Consistency and Hypocrisy

People are, obviously, not characters in books.  They are not consistent and not easily summed up in a few words.  They are contradictory and surprising.  It is easy to stay angry at someone while buying into one of these narratives – e.g., “He is always critical” or “She never wants to do what I like” and so on.  It is also easy to poison relationships by believing these narratives about oneself, thinking that one is ABC or XYZ.   Wouldn’t it be nice if we could be described with clear delineated borders and summed up a business card?  But people are too complex not to be hypocritical (to paraphrase Allen Ginsberg). (more…)

Learning History

History allows us to bear witness to the past.

It is nothing short of amazing that whole kingdoms and empires rose and collapsed, that people lived and died for their ideals, and yet few people today know anything about them.  It is amazing because history has amazing stories to tell, lessons to teach, and those people were and are important even if they are not remembered.  They helped shape our culture and manners, how we view one another, our morals too. (more…)

Black Friday

A prevalent drive of individuals in this society is to be a part of the crowd, to belong to a movement, something greater than oneself.  This drive is greatly alluring.  Regardless if people really love Twilight or the Democratic Party or Dr. Who, there is an attraction of sharing an experience or an emotion with strangers and friends alike, via a common activity or affinity.  The manifestations of this are infinite, and the day after Thanksgiving, it comes out as a shopping spree. (more…)

Educational Testing and its Repercussions

Education does not work in isolation.  Legislative efforts (such as No Child Left Behind, Common Core, and others) focus on high-stakes testing to standardize teaching and educational performance across the nation.  While schools should deliver a guaranteed minimum of education, in practice these efforts force a “teach for the test” effort.  As has been argued many times before (link), tests are not a very good measure of educational attainment.  For example: (more…)

Expressing One’s Potential

The mind dreams of possibilities and potentials and is cursed by the inability to express them all.   The disconnect between our dreams and reality is felt during the weeks after New Year’s, when resolutions are put to the test and people find that it is much harder to write that book or run that mile than they had imagined.  Sometimes the disconnect is verbalized as “not knowing who I am” or “not living up to one’s potential.” (more…)

Must all Debts be Repaid?

Debt is a very confusing topic, mixed up with economics, politics, morality, and religion, not to mention a wide spectrum of emotions from grief and apathy to anger.  The book Debt by David Graeber delves into several of these aspects in his history, and opens for discussion a key question: What role and to what degree should debt have in our lives? (more…)

Nature vs. Nurture

In the dichotomy of nature vs. nurture, nurture wins.  Most characteristics that tend to be placed in the nature column in fact belong to nurture, such as much of the supposed gender divide.  The sometimes held myth that women are not as good at mathematics, for example, is more a result of imposed gender roles than any intrinsic proclivity. While genetics (perhaps the epitome of the nature aspect) does play a factor in people’s lives, but it is also not uncommon for genetics to be overcome or at least mitigated by training and lifestyle changes (i.e. nurture). (more…)

Justice and Education

When meting out justice, the courts say that ignorance is no excuse; not knowing the law and courtroom/police procedure does not protect one from the punishments resulting from breaking the law.  If this is true, then justice seems to require a populace educated in law, police work and courtroom protocol.  Yet, many remain uninformed and ignorant.  Those who actually understand the basic requirements to being a fully enfranchised citizen belong to a specific and exclusive class (i.e. lawyers, judges and jurists in general).  Something is awry. (more…)