Archive for May, 2011

Quantum Parenting

May 25, 2011

There was a recent piece in The New Yorker, “Dream Machine:  The mind-expanding world of quantum computing,” by Rivka Galchen in which she meets with David Deutsch who she dubs the founding father of quantum computing.

Yet when it comes to quantum anything, I want to know not who’s my daddy, but rather who’s my mommy?

Deutsch, who lives eccentrically on the outskirts of Oxford, applies quantum mechanics to computing; the point being to create computers much more powerful than we have now, and with much less hardware.  The magic turns on creating quantum “bits” which are the basic placeholders for computing—a spot that can either be a one or a zero.  Based on this simple, yes/no or positive/not-positive, construct, one can do all the “magical” things we do with computers (and none of the truly magical things that make life most worth living).  In fact, if they crack the quantum code of computing, they will be able to crack the toughest, nearly impossible, math-questions that create so-called “security.”  Then those with the power will know all the money and weapons secrets, I suppose, but they still won’t have a clue about how to truly live and love.

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Left Behind

May 18, 2011

I read an illuminating and provocative essay recently about how, and why, the No Child Left Behind Act has failed—and I thought it worth sharing in this space.  It happens to have been written by my older son, Nate Dolin, as a paper for his Junior year history class.  He became interested in this issue having volunteered in several public elementary school classrooms, having worked with special needs/autism spectrum children and tutoring kids who struggle in their public middle school… and having been faced with numerous inequities, subsequently found himself wondering why things are as they are.

So, if we want our kids to be encouraged to consider growing up to help, perhaps even to step up and educate, the next generation of kids… our future grand children, we are well-served to deepen our understanding of why things may be as they are.

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Left Behind

The No Child Left Behind act seeks to leave no child behind in terms of academics, but the intentions of the act will never be met.  Even though President Bush claimed that the act was having a “dramatic effect” in 2008, the average white student scored 28 points higher on the reading section than the average African American student, and 26 points higher on the math section.[i]  Since the White students are obviously not inherently smarter than the African American student, what is causing the immense score gap?  Is every child in America really treated equally?  If society believes all children should have an equal opportunity for education, why are the most disadvantaged children being left behind, why is excessive testing proving to be more harmful than beneficial, why can’t the “supposed” intentions of the act be met, and why do some argue that the act was intended to benefit the economy rather than the children?

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Making

May 11, 2011

As parents we deal with a lot of poop, first literally, later metaphorically—but still, it’s a lot of poop.  And yet the gold is in the poop.

Fifty years ago this month, the artist Piero Manzoni produced 90 cans of Merda d’artista (Artist’s Shit).  He labeled and numbered his most fundamental work and sold it by weight at the current market’s price for gold.  The Tate Modern has Number 4 (but then everyone really got number 2)—“something intimate, really personal to the artist,” Manzoni wrote in a letter to a fellow artist.

In the alchemy of life, the treasure hides in the roots of the tree and the spirit gold truly is in the fundament, the shit of all we, at least at first glance, do not want.  Thus our fear, our shame, our feelings of unwantedness and inadequacy surely must contain treasure ripe for transformation.  Karma says that first we must completely accept the shit life brings and only after that can transformation be set free to occur.

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We Miz

May 4, 2011

A recent NY Times news story, “In a Mother’s Case, Reminders of Educational Inequalities,” by Peter Applebome plunged me into fetid shadows akin to Dickensian London and Victor Hugo’s Paris of injustice on the brink of revolution… the dark and shameful inequalities that define the American school landscape circa here and now.

“Facts” are troublesome (and I perhaps no reliable narrator), but the story at hand is of a drug-involved mom who allegedly used her babysitter’s address to enroll her kindergartener in a better school district—and who now finds herself (aside from drug charges) facing charges of “first degree larceny” and “conspiracy” on account of sending her kid to a better-equipped suburban school when she actually lived in a poorer urban school district.

The boy, Andrew Justin Patches, bears a name-is-destiny sort of Dickensian yoke (just in patches/rags) and half made me wonder if I was dreaming (or is it nightmaring?) as my dandelion tea cooled beside my laptop last Thursday morning.  Is this a narrative to illustrate the spirit, if not crisis, of our time?  Are these people for real?  Are we, as a culture that leaves so many kids behind for real?  What sort of revolution might grow out of such injustice?  And what good might it do if this is where we are, centuries after much-vaunted revolutions in France and America, that have come and gone on in business as usual inequality and injustice?

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