Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Dec. 4: Wow! Yea! O joy O rapture unforeseen...

The TandT printed my letter  on the project to teach enterpreneurship in the schools.

Now, for those who would claim I am opposed to entrepreneurhip or to teaching it, that is not what I said at all. What I am opposed to is

1. A special interest group coming into the schools to teach anything. I think that students should be taught was communism is. But I don't think it should be a programme designed and taught by the Communist Party of Canada.

2. A special interest group has a stake in its subject. It cannot be impartial. It will be an indoctrination rather than a teaching group. We had a hint of that when the premier made his puerile statements that entrepreneurs make happier communities and happier families.

 Sure. And they're also better in  bed.

3. To run such a programme for the full school life of 13 years really means that this can only be indoctrination, not learning of any sort. (And they haven't even given us the names of the people who are behind this.)

4. Finally,  to devote so much school time to a career which has only limited opportunities - and those declining - is absurd.

But my letter made it. I'm so excited.

There's also  an excellent letter by David Coon of the Green Party.
Norbert has an exceptionally  wacky and ranting column. He begins by accusing liberals and left-wingers  ( whatever he may mean by those) of just calling their opponents names. Then he writes a column in which he just calls them names.

And the man doesn't have a clue what he's talking about.

1. He is writing an attack on those who think everyone should get equal pay. What is he babbling about? I've never even met a person who says everybody should get equal pay.
2. He writes a paragraph about how the rich have higher IQs. I know of no evidence that is true. Does he have any? Would he, perhaps, write a list of the IQ of each member of the Irving family?
3. Then he says the argument about IQs is silly. I agree. So why did he waste a whole paragraph on it?
4. Then he has high praise for the economic policies of Margaret Thatcher. Apparently, he hasn't noticed that those policies have created an economic crisis and monstrous poverty in Britain. It has also opened up the banking system to criminal abuse by the bankers. And they have taken full advantage of it to copy the American banking crisis in Britain.

In effect, Norbert is using ignorance (and vague ignorance at that) to refute an argument that nobody has made in the first place.

Despite Norbert's claim, nobody has suggested throwing money at the poor - though Norbert has often enough spoken in favour of throwing money at the rich. (like giving a hockey team owner some 80,000 a year what?)

He says the rich need an incentive. Okay. the senior Irving makes more money in five seconds of sipping a cup of coffee than a single mother makes at a whole day of hard work for Walmart at minimum wage. Are there any limits, Norbert, to the incentive?

He opens by saying "Here's something on the pointlessness of being a slave to ideology." Then he shows us how he is a slave to ideology, and a hopelessly ignorant one at that.

Invested health keeps the economy healthy? You  twit. The US and Canada have never had so much invested wealth at they do today. Do you seriously call our economies healthy? Are you so blind as all that?

Norbert obviously blames leftists for all this - though there is no reason to believe he knows what a leftist is. That makes his closing quotation bizarre.

"As long as your ideology identifies the main source of the world's ills as a definable group, it opens the world up to genocide."

Norbert ---- are you so thick as not to realize that that is just what you have done - to identify the main source of the world's ills as a definable group?

To be very serious Norbert, I could not give this wildly illogical column a passing grade for even a freshman class. Indeed, it is so ill-informed and ranting, that I don't think I could have accepted it at all.

With more respect, much more, I also disagree with Alec Bruce's "Our education system has lost its way".

This deals with the poor scores by Canadian students in world wide testing. (Actually, Canada's scores are, in general, at the upper levels. They are far superior, for example, to American schools which are now in the world basement - partly because of the deep poverty in much of the US, partly because of racism, and partly because of interference by the rich in the schools - rather like our case of "entrepreneurs" interfering in our schools.

It's a subject on which I feel strongly because my first year of school, I was in a class with  the normal range of human intelligence. But not one finished high school. Later, I would be in a class with Jewish kids, again with the normal range of  human intelligence. But almost all of them went to university. Still later, I tuaght classes in China. Again, with  the normal range of human intelligence. But the quality of work was higher than I had known among my Canadian students.

It's not just the schools that do the teaching. It's also parents who do (or don't). Kids in my grade one class were raised to think of finishing grade 9 as a triumph. The greatest ambition was a 'steady' job.

My Jewish friends were brought up to think of going to university as normal and, commonly, the see the PhD as normal, too. Their parents and communities and synagogues also taught my Jewish friends to take a lively interest in intellectual life -to discuss, to learn, to experience. (That was quite a contrast to my Christian church.) I had the same experience later in working for the YMCA and then for the YMHA.

My Chinese students were spurred on by a strong sense of family, and the duty to do well for the family.

And in New Brunswick? Well, there is no intellectual life. The newspapers are trivial. Radio is mostly trivial. Public discussion doesn't exist. Churches? Their limit is pancake breakfasts and cute slogans on their billboards.

I've taught in Canada, The Netherlands, and China. I've seen no great difference in the teachers or the educaton systems. But, oh, there are  huge  differences in the societies and the people. If we want to improve our schools, we need to start with ourselves. (It would also help to keep outside groups and billionaires well away from our schools.)

You wonder why our children aren't intellectually more active? Take a look at the op ed page of the TandT almost any day - especially today.
There's really no point in reading anything in today's paper- though there have been things an intelligent editor would have noted. (You think our schools are in trouble? Take a look at our newspapers. A public that buys newspapers like that is a public that produces children who will not do as well as they should in school.)

One item of interest that didn't make the TandT is that the Bank of Montreal is laying off 1,000 people.

In the past year, the bank made a record profit of 4.2 billion.

Yessirree, Norbert. It just shows that if you let the rich keep their wealth, they will use it to benefit.....well......themselves.  To be fair, though, they also provide jobs for column writers who kiss the right rear ends.

Romeo Dallaire, now a senator had a car accident yesterday. It seem to be h ave been due to extreme stress. Rwanda was a shattering experience for him; and yesterday he was coping with the news that three Afghanistan veterans had recently committed suicide.

Funny how the papers don't say much about that. What happens to soldiers who suffer mental illness from their experience of war? How many suffer? What do we do about it? In the US, at least they get news reports - and t he figures there for suicide and mental illness are stunning. That's something we might talk about next somebody suggests we join somebody else's war.

What was Afghanistan about? Even Americans don't know. And it's their war.

Finally, I had a note yesterday that some 85 million bees were found on just one Ontario farm - dead.
They're dying all over the world in billions to such a degree that farming is being devastated for lack of pollination. In some countries, they they have to do the enormous job of pollinating plants by hand just to get enought to survive.

What's killing the bees is a pesticide containing neonicotinoids. produced by Bayer. The European Union has banned it for two years. Bayer, being public-spirited and all, is suing the government for cutting into its business.

The Harper government, predictably, has done nothing whatever.

There's a price for doing nothing. One hell of a price.



  1. There is always a different way to view the situation.

  2. I believe Socrates was one of the greatest entrepreneurs of antiquity. Archimedes, Heraclitus and Pythagoras were equally prolific and original entrepreneurs, but Plato's Socratic knock-offs were nothing but cheap imitations.