Djcnor’s Weblog

Posts Tagged ‘politics

Isn’t it ironic that Americans are willing to come out into the streets to show they care about the Iranian election being stolen when they wouldn’t come out into the streets after their own elections were stolen in 2000 and 2004?

When I began this blog, I had already tried blogging before but never managed to consistently write regularly and often. I had read that in order to build readership a blog had to have a focus, but I decided just to write each day about whatever interested me and see if a theme developed.

For a long time now, I have been a fan of the movement toward interdisciplinary activities of all kinds. Only rather recently have academics been divided into subjects and sub-subjects. Science, chemistry under science, biochemistry under chemistry, molecular biochemistry under biochemistry, and so on seemingly to infinity with each tiny segment developing its own jargon, its own points of reference, its own celebrities.

I know there’s more information out there than any one person can ever manage to stuff into one brain, more than any one person can become well acquainted with, but why force the choices among a preset branching path? Especially when the most world-shaking ideas often come from crossing paths on different branches.

One example, and a fascinating one to read about, was the deciphering of the Maya written language. The story of how it happened is entertainingly chronicled in Breaking the Maya Code by Michael Coe. The problem was that studiers of the Maya culture tended to specialize in one particular area. There were dirt archaeologists excavating and interpreting the material culture left behind, linguist studying the language current spoken by Mayan ethnic groups, art historians studying Mayan art, and so on and so on. No one held enough pieces of the puzzle, until the kid.

The kid was the child of two people involved in different aspects of the Maya story. The family spent a lot of summers at digs. There wasn’t a whole lot for a kid to do at the digs, aside from plague the assortment of adults studying various other aspects of the story. The result? The kid was the one who collected and connected all the different pieces and began to put them together to make sense of the Mayan hieroglyphics. He did it so well that at 18 he won one of those  MacArthur Genius Awards.

My point is the world is not split into neatly catagorized discipline. In truth, every single one of us invents his or her own discipline, and if you look hard enough but not in a particularly organized manner, you might eventually be able to come up with a good description of it.

Readers of this blog will soon figure out that I am interested in politics. But it is not the practice of politics that interests me. I’m only interested in practical politics. I look at every political issue in terms of the effects of particular policies on individual lives. And I look at those lives holistically, refusing to narrow it down to any particular area of those lives.

I’m also interested in arts, particularly fine craft arts, well practised, no shortcuts, and particularly textiles. Textiles because of structure, and because textiles are so intricately woven into our lives, woven into them in such a way as to minimize human discomfort, and doing that at the expense of the textiles themselves. Of all arts, textiles are made to give way and be worn down, to show the history of  human interaction with them.  One fine example is the shroud of Turin.

There’s another excellent book on the history of textile arts. It’s Women’s Work: The First 20,000 Years by Elizabeth Wayland Barber. It’s about women,  cloth, and society in ancient times, and every word of it interested me.

I could write much more, but mostly what I want to say is that I believe I’ve found the focus of this blog, as much as it has one. I want it to sit at the intersection of arts, politics, and life.

Today I read somethig truly alarming about the US from here:

“Already, we’re one of the few countries where 25- to 34-year-olds are less educated than older workers.”

Wow. If that is true, it explains a lot. It also means that it is already too late to prevent a deep decline in US competitiveness versus the rest of the world. I want to know if it really is true. I want to know what nations that puts us in the company of. I want to know on what basis that judgement is made.

 The data on the education levels of 25- to 34-year-olds in the G-8 countries is here:

It doesn’t look so bad except for the contrast with the Russian Federation. And that’s if you think that more people in higher education is necessarily a good idea. I’ve never been entirely certain of that, especially since it seems that technological advances, and frankly, employer distrust and desire to decrease costs, have reduced the number of jobs for which such high levels of education are truly needed. Higher educations beg to be used. To have one and not have the opportunity to use the level of intelligence and knowledge you have worked so hard to gain is to be bored.

Is it OK if this vast sea of developed knowledge is predominantly used outside of work? Perhaps yes, if it really is used. If that educated population forms an active audience for news that digs below the surface, for political reasoning longer and more nuanced than soundbites. The G8 country with the smallest percentage of 25- to 34-year-olds having higher education, Italy, has a problem with chaotic politics.

And then, again, there’s Russia. Will that huge educated population translate to an eventual pressure for more true democracy? Would it in the US? Or would it simply make a true democracy a more effective democracy, less vulnerable to swft boating and other political dirty tricks?

I think I’ll go looking for more information. I also think I’ll come back to some other points in that original article.

Djcnor’s Weblog

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