Good reads for early September

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Worth your eyeballs this weekend:

I’ve seen more people writing about the closing of the young American mind on college campuses. Good intentions – driven by a desire to care for people with a traumatic past, for example – have led to a choking “identity politics” which leaves little room for the kind of dissent that allows young adults to examine ideas, tear them into pieces, challenge the assumptions, and develop genuine understanding.

Not surprisingly, this policing of speech (done by students themselves, usually under the best of motives) has skewered stand-up comedy on college campuses. Amy Schumer might be a huge hit in the ratings, but only the bravest college would have the guts to risk a lawsuit or outcries from students by having her perform live.

Ironically one of the only bastions of provocative speech left on college campuses may be the frat-houses who don’t care how disgusting and racist and stupid you think they are.  … Something’s messed up….

If your goal were simply to bring great comics to a college campus, it would be easily accomplished. You would gather the school’s comedy nerds, give them a budget, and tell them to book the best acts they could afford. But then you’d have Doug Stanhope explaining to religious kids that there’s no God, or Dennis Miller telling an audience of social-justice warriors that France’s efforts to limit junk food in schools are part of the country’s “master plan to raise healthier cowards.” You would have, in other words, performers whose desire is not to soothe an audience but to unsettle it, performers who hew to Roseanne Barr’s understanding of comedy: “I love stand-up. I’m totally addicted to it,” she once said. “It’s free speech. It’s all that’s left.” …

O, Utopia. Why must your sweet governance always turn so quickly from the Edenic to the Stalinist? The college revolutions of the 1960s—the ones that gave rise to the social-justice warriors of today’s campuses—were fueled by free speech. But once you’ve won a culture war, free speech is a nuisance, and “eliminating” language becomes a necessity.

Source: Stand-Up Comics Have to Censor Their Jokes on College Campuses – The Atlantic

By the way, someone wrote a very good response piece to the Atlantic article on Medium. I’m going to post that here as well, because I think reading both in tandem makes for an interesting discussion.

“That joke isn’t funny anymore, and it isn’t because of political correctness” – Medium / by Julia Serano

Thinking about bilingual education makes my head hurt. How do we balance giving all American school children access to the English skills they need without making that very process one that destroys their native culture (if they’re from an immigrant home)?

I’ve got a friend who’s doing his PhD in International Education on questions of bilingual education, and we’ve talked this through a few times. It sounds like the scholars themselves recognize the “rock” and “hard place” embedded in the issue.

A quick read to catch you up on the question:

Why is bilingual education ‘good’ for rich kids but ‘bad’ for poor, immigrant students? – The Washington Post

While we’re reading depressing things, the New York Times offered an excellent researched piece about the three British teenage girls who left their homes near London and sneaked into ISIS territory to join the movement.

In a world where Muslims are generally mistrusted and accused, the way to “rebel” against your more progressive parents is to turn to extreme fundamentalist Muslim practice and ideology. At least, that’s the guess.

Jihad and Girl Power – New York Times

You know how everyone knows that teenagers aren’t morning people? Most of them, at least? So why do schools insist on starting so early?  Seems like a mess of district regulation, historical practice, parental convenience / scheduling, and the ecosystem of after-school activities.

Even the CDC agrees: Teens need sleep, not school, at 7:30 am:

“Social norms are at the root of this problem—most people don’t take [adolescent sleep deprivation] seriously and don’t see it as a public-health issue,” Snider said. “That kind of thinking has to change.”

CDC Warns: Early School Start Times Could Negatively Affect Sleep-Deprived Students’ Health and Academic Performance – The Atlantic

Ten years ago, John Scalzi raged at the Katrina disaster and aftermath into a post he titled “Being Poor.” It struck a nerve and remains one of his most popular.

His 10 year retrospective as well as the original post are both worth your time:

Being Poor | Whatever

“Being Poor,” Ten Years On | Whatever

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