What is Education?

Thanks to Adrian Barnes of the Rossland Telegraph for sending me this transcription of David Foster Wallace’s address to US college graduates in 2005.

If anybody feels like perspiring, I’d advise you to go ahead, because I’m sure going to. Greetings and congratulations to Kenyon’s graduating class of 2005. There are these two young fish swimming along and they happen to meet an older fish swimming the other way, who nods at them and says “Morning, boys. How’s the water?” And the two young fish swim on for a bit, and then eventually one of them looks over at the other and goes “What the hell is water?”

This is a standard requirement of US commencement speeches, the deployment of didactic little parable-ish stories. The story [“thing”] turns out to be one of the better, less bullshitty conventions of the genre, but if you’re worried that I plan to present myself here as the wise, older fish explaining what water is to you younger fish, please don’t be. I am not the wise old fish. The point of the fish story is merely that the most obvious, important realities are often the ones that are hardest to see and talk about. Stated as an English sentence, of course, this is just a banal platitude, but the fact is that in the day to day trenches of adult existence, banal platitudes can have a life or death importance, or so I wish to suggest to you on this dry and lovely morning.

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Cuban Education & Healthcare

The following short documentary is interesting not just for its look at Cuban healthcare and education but also due to its Japanese persepective.

Japan is one of the most equal and wealthy societies with more of a collectivist persepective than Western nations and has a good healthcare system.  However the panelists on the following show believe there’s much to learn from Cuba (one of the worlds poorest countries thanks to a brutal US blockade).

I’ve also included some enlightening interviews with US medical students studying in Cuba.

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America Is in Need of a Moral Bailout

Traders at the Chicago Mercantile Exchange. (AP photo / M. Spencer Green)

‘The methods used to attain what we want, we are told by reality television programs, business schools and self-help gurus, are irrelevant,’ writes Chris Hedges. ‘Success, always defined in terms of money and power, is its own justification. Our moral collapse is as terrifying, and as dangerous, as our economic collapse.’

In decaying societies, politics become theater. The elite, who have hollowed out the democratic system to serve the corporate state, rule through image and presentation. They express indignation at AIG bonuses and empathy with a working class they have spent the last few decades disenfranchising, and make promises to desperate families that they know will never be fulfilled. Once the spotlights go on they read their lines with appropriate emotion. Once the lights go off, they make sure Goldman Sachs and a host of other large corporations have the hundreds of billions of dollars in losses they incurred playing casino capitalism repaid with taxpayer money. Continue reading “America Is in Need of a Moral Bailout”

Zionism: the Zionist Victims

How could 94% of Israeli Jews have supported the massacre in Gaza? How is it that many Israeli Jews quite genuinely see themselves as the victims, even when the death count is one Israeli to a hundred Palestinians, even when their ethnically-cleansed enemy starves in refugee camps? An incredible statistic: 40 percent of Israeli Jews are unaware that at the end of the 19th century, the Arabs were an absolute majority in Palestine. Having just watched Norman Finkelstein’s thought-provoking lecture on the use of Ghandian tactics to change Israeli Jewish as well as international opinion on Palestine, I find the below article, in which the great Israeli journalist Akiva Eldar throws some light on the indoctrination of Israeli Jews, to be particularly interesting. We have to work to educate Israelis as much as anyone else.

A new study of Jewish Israelis shows that most accept the ‘official version’ of the history of the conflict with the Palestinians. Is it any wonder, then, that the same public also buys the establishment explanation of the operation in Gaza?

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