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youth movements.

April 1, 2011

ah man.  the month flew by again.  actually that’s not true.  it felt like a long month in most respects.  but in terms of getting stuff up on the blog…it flew by.  i didn’t get to talk about tiger moms.  bullocks.  but i found this


so that’s inspiring and also terrifying.  guess i can’t use my small hands as an excuse for my subpar geetar skills anymore.  someone mentioned to me that it looked as if they’d snagged the little dudes from the “it’s a small world” ride at disney…which i found out was one of my all time favorite rides when i went there as a three year old.  my dad on the other hand was evidently not a huge fan, at least not the 5th and 6th times…my mom informed me that i made him take me on it over and over and over again.  dad, i know you read this and i just want to apologize…that had to have been maddening.  but i appreciate it.  also i was terrified of mr. toad’s wild ride evidently and i also loved the country bear jamboree which isn’t nearly as cool now as it was when i was tiny (at least judging from pictures from back in the day), which is not at all surprising.  anyway i would encourage you to read up on the whole tiger mom craze, if you haven’t already.  i haven’t read the book yet, but i’m looking forward to doing so.  i think it’s an extreme approach to parenting, yet i think it’s a good spark because i think in a lot of respects we’re on the other end of the parenting spectrum…too hands off, too lenient…we need to find a balance between where we are now and the tiger mom approach.  and that’s not to say that there aren’t parents out there who have found that balance…but on a national scale we seem to be struggling.

also i found this:

so this map is cool.  nothing super surprising, although i was a little surprised at how low the desire for educated folks to come to america was…not because i think we’re so great, but just based on the number of educated people my age who i have spoken to who have expressed an interest in immigrating.  but more so i was blown away by singapore’s high rates.  there could be a number of reasons for this…i haven’t broken down the data but i would gather that an increase in the number of educated people in asia (particularly se asia) might have something to do with it.  not to take anything from singapore…i know they have a lot of great stuff going on…lots of investment in really innovative stuff, particularly tech stuff, and a relatively low cost of living when compared with other desirable countries.  also interesting to see the difference in desirable european countries…while most of the other countries are desirable to both young and educated this does not necessarily seem to be the case in europe…uk, italy, and france are in the top 10 for young people but not educated folks, and denmark, austria, ireland and germany are on the educated but not young people top 10.  sweden and spain make both top 10s.  so i find that interesting…if i thought about it some more i could probably come up with some reasons but i’m going to move on and mull it over later.

so…these wrap-up posts are the devil…might well be the bane of my blogging existence.  they’re hard.  searching and researching and taking in info right up until the end of the month…its hard to try and turn around and synthesize and debrief and process all of it for the wrap up post.  it feels overwhelming.  so we’re just gonna see how this goes…but i’ve decided to share with you some of the things i have learned this month, geographically.  and also…this month to me was really about youth…being inspired and motivated to work with youth and to inspire them, and also being inspired by my peers and all the great things they’re doing, and also inspired by spite and frustration with the status quo.

i’ve done a fair amount of self study on the history of southeast asia.  read a lot of books (narratives mostly) on the area, particularly in regards to wwII and the vietnam war, and with historic land use.  and i’m familiar with the colonial history of the area.  but i’ve never taken a formal class on the topic.  it’s a fascinating place i think.  i’m immensely interested in colonial and post colonial geographies in general but particularly in southeast asia.  africa has had a lot of craziness in colonial geographies but it’s a whole continent.  southeast asia…i mean you got the british (and because of the british presence in india you also had a lot of indians) in burma/myanmar and malaysia, you got the french in laos, cambodia and vietnam, you got first the portuguese and then the dutch in most of indonesia, you’ve got nobody (offically) in thailand, you’ve got the spanish and then the u.s. in the philippines.  madness.  also a couple of books of historical fiction have played a role in my grasp of the history of the area:  the glass palace, cryptonomicon and the baroque cycle.  most of my knowledge of colonial geographies is based on my interest in the area of occupation but i was looking at colonial maps and was intrigued by the disappearance of spain (and iberia in general) between 1800 and 1914.  they had dibs on like half the new world…and then boom, nothing.  (it’s actually pretty interesting to see the drastic changes that happened worldwide, but definitely the thing that stood out to me was the disappearance of spain.)  what’s even more startling, once one begins to poke around, is that the fall of the spanish empire occurred in the first 30 years of the 19th century.  also, check out how crazy africa got in those 100 years.




so, here’s the highly, highly, ridiculously abridged version of the fall of the spanish empire:

*the french (under napoleon) took back the louisiana territory in 1800  (treaty of san ildefonso).

*1803 french sell the louisiana territory to the u.s. and border disputes between u.s. and spain follow…by 1820 u.s. has florida and the rest of the southeast u.s.

*spanish navy is destroyed by the french in 1805 (battle of trafalgar), severely impairing spain’s ability to control overseas territories.

*french invade spain in 1808 (peninsular war) further mucking up spain’s ability to run their empire.

*power vacuum in spain in the wake of the peninsular war…things get all rebellious and civil warry and ugly in spain.

*so while things are all out of control back in spain things get all weird in spanish america and, inspired by the successful and fairly recent revolution in north america, the wars of independence in spanish america go down…first with paraguay in 1811 and more or less ending in 1821 with all of central america.

i hope i didn’t bore you with that…it just boggled my mind how quickly such a seemingly strong empire collapsed.  so i learned that this month.  and it reminded me of this article on some possible scenarios for america by 2025.

also i’m currently reading a book called “deliver us from evil” and it’s making me feel like a dummy.  i thought that africa was my achilles heel in terms of geography but it’s a large continent and i have a fairly decent general sense of where countries lie…at least the region in africa in which they lie, so i always cut myself some slack.  my balkan geographic knowledge on the other hand, it turns out, is ridiculous, especially given the small region with which we’re dealing and the conflicts that have occurred there in the last twenty years.  i haven’t kept track of things over there very well.  in fact if you had laid out maps of the balkan peninsula from the last 50 years there’s a good chance i wouldn’t be able to put them in chronological order.  so this is something i’m in the process of attempting to rectify.  i’m now pretty solid in my current, locational geography of the peninsula, thought i’m unsure as to the exact political and sovereign nature of those geographies so there’s still more to be done on the understanding of the geographies.  and also lots more to be studied regarding the history of the current geographies…how have things changed over the last 100 years or so?  this is important both for current issues in the region as well as in predicting or anticipating future issues.  so i’m on the balkan grind as of recently.  i’d also like to use this to make a point as to how books or other interests can introduce us to geographies, outside of a formal education.  this book is something i’m reading for pleasure (the subtitle is “warlords and peacekeepers in a world of endless conflict” which should give you some idea what the book is about…mostly the politics and difficulties of peacekeeping and the awkward position that the u.n. holds) and honestly i probably would’ve gone a lot longer in my ignorance of all things balkan if i hadn’t been reading this book.  so that’s rad.  feeling like a dummy can be really motivating sometimes, as long as it’s not someone really berating you for being a dummy…that’s just demoralizing.  so, that also happened for me this month.

but mostly over the last month i’ve seen my frustration with our current education system rise.  demoralizing.  it thwarts creativity and questioning and critical thinking and problem solving, which is all the fun stuff really.  both for teaching and for learning.  it’s so maddening…seeing the systematic wringing of those traits from kids.  and it’s not even being replaced with anything worthwhile…and i suppose by that i’m sort of referencing the tiger ma debate.  a lot of the arguments and uproar over the book have centered on how she was so strict and how she just grilled their kids…practice, practice, practice, study, study, study…turning them into robots (see above video).  i concur…to a certain extent, but at the same time we seem to have an epidemic of medicated, bubble filling, video gaming, apathetic kids so…i don’t know…i’d probably take the violin playing freaky science robot kid over the medicated bubble filler kid.  just saying.  we’re not turning our kids into robots but we’re certainly not doing them any favors in the school system (and charter schools and private schools, i regret to tell you, are not the answer.  there’s nothing wrong with them, but they’re not the solution), or, in many cases, at home (read “the road to whatever” by curie!)  i guess what’s really been brought to light for me, and that really concerns me, is america’s lack of progress.  and i don’t mean this in any sort of overtly political sense.  we’re stagnant, we’re tied down by all these old, entrenched ways of doing things and we have to break out of that.  we need to be progressive in public schooling…that’s where it absolutely has to start…and then carry over into other places from there.  we have got to step up to the plate and become innovators on a nation wide scale again.  i’m not entirely sure why we aren’t.  i can only assume it’s because we’re terrified of change and because corporations are fine with the current situation (though this doesn’t explain the school stuff).  but it’s getting to the point where being innovative and progressive is more profitable…so what in the shit are we doing?  i don’t know.  little bit confused by it.  but whatever the reasons…it’s time to cut the ties that bind and get to work being innovators.  i’m throwing down the gauntlet obama.  i realize you got a lot on your plate but…let’s just do this thing.  time to make big moves.  paradigm shifts.  invest in green technologies, invest in public schools and curriculum that could care less about bubble filling (to obama’s credit, he spoke out against tailoring academics towards standardized testing success)…we’re stuck in our habitual patterns…it’s time to nut up.  and that’s a call out not just to obama…in fact he’s one of the last people on the list.  first and foremost it’s a call out to us…to the general populace, and to the youth in particular…to go viral, go grassroots.  time to kick the diy ethic into high gear.  now is the time to diy…this is being proven right now in the music industry (or more appropriately the collapse of the music industry) but it can work in any industry.  so do it to it.  k.  that’s my rant on that.  i got fired up this month.  and also excited about some projects that i’ve been thinking about and also motivated by some projects that other people my age (some whom i know and some whom i don’t) are getting up to.  i’m ready for action.  this also relates to the whole collapse of the u.s. and the collapse of empires in general…i think they get entrenched…they attempt to keep doing what got them to where they are, despite very obvious indicators that it’s no longer the way to go.  it also probably plays a large role in why educated people don’t want to come here, and why many of us want to get out.

alright, enough.  i will close with the recommendation that you watch the movie “waiting for superman,” read this primer on class struggle (it relates back to education and to “waiting for superman”), and read this regarding the recent michelle rhees debacle (i love that word).  i know this was not really a wrap up so much as a catch all ragtag information dump but, it is what it is.  and i’m calling it my wrap up.  and now i have to go think on data.  and by that i mean go have a beer.

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