In a 46-second interview excerpt, Steve Jobs divulges a deep wisdom about our place in life:
I bumped into an amusing post on an inactive blog. In five quick, tongue-in-cheek points, Evan Lenz explains what grading teaches you:
2. An abdication of responsibility
Grading encourages you to abdicate all responsibility for evaluating your own learning. That’s somebody else’s job. Other people know better about not only what you should be learning but how well you are learning it. This is their game, and it’s your job to play it. Why you would want to learn something, what you would apply it to, what meaning or importance it has for you, what enjoyment you get from it—these are completely irrelevant to your grade. So why even pay attention to these considerations? They are a waste of time. They’re not going to help you pass that next test.
I find myself, for once, at loss for words. Despite growing up in what is essentially a warzone, I have had the ridiculously good fortune of never experiencing the horror of war first hand. In a thoughtful and powerful piece of writing, Chris Hedges has managed to transport a small taste, which I can only implore you to read if you haven’t yet. And you’ll want to sit down first, I think.
A Hebrew translation, along with some discussion, is available over at Idan Landau’s blog (his post alerted me to the existence of this piece. H/t.)
Meta comment: I haven’t been posting lately – these link posts don’t count – not for lack of ideas or words, but mainly because I’m spending a very big chunk of my waking hours in (academic) writing and having a hard time finding the time to properly formulate blog posts. I hope and assume that I’ll get posting again at some point soon, but no promises.
Just a heads-up for the grammar theorists and curious laypeople in the crowd: my BA thesis is online and freely available (in a lightly edited form). You can get it on LingBuzz (1492).
I was recently delighted to discover that Daniel Harbour, one of the linguistic theorists I’ve most enjoyed reading, has a blog – about language and also other interesting topics. It’s called the “because” charade, and here’s how he explains that curious name:
My blog is called the “because” charade because what follows the word because (in a lot of discussion of science, ethics, politics, religion, …) is rarely a reason, or reasonable, or rational. And I believe that we’d all be better off if reason(ableness) played a bigger part in public life.
Recent topics have included the Pirahã controversy – an important linguistic debate, which he explains in terms a layman can understand – and the theory of evolution. A pleasure to read!
Peter Gray, my favorite education blogger, has recently written two posts I can highly recommend:
- “The Many Benefits, for Kids, of Playing Video Games”
- “Video Game Addiction: Does It Occur? If So, Why?“
May each of the 37 “parliamentarians” who voted for this thing die slowly, and alone. Preferably of thirst, in the desert.1
- Note: I am strongly opposed to any action intended to cause any person to die in such a manner, and this is not to be interpreted as incitement to murder. It is merely that I would find it a fitting fate if they were to suffer that way, especially if they had nobody to blame for it but themselves. [↩]
I’m in Jerusalem with my family right now, and we’ve just returned from the annual extended-family vacation. I used the past days on the seaside to catch up on my feed reader, and I have a bunch of goodness to share which might help tide an eager reader over until I actually write something again.
PEACE: Harry Potter and the Politics and Terror
Dan Nexon over at The Duck of Minerva took two stabs at analyzing the last installments of the Harry Potter series. Both are an amusing and interesting read:
- “Harry Potter and Foreign Policy, or Voldemort is not Osama Bin Laden”
- “Terror, Counter-Terror, and Insurgency in Harry Potter, or Why Harry Won”
The Duck also points to a piece on Foreign Policy about the post-conflict reconstruction that must be done after the fall of Voldemort.
LANGUAGE: Pullum on apes and (possible) racists
Over at Language Log, Geoffrey K. Pullum has two excellent and characteristically sharp posts:
- “Caesar and the power of No” (on the peculiar theory of language evolution in that new Planet of the Apes movie)
- “David Starkey on rioting and Jamaican language” (attacking some racism and misconceptions around non-standard Englishes)
Other fine links
This excellent TED talk goes along the lines of what I’ve been thinking lately regarding Israeli politics and Israel/Palestine politics. Talking to the other sides is crucial in all conflicts, on whatever scale, internal or external — in a school, in a town, in a state, or between states. “Otherizing”, as Lesser calls it, is the seed of continued conflict and violence.