Digest, 7/18/2021: Aurora

the twelfth weekly digest post

I am in the depths. It’ll be alright.

This Week’s Posts

Monday, 7/12/2021 - A Reductive Explanation for Recent Changes in Math Pedagogy

My attempt to explain a little about the pedagogical and policy issues that contributed to changes in math teaching techniques that have left parents scratching their heads. I think I was a little unclear here - I don’t think (and in fact did not say, or imply) that NAEP results led directly to the concept of number sense. Number sense is as old as mathematics and a pedagogical movement to teach more of it has been around a long time. I was saying only that the “crisis” narrative contributed to the introduction of these new techniques in math, thanks in part to a preexisting movement that was already agitating to do just that.

Tuesday, 7/13/2021 - Anti-Racism is an Inter-White Struggle

I suspect that the current fight about critical race theory, and the broader world of anti-racism, is simply another go-round on an endless spinning carousel of culture war which changes nothing and which ultimately serves the interests of white people.

Thursday, 7/15/2021 - This Too Shall Pass

Take heed, and take comfort: you too live in history, and this too shall pass.

Friday, 7/16/2021 - Five Favorite Movie Trailers (That I Remember) (subscribers only)

Just for fun. Lots and lots of great suggests in the comments here.

From the Archives

“Everything is not a Remix: Against a Popular Deepity,” 2013

Do you remember John Edward? That psychic guy? Not the philandering former VP candidate, but the minor celebrity who claimed he could commune with the dead. He and other people in the professional fortune teller industry are very savvy in how they go about their business. They tell people things that are true but so intentionally vague as to be effectively meaningless. They’ll tell people “your father was involved in art or music,” or “you’re about to undertake a major change, and it involves money.” These things are usually superficially true because they’re so broad and vaguely expressed that they’re true of just about everyone. “Everything is a remix” arguments function in exactly the same way. Saying “a son struggles to overcome the legacy of his father” may be an accurate description of a movie, but it doesn’t actually mean anything. It’s a statement of equal discrimination and value as “you will soon take a long journey.” It’s a parlor trick, just like fortune telling. This is why I say “everything is a remix” is not even wrong. It’s argued in terms so loose and breezy that it doesn’t rise to the level of being wrong.

Song of the Week

Comment of the Week

I personally think The Village is a masterpiece that was terribly harmed by the weirdness of how critics (and the internet) approached Shyamalan's movies, especially since he was such an object of popular hatred at the time, along with Nicolas Cage and Keanu Reeves (remember that?).

Everyone obsesses about the so-called twist, but the big twist is... just a plot point like in any other movie, and happens fairly unspectacularly about halfway through. There's no twist ending as such and the monsters are irrelevant. It is, in fact, an extremely moving love story. And an exploration (and rejection) of the idea that what's wrong with the world is modernity.

The two biggest things that happen in it: 1) a blind girl running through a forest to save the man she loves runs into a wall... and *starts climbing* 2) an ordinary person in the outside world turns out to be decent and helpful.

It's such a gentle, thoughtful film, and (much to Shyamalan's dismay) it was sold as a horror movie and ruined by the obsession with understanding everything in terms of twists. It's really worth revisiting. I'm pretty certain that if it had been made by a different director, like maybe someone French or Korean, it would be considered a classic. - Jonas