Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Tabs: Hunger Strikes, Education, and Where We're Headed

Here are a few of things I've been reading lately.

First, about hunger strikers. Yes, it is getting to that point:

  • A guy from Madison named Matthew Schauenburg started a hunger strike in early March and just recently ended it, after the judge's ruling there stopping the anti-union law. I saw him sitting in the Capitol rotunda when I was there, and wish I had stopped to talk. I later realized he had set up a blog to record the ordeal... it's hard to read, especially the comments from anonymous trolls, such as this sequence of eight on one of the last posts before he ended the strike: "want a big mac / idiot / get a job and a life… / go to work, pay taxes, quit being a freeloader / hungry? / freeloaders shouldn't eat… / you don't deserve a wheelchair". The trolls also keep insisting that Matthew was faking the hunger part of his hunger strike. I'm not sure why imagining that gives them comfort; perhaps because there's nothing they would ever feel so strongly about?
  • New York Times food writer Mark Bittman and other foodies began fasting to call attention to cuts to WIC and other food support programs in Congress.
A couple of thought-provoking op-eds from the Star Tribune:
  • Bonnie Blodgett (better known as a garden writer), visualizing a path to the future by seceding from the world.
  • Greg Breining, describing a path to sustainable ag that doesn't involve everyone becoming vegetarians... but that does mean getting rid of corn subsidies.
Then there was this demoralizing interview from Grist with James Howard Kunstler on where we're going as a society... to be followed by a couple of unicorn chasers from Boing Boing: The Story of History Is More for Less and How People Really Behave in Disasters, by the every-inspiring Maggie Koerth Baker.

And how about that Supreme Court decision upholding tax credits for Arizonans who donate money to pay kids' tuition at religious schools? Where is the logic in Anthony Kennedy's decision that they're spending their own money? When I donate money to a secular nonprofit, all I get is a tax deduction -- not a credit, which is 1-to-1 cash back. The Arizona law is clearly an establishment of religion, since otherwise the donor would have had to pay it in taxes.

Finally, a small pile of education-related pieces:
And one final thought to add to the education and testing pile: Campbell's Law, which states:
The more any quantitative social indicator is used for social decision-making, the more subject it will be to corruption pressures and the more apt it will be to distort and corrupt the social processes it is intended to monitor.

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