Lying with the Truth

I had a couple of public school teachers who posted the same meme about Trump's nominee for Secretary of Education, Betsy DeVos.

So we're all on the same page here's the meme:

Along with it appear comments about how bad things are going to be for school teachers. I have no information on whether any of the points are true in regards to Ms. DeVos, but am willing for my argument's purposes to suppose they are. First the last five points are entirely political and are to be expected of a Republican appointee. And I suspect because of the dishonesty in how the other points are presented that they are probably stretched out of proportion and not how Ms. DeVos would shape them. Funneling money out of public schools could be empowering poor parents to make their own choices in regards to their children's education, it depends on what side of the political fence you are on. 

So I went over to Wikipedia to look at the bios of Obama's two Secretary of Education appointments. And guess what? In terms of personal facts they are identical to Ms. DeVos. They are John King and Arne Duncan. Below you can find my summary. 

Education Degree: John King received a master’s and PhD in education (as well as a JD). Arne Duncan does not have an education degree.
  • Personal time in public education: John King's bio does not detail all his educational experience prior to college, but it does indicate he attended Phillips Andover one of the most elite and exclusive college prep schools in the country. Arne Duncan attended U Chicago Lab Schools, while less elite, I suspect this school was an in house perk of U Chicago professors like his parents.  
  • College and beyond: John King attended Harvard, Columbia and Yale. Arne Duncan attended Harvard.
  • Teaching time: John King taught for three years, two of which were in a charter school. Arne Duncan never taught.
  • Experience in School environment: John King also started a charter school, I can’t tell from the Wikipedia bio if his teaching time was in conjunction with that or not (if so his teaching time may be inflated). He served as New York Commissioner of Education. Arne Duncan served as Chicago CEO of Education, but no direct in school experience as an adult.
  • Children’s education: John King has two children, but his bio does not indicate where they attend schools. Arne Duncan’s two children attend private schools. 

It's fine to dislike someone's political stance, but you need to be honest about that and not obfuscate your stance in personal details that turn out to be the same as every other political elite. If you want to bewail the elitism in political appointments at the high levels, I'm with you, but I suggest your strongest approach would be to those you agree with first.

Mind Mapping

I"m in the process of reading Tony Buzan's The Mind Map Book. I'm trying to complete the exercises in the book and had the bright idea to mind map the rules and recommendations from the book.

Tag Cloud

This is a pictorial representations of the tags thus far in this blog.

To do something similar go to Tagxedo and work with the create feature.

While it does not yet have an ability to work directly from your blog, you can easily edit your tags and paste them into the text box. What I did was copy mine into MS Word, remove the bullets, use the numbers to copy and paste additional copies of any tag that repeated mored than once, and then remove the numbers themselves.

Tagxedo has the ability to use other images than the basic ones (like this heart), but I had difficulty to get that feature to work in a neat way.

Classics and Potboilers, and Penny dreadfuls

Tarzan of the Apes book coverImage via Wikipedia

I can't help contrasting two books I recently finished reading. One I read out loud to my ten year old and many home school moms would say it is a classic. The other I read myself and probably quicker than the one I read to my son. Most home school moms wouldn't recognize it and would be leery of letting their older children read it without some investigation.

At a certain level they were both great reads. The one has been made into many movies (and I think a TV series). It's the story of a child reared in the jungle by animals who eventually encounters a group of humans and saves them (multiple times) and falls in love with the girl in the group. He returns to civilization with one of the party and learns French and that he is the son of a well to do man and pursues the girl. Alas, she is already promised to another. He returns to the jungle.

The other is a play about a man who's brought home a war captive and her child. He's fallen in love with her and she will have none of him. He's also got a promised bride who loves him. Into the scene arrives another man demanding the death of the child (son of the enemy in the last great war) and who is also in love with the promised bride. Two die, one is insane, and the captive woman is ruling the country at the end of the play.

So which is which? Which the classic? Which the potboiling penny dreadful?

War, politics, and poular opinion

Benjamin Franklin Butler ( November 5 1818 &nd...Image via Wikipedia

Growing up in the South, I often heard lists comparing Northern and Southern assets at the beginning of the Civil War. One of the items on the pro-side for the South were military leaders.

As I've studied the Civil War this summer, I've realized that this isn't quite correct. Instead was most important early in the war for the South was a president who understood war and tactics and who was willing to do the correct thing militarily over the politics and popular opinion.

I learned for instance that the general I most think of when I think of the South, Robert E. Lee, was sent to South Carolina for perceived faults early in the war. Later, Davis brought him to Richmond to help him coordinate war materials and tactics. It was only later that Lee received command of the army of Northern Virginnia.

Eventually Lincoln became both savvy enough to understand military tactics and could overcome the unwillingness of his public to (or built his and the army's public capital to a point where they could) understand that sometimes victory came through slow protracted events and would not be accomplished by a head on engagement.

Even in the final year of the war, Lincoln still struggled with incompetent and yet politically connected generals.

The mythical better generals vanish as I contemplate how the same forces of politics and public perception were at work during the Civil War as in modern conflict.
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More Meaning

Study for the head of Leda, Leonardo, c.Image via Wikipedia

In looking over the reviews of the commentary by Ben Witherington on the book of Revelation. I noticed one reviewer complained that he never told which meaning the original readers and writer would have given an image in the book. I'm now about half way through his book and haven't found this to be a problem, but it does raise for me an important point about reading metaphoric literature of all kinds.

That's the fact that often an image can have more than one meaning and the author intended that multiple layer of meaning. It gives a piece much more depth to have this multi-level approach. To look for the one right meaning is to miss the point.

I can remember studying Yeats' "Leda and the Swan" and having a teacher walk me through those mutliple meanings that both overlapped and meshed together.

A sudden blow: the great wings beating still
Above the staggering girl, her thighs caressed
By the dark webs, her nape caught in his bill,
He holds her helpless breast upon his breast.

How can those terrified vague fingers push
The feathered glory from her loosening thighs?
And how can body, laid in that white rush,
But feel the strange heart beating where it lies?

A shudder in the loins engenders there
The broken wall, the burning roof and tower
And Agamemnon dead.
Being so caught up,
So mastered by the brute blood of the air,
Did she put on his knowledge with his power
Before the indifferent beak could let her drop?

This poem has at least four such levels, maybe more. Certainly Yeats contrived to have them there and to interlock them to allow the reader to get more than just the first reading of such a poem would give.

First, there's the basic story, Leda, a girl, is raped by a swan. To embellish that more and explain the lines about Agamemnon and the burning wall, we find the second layer, that of Greek mythology. The swan is Zeus and the children of this mating are Helen of Troy and her sister Clytemnestra, who marries and later kills Agamemnon.

But Yeats wasn't willing to stop there. He had is own view of history as a cycle of rising and falling events. For him the fall of Troy was the fall of Greek culture and signaled the rise of a later culture, Christanity. For him this moment is the beginning of modern history.1

Yet even all this doesn't quite explain that last lines, "Did she put on his knowledge with his power, Before the indifferent beak could let her drop?" Which takes us to yet a fourth level of meaning. That of the creative person who struggles to capture that one flash of creation that comes from a greater and higher force before that moment and that creativity are gone.2

This adds depth and meaning to the poem and to try to decide which of the four is right just wouldn't be, well, right.
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My Book Books

Sometime between the age of twelve and fourteen, I started writing down the books I read in a notebook. It's now about four decades since I started. Recently I started a new volume, number four. I thought I'd share the covers of each of these books.

This is the first book.

This is the second book.

This is the third book.

This is the fourth book. I have included both the spine and back cover since they are decorated as well as the front cover.