Sunday, May 25, 2008

Teaching Eco-Friendliness

Today I am working on some supplements for a textbook on Philosophy of Education. As usual, my brain is "cooking" the little tidbits I pick up as I work through the supplements. In the background, I have a television turned on. The show is a wandering feature that seems to have gone from eco-friendly architecture to elementary-level education on global warming (or climate change, if you prefer) and new eco-friendly technologies. The kids in the probably-Californian classroom seem very engaged.

I find myself remembering corresponding lessons from when I was a small child. The big topic then was, believe it or not, littering. We did talk about energy efficiency (turn off the lights when you're not using them), and we did talk about recycle-reuse (although that might have hit its stride later, when I was in high school), but littering stands out for me because in my mind, littering is what we've been doing all along, on a grand scale. The lessons on energy efficiency and the lessons on recycling and reusing, and now the lessons on global warming and all the new "green" technologies are just about finally cutting back on all the littering we've been doing.

In the Philosophy of Education supplements, I've been going through U.S. education history. Normal schools, common schools. The shift toward female teachers. Assimilation. Nationalism. Democracy. States rights.

And here's where I believe we're really running into problems with solving our littering problem:

We now see that we need to address the littering we've been doing as a society, versus just the littering of individuals. We now see that "littering" isn't just about the empty soda can thrown from the car window, but also about the exhaust fumes coming from the tailpipe. We are now beginning to see that our whole way of life rests on littering, from the waste and pollution generated by the vehicles so that we can live at great distances from where we work, to the waste and pollution generated on our farms so that we can get steak and potatoes even when we live nowhere near cows and potato fields.

But when I say "we" see this, I mean, "we, the educated." We, who understood that littering was bad 35 years ago, and are now able to extend that understanding to a wider, more far-reaching sensibility. And the trouble is... I just recently moved from an area where, it seems clear, the idea that throwing your empty soda-can out the window is bad... isn't being taught.

In middle Georgia, I'd have to say that most people haven't got that message that is now decades old. I've seen so many things thrown from car windows, I lost track in sheer amazement. Cigarette butts to cigarette packages to banana peels to partially-empty fried chicken buckets; tissues, newspapers, ashes, and peanut shells; fast-food wrappers; fast food. And this doesn't even count the stuff that comes flying out of the beds of pickup trucks, whose owners apparently use their trucks as refuse containers until a handy wind comes along at 70 mph to clean it all up for them.

So when I watch some keen, bright students enthusiastically exploring global warming concepts, and enthusiastically embracing eco-friendly technologies, with wide eyes and practiced mouse-clicking fingers, I can't help but think that it's all going to just remain some kind of "fad" until the less-than-enthusiastic kids of places like middle Georgia, with access to far older technologies and far poorer infrastructures, are at least taught that littering JUST CAN'T HAPPEN ANYMORE.

My Philosophy of Education, unfortunately, cannot reconcile itself with this states' rights thing, because the values I think a public education should instill are values that deal with long-term issues like climate change. And frankly, I can understand that a population that doesn't get that throwing shit out their car windows is bad... probably isn't going to wholeheartedly embrace the idea that they should stop driving cars because they're part of a lifestyle that's destroying our planet.

Not gonna happen. Not unless we develop a curriculum that applies equally to the students in northern and southern California and the students in middle Georgia and Alabama. Because it takes the whole society to adequately support long-term changes.

(In the meantime, while people continue to stick with habits and values that only recognize the short-term and the known and familiar, we have judicial systems that consider the larger context based on things like constitutions, and make decisions for us that appear to be against the popular consensus. And there you go, that's my comment about gay marriage -bravo!- in California, just as much as it is about efforts to mitigate the effects of climate change.)

Saturday, May 24, 2008

Hillary continues to run in the wrong party

Soon enough, I'll get back to the important matter of kitty cats and the fact that I can now walk to the water (and will be doing that in a few minutes if I know what's good for me). But I keep getting distracted by the ongoing soap opera that is the current Democratic nomination race. I say race, but it's been somewhat stalled lately.

As a follow-up to my previous post, Hillary apparently does, in fact, think the GOP is the better party for her. Yup! Mr. Boudreaux of George Mason University breaks it down for us in a delightful way in the Wall Street Journal:

'Nothing but Misogynists'

My problem is this: If she doesn't pull out now and start rooting heavily for Obama, there won't be enough time for her to drag her faithful followers to his side before November. I am, of course, assuming that she'll even be willing to do so. Many of the faithful on both sides in this race are getting quite venomous toward the other candidate, and because of all people the GOP chose McCain... these Democrats think they have a moderate alternate choice! Yikes! Talk about a bad idea! So ONE of the Democrats has to pull out and throw his/her full support behind the other, telling his/her followers, "okay, cut the crap, you know you can't vote for McCain, you just can't." Otherwise, as my own dearest and bestest friend pointed out in his myspace blog, we're looking at a long, hard future with a very conservative Supreme Court, given the people McCain would nominate. That's much more dangerous, long-term, than just the bunch of other horrible things that McCain could do in the next four years.

Hillary apparently NOW thinks that she is being expected to be the one to pull out because she's a woman. It's sexism. WRONG. It's far more likely a reflection of the fact that she's RUNNING AS A REPUBLICAN. Pfffft.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Hillary Rodham Bush

I quite liked Hillary when all this started. Well, perhaps "liked" isn't correct, but I admired her, and I thought she seemed strong and capable. On Obama's worst days (not recent days at all, frankly), I was tempted to see Hillary as the better candidate. And the way she keeps on fighting has some appeal.

But all of a sudden, I now see that she's just another Bush. Not in that "all politicians suck" kind of way. No, I mean, really: The same deal. Rules don't count unless they support my decisions, and truth is what I say it is.

We had hints of this with the issue of Florida and Michigan. I'm sorry their respective Democratic leadership were too stupid and put their voters' numbers on the line, and obviously a compromise should be reached. But Hillary has all along insisted that the delegates be seated based on the states' results - and Obama wasn't even on the ballot in Michigan because *gasp* he was following the rules...

Now, she's insisting that the entire nominating process should be thrown out the window, and why? Because she's losing, according to the rules. So let's ditch them.

Clinton: 'This Is Nowhere Near Over'

I'm guessing she has some supporters who just adore this approach. They're probably prepared to argue that a president like this will get things done, and damn anybody who gets in her way. But the problem is, this is what we've had for the past two terms; somebody who thinks he is above the laws. The rules don't apply, and if the rules do get in the way, we can just destroy the rules and who the hell cares what happens to the country in the process.

Charmingly, she has almost come right out and promised everybody that she will be another Bush: "If we had the same rules as the Republicans, I would be the nominee right now." And oh yes, she's the stronger candidate, offering this proof: Karl Rove says so.

A lot of people are afraid of a Clinton presidency because they think she'll be another Bill Clinton. We should all be so lucky. She's another Bush.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

All tied up and everywhere to go

Yesterday, Luther and I went out to Clearwater Beach in the afternoon, to play in a bit of storm surf and get the Honda's seats wet. The sky was blue, the sand was soft, the water was warm, and the Honda with its roof stowed in the trunk is a sweet ride.

When we got home to the Clearwater house, that poor Simplicity cat was in her spot at the front window, on the sagging futon, in quite a bad state. She had somehow managed to get her squirrel-on-a-string-on-a-stick toy wrapped around her neck, something that can only have gotten worse as she tried to escape the heavy stick, dragging it and squirrel from the back of the house to that spot in the front, where she waited for rescue. We have since taken the squirrel off the stick. Imagine if she'd had this accident occur while we were away on a longer trip!

Afterward, she hid. I think she had hurt a toe or something, but there is also her pride to consider. This morning she is in better spirits, and it is the bekbek that is a little blue. Luther has left once again for Georgia. ~sigh~

So on that note, the update: I now live in Florida. It is lovely. A good deal of our household things are still in Georgia. Luther graduated from college last week, but his son will not be finished high school until the very end of the month. So as a household, we are living in two places at once --me on a futon on the floor in Florida, but with an almost-complete (and looking lovely) office; Luther with the bed and the wireless network in Georgia. Another three weeks or so and we should be able to do the rest of the move, but of course the really big day, when we have well and truly finished with Georgia and live completely in Florida... will not happen until we have sold the house.

Want it? It's looking awfully nice these days... come on, you know you want to!