Did Anyone Else Grow Up with Raffi?

Then you may be interested to know that he has, in his later years, turned into quite the strange philosopher and social activist! Raffi has a website from which he articulates a vision for human life which he calls "child honoring":
Child Honouring is a philosophy—a vision, an organizing principle, and a way of life—the children-first way of sustainability.

Child Honouring starts with three givens

* The early years are the most important—early childhood is the gateway to humane being.
* We face planetary degradation that is unprecedented in scope and scale—a state of emergency that most endangers the very young, and that requires a remedy of equal scale.
* This crisis calls for a systemic response in detoxifying the environments that make up the world of the child.

Child Honouring is a children-first approach to healing communities and restoring ecosystems. It views how we regard and treat our young as the key to building a humane and sustainable world. It is a novel idea—organizing society around the needs of its youngest members. The essence of its vision is expressed in A Covenant for Honouring Children and its underlying principles.

Its spirit is invitational—a call to imagine and create a diversity of child-friendly cultures. A child-honouring society would show love for its children, and therefore for all of us, in every facet of its design and organization.
Quite honestly I'm creeped out. But I guess it makes sense.


thoughts on ideology

I think that most political judgments are formed at root with underlying principles or assumptions, conscious or not, and these assumptions can be true or false. I do not think that all political opinions fall into different ideologies. The implication of this belief is that no ideology is really true and no ideology is necessarily better than any other ideology. Your ideology is what it is; it's like the color of your hair.

Ideology is something like an unwillingness to change one's mind when presented with something true that contradicts what you believe. Ideology also contains an element of having strong convictions about things you know nothing about.

But having a conviction about the way the world is, or holding to a set of principles upon which you base your political judgments is not, I think, ideology. I think there is such a thing as true political knowledge.


Alone Together

Here's a book I'm definitely picking up. It's called "Alone Together":
"A behaviour that has become typical may still express the problems that once caused us to see it as pathological," MIT professor Sherry Turkle writes in her new book, Alone Together, which is leading an attack on the information age.

Turkle's book, published in the UK next month, has caused a sensation in America, which is usually more obsessed with the merits of social networking. She appeared last week on Stephen Colbert's late-night comedy show, The Colbert Report. When Turkle said she had been at funerals where people checked their iPhones, Colbert quipped: "We all say goodbye in our own way."

Turkle's thesis is simple: technology is threatening to dominate our lives and make us less human. Under the illusion of allowing us to communicate better, it is actually isolating us from real human interactions in a cyber-reality that is a poor imitation of the real world.


Unoriginal Thoughts About The Death of Writing and the Impoverishment of Conversation

I think it's fair to say that the art of language is dying. We have replaced writing with instantaneous electronic communication and television. With Youtube, Facebook, Twitter, and texting, what need have we for the written word anymore? And our habits with respect to books? I don't think I'm alone in thinking that there are fewer and fewer novels that we read, and even fewer written these days that are worth reading. Those new novels that are worth reading tell the same mundane story about the meaninglessness of modern life. This is largely because our culture has changed almost completely from a culture of the written word to a culture of frenetic images driven by the television, the radio, and the iGadgets. This is a deep problem with consequences that are becoming more corrosive (and so more and more apparent) as time progresses.

Human beings are social creatures that need communities, small and large. Communities are bound together by common creeds, or common beliefs. Beliefs are expressed in ideas and concepts, and the fundamental building blocks of these things are words. So one foundation of all true community life is language.

Our capacity for language is a function of our culture. We can be better or worse at communicating with one another. If words become increasingly subjectivized,that is, what each person means by a particular word is more and more idiosyncratic, we are less able to understand one another. And so we perceive rightly that we have less and less in common with our fellows. The decline of language, understood in this sense, is a social disease. It slowly makes our relations more and more incoherent, and as we become more and more incoherent, we become disorganized and isolated.

All of this is incentive to practice the arts of language: Writing, reading, and speaking. I'm not sure there's a social prescription for encouraging this practice. We could emphasize reading more seriously in our public schools, but this is only possible with the support of mothers and fathers. We can turn the TV off, but again, we can make no laws to this effect, nor should we want to. So I don't know what to do but to bring this to the attention of others - first to see if any agrees with me - and second to encourage others in the fine arts of conversation, writing, and reading.

I note in passing that this is also a limited justification of blogging. I think blogging can be helpful to the end of improving one's writing skills. But a helpful blog can only be publicly oriented; it cannot be merely a diary. It must be an attempt to explain to other persons ideas that can be held in common. I've never been a big writer, and I've never needed to be one. I've never had to write someone a letter because email has been a part of my life from a very young age. But this forum lets me practice writing and explaining myself to others. Even if no one really reads it.

Now, to more pressing things. My furnace just stopped working and tomorrow is supposed to be the coldest day of the year.


Obvious Signs of Demonic Possession

The title of this post is not intended to be hyperbolic. There's lots of reasons not to read the news. But sometimes, light has to be shined on the darkness. Such is the case here. Please don't read this if you are faint of heart. The story is that a doctor in West Philidelphia has rightly been charged with murdering babies.
WEST PHILADELPHIA - January 19, 2011 (WPVI) -- A doctor who gave abortions to minorities, immigrants and poor women in a "house of horrors" clinic was charged with eight counts of murder in the deaths of a patient and seven babies who were born alive and then killed with scissors, prosecutors said Wednesday.
Why did he do it?
Dr. Kermit Gosnell, 69, made millions of dollars over 30 years, performing as many illegal, late-term abortions as he could, prosecutors said.
Authorities found signs of further depravity and horror at his "clinic":
Early last year, authorities went to investigate drug-related complaints at the clinic and stumbled on what Williams called a "house of horrors."

Bags and bottles holding aborted fetuses "were scattered throughout the building," Williams said. "There were jars, lining shelves, with severed feet that he kept for no medical purpose."

The clinic was shut down and Gosnell's medical license was suspended after the raid.
Our culture is very sick. It's easy to see this when we look at the tragedy in Tuscon. It's harder to see the millions of babies slaughtered each year. May God bless the souls of the children this man took from this world, and may he have mercy on us all.


Spelling words correctly now a matter of indifference to professional educators

I was listening to the radio on the way home today and heard that the State of Oregon will allow students taking state exams to use spell check. That is, the students no longer have to know how to spell words themselves. After all, argued one student interviewed by NPR, using spell-checker "may even benefit us, in the future."

This is disheartening but not unexpected. Democratic education has, over the years, become divorced from truth. John Dewey's plan for practical or experiential education, an education that focuses less on knowledge and more on judging what works, won over the progressive educational establishment long ago. It's just sad to see its consequences play out in their entirety.

Words matter because the Word matters. The world is ordered and words help us to understand the order. Words convey concepts, logic, and most importantly, truth. In losing respect for words, we have lost respect for one of our most basic ties: our language. Socrates said that the point of philosophy is conversation and the point of conversation is friendship. Conversation is only possible with the common bond of language and language is only meaningful if we can come to know what we have in common, that is, the truth. So in losing respect for words, we lose respect for conversation, and ultimately lose the ability to pursue to the truth in common.



Inception is an AWESOME movie

I watched the movie "Inception" the other day, and it confirmed my belief that Christopher Nolan is the most interesting director working these days (Batman Begins fame, The Prestige etc.) If you get a chance let me know what you think of the movie. I'm not sure I could have been more entertained at the theaters!


Found in a Book

"Don't love anything that can't love you back."