necessarily invoked with a switch, belt or whipping stick. Empathy, which seems to thought of a sissy skill or weakness in our culture needs to be taught.

Again, in no way am I condoning what these proto-terrors have done. They need to be held accountable. Seriously accountable. Wanting to beat the snot out of them is understandable. We have a sustained culture of bullying. What do we choose to do about that?

We caused this. We allowed this. With every politician demonizing the other. With our behavior in the mall or supermarket. In our television programs, games, media we have said the other is lessor and it is okay to "beat them down."

Last week Anita from Feminist Frequency was attack by people claiming to be gamers that she had no right to voice an opinion on the female tropes in video games. To say she was cussed at would be an understatement. It was nasty.

What makes it okay to do this? What makes it okay to spew this level of hate? I don't even think hate is the right word. It is the wicked side of power and control being implemented by people who have none.

 The MarySue has a good write up and summary of what happened and the positive result.

The video below is of the real Karen Klein. She talks about the experience and you can tell her spirit operates on a much different plane. Get over the gray hair and get to the person.

Nobody should have had to have endure what she did.

I was bullied as a kid. It was hell. I do know there is a part of our culture that loves the idea of fairness and the exchange of ideas. But when you are bullied you begin to wonder what is so good about living?

Life is not easy but bullying adds a dimension of hell that is not necessary. If you can survive it (and please do) a piece of you goes into an internal witness protection program. Takes a lot to want to be around people.


It is almost a quaint notion. It doesn't have to be but we can't go on this way. This means we will need to change how we talk about politics, other people, gender, sexuality, religion.

There will be some that will state that they hate political correctness. Not talking about that at all. If I feel that you are full of shit I will continue to tell you so.

I am just saying we have to model different behaviors. We just got to.

Because I ride the bus too.

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

When Worlds Intersect Is that A Good Thing?

I am a long time traditional comic book reader. Old school when ten cents got me the latest issue of Batman. I love libraries. Movies. Animation. Sex. Literacy. Reading, Creativity. And usually they are compartmentalize and each is in their own silo.

Sometimes there is an overlap. One or two intersections is okay but this...this is popping brain cells. Once upon a time eh, 1999,  there was a comic book called Birds of Prey. Later, there was a television show by that name. It didn't last long but I watched it.

No complaints. It had Shemar Moore.Why be greedy?

Soooo, I'm checking my Tweet stream and somehow wind up at Bleeding Cool where I see Birds of Prey XXX. A Parody.  This trailer is safe for work. Only words are exchanged and only one of them is heated. Can't trust that Huntress for nothing. She does drop a F-Bomb.

How? Why? Nooo!? Well, maybe. It is like the Star Trek Enterprise XXX parody. On the one hand is nothing sacred? On the other hand I have always had half a lobe to do Picard.

Which is wrong, wrong.

For the record, I have only seen the Star Trek Enterprise XXX trailer. It seems like they tried to be respectful. I have never seen any of the XXX parodies and don't think I am going to be able to for quite some time. Not high on the bucket list.

Back to the Birds of Prey. So they have Oracle in the wheelchair. Oracle is gonna get busy later and not just floating through Ethernet cables either. She is neither PC or Mac, Oracle's rig is custom built.

(Okay, quick recap on the back story: In an alternate dimension, Oracle is a later day Barbara Gordon who got the hell and the use of her legs beat out of her by The Joker. He might have done other things but that depends on the interpretation by the specific artist who wrote the book at the time.

I hate that guy. Straight up hate The Joker. Nothing funny about that damn clown.

Barbara, who was a librarian reclaim her mantle as crime fighting Information Mistress of the Digits. Then the other Birds of Prey, The Huntress and Black Canary, get to chase and capture villains and make Gotham or New Gotham a grand place to live. )

Hence, my dilemma. Oracle still a librarian fighting crime from a wheelchair (this is important for story continuity. Later on DC had Barbara walking again to resume being Batgirl. The Wheeled Sisters did not take kindly to the change).

Oracle is getting some non-combat action and it ain't with Richard Grayson. Double score. Except that she is bonking a detective in a nookie film. Let us not forget that her pop is Commissioner Gordon.

Why must I be tormented so?  I love Batman, I do. Iconic character.  But dig it, there are the comic books, the 1960s series, movies starting from the 1940s on up. Major props to the animated series. That isn't a typo. You have Batman, the Animated Series, The Brave and The Bold, The Batman, Batman Beyond not to mention all the action he's got in Justice League.

Batgirl has is third season appearances in the early 1960 Batman shows, the cancelled series and guest star shots as an adult in some of the animated series.

DC come on! This is the only full length live action movie with a super heroine. It is a movie that most people can only watch when the lights are low and the Two Buck Chuck is chilled.

So I have been told.

There should be a Black Canary animated movie. You can have Ollie (Green Arrow) in it but let the girl clear her pipes. I know you made a Wonder Woman animated movie that didn't make bizillons of dollars but I don't think you advertized the movie that well. I would have bought it if I could have found it at Target. Water over the bridge.

Dang it, forget that there are 14 to 18 year old boys for a moment. Girl people like action movies too. I am not against the action in the parody but you know what I am saying?.

What am I saying? I lost track.

I'll watch the trailer one more time just to cement that I saw it. It might be important one day. You never know. This isn't wrong. But it is just not right.

Friday, June 15, 2012

Once More Into the Daylight

I really don't want to go outside. Because once I do I have to commit to facing another day. I have to go through this day in order to get to Saturday and Sunday.

I have to put on the big girl panties and deal with people, rules, conflicting rules, being held accountable by the conflicting rules and then taking a huge breath and remembering it really does not matter.

Not one bit.

I bought a magazine called Light of Consciousness. I think it is for folks that want to apply Buddhist principles in everyday life. I'm not a Buddhist but I'm willing to learn anything to help suppress my desire to beat stupid people with a wet noodle.

A wet noodle attached to a Cat-of-9 tails.

Friday, June 08, 2012

In Memory of Fred and Tears of Remembrance

Each generation brings something new to the party. What we held true 20 years ago gets pushed to the past and then evaporated. It is hard to understand until you live it. I have my memories and they can't really be touched by re-inventors.

Most of the time.

This is a re-mix video by PBS Digital Studios called Garden of the Mind. It is some words and moments  with a neighbor.

It has been a good long while since Fred Rogers has passed on. Certainly a icon in children's television and as an advocate of quality television.

I remember seeing Mr. Rogers talking to Congress about the need for a national educational television system. In that quiet powerful way the real Fred Rogers got the money.

I've seen Fred parodied by comedians and some were less than kind.  You had to work hard to find people who would publicly said they didn't care for the man or his show. Sure, they would have had to been a couple of folks. But not many.

On of my favorite stories is when his car was stolen on day one and on day two it was returned with an apology because they didn't know it was "his car."

Truth be told, I barely hear the music in the video. I think what struck me was his reminder to be creative, to explore, to be open.

To be kind. Civil. Engaged.

I'm tearing up again. That man has me in tears and it is not logical.

I gotta brace up and get on with the day.

Monday, June 04, 2012

Confirmed - I'm Not In the One Percent

The appointment was for 4:30 p.m. I get there at 4:10 p.m. and wait for about an hour or so. In the meantime I get to read a 1% magazine. I am sure that the 1% folks read this magazine because there were ads in it for jewelry that crested around the $367,000 level.

I'm not into polished rocks but I have to say there was not a cubic zirconia in the entire magazine. Fire stones and ice laced with golden circles. There was skimpy food served on porcelain . There were rich guys on private islands trying to keep the natives from encroaching on their land.

There were men in pinstripe suits so tight they couldn't pass gas. You could tell they steamed those male models to make sure not a fleck of dirt got near the cloth of the hem of that suit.

Truth be told I was focusing on the men because if you see one blonde woman wearing an evening gown on a surf board you have seen plenty.

No ads for plastic surgery or lap bands. No ads for ED. There were a lot of stories about exclusive hotels that have rooms for $2, 500+ a night.

Photographically the place looked magical. Until it got to the food. If I'm paying $100 a meal there has got to be some food on the plate. I like impressionistic paintings but I just can't do impressionistic dinning.

I read that sucker from stem to stern and not only did I learn that I am not worthy of the finer things in life I am content in my undesirability to swig up on high tone white rum. Unless you are going to mix some in rum raisin ice cream or rum water ice.

See, pedestrian. I know it.

This is not to say that if my long lost Sugar Daddy, or as I would prefer it, My patron and artistic supporter, happen to show up and offered me a weekend on the island I'd refuse.

I would not.

But we'd be stopping at the market to pick up some real food before we board the flight.

Sunday, June 03, 2012

Passing Through June Gloom

June Gloom here in Los Angeles is when the mornings are really cloudy. It is cool outside. It is blah. As the day moves on it get sunny and bright. The warmth hits the body and life is good again.

But you have to pass through June Gloom.

Not only a weather condition but a reality of life. You can BS yourself into saying you want make a change or you can just up and do it.

Most folks would rather not. People change because they are in trouble and they have no choice in the matter. I am of the opinion you should not wait for life to kick your tushy in order to make it happen. Life kicks kinda hard and it is usually the same lesson I thought I learned the last time.

I know I have to put new things in place. I am ready. I've been ready but that fear monster creeps up on you. The "woulda, coulda, shoulda's" are hitting me hard now.

I am being cryptic and I don't mean to be. I would like to take different kinds of multimedia storytelling classes. That can happen; I just need to find one that I can afford and I don't need to drive to get there.

I need to clear out old unused ideas and how it use to be.  Those days are gone. What do I want to do now?

What I know is that the world I was prepped for is almost gone. Since I am planning to be around for a bunch more years what do I do? With what skills?

How many tribes will I have to hook up with that will have me? 

I'm thinking hard about it and it is still the June Gloom that envelopes me.

I know it.

I am not a patient person. I am still working on that lesson. I still am rubbing my tushy.