It’s a mad, mad, mad, mad world

Posted 2/3/17

“A system is corrupt when it is strictly profit-driven, not driven to serve the best interests of its people . . . When a plutocracy is disguised as a democracy, the system is beyond corrupt . . . …

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It’s a mad, mad, mad, mad world

Posted

“A system is corrupt when it is strictly profit-driven, not driven to serve the best interests of its people . . . When a plutocracy is disguised as a democracy, the system is beyond corrupt . . . Any system that values profit over human life is a very dangerous one indeed.”― Suzy Kassem, Rise Up and Salute the Sun

Back when the earth was flat and the center of the universe, The Crusades, 1095-1291, were a series of assaults in an ongoing war against Islam in the Holy Land on behalf of Christianity.  They remain prominent in Middle East history, so one can imagine how the recent actions of Donald Trump look much like a continuation of a war on Islam begun by George W. Bush in 2003. Especially since he’s also talked of “taking” Iraq’s oil. So what’s a young Arab hot-head with time on his hands to do?

Turning from history to physics, it was shortly before his death in 1543 that Nicolaus Copernicus (pictured at right, above) displayed convincingly to the world that the sun, not the earth, was the center of our universe (and for you racial bigots out there, Copernicus was Polish). But here we are, some 475 years later discovering that the earth revolves not around the sun but around Donald J. Trump. 

Exactly a century after the death of Copernicus, another astronomer, scientist, physicist and mathematician was born—Isaac Newton. He is particularly well-remembered  for his third law of motion: “For every action there is an equal and opposite reaction.” That has stood the test of time and was never more adequately illustrated than by the protests that have filled the nation’s streets since the earliest actions of our new president. 

Another person I like to quote is Alexander Pope (1688-1744) who wrote that “A little learning is a dangerous thing . . .” No, he did not say “knowledge,” although many seem to think their editing is better than his writing. He said: “A little learning is a dangerous thing. 
Drink deep, or taste not the Pierian spring:
 There shallow draughts intoxicate the brain,
 And drinking largely sobers us again.” (Pierian spring--a fountain in Pieria, sacred to the Muses and supposedly conferring inspiration or learning on anyone who drank from it.) 

How true. People who lay their mental hands onto a fact or two often think they’re the cat’s meow. But many of them have no real thirst for knowledge and they have no real concern for contextual detail. 

In this short space, I’ve talked about religion, geography, astronomy, physics, poetry, philosophy. Proven economic theory, including basic mathematics, also is being re-written by Trump. Various branches of science are being ignored or outright denied.   

So—about education. Trump has nominated as his Secretary of Education a seeming air-head—one of his own--Betsy Devos, who has exactly no experience or training in education. Democrats have fiercely opposed DeVos, arguing that she is wholly unqualified for the job. They say that she favors policies that undermine the public schools that serve most U.S. children and that she has not adequately answered questions about potential conflicts of interest related to her investments.

Our Washington State Senator Patty Murray–as ranking Democrat on the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Jobs and Pensions—spoke at length against DeVos, including mention of “the decades she spent using her inherited fortune to influence Republican candidates and push her extreme anti-student ideology; to the failed education policies she fought for that siphoned money away from strengthening public schools for all students and toward taxpayer funded private school vouchers, with little accountability, for just a few.”  For more of Murrays’s remarks (including the fact that Devos would allow guns in schools, her private investments of a related nature, her seeming plagiarism, etc., see: http://www.murray.senate.gov/public/index.cfm/2017/1/murray-votes-no-on-advancing-betsy-devos-nomination-i-have-not-been-persuaded-that-she-has-the-experience-skills-understanding-or-vision-to-lead-education-department 

DeVos’s main qualification appears to be that she’s a billionaire who was a heavy Trump campaign contributor. She has supported charter schools and expressed little regard for public schools. “Families should be empowered to select the best possible school,” she said. In other words, she seems to envision schools as rating from best to worst. Others of us feel we should work toward a consistency of excellence throughout public education—rather than having the wealthy buying a superior education for their own children . . . and perpetuating lesser learning for commoners. I’m hearing nothing about early education, college tuitions, etc.

DeVos was narrowly approved by committee Jan. 31, 12-11 along party lines; and her nomination moved on to the floor of the senate.

"And Jesus went into the temple of God, and cast out all them that sold and bought in the temple, and overthrew the tables of the moneychangers, and the seats of them that sold doves, And said unto them, It is written, My house shall be called the house of prayer; but ye have made it a den of thieves."

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