“Like Prohibition, the fight over guns is about something else” – LA Times

Jonathan Zimmerman puts forward an interesting claim about the fight over guns. He argues that it’s not about guns or “safety,” it’s about “victory.” Just as the prohibition movement wasn’t about drinking, Zimmerman asserts, the same holds true in the current fight over guns. “Even if alcohol prohibition could never make America ‘dry,’ it made its adherents feel as if the country was still theirs.”

While this surely plays a role in the battle over guns, I’m not convinced that it is not really about “safety,” at least for gun control advocates. There have been way too many gun-related deaths.

Read the entire article here: Like Prohibition, the fight over guns is about something else – LA Times

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“Grave of ‘Griffin Warrior’ at Pylos Could Be a Gateway to Civilizations” – The New York Times

“A warrior’s tomb full of precious metals and jewels is expected to give insight into the rise of the Mycenaeans, from whom Greek culture developed.” This is very exciting. I can’t wait to find out what they learn from this grave!

Source: Grave of ‘Griffin Warrior’ at Pylos Could Be a Gateway to Civilizations – The New York Times

“Why Tuition-Free College Makes Sense” | History News Network

At the HHN, Lawrence Wittner makes a good case for tuition-free college. The ever-increasing cost of higher education has made a college education unattainable for many, and as a result has contributed to the growing inequality.  The lack of public funding for higher education has also led to many other problems, including an increase in the use of low paying adjunct faculty as well as other schemes that undermine the educational mission.
“In addition, campus administrators, faced with declining income, are increasingly inclined to accept funding from wealthy individuals and corporations that are reshaping higher education to serve their interests.  From 2005 to 2013, two rightwing billionaires, Charles and David Koch, spent $68 million funding the kinds of programs they wanted on 308 U.S. college and university campuses.  In New York State, when Governor Andrew Cuomo initiated Start-Up NY, a scheme to provide a tax-free haven to businesses that moved onto or near public (and some private) college campuses, there was never any question about how SUNY’s chancellor and other administrators would respond.  Instead of resisting this business takeover of university facilities and mission, they became leading cheerleaders for it.”

Read the entire article here: History News Network | Why Tuition-Free College Makes Sense

This college building in Kansas was one of the first created under the 1862 Morrill Act

Professors in Poverty

I’ve lived the life of an adjunct and it’s not fun. The use of adjuncts and full-time temporary faculty (which is what I am) continues to grow as universities and colleges try to save money in the face of ever diminishing public funds. You spent a lot of time and money to get a PhD believing that you’ll make a decent living, but that reality seems to be a thing of the past for most of us! Please watch this brief overview of the reality facing adjunct faculty. This situation isn’t good for anyone!

ACADEME BLOG

As part of Campus Equity Week, Brave New Films has released this terrific short film about the very real poverty of many faculty in contingent positions:

Contains some illuminating stats comparing presidential salaries to adjunct wages, and personal stories from adjuncts–mostly women, which reflects the reality that contingent labor issues are also women’s issues. It’s definitely worth watching and sharing this week as we focus on the working conditions of what’s now the majority of faculty.

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“The Dangerous Nonsense Ben Carson Is Spreading About Muslims” | History News Network

More nonsense coming from Ben Carson with no apparent concern for the truth  or the consequences of his claims. Brian Catlos explains why Carson is wrong at the History News Network.

“In the last few weeks, the radical right of the GOP and its various organs have come upon a new concept to cloak their Islamophobia: taqiyya. As they would tell it, taqiyya permits Muslims to lie and, therefore, it effectively makes every Muslim a potential mole, traitor, or fifth-columnist. As Ben Carson, himself a presidential hopeful, would have it, it is because of taqiyya (and not because of simple bigotry) that he believes – the constitutional ban on religious tests for public office notwithstanding – a Muslim should not be permitted to serve as President of the United States. This is a dangerous and insidious argument: not only does it vilify a whole class of people, it does so in a way that makes them permanently suspect. Any Muslim who denies he is practising taqiyya, it may be presumed, may be practicing taqiyya when he or she does so. Therefore, no Muslim can be trusted, ever.”

It’s unfortunate that this kind of nonsense is what has helped him overtake The Donald (who also has a problematic relationship with the truth) in the polls.

“Before the bubonic plague wrecked Europe, it was way less contagious”

New Research: “They found the DNA of Yersinia pestis bacteria in seven individuals, the oldest of which walked the earth around 2794 B.C. Until now, the earliest known DNA sample of this bacteria dated to the sixth century Plague of Justinian.” Very cool!

Read the entire article here: Before the bubonic plague wrecked Europe, it was way less contagious

“Ottomans saved Hungarian PM Orban’s Ancestors; now he says Islam never part of Europe” | History News Network

“Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban not only continued to defend his anti-immigrant bigotry but went on to say that Islam has never been part of Europe. Mr. Orban not only is increasing the misery of largely Muslim refugees, but now he has erased 1300 years of European culture and politics, committing a sort of cliocide or mass killing of history.” Juan Cole explains why Orban is wrong: History News Network | Ottomans saved Hungarian PM Orban’s Ancestors; now he says Islam never part of Europe

What’s So Radical about Defending Public Education?

Martin Kich gives a great overview of some of the problems caused by the corporatization of public higher education.

ACADEME BLOG

Being antagonistic to corporatization should not necessarily be conflated with being broadly antagonistic to corporations. Universities and corporations have long had mutually beneficial relationships that have caused relatively infrequent controversies. And, just to be clear, although some faculty with more progressive political values have been very skeptical of those relationships between their universities and corporate interests, very, very few faculty have been categorically opposed to the development of such relationships because, for the most part, they have clearly been mutually beneficial.

Corporatization, on the other hand, is the recent manifestation of a historically recurring attempt to redefine public higher education as a business enterprise. In the 1980s, it started with the premise that universities had become such complex institutions, with very large budgets and multifaceted operations, that they would benefit from the adoption of more formal, and perhaps some cutting-edge, business-management practices. American corporations were beginning to respond to post-industrial…

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“Netanyahu Denounced for Saying Palestinian Inspired Holocaust” – The New York Times

As the violence escalates between Israelis and Palestinians, Netanyahu reaches a new low. Rather than aiming to deescalate the situation, he continues to use rhetoric that is inflammatory, offensive, and dishonest. But this time he may have went too far. Even Israelis are denouncing him: “Israeli historians and opposition politicians joined Palestinians in denouncing the Israeli prime minister for saying the grand mufti of Jerusalem gave Hitler the idea of annihilating Jews.”

Read the entire article here: Netanyahu Denounced for Saying Palestinian Inspired Holocaust – The New York Times

“Lessons From McGraw Hill: The Eurocentric Influence on History Textbooks and Classrooms” – The Atlantic

Some have downplayed the distortions of the Texas textbooks by claiming that good teachers will compensate for the shortcomings of the books. But what if those good teachers are few and far in between? Alia Wong addresses this problem in a thoughtful piece at The Atlantic.

“Perhaps many of these controversies trace back to the history-class dilemma—the reality that its instruction often suffers because of under-qualified or under-engaged teachers who, in turn, rely on textbooks that at best oversimplify and at worst flat out lie. ‘Most history teachers don’t do history, and don’t know how to do history,’ Loewen said. ‘And by that, I mean they were never asked to actually research something. They just took courses with textbooks and that was it.’”

This is a serious problem and we need to rethink how we train our social science teachers. Many of them don’t have the knowledge or the skills to teach history in a way that is both meaningful and beneficial to students.

Another obstacle to the effective teaching of history, not mentioned in the article, but is as equally important is the fact that too many good teachers are forced to focus on content over critical thinking in order to prepare their students for standardized tests. The focus on testing has done a great deal of harm to our education system, and even though many are beginning to realize the folly of this testing craze the so-called “reformers” of education continue to push them.

Please read the important essay here: Lessons From McGraw Hill: The Eurocentric Influence on History Textbooks and Classrooms – The Atlantic