Fences, Walls & The Boy in Striped Pajamas

The 2008 film, Boy in Striped Pajamas, is a poignant but difficult movie to watch. When I saw it via Netflix recently, I was struck by how the imagery and message of the film evokes the imagery and message of the current presidential campaign of Donald Trump.*

The film is a fable (the implausible plot on which the film is based has been the subject of much debate) about two eight-year-old boys on opposite sides of a fence that surrounds a Nazi extermination camp (implied to be Auschwitz).

Bruno, the boy on the outside of the fence, is the son of the SS officer in command of the camp. With the innocence of an eight year old, Bruno believes the death camp is a farm where Shmuel, the boy on the inside of the fence, lives.

Building walls, making them pay

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The Lobotomy

titans-saintsChapter 1

NPR’s All Things Considered recently ran a story about what has worked and not worked with the educational reform program called No Child Left Behind. Short version: When nothing else works, a school must develop a restructuring strategy. The most common strategy — and the one that most consistently works — is called by education pundits, “the lobotomy.” It means, simply, firing the person in charge. With school, it’s the principal.

Why is the lobotomy the only thing that consistently works? It’s hard to say.

Tom Ahn, a University of Kentucky professor and leading researcher of No Child Left Behind Ahn points out that, to be forced into restructuring, a school had to be considered failing for six years. “There’s something seriously wrong with the way the school has been run,” Ahn says.

This doesn’t necessarily the principal is bad or incompetent.

Says Ahn, “When leadership change occurs, basically there’s a sea change.”

Not only is there an improvement in student performance, but also in teacher satisfaction surveys.

Chapter 2

I’ve thought of “the lobotomy” several times since hearing about it in that story. But I’ve been thinking about it being appliedcin other contexts than No Child Left Behind.

John Boehner
NFL Coaches Joe Philbin (Miami) and Ken Whisenhut (Tennessee)
Tim Wolfe, University of Missouri President
A Parade of Executives at Volkswagen
And-on-and-on

Moral of this story

In education, business, politics, sports, you name it, when you want a sea change, a lobotomy may not always work, but it’s more likely to work consistently than other choices.

Competitive Outrage

I haven’t commented on the outrage of the week, the killing of Zimbabwe’s “most beloved lion,” Cecil, by a big game hunting dentist from Minnesota named Walter Palmer.

By the time I was aware of the Cecil killing, the internet outrage was far more than anything I could come up with, so I passed even tweeting about it. Besides, the only thing I could think of to say that I hadn’t seen before was how white the dentist’s teeth were — obviously, a Photoshop job.

The competitive nature of internet outrage is fascinating.

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Funny of Die Thinks Old People (in Their 70s) Are a Riot

Funny or Die and the music festival Bonnaroo “teamed up” to take four “old people” in their 70s to Bonnaroo so the other 80,000 attendees could see how cute four old people can be when interacting with festival goers and hearing new-fangled music.


 

In addition to being blatantly ageist bigotry, the premise seems to fall apart when you consider that Funny or Die’s criteria for being an “old person” is being born before 1946. By that definition, here are some other cute old people they could have wheel-chaired around the festival include:

Eric Clapton
Bette Midler
Neil Young
Bob Seger
Carly Simon
Pete Townson
John Fogerty
Diana Ross
Roger Dalton
Jeff Beck
Mick Jagger
Keith Richards
Paul McCartney (last year’s headliner)
Ringo Starr
Joni Mitchell
Aretha Franklin
Carole King
Bob Dylan
Paul Simon
Art Garfunkel

This list could go on and on.

(Note: On the other hand, their criteria makes someone like me, born well into the 1950s, feel young.)

The Confederate Flag is NOT a Part of Who I Am

By birth, choice and the grace of God, I am a Southerner.

I grew up in Alabama and have spent most of my life in Tennessee. In other words, I’ve lived all my life way down yonder in the land of cotton. My love of the South is about home, family and place. It’s about language and literature. It’s about football. It’s about the creativity and cadence found in the way people paint pictures when they recount even the simplest of stories. It’s about food and the aroma of the places where food is prepared. It’s about music. It’s about so many of the people I love. It’s about those things, and so much more.

But my love of the South has nothing to do with the Confederate flag and the racism it so thoroughly symbolizes.

In the wake of the Charleston Church killings on Wednesday night, the state of South Carolina should stop flying the Confederate flag on the grounds of the state capitol.

But let that be just the start. Get rid of the symbol from any state flag or any crest or any shield from any state. And now that the Supreme Court has ruled that states can deny Confederate flags from being on vanity license plates, those states that have them, starting with Tennessee, should get rid of them as soon as possible.

I am NOT suggesting the purging of history. I am advocating the purging of the glorification of a mythological history that never existed.

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