Author Archives: VanessaVaile

Nurture your “Weirdos”

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“We have a new bigotry in America. We don’t want to be around anyone who disagrees with us about anything.”~ Bill Clinton at the 2013 GLAAD Awards

We live in world of conformity. Being different, being … “not like everyone else is or like your supposed to be” – is bad. Because if you’re different, then you’re unpredictable. And most people need predictability. Their minds aren’t programmed to understand, or even accept these “outliers.”

And it seems like it’s getting worse.

In the misguided (and ineffective) effort to be globally competitive in the education world, we have sacrificed all for the pursuit of rote math and science instruction. This relentless focus has left all creative pursuits, such as art and music, nothing more than carnage in the ditch along the academic road to mediocrity. It’s like we’re programming an army of drones.

nonconformist

Instead of nurturing creativity, we test. Instead of teaching applicable…

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A Transgender-Military Reading List

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A Transgender-Military Reading List

Longreads

On Wednesday, President Donald Trump announced, via Twitter, a ban on transgender people serving in the United States military.

His tweeted justification was that “our military must be focused on decisive and overwhelming victory and cannot be burdened with the tremendous medical costs and disruption that transgender in the military [sic] would entail.”

It was, several Twitter users noted, an odd way to mark the 69th anniversary of President Harry Truman signing an executive order that ended racial discrimination in the military. There are currently thousands of transgender people serving in the nation’s all-volunteer military.

As BuzzFeed Newsnoted, a policy instated last year ensures transgender people the right to serve in the military, and have the medical costs of their transition covered…

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As Climate Change Threatens Food Supplies, Seed Saving is an Ancient Act of Resilience

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The Revolution Where You Live

In Norway, a high-tech seed vault flooded from melting permafrost. In Montana, locals share their seeds at the library.

Seed Library Volunteers and librarian at the Great Falls, Montana, Seed Exchange. Photo by Sarah van Gelder

On Feb. 26, 2008, a $9-million underground seed vault began operating deep in the permafrost on the Norwegian island of Spitsbergen, just 810 miles from the North Pole. This high-tech Noah’s Ark for the world’s food varieties was intended to assure that, even in a worst-case scenario, our irreplaceable heritage of food seeds would remain safely frozen.

Less than 10 years after it opened, the facility flooded. The seeds are safe; the water only entered a passageway. Still, as vast areas of permafrost melt, the breach raises serious questions about the security of the seeds, and whether a centralized seed bank is really the best way to safeguard the world’s food supply.

Meanwhile, a much…

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A Saturday in May…

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A few years ago, when visiting my daughter in Los Angeles, I was on a walk through West L.A. when I ran across a homeless man collecting cans and bottles from a dumpster. I stopped and we talked for about for fifteen minutes.

We talked about a lot things; the weather, the BP oil spill and eventually the economy. His take on the economy was that he thought things were getting worse, rather than better – as what we’d been hearing from the news media. “How did you come up with that?”  I asked him.

“Well I see more cheap brand cans in the garbage than I used to. Even last year when things were supposedly worse, people still drank Coke and Budweiser. But now it’s changed.”  It’s Shasta and Natural Light.

His astute observation was definitely not a perspective I wouldn’t have gotten through my normal channels. But it made sense –…

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N is for: Not today, Not in the mood, Not

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when you’re NOT in the mood ~ just take a cranky break. sometimes we need one. learning about chōka is a plus and made me less cranky.

I was curious about how it related to Tanka. So I looked it up and went down the internet rabbit hole — also good for cranky mitigation, https://www.google.com/search?q=choka+vs+tanka

if you want kin, you must plant kin ...

Tonight I am cranky. Tired and cranky. The day started mostly well. But bad news has a way of forcing any glimmer of hope and happiness to gutter and fade. This will pass. I know it will. But for now, all I want to say is, No.

No. No. No. No. No.

And also: Damn it.

__________

Mixing of cultures
dipping toes in the water
Learning who we are,
learning how we are alike
past the differences
that poke at us, cloud our view
We have now, just now
to listen with eyes open.
We have only now —
this half-spent moment, this breath.
to listen, finally hear.

I keep trying to poke at different things with these chōka . I’m too fussy right now to have a real opinion about this one. It doesn’t do what I wanted it to, but it’s done, and that’s got to be enough of…

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The Top 5 Longreads of the Week

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The Top 5 Longreads of the Week

Just read ~ the articles speak for themselves

Longreads

In this week’s Top 5, read a letter from Coretta Scott King and stories by Lizzie Presser, Kathryn Schulz, Michael Friscolanti, and Mitchell Sunderland.

Sign up to receive this list free every Friday in your inbox.

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Tired and stressed? Take a break

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…”Contemporary society is tired and stressed because we’ve abandoned two ancient traditions” by Amanda Crowell @aj_crowell. Those would be keeping to a nocturnal sleep cycle and taking a day off. Let the human mind-field lay fallow once every seven days.

It’s exhausting, trying to make it in the middle class. Like a lot of people, I work outside my full-time job in the gig economy. This means that, in addition to being a college professor, I do small, one-off jobs for money such as writing articles and providing professional development to teachers. The appeal of…

via Contemporary society is tired and stressed because we’ve abandoned two ancient traditions — Quartz

Hieronymus Bosch, virtual pilgrimage, and the memory of the crusades.

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I came across Anthony Bale’s (dta @RealMandeville) blog skimming #MLA17 tweets (the cheap, quick way to do MLA). How could a former closet medievalist resist either “þis & þat. Views mine & Margery Kempe’s” or Hieronymous Bosch? Not me.

Remembered Places

The paintings of Hieronymus Bosch (Jheronimus van Aken, c. 1450-1516) are famously rich in detail, beguiling, and hard to interpret. Amongst Bosch’s enigmatic works, one has been singled out as being especially hard to understand: his Epiphany panel triptych of c. 1495, now held at the Prado Museum in Madrid. The image shows, in the foreground, the Magi visiting the infant Jesus in the stable at Bethlehem. In the distant background is Jerusalem. At the top of the image, in the central panel and at the formal ‘summit’ of the triptych, is the star which guided the Magi. In the side panels, the donors kneel with their patrons saints. There’s obviously a wealth of other imagery here, but in the current context, I’m particularly interested in the Holy Land scene that Bosch sets up here.

Hieronymus Bosch, Triptych of the Epiphany, c. 1495, oil on panel. Museo nacional del Prado, Madrid. Hieronymus Bosch, Triptych of the Epiphany, c. 1495, oil on panel. Museo nacional del Prado, Madrid.

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Themes of 2016

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occasional links & commentary

vrjersq

Looking back over the past year, here are the ten major themes I found in my blog posts:

inequality

critique of mainstream economics

the U.S. presidential election, especially Bernie Sanders and Donald Trump

class and surplus

epistemology, especially uncertainty

utopia

working-class

corporations and capital

academy

critique of liberalism

We’ll see what happens in the current year. . .

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