Monthly Archives: April 2010

Free Thinking in our Education System

The following video is of Noam Chomsky, Professor Emeritus
of Linguistics at MIT:

For Noam, politicians designed our educational system to
preserve the forces already in power. To me, that seems a bit too conspired.
But having being familiar with both the British education system as well as the
American one, it’s true that large American universities make far greater use
scantrons and standardized methods than the British. Most of the work in the UK
is done on the student’s own time, outside of class through research, reading,
and writing essays and reports. Here, rather than asking students to using
learned facts and processes to design solutions, our approach seems to
emphasize using study guides and syllabi that outline exactly what a student
needs to study to get an A on the final. Rarely are we given any substantial
writing portion, and if we are, we are generally scrutinized on how many facts
we can recall, rather than rewarded for having original thought.

It probably wouldn’t be too hard to incorporate free
thinking and creativity into Gen-Eds, and I feel that it mostly has to do with
the amount of writing we’re expected to do for those classes. The University
would need to train TAs to grade essays, but the value of innovative thinking
is well worth the effort. 

so we think we understand society…

In recent weeks I’ve been growing more and more frustrated
with many of my peers regarding their attitude toward learning -and
specifically their refusal to attempt to understand new perspectives. Most of
this frustration stems from group discussions I’ve had in my Soc 119 class.

On Wednesday we discussed the Japanese government’s apathy
toward Japan’s growing virtual pornography industry -which has recently
released a video game whose sole synopsis or plot is rape. Maybe I’m a special
case, but I’m pretty disgusted first, that someone would make such a game, and
second, that people would buy it. CNN’s report on the game can be found at the
following link.

But even more serious to me is that only a quarter of my
discussion group (4 in about 16) thought that Japan should ban the game. The
argument against banning it: “if you don’t want to deal with it, then don’t buy
it.” Call me old fashioned, but regardless of whether games like GTA invoke
violent tendencies in teenagers or not, I fail to see how a rape centered video
game will contribute positively to our society. I’m certain that the game would
seriously corrupt much of our society’s perspective on relationships and proper

How come all of a sudden (the past 40 years or so) has so
much of the world adopted a relative understanding of what’s true and what’s
right and good. Are people too afraid of angering others to acknowledge the
reality that so much of what the western world does is flat-out wrong?

If you look around any lecture at Penn State (even the most
engaging ones), you will inevitably find the person or people (usually guys)
who’s either asleep or trying to sleep. More and more people think that they
already understand not only our own society, but the world at-large too. What’s
changed in the last fraction of civilization? Probably our access to “information”
-internet, IM, cable TV, cell phones. But that’s another topic for another

The All-American (White) Basketball Alliance

In case you haven’t heard; in January, Don “Moose” Lewis, a fight promoter from Atlanta proposed his novel idea for an all-caucasian basketball
league. “Only players that are natural born United States citizens with
both parents of Caucasian race are eligible to play in the league,”-Here’s
a league for white players to play fundamental basketball, which they

The NBA though, is hardly the only professional basketball
league in this country. Wikipedia lists 23 mens leagues, ranging from the
National Basketball Association’s Development League (NBAD) to the Louisville
Hoopfest Basketball League (LHBL) and the Iowa Basketball Exposure League
(IBEL). What Moose is saying is that white people can’t, and do not desire to
play pro level ball. Furthermore, he also infers that the actual quality of the
game played in the NBA is not strategic -calling it “street ball”. Mr. Lewis of
course claims no racist intent, citing “I don’t hate anyone of color. But
people of white, American-born citizens are in the minority now.”

In an interview on the Daily Show, Moose told viewers that
he was “a child of forced integration by the government -You want to deal with
racism? Friends of yours, whites on the basketball team are pushed off the team
because now all of a sudden you’ve got very talented black athletes that are
going to the same school, and the coach wants to win. I’ve lived racism.”

To me, that sounds more like bitterness rather than simply
filling a “market niche”.

I think it is kind of absurd though -not just that Moose
conceived this idea to begin with, but that he genuinely doesn’t believe that
this move is basically segregation. He was also asked why he felt the need to
make the league all white, instead of simply creating a “fundamentals
basketball league”. He replied that “Blacks overall are better athletes when it
comes to the game of basketball.”

The funny thing is that even though there may have been some
pull for watching fundamental basketball -if played by the best fundamentally
skilled players. But who’s going to watch average guys play basketball? For
younger people, they can play it themselves, and older people can watch their
kids’ high school games. Chances are; if this league gets viewership, it’s
going to be from people who simply don’t want to support black athletes.

I wonder then; how many more Americans hold racist beliefs,
but would not actually consider themselves racists? The National Association
for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) voiced that Moose’s league
“attempts to set back what we’ve been trying to do for 100 years,” and “If
[they] can do anything to stop it, [they] will.” Hopefully they wont have to do