Saturday, March 31, 2007

I am writing in support of HB 1268 HD3 SD1 (Relating to Innovation in Education).

It’s been true for some time now, that we don’t need MORE education -- but LESS. But we need to learn the one thing that enables us to learn all the other things -- as needed, when we actually have to -- because the old manner of learning as much as we can, in the hopes that one day something might be useful, is really an outmoded and fallacious understanding of knowledge, learning and understanding.

The one skill every person needs to learn is simply how to process any piece of information -- as in computer programming, which reduces any bit of information to a universal digital code. It doesn’t matter whether it is health, business, philosophy or technology now -- as in the traditional (obsolete) education of categorizing, fragmenting, specializing the world of experience into many jargons, jurisdictions and hierarchies -- mainly to keep out the casual learner. That has become an increasingly useless and irrelevant education.

The really useful education of these times is learning how to function optimally and practically in this world -- rather than just academically and theoretically. It used to be that people were very impressed if one could tell them all one knew. But in this age of abundant information, we all only have time for the information we want to know -- and not everything that could be known.

Obtaining just that, is really the easiest and most essential lesson to learn -- and one can learn everything else, when there is a real need to. Learning just for the sake of learning, is not a powerful enough reason and motivation -- especially for the wisest and most perceptive. That is frequently the problem with the most gifted students. They have a passion, focus and intensity for learning (and creativity) because they can see through the false and inessential.

When people are vitally interested in what they are learning, there is no limit to what they can learn -- or how much they can learn. But if uninterested, they are like the people who get on the bus each day with the same book for the last twenty years who can never get pass the first page because they always read the same line over and over again. When asked why don’t they read a different book, they insist they have to stay with that book until they finish it, before going on to any other.

And so they never get around to learning vitally, all the great things happening in the world -- and how much easier and better, life could be because of their learning all the things useful and practical to learn. We need to learn in this new way -- and not just the old politically correct way, to be “correct.” That kind of "education" has no meaning -- though undoubtedly, the professional educators can keep providing more of that same.

Life is too important to learn all those things just because somebody else says it is for our own good. We each can determine that for ourselves -- once obtaining the basic skills, for processing any piece of information -- of which the science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) are the fundamental orientation we need to have -- in order that we can live daily lives of our own inclination, temperament and talent -- as intelligently as possible. The great injustice is that some students begin kindergarten with that exposure to those enabling technologies and orientation -- while many others will regard that as a threat to their entire being and way of life.

We need to level at least that playing field for all our citizens -- to live the lives now possible that could never have been imagined possible even by the previous generation of "teachers."

Monday, March 26, 2007

Solving the Transportation Problem in Hawaii (Really)

After spending all that money to make those sidewalks optimally useful, we have laws that prohibit their use to ensure that they are not maximally utilized -- which is making them available to all wheeled transporters -- particularly the bicyclists.

In most places where bicycling is very popular, bicyclists are considered “pedestrians on wheels” -- and not armed with a deadly weapon, as the city forefathers seems to regard them, and so enforce restrictive and oppressive rules for the “operation” of bicycles.

The mentality of most laws in Hawaii is to make every situation into a “turf war” -- and so the sidewalks, which, thanks to ADA rules, require sidewalks to be even better than the streets, have to be maintained in pristine condition by prohibiting their use on a massive scale -- which would be bicycling in the civilized fashion if it was simply deemed so.

Large numbers of people would bicycle in Hawaii if it was simply made safe to do so -- which is not requiring them to ride in traffic with cars and the worst maintained streets in the “developed” world -- even with clearly marked bike paths, but to have them use the sidewalks which are only occasionally used, which every rational bicyclist would readily agree to surrender the right of way to the infrequent pedestrian.

However, because some people feel that every encounter with another person is a ruthless competition for exclusive primacy, domination and turf, we don’t get very far, literally and figuratively -- because all our energies are consumed in these infantile arguments over who should own the turf for their exclusive use.

Hawaii would be the perfect place for these exercises of “Aloha” -- that are expressly forbidden by ordinance. Let’s all grow up, people -- and do the intelligent thing. We don’t need just more expensive toys.

Sunday, March 18, 2007

(Self-)Partisanship Is Not A Virtue

The “sectarian violence” we read about in other countries taking so many lives daily, is just the next step up from rabid, knee-jerk partisanship we see promoted by our own cultural institutions (media) as an “enlightened,” smart way to be. Of course such people killing off other people never think of themselves as “barbaric” -- but regard themselves blindly and unquestioningly, as the “righteous” -- even doing God’s work for HIm.

Like a lot of ideas over the past thirty years, many vices have become redefined as virtues, and virtues ridiculed as naivete -- beneath a sophisticated. liberal person’s reflection. “Right” and “wrong” are for those without a higher education -- who are above such considerations anymore. They will even insist, that it is now they, who make the laws -- and enforce the rules. And that might well be true these days, when good people want nothing to do with government -- and government becomes all about serving itself first, and increasingly, only.

Lately, much of their “work,” are the latest studies in proving, how much more they should be paid, for even they don’t know what it is they are doing anymore -- because they didn’t have money or the interest in doing THAT study. The only study of burning interest and urgency, was their overwhelming conclusion that they should be paid twice as much as they are now -- for doing half the work they are doing presently!

Everything else is of little importance anymore -- and pales in significance to this great urgency and crisis of these times -- that they are falling behind by not being at the top of the charts, when it comes to their own compensation -- which they still haven’t gotten around to studying what it is exactly that they do, and especially what they do well, that nobody else can do, and should be prohibited from competing with them in offering.

The other monopolistic quasi-institutions stand by ready to lend their “public information” specialists (lobbyists) to the cause -- anxious to see what they can begin their negotiations at. This is the CAUSE and not the CURE of inflation in every community -- this mentality that every large group should get MORE than every other large group.

For specific individuals, this is not a problem, but is actually a well-proven device for rewarding merit. However, rewarding one group, not on the basis of merit but how much it can coerce and enforce its demands, rewards the division, conflict and exploitation in society -- of groups over every other -- that doesn’t occur on the basis of individual merit. But when individual merit is denied, then there can never be any accountability -- for anything, anymore.

“Things just happen,” and nobody can determine what exactly did happen, but they are pretty sure, that everybody employed in that concern, should be paid twice as much, and should work half as much. And the people of Hawaii should once again, trust that things will get better -- sometime in the future, but we have no idea how, or could we devise a way to find out.

Monday, March 12, 2007

Beyond Racism (Prejudice and Bias)

There are “racists” of all races -- and not that only every other, are racists, while one is not.

The major culprit is generalizing without discrimination -- of what is really important to discriminate, and not that one should never discriminate -- in order not to be a racist. The root of racism is prejudice and bias, which is not discriminating properly -- but already having one’s mind made up because one has accepted the generalization as the truth of the particular -- so that one’s mind is not open to discovering the truth of any matter.

One simply then, listens and responds to whatever the self-appointed demagogues tell them to. It is a bigger problem in other countries than in the USA -- and in fact, would no longer be a problem except for the aspirations of a few to exploit such resentments and hatreds. In the confusion of information overload, the mainstream media is likely to exaggerate these animosities as they have in the past to build up their visibilities and circulations (bad news sells).

In the new age of information -- partisan, biased, manipulative information becomes the greatest liability and handicap -- to discovering the unlimited truth of the world, being the limits to that knowing. In a previous time, knowledge and the known, even if limited and prejudiced, might have conveyed some survival value -- because the transmission of real time information was too slow to reach one before he needed to react effectively.

So generalized (biased) information, was often useful -- in encountering the unknown. When we now have the tools that allow us to learn about a particular event and circumstances without preconceived notions of what it is, our responses can be much more accurate, and appropriate to that encounter. The technology of information, makes opinions and beliefs much less important -- and “finding out,” much more important, and in this way, the old prejudices and biases drop away because they cannot stand up to the light of reality when each can determine the truth for themselves on anything.

It is when truth is determined by one person (or group) for everybody else, that prejudice and racism can thrive. In the new culture and technology, it must die -- because people can discover and think for themselves about the many things. This is bad news not only for the would be demagogues who are the supremacists (elitists) in every arena of human activity and concern -- demanding compliance without question.

Once one begins o question these things for oneself, then the prejudices must drop away. So really, the answer to bias and prejudice is conditioning the mind to think for oneself and find out the actual truth of the matter for themselves -- rather than relying on those authorities who have told them what to think, so that they are easily manipulated and deceived.

The right kind of education, is revealed in these minds truly without prejudice and bias -- rather than as always, just knowing what individuals and groups it is now acceptable and “correct” to be prejudiced and biased against.

Monday, March 05, 2007

In Hindsight, Everyone’s a Genius

One can go to schools and universities and learn countless tedium about the history of the world, but what matters is the future of the world -- as we live it in the present. That is the proper understanding of the history of civilization -- and not the creation of hopeless divisions of time, knowledge and experience, that has been the manner of thought up to the present. Those are the problems of the world -- thinking that every day is just a repetition of every day before it.

And that’s why the problems of the past continue -- because we have learned to solve the problems of the past, and not the problems of the present -- which becomes the future. Even solving the problems of the future -- in the future, is just the continuation of the past. The only meaningful action is to solve the problems of the present -- in the present, and not 20 years in the future, or 100 years in the past. That is just a delusion of understanding anything worthwhile and worth knowing.

The “advantage” of solving problems only in the past or in the future -- is that one never needs to confront the problems of the present, and in that way, problems can never be solved, much less recognized. All contemporary activity is a diversion and distraction from the real problems of the present.

That is the contemporary dysfunction that is repeated in every particular problem. Problems are solved in another time, in another universe, in another set of conditions (the ideal) -- but never in the present reality and moment, as it is. In this manner, every action can only be ineffective -- because it is not solving the problems of reality, but only thought, which for most people, is not reality. For most, thought is wishful-thinking -- and not observing things as they are.

The word is not the thing itself. However, many people growing up in today’s world, are taught to believe that the word and the images it evokes, is the same as the reality. Many (liberal studies) boast that everything is only a belief -- which they undoubtedly prove stepping into a busy intersection without first checking to see if any other traffic will get in their way. All that is necessary is what they want to believe.

So before we can make right decisions, we have to have the right perception -- that things are not merely what we wish them to be -- but that there must be some correspondence of thinking to the underlying realities. Without it, it is futile to discuss a more rational approach to anything -- because everything is regarded as arbitrary, and that might, the majority, the consensus, the politically correct, is all that it required to make it right -- no matter how wrong.

In a more naive time, it was thought that the majority was ALWAYS right, and so all that was necessary was to make the majority, or most people, think it was so -- even if it was a fabrication, a lie, a deception, a manipulation. But there is magic, when even one person challenges this authority, and says, “How do we know what we think we know?