• virtualnaut commented on the diary post Monday Watercooler by Kit OConnell.

    2013-06-12 08:24:19View | Delete

    As someone who participated in antiwar demonstrations in Bloomington, Indiana, way back then, I can say that the exercise of free speech for students at that time was met with every variety of nasty skullduggery. Most of the young people who were subject to underhanded police methods were merely naively idealistic. Let’s face it, in [...]

  • virtualnaut wrote a new diary post: Progressivism and Its Discontents

    2013-06-12 08:04:33View | Delete

    Well, I was reading a post from another blogger here (Joe S.) on whether Progressivism means anything anymore. Wanted to comment on his post but that avenue seemed closed to me. Truthfully, I have self-identified here as “Progressive” with some misgivings. It’s shorthand for I feel I might belong here as a voice. But I [...]

  • Hmmm.

    I find all this local vitriol against google kind of ironic, when (looking at the request log I see that this particular FDL page wants me to permit firedoglake to exchange information not only with google but with google tag services and with google analytics, as well. Among others.

    Start from where you are and move forward from there, perhaps?

  • Sorry I missed much of this fascinating discussion. Am in process of reading the book and find interesting the discussion of Internet values and commercialization. To wit: “the problem of how to make the Internet advertising friendly bewildered and obsessed Madison Avenue for much of the 1990s … This conflict was a test of what values would drive the course of the Internet. … Advertising won, and the hyper commercialization of our culture proceeds swiftly.” (P 45)

  • virtualnaut wrote a new diary post: Filing Old Items and Feeling Old Feelings

    2013-01-31 09:31:48View | Delete

    I’ve been going through old files and receipts, trying to clean things up around here a bit, and I came across a receipt from late 2010. It’s for a tire repair, when both my rear tires were flat. The receipt says “both had screws in them please check and advise and put spare tire back [...]

  • For some context on the answer to this seeming contradiction read William Link’s thought-provoking biography of Jesse Helms, Righteous Warrior. Right-wing white supremacists are too valuable to conservatives in the political sense to risk alienating them from would-be conservative candidates. In fact the tale Link tells about election shenanigans and polling place tricks not to mention race-baiting as a last-minute tactic in political campaigns offers a cautionary reminder as we head into yet another close election. Thanks for pointing out this disparity in law-enforcement attention.

  • virtualnaut commented on the diary post Omar Khadr Leaves Guantanamo, While Press Refuses to Report His Water Torture by Jeff Kaye.

    2012-09-29 15:55:57View | Delete

    I am grateful to hear this. My child was 15 when I heard of khadr’s situation. Thank you Mr. Kaye for your continued coverage of Guantanamo and of torture in which we are shamefully implicated as a country. A ray of hope …

  • It’s not just for-profit schools hyping the ROI theme. This week my soon-to-be-college-bound teenager received a postcard from a big state university selling their commitment to Hire Education, note the pun.

    Back in 1993 I wrote a freelance story about a for-profit education company, Education Alternatives Inc. Private contractors running failing schools was kind of a new idea at that time. The thrust of the story, for a business-ethics publication, was to shine a light on what such companies were trying to accomplish and where they were failing (teacher-union lawsuits in Baltimore claimed special education abuses, for example, and EAI experienced devastating losses in 1994).

    In revisiting what happened, from the standpoint of almost 20 years later, I was struck by a few things.

    EAI and other for-profit endeavors were brought into rotting inner-city school districts partly to upgrade them – i.e., facilities management – and for “technology consulting,” thus they came in with an objective to create clean, positive learning environments and turn around especially needy schools.

    They had more money to spend per student in some schools than the district did. The hyped turnarounds didn’t happen, in terms of results.

    What I found interesting in returning to the subject was a post-mortem examination of the company’s work in Baltimore, written in 1996 by some scholars at Columbia University Teacher’s College. I found it on the internet, but it seems real. What I noticed and found interesting was a flowchart showing the hierarchy of the company’s corporate structure and alliances.

    At the top was an alliance between Viacom (the multimedia giant of MTV-Nickelodeon-Comedy Central which has joint ventures to India and BSkyB), plus Simon & Schuster and something called Computer Curriculum Inc. which I believe is now Pearson.

    EAI had originally EAI was originally part of a Control Data subsidiary.
    It was a subdivision of the Alliance for Schools That Work, partnering with KPMG Peat Marwick and Johnson Controls. Other partnerships existed with Control Data, Northwest Bank of Minnesota and Piper Jaffray.

    In any event, in hindsight it’s obvious that the failings that brought EAI down in the early 1990s were the same failings in microcosm that brought down our huge economy.

    For-profit education invested in derivatives. It put corporate execs and shareholders in charge of something vital, education, when what these schools needed was perhaps money, more organization and something like engineering and facilities consultation, not a hostile takeover.

    I can understand why the EAIs out there would have been frustrated with teacher’s unions. And yet. Not everything in life can be reduced to a spreadsheet. Or, rather, when you do that, much of value is lost.

  • virtualnaut wrote a new diary post: What’s Going on in Congress?

    2012-09-13 07:40:59View | Delete

    Help! I’m trying to find some information on what’s just happened in the halls of Congress. It affects those of us in Minnesota who love the wild North, but I suspect it may affect everyone in America. In the last few days, the U.S. House passed a bill to expedite a land exchange in Minnesota’s [...]

  • virtualnaut wrote a new diary post: Enough Already

    2012-04-22 13:53:02View | Delete

    OK, the sixth computer has died. I can’t write anything or see anything. No browser except the phone. Weird interference.

    Enough of this.

    At the library, at least I can write this.

  • virtualnaut wrote a new diary post: Occupying the State Senate District

    2012-04-01 05:07:28View | Delete

    Thumbnail Yesterday was my first experience as a district delegate. I came by the responsibility accidentally, you might say. Spurred on by some activist WAMM ladies of my acquaintance to attend or perhaps occupy my local caucus a few weeks back, I proposed a citizen resolution to protest the indefinite detention provisions of the NDAA. Frankly, I [...]

  • virtualnaut wrote a new diary post:

    2012-03-15 10:13:06View | Delete

    Following Salon’s passionate coverage of responses to the recent Scahill piece , and what it might portend… Has anyone else at FDL read Poisoning the Press , Mark Feldstein’s fascinating pop history comparing Richard Nixon and his nemesis, D.C. Capitol commentator Jack Anderson? I keep thinking about the current, claimed executive freedom to have people killed, off the books, [...]

  • virtualnaut wrote a new diary post: Reapportionment Day Rant

    2012-02-21 07:09:56View | Delete

    Now is the time for all good people to come to the aid of their party. In the past week or two I’ve been doing my bit. Attending town hall meetings, making the probably futile attempt to affect the political process by showing up at caucus and volunteering for a committee: Resolutions. (I had proposed [...]

  • virtualnaut wrote a new diary post: Skin Tight Rant

    2012-02-03 09:56:45View | Delete

    Lately I’ve been thinking about what today we call “the one percent.” I am reminded of what the great French novelist Honoré de Balzac concluded in one of his “philosophical tales” of the early 1830s, La Peau de Chagrin . Yes, it’s a funny title, even in its original language. It means, literally, the skin of grief , but [...]

  • virtualnaut wrote a new diary post: Ranting On

    2012-01-31 11:52:11View | Delete

    Well, FDL, I find it irritating that once again the security certificate for this website is invalid. Seems to be a problem in Scottsdale, Arizona, once again, though I am miles and miles from there. I am going to ignore this certificate problem for the time being, in order to continue my rant. Today, my [...]

  • virtualnaut wrote a new diary post: Part One of a Long Rant

    2012-01-18 12:13:05View | Delete

    Thumbnail How I wish that it didn’t have to do with Republicans in South Carolina, but of course it does. In South Carolina, where the local rabble just showed off their boorishness during the latest Republican debate. In South Carolina, even though it’s 2012, seven score and more years from the events in question. To me, it [...]

  • virtualnaut wrote a new diary post: Quote of the Day

    2011-11-11 09:34:52View | Delete

    “The ideological assertion that government can do nothing right is an insult to every American who has benefited from public education, interstate highways, clean tapwater, rural electrification, student loans, social security, small-business support, job training, community block grants – in short, everyone.” – Michael H. Shuman, Going Local, Creating Self-Reliant Communities in a Global Age. [...]

  • virtualnaut wrote a new diary post: Move to Amend

    2011-11-11 09:27:27View | Delete

    Happened to attend the “Move to Amend” speech at the local United Methodist Church on Tuesday. This was an extremely interesting gathering. The sponsoring organization, Minnesota Alliance of Peacemakers, is to be commended for bringing David Cobb to town, I think. “Challenging Corporate Personhood & Cheating Democracy” is going to be followed by a training Saturday. Not only [...]

  • virtualnaut wrote a new diary post: Ever hear of Jersey Lightning?

    2011-11-08 11:49:13View | Delete

    Since I’ve been hearing about a push to bring back Glass-Steagall, I’ve been trying to remember what I learned in school about banking reform at the very bottom of the Great Depression. Here’s what I recall: It wasn’t a 20th century problem only. The titans of the Gilded Age in the 19th century shrugged off any public protest about [...]

  • virtualnaut wrote a new diary post: Occupied Occupy, No Occupation

    2011-11-08 06:15:30View | Delete

    I’ve been wanting to comment on Occupy in my town because it’s been such an educational thing. For my own part, I decided to do some cooking to help out. Reason being: I know how to take “ingredients” – some of which were being donated to the house of a volunteer – and make them [...]

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