http://www.jonathanbfisher.net/wp-content/uploads/2019/02/7Kyger.jpg

The above is from WJ Ray’s website, which has a great audio recording of Kyger reading her poem, along with many other selections from the late great mid-century icon.

I was reminded of this poem, which I’m certain I read in college, by a short essay called “Listing to Port” from the Ethnopoetics blog, L U N A C I E S.

The author there also recommends an essay about Sei Shonagon (of Pillow Book fame) in the Kyoto Journal here.

My final comment:  I love how such an ordinary Japanese word “tansu,” which is a simple chest of drawers, made its way into this poem… I suppose it’s just as commonplace in Kyger’s world as psilocybin would or would not have been in those days in her cabin in upstate NY or BC or wherever she lived– was Gary Snyder around then?  Had they spent a frivolous expat year in Japan where they could snap up antique furniture on the cheap in between acid trips?  I love how Kyger’s “disaster” is adjacent to such bourgeois luxury as perfume (and the tansu)– I guess I mean I am nostalgic for time in my own life when I could retreat into the medicine cabinet, to the water bed or to the cabin in the woods.

But perhaps this poem is gesturing towards a turning point– when the poet must put away childish things and start looking for blind spots.  After all, the bear has “luckily” done away with the whole medicine cabinet.  This is hardly lucky for the hapless animal.  So, it must be a way out– a sign or an invitation to the next phase in life, whatever that may be.

Here’s to treating life’s disasters with such grace– to letting the bear sleep it all off– to taking stock of all that’s been destroyed– to finding beauty in that list.

NC judge throws out voter ID and income tax constitutional amendments from News & Observer

North Carolina’s voter ID and income tax rate constitutional amendments were thrown out by a Wake County Superior Court judge who said the General Assembly is unconstitutionally elected due to gerrymandering.

Source: NC judge throws out voter ID and income tax constitutional amendments

Twitter Version: If you’re not an “activist” judge, you’re not doing it right.

Kudos to NC’s Liberal Establishment for answering the legislature’s nonsense from last session.  The framing of this as a “democracy” issue by the chief justice is really wise and will hopefully be an important signal for other citizen activists and politicians in Raleigh who can hopefully free the current government from the thrall of capital.

Eyes Left is creating a socialist, anti-war military podcast | Patreon

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Source: Eyes Left is creating a socialist, anti-war military podcast | Patreon

This is the best new podcast I heard in 2018, and I didn’t catch it until the very end of the year, after one of its creators appeared on another show I love called, The Antifada.

I have gotten a lot of guff from my fellow lefties in the past about my pacifist views– pacifism is naive, it’s too idealistic, what about Hitler, Pearl Harbor, blah blah blah. . . or more compellingly, recently what about antifa– how can I square my desire to punch a white supremacist with avowed pacifism?  The creators of “Eyes Left” have done an excellent job of helping me think through these issues, by making some of the philosophical and historical underpinnings and context of socialist anti-war thinking available in convenient, timely audio packets.

I have now listened through their entire back catalog, and it is all superb– their voices are those of authentic, insiders.  But while they often specifically address their podcast to a military audience and don’t shy away from jargon, they give explanations when necessary and explicitly reject the macho bullshit veneer of the military.

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Spenser Rapone, one-time West Point cadet, now “Other-than-Honorably-Discharged” podcaster.  Solidarity!

Greatest Hits Vol. 2

about this site

I was working on this website beginning around the beginning of my first semester at UBC.  In particular, the quotations on the “about this site” page (linked above) are a good representation of the various voices in EDucational STudies that resonated with my own voice at that time.  Here again, you can see an evolution.

The purpose of this site has always been to be a of part of the public at the margins, less obviously dominated by capital interests.  Naturally, it takes time to maintain a blog.  There are long stretches when I was exclusively posting NYTimes headlines that I thought were important to remember at the time.  Looking back at some of those blog posts, you notice the arc of my political interests.  I’ll link to a representative sample here:

Early

The School Lunch Barometer – NYTimes.com

Alcatraz American Indian Occupation Graffiti Preserved – NYTimes.com

Mid-Range

Good Neighbors, Bad Border – NYTimes.com

http://www.jonathanbfisher.net/2012/05/01/the-imperiled-promise-of-college-nytimes-com/

http://www.jonathanbfisher.net/2014/07/22/its-another-perfect-day-in-tibet-nytimes-com/

Recent Past

Ideology Seen as Factor in Closings in University of North Carolina System – NYTimes.com

 

Greatest Hits from my Masters’ in Ed. Studies

The doctoral program application continues.  And as I dive back into the writing I did for my MEd. degree nearly five years ago now, I’ll be posting some of the writing I am most proud of from those heady pre- and immediately post-fatherhood days.

I am happy to find that, rereading these pieces, though I stand by their learning value to me personally, my thinking has continue to evolve.  And I am able to see much more clearly now some of the mistakes in thinking that I was making then.  For instance, in this introduction to my capstone MEd project, which I conducted mostly remotely (from Japan) after my son was born in October 2013, I identify the current U.S. political regime as a “neo-conservative” one.  Nowadays I’m pretty certain I would use “neoliberal” to describe the Obama Administration and Anarcho-Capitalist to describe the majority Republican Congress of those years.  I think this is largely due to a certain residual confusion I had then about the philosophies and projects underlying the American political parties.  And certainly, trying to see all of these categories through a Progressive, early 20th century lens adds to the confusion.  But I think now I’ve got a better grip on some of the things I was writing about then.

EDST 580: Course Blog Introduction

Back to School August 2018 Hiroshima, Japan

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One of the most severe mudslides caused the highway to collapse into a pile of mud on top of the commuter train line below.

Schools in Japan typically operate on a trimester system, so it’s not the start of a new school year, but it is the end of summer vacation. August is when, according to Shinto tradition, the dead return en masse to the world of the living. But these imperialist ghosts are also joined in August in Hiroshima by the ghosts of the victims of the atomic bombs. The number of living hibakusha (atomic bomb victims) are declining along with the population of this country, which has suffered the slow burn of neo-liberalism since the 1980s Nakasone government.

The public high school where I work has only about 600 students now, compared to 1200 a quarter century ago. And the future of public schools here does not look good. In a picture typical of any system you might find globally where the government has been completely captured by capital, public infrastructure is allowed to crumble while school curriculum is reduced to the churn of human resources to feed the corporate machine.

As a more disturbing illustration of the damage global capital is doing to my local school district, I present the case of the landslides, and flooding which left some of the more mountainous areas outside of Hiroshima in chaos and cut some communities off almost completely from the rest of the country. As you can see in the video I’ve included, the main highway connecting Kure, the suburb where I live, to Hiroshima, where my school is located, has collapsed and what used to be the railway line below, is buried under several meters of mud and rock. At the beginning of the summer, my home, like many thousands of my neighbors’ homes, was without running water. We relied on military supply stations for drinking water and even laundry and bathing facilities

In short, this was my first direct experience with the extreme environmental harm wrought by global climate change. Like the levees in New Orleans when Hurricane Katrina hit, the drainage systems, roads and river bridges in our community just couldn’t withstand the onslaught of a super-storm. To hold capitalism responsible for such disasters doesn’t mean that I believe Sony or Mazda or Tepco or Ratheon or Amazon somehow ordered up this storm. It just means that these companies have too long held the human and environmental costs of their enterprises at arms-length as externalities or liabilities.

When the trains start running again, and as my commute time returns to normal in the next few weeks, I intend to teach about the connections between these seemingly disparate phenomena: mudslides, atomic bombs, and decaying schools.

Argument Task 15: Mason City Waterfront (Making an “ASS” out of “U” and “ME”)

ESSAY PROMPT

In surveys Mason City residents rank water sports (swimming, boating, and fishing) among their favorite recreational activities. The Mason River flowing through the city is rarely used for these pursuits, however, and the city park department devotes little of its budget to maintaining riverside recreational facilities. For years there have been complaints from residents about the quality of the river’s water and the river’s smell. In response, the state has recently announced plans to clean up Mason River. Use of the river for water sports is, therefore, sure to increase. The city government should for that reason devote more money in this year’s budget to riverside recreational facilities.

Write a response in which you examine the stated and/or unstated assumptions of the argument. Be sure to explain how the argument depends on these assumptions and what the implications are for the argument if the assumptions prove unwarranted.

 

ESSAY

Mason City Government needs to proceed with a bit more caution as interest in Mason River recreational activity ramps up. Despite the stated facts—the burgeoning popularity of water sports among Mason residents, the complaints about water quality including odor, and the State’s plans to clean up the river. There is still a lot riding on assumption as opposed to fact, data or indeed the reality of the situation in Mason City. As the city government plans to earmark more funding this fiscal year to riverside recreational facilities the following three points ought to be considered for their potential effects on the outcomes of such expenditures. First and foremost, is the Mason River going to be a viable site for marine recreational activities? Second, given the viability of such facilities, would Mason River recreational infrastructure be economically sustainable and competitive with regional waterfront facilities that are already proven more popular among locals? And finally, is opening the riverfront up to water sports really the best use of this valuable city resource? Only after these underlying assumptions have been thoroughly investigated, should Mason City government proceed with their laudable if perhaps overly-ambitious commitment of funding to this development effort.

Likely the most significant assumption being made ahead of the city’s investment in riverfront recreational infrastructure has to do with the safety of the riverfront in general. What is known is the history of pollution in the river. This history will not soon be forgotten in the community. And so, the city ought to take a long, hard look at the reality of clean-up measures, as well as advertising and public-relations campaigns that might be necessary to convince locals that that stinky eyesore in their backyards is the next vacation hotspot. Only after a more detailed development plan is mapped out can, the nitty-gritty of the budget for such a project be comprehended with clarity. And the last thing the city needs is to get involved in such an ill-begotten project only to have some poor child be poisoned or otherwise put in danger from exposure to a half-baked tourism boosting scheme.

After safety has been fully contemplated, the actual useage of the riverfront ought to be next under the microscope. As popular as water sports are apparently among the denizens of Mason City, there may well be other sectors with interests in this valuable property. Indeed city tourism may be better served by developing the riverfront as an upscale commercial property rather than a beer-soaked weekend waterhole. Or else, the industries which have up to this point been using the river for waste disposal may indeed have some economic stake in keeping marine sports out. The city is assuming that marine recreation is the best choice for riverside development, which just may not be the case.

Finally, can Mason River really be expected to compete with other facilities in the region, which are already so popular among the locals? This needs to be demonstrated before any development project can reasonably be expected to move forward.

Once these three major underlying assumptions have had the proper exposure to the light of day, with community input and appropriate data gathering and analysis, then and only then may the Mason City government be able to move proceed on its commitment of more funds to developing the waterfront for recreational purposes.

REFLECTION

Wanted to cram one more 30 minute one of these in before bedtime, since tomorrow I have the children all day, and I won’t likely have time to commit to it then.  (Parenting humble-brag?  Yuck!)  Obviously needed to devote a bit more time to re-reading/ double-checking.  I caught a few mistakes on my read through after the timer went off.  Booo!  Hiss!  Possibly a function of it being after 1am when I finished this.  Then again, this light exhaustion/ heavy caffeine state is probably a good simulation of test day state of mind.