Wes Anderson and Roman Coppola make commericals

Apparently, Wes Anderson and Roman Coppola have turned their talents to high concept commercial making for Prada. In a way, this absolutely makes sense. Anderson’s oeuvre has always had a commodity filled aspect to it, most notably in The Darjeeling Limited with all that Louis Vuitton luggage. Part one of the three part commercial is above.

Commonplace

“A conversation with a friend feels resumed, even if you haven’t spoken in years.  It has an effortless spontaneity about it, as if after a momentary interruption. No prelude or breaking-in period is necessary, and one is never at a loss for words. Anything goes, and probably will.”

~ Patrick Kurp, Anecdotal Evidence

Because of my travels over the break and a chance conversation with a friend who is moving for a new job, I had the pleasure of having several conversations with old friends. Even when snatched between singing kids songs and conferencing, every ounce of conversation felt like one resumed. It’s the blessing of having good old, old friends.

The Postal Service 10 years Later

It’s hard to believe that The Postal Service’s one and only album was released ten years ago. The aptly, or perhaps unaptly named given the circumstances, Give Up got me through the first couple of years of my PhD program. As usual, Ben Gibbard perfectly captures the moment of listening to music in a car, and I did a lot of thinking in the car in those years. SubPop, the label that released the album, has done a parody video imagining various people auditioning to be in the band.

Hacking Education

Audrey Watters pretty much sums up everything wrong with the TED Talk approach to reforming education in this article. As an educator, I will admit I have a stake in how the university is perceived. But also, at least from what I can tell, a lot of that impression comes from people who have never been on the other side of the classroom. I don’t think you have to teach in order to have an opinion about the current state of affairs in higher education–there are real issues of cost and bureaucracy. But, I think a lot of the solutions offered by techno-humanitarian advocates like Sugata Mitra are not practical. As far as I can tell from my own students, few of them understand how to use the internet to facilitate learning. The internet is for connectivity in their world not research. I don’t quite understand how a computer kiosk is supposed to help students figure out how to learn. And I guess the accessibility of the internet didn’t help Mitra with his dates on how long the Victorian period actually was. Here’s his talk on the colonial nature of our current public education system:

It came from about 300 years ago, and it came from the last and the biggest of the empires on this planet. [“The British Empire”] Imagine trying to run the show, trying to run the entire planet, without computers, without telephones, with data handwritten on pieces of paper, and traveling by ships. But the Victorians actually did it.

The Victorian period doesn’t begin until the 1830 (1832/1837 depending on if you’re dating from the first Reform Bill or Queen Victoria actually becoming queen). So the previous hundred or so years of colonial expansion can’t really be called Victorian. I can understand perhaps jumping forward a bit for the sake of brevity. After all, he only as 20 minutes. Problematically, the British empire of the eighteenth-century nor for most of the nineteenth-century instituted a system of universal education, although reformers worked for it throughout the nineteenth-century. The first universal education didn’t happen until 1870 for GB, with compulsory attendance instituted through subsequent acts in 1880, and it’s not until 1918 that compulsory education comes about in the US. So, what we’re talking about is roughly 140 years of a certain kind of education system. And let’s not forget that until roughly 150 years ago, most universities taught the Classics–Greek and Latin–because the original university system was designed to train men to become ministers. I know this seems like quibbling, but it’s not actually. This is information that is readily accessible on the internet. PBS has a whole series on schooling in the United States. I’d be surprised if the BBC didn’t have one of the same. I admit I’m big on context, but I think if you’re going to make the claim the our current system of public education is a colonial by-product, you’re ignoring the history of the movement for public schooling in the Anglo-American world. Most of the reformers had an uphill battle because of class attitudes that didn’t want working-class children to read and write for fear they would rise up in rebellion, never mind the subjected peoples of the colonies. Public school advocates were working for social justice and the public good. There are many things wrong with our current system, but chucking it completely isn’t going to help any but the best and brightest.  But as Watters argues, the techno-humanitarians don’t seem to notice their own classed attitudes.