Monday, July 21, 2008

obama in the new yorker

the recent cover-controversy issue of the new yorker has a great article about obama's political days in chicago. to all the obama people who are disappointed with his recent big flops (public financing of presidential campaigns, fisa), get real. he's a politician. running for president. as the new yorker writer puts it:
Perhaps the greatest misconception about Barack Obama is that he is some sort of anti-establishment revolutionary. Rather, every stage of his political career has been marked by an eagerness to accommodate himself to existing institutions rather than tear them down or replace them. When he was a community organizer, he channelled his work through Chicago’s churches, because they were the main bases of power on the South Side. He was an agnostic when he started, and the work led him to become a practicing Christian. At Harvard, he won the presidency of the Law Review by appealing to the conservatives on the selection panel. In Springfield, rather than challenge the Old Guard Democratic leaders, Obama built a mutually beneficial relationship with them. “You have the power to make a United States senator,” he told Emil Jones in 2003. In his downtime, he played poker with lobbyists and Republican lawmakers. In Washington, he has been a cautious senator and, when he arrived, made a point of not defining himself as an opponent of the Iraq war.
on the cover: i think hertzberg's analysis is on point. not the best cartoon, but people are way too sensitive. i think it's quite amusing, but no where near as funny as the recent ahminijad cover:

recall that around this time ahmadinejad claimed there were no homosexuals in iran, and senator larry craig had his unfortunate footsie incident in a public bathroom.

human research: how to

i'm taking an online course about research on human subjects. after each module they administer a quiz. after the 'international research' section they were really grasping at straws.. here's one of the questions.

Question 4 Multiple Choice/Single Answer - select only one answer (1 point)

Which of the following is the LEAST important activity when protecting human subjects in international research?

(a) Assessing local transportation conditions
(b) Considering local customs, norms, and laws.
(c) Consulting with members of the community from which subjects will be recruited.
(d) Determining if the research might present unique risks to subjects given local socio-economic conditions.


Sunday, July 06, 2008

basia bulat

my roommate introduced me to basia bulat, a musician with an amazing voice, supposedly from my high school.

anyway, yesterday i sat down at home, turned on the cd player, and hit play, not knowing what might come forth. it was this song, and i love it. give a listen:

Before I knew - Basia Bulat

Saturday, July 05, 2008

on creativity

i watched a fascinating video from TED that discusses creativity in children, and how schools kill creativity. in a class i took this past semester, we spoke on exactly this problem -- that schools, by foregrounding scores and academic performance, and consistently backgrounding creativity and subjects where creativity is crucial, were destroying the creative spark that exists in all children.

of course, the immediate retort, especially if you're talking about educating children from populations that typically don't have good access to educational resources, is that there is a particular system we live in, and if you want kids to be successful, then they need to play the game. if they don't play the game, you risk putting them in a situation later in life where they can't succeed because they haven't developed the skills that the system expects of them. in the TED talk, which i've pasted below, the speaker, ken robinson, a longtime educator, states that he believes creativity is the skill that's worth something in these times.