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American teens have had it with this authoritarian crap

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Dina Leygerman is a high school teacher who teaches George Orwell’s novel 1984 to her students every year. Before she does, with the assistance of other teachers and the school’s administration, she turns her classroom into a totalitarian regime to give the kids a taste of life in Oceania. Rules are strict and favor is given to students who report on rule-breaking by their classmates.

I tell my seniors that in order to battle “Senioritis,” the teachers and admin have adapted an evidence-based strategy, a strategy that has “been implemented in many schools throughout the country and has had immense success.” I hang posters with motivational quotes and falsified statistics, and provide a false narrative for the problem that is “Senioritis.” I tell the students that in order to help them succeed, I must implement strict classroom rules.

However, when Leygerman tried the experiment this year, the students weren’t having it. They rebelled. They protested. They fought harder as the rules became more onerous.

The President of the SGA, whom I don’t even teach, wrote an email demanding an end to this “program.” He wrote that this program is “simply fascism at its worst. Statements such as these are the base of a dictatorship rule, this school, as well as this country cannot and will not fall prey to these totalitarian behaviors.” I did everything in my power to fight their rebellion. I “bribed” the President of the SGA. I “forced” him to publicly “resign.” And, yet, the students did not back down. They fought even harder. They were more vigilant. They became more organized. They found a new leader. They were more than ready to fight. They knew they would win in numbers.

An upcoming book edited by Cass Sunstein asks if authoritarianism can happen in America. The experiment in Leygerman’s classroom and the inspiring movement started by the students of Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, FL suggest perhaps not. The nation’s youth, raised on The Hunger Games and Harry Potter, are reminding the baby boomers that considering what their own parents went through in the Great Depression and World War II, they should fucking know better than to slam the door on succeeding generations.

Tags: 1984   books   Dina Leygerman   George Orwell   politics
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TimidWerewolf
3 days ago
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This is some wonderful news!
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HaveABeer
3 days ago
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Hope.

These found-object charts are both quirky and insightful

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Visual artist Michelle Rial has spent the past seven years making chart-based art and her latest project incorporates found objects into the mix. Rial began using everyday objects—which includes everything from food to office supplies to wine stains to floss—after a neck injury forced her to step away from her computer and away from the types of illustrations she had been doing previously. Using found objects cut down on some of the physical pain of illustrating for Rial and has resulted in some really cool, unique pieces of art with a great sense of humor. Here are some of my favorites:

https://www.instagram.com/p/Bazq2dfBcYy/

(more…)

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TimidWerewolf
4 days ago
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Unauthorized dwelling at Yale

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Here's one for Paul's unauthorized dwellings theme:

Able to afford tuition at Yale, but not housing, 22-year-old Allan Kornfeld lived surreptitiously in a ventilation shaft for seven months, from 1963 to 1964.



Appleton Post-Crescent - Jun 18, 1964

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TimidWerewolf
4 days ago
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This is brilliant!
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The wonderful sounds of black ice skating

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Recently frozen lake ice has some interesting properties: it looks completely black and makes some interesting sounds when you skate over it. Swedish mathematician Mårten Ajne is a black ice skating enthusiast and he demonstrates his technique in this National Geographic video. You’ll want to turn up the sound or use headphones…the ice sounds like a cross between sci-fi phaser fire and getting pinged by sonar in a submarine.

The most desirable condition is virgin black ice, when a lake has caught its first ice cover and it has grown just thick enough to bear your joy. In favorable weather conditions this will take two days after freeze-over.

Five centimeters [2 inches] is often the limit [to how thin it can be]. If you’re close to shore, you can go thinner, up to about 3.5 centimeters, before it breaks. That’s for fresh, cold black ice. Brackish ice, which contains salt, needs to be thicker and is more difficult to assess.

At one point, Anje measures the ice with a caliper — it’s only 45 mm thick — but what really illustrates the crazy thinness of the ice is that you can see the surface flex as the water moves under it (wait for him to skate by the camera at ~1:42 in the video) and the ice cracking behind him (at ~2:02). Whaaaaa?!! (via the kid should see this)

Tags: Marten Ajne   skating   sports   video
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TimidWerewolf
12 days ago
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Beautiful sounds
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A list of 25 Principles of Adult Behavior by John Perry Barlow

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Silicon Valley visionary John Perry Barlow died last night at the age of 70. When he was 30, the EFF founder (and sometime Grateful Dead lyricist) drew up a list of what he called Principles of Adult Behavior. They are:

1. Be patient. No matter what.
2. Don’t badmouth: Assign responsibility, not blame. Say nothing of another you wouldn’t say to him.
3. Never assume the motives of others are, to them, less noble than yours are to you.
4. Expand your sense of the possible.
5. Don’t trouble yourself with matters you truly cannot change.
6. Expect no more of anyone than you can deliver yourself.
7. Tolerate ambiguity.
8. Laugh at yourself frequently.
9. Concern yourself with what is right rather than who is right.
10. Never forget that, no matter how certain, you might be wrong.
11. Give up blood sports.
12. Remember that your life belongs to others as well. Don’t risk it frivolously.
13. Never lie to anyone for any reason. (Lies of omission are sometimes exempt.)
14. Learn the needs of those around you and respect them.
15. Avoid the pursuit of happiness. Seek to define your mission and pursue that.
16. Reduce your use of the first personal pronoun.
17. Praise at least as often as you disparage.
18. Admit your errors freely and soon.
19. Become less suspicious of joy.
20. Understand humility.
21. Remember that love forgives everything.
22. Foster dignity.
23. Live memorably.
24. Love yourself.
25. Endure.

Here’s what these principles meant to Barlow:

I don’t expect the perfect attainment of these principles. However, I post them as a standard for my conduct as an adult. Should any of my friends or colleagues catch me violating one of them, bust me.

You can read remembrances of Barlow from the EFF and from his friends Cory Doctorow and Steven Levy. The EFF wrote:

Barlow was sometimes held up as a straw man for a kind of naive techno-utopianism that believed that the Internet could solve all of humanity’s problems without causing any more. As someone who spent the past 27 years working with him at EFF, I can say that nothing could be further from the truth. Barlow knew that new technology could create and empower evil as much as it could create and empower good. He made a conscious decision to focus on the latter: “I knew it’s also true that a good way to invent the future is to predict it. So I predicted Utopia, hoping to give Liberty a running start before the laws of Moore and Metcalfe delivered up what Ed Snowden now correctly calls ‘turn-key totalitarianism.’”

Barlow’s lasting legacy is that he devoted his life to making the Internet into “a world that all may enter without privilege or prejudice accorded by race, economic power, military force, or station of birth … a world where anyone, anywhere may express his or her beliefs, no matter how singular, without fear of being coerced into silence or conformity.”

Tags: Cory Doctorow   John Perry Barlow   lists   Steven Levy
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TimidWerewolf
16 days ago
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Words to live by
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StunGod
16 days ago
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That's a worthwhile list. I think I'll appropriate it.
Portland, Oregon, USA, Earth
dnorman
16 days ago
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fantastic guidelines. focus. give a shit. love.
Calgary
digdoug
16 days ago
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Mr Barlow would definitely give me a "D" as an adult. But I'm trying.
Louisville, KY

The strength to say no to a dictator

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Saddam Hussein met the end of his days at the end of a rope in 2006, sentenced to death for crimes against humanity. It's a fate many argued was justly deserved. In 2003, the New York Times estimated that the number of individuals murdered, killed in wars the dictator started or who simply vanished during his despotic rule of Iraq could be as high as 22 million people. Given the atrocities Hussein is infamous for, the idea of anyone under his rule opposing him sounds like the stuff of a bad melodrama.

But it's exactly what Dr. Hussain al-Shahristani, an Iraqi citizen, did.

An expert in the design of nuclear reactors, Dr. Shahristani was personally approached in 1979 by Saddam Hussein to assist his regime with their nuclear weapons program – a request that Dr. Shahristani turned down. His refusal to aid the Iraqi dictator's quest to build a nuclear arsenal resulted in his being imprisoned in the notorious Abu Ghraib prison, where he was routinely tortured for a decade. In 1991, during an allied bombing raid, Dr. Shahristani managed to escape his captors, returning to freedom, his family and starting down the road to a career in politics.

The story of Dr. Shahristani's time in prison and his daring escape is one of the most badass tales of defiance that you're likely hear. This past week, the BBC spoke to the good doctor, who recounted his story. If you've got a few minutes, it's definitely worth a listen.

Image courtesy of Wikipedia Commons

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TimidWerewolf
20 days ago
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