Plugging In

How often, or on what system, the Thought Police plugged in on any individual wire was guesswork. It was even conceivable that they watched everybody all the time. But at any rate they could plug in your wire whenever they wanted to.

— George Orwell, 1984

They quite literally can watch your ideas form as you type.

Edward Snowden, NSA whistleblower

This week everybody was talking about the surveillance state

In a series of revelations made through The Guardian and The Washington Post, whistleblower Edward Snowden exposed how the NSA collects information on everyone, even people who have no connection to terrorism and have not done anything to raise suspicion.

In PRISM and Privacy, I collect links to the key articles and discuss how to think about them. (My conclusions are more radical than you probably expect.) But whether you click through to that or not, you should watch this 12-minute interview Glen Greenwald did with Snowden in Hong Kong on Thursday.

and Republican reform

Last Monday, the College Republicans told their party how it needs to change if it’s going to appeal to young voters. They wrote an insightful report, but I doubt the GOP will be able to follow their advice. I put the details in a separate article, Smart Kids.

and you also might be interested in …

Tennessee is one of several Republican-dominated states that are refusing federal money to expand Medicaid as part of the Affordable Care Act. Their substitute program can only be explained by The Daily Show.

Another front on which corporate personhood has been advancing for decades: Corporations claim First Amendment rights in situations that don’t look anything like free-speech cases.

Isn’t it interesting that — at the precise moment in our history when inequality is skyrocketing, when corporate profits are rising and wages shrinking — we have a corporate-funded movement that blames the failures of our inner-city public schools on lazy teachers and their unions?

I learned journalism on my high school newspaper. That makes me a dinosaur, because high-school papers are going extinct.

Speaking of high school, The Atlantic’s Ta-Nehisi Coates wrote a fabulous article explaining why he was such a bad student. When he speaks to students now

I try to get them to think of education not as something that pleases their teachers, but as a ticket out into a world so grand and stunning that it defies their imagination. My belief is that, if I can get them to understand the “why?” of education, then the effort and hard work and long study hours will come after.

Coates is largely self-educated in adulthood. The problem wasn’t that he was lazy or stupid.

I recall sitting in my seventh-grade French class repeating over and over “Il fait froidIl fait chaud.” Why was I learning French? Who did I know that spoke French? Where is France? Do they even really talk like this? Well, yeah, they kinda do. I figured that out at 37. And now I find myself clutching flashcards, repeating “Il fait froid. Il fait chaud.”

He believes poor black kids in inner-city schools want to be rappers or athletes (and work pretty hard at it sometimes) because that’s the only kind of wonder they get to see. If they understood education as a way to open up more wonder, they might work pretty hard at that too.

Remember the guy at CPAC from the White Students Union? The guy who wondered why Frederick Douglass would need to forgive his owner for “giving him shelter and food”?

What if you were his fiction-writing professor, like Ben Warner? Warner’s article in Salon is a meditation on the ambiguities of remaining in human relationship with people despite their politics, despite your inability to influence them.

Finally, it doesn’t get any cooler than …

a treehouse made of mirrors.

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  • Kimc  On June 11, 2013 at 12:38 am

    Many years ago Rex Roberts wrote a book called *Your Engineered House*. In some versions of it, there was a chapter on hiding your house, which included a mirror-covered house with one corner facing the driveway and trees all around. [I’m looking for a copy of that version of it, if anyone has one.]

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