Seymour Papert: Hope – eyes open

December 28, 2006

Brief note from MIT’s Media Lab:

Wednesday, December 27

While still in Intensive Care, Seymour is making progress every day. He has opened his eyes and sees the people around him, but has not yet spoken. He is also able to move his arms, legs, and head. His doctors hope that he will be able to be moved out of Intensive Care soon, but for now, is still not receiving visitors.

Earlier coverage, noting his December 7 collision with a motorbike in Hanoi, here.

One may still leave an electronic flower for a get-well bouquet to be delivered to Papert.

Seymour Papert, MIT photo


After the end, Hoover showed the way for Bush

December 28, 2006

Herbert Hoover, White House Portrait

Herbert Hoover, White House Portrait

Herbert Hoover is one of the great foils for U.S. history courses. The Great Depression is on national standards and state standards. Images from the dramatic poverty that resulted win the rapt attention of even the most calloused, talkative high school juniors. Most video treatments leave students wondering why President Hoover wasn’t tried for crimes against humanity instead of just turned out of office.

In most courses, Hoover is left there, and the study of Franklin Roosevelt‘s event-filled twelve years in office (with four elected terms) takes over the classroom. If Hoover is mentioned again at all in the course, it would likely be for his leading humanitarian work after World War II.

But there is, hiding out in California, the Hoover Institution. Hoover’s impact today? Well, consider some recent fellows of the Hoover Institution: Condaleeza Rice, Milton Friedman, George Shultz, E. D. Hirsch, Jr., Gary Becker, Diane Ravitch, Chester Finn. The Hoover Institution, “at Stanford University,” is the conservatives’ anchor in the intellectual and academic world.

Hoover’s legacy is being remade, constantly, through his post-Presidential establishment of an institution to promote principles of conservatism (and liberalism in its old, almost archaic education sense). The Hoover Institution has carried Hoover’s ideas and principles back into power.

Dallas has been wracked recently with the shenanigans and maneuvers around the work of Southern Methodist University to be named as the host for the George W. Bush Presidential Library. In a humorous headline last week the Dallas Morning News (DMN) said such a library could lead Dallas’s intellectual life in the future (the headline is different in the on-line version — whew!).

Humor aside, there is grist for good thought there. Read the rest of this entry »

Gerald Ford: Too nice a guy

December 27, 2006

CBS Nightly News tonight featured a short snippet from a series of interviews reporter Phil Jones conducted with Gerald Ford in 1984 — interviews granted on the condition they not be shown until after Ford’s death. They talked about Ford’s first speech as president, in which he declared, “Our long, national nightmare is over.”

Ford hadn’t wanted to use that line. His speechwriter, Bob Hartman, insisted on it. It’s the line that is quoted most — but at the time it set the tone that Ford was a straight talker.

Hartman himself is 89 now. CBS tracked him down, too. His memory of Ford’s not wanting to use the phrase correlated exactly. Hartman said that Ford did not want to say anything that reflected badly on anyone, not only then, but any time. Referring to the Watergate scandals and crises as “a nightmare” could be interpreted negatively on President Nixon or any number of other people. Ultimately, Hartman’s judgment of what needed to be said prevailed.

Hartman had something else to say about Ford, which is also quotable:

Gerald Ford had only one fault.

He was too nice a guy.

Mark that one down; it should be in the next Bartlett’s, or the next Yale collection. Should be.

  • Post script: It was nice to see our old friend Phil Jones again. He was the Capitol Hill correspondent for CBS for much of my time on the Hill, a man of great patience, great insight, and solid reporting.
  • More CBS coverage: Here.

Gerald Ford, nice guy

December 26, 2006

Gerald Ford died today. He was 93, the longest-surviving ex-president.

When a president dies, newspapers and news magazines pull out the stops to make their coverage of the person’s life exhaustive. You’ll see a lot about Gerald Ford in the next few days.

Gerald Ford, White House portrait

My college internship* with the U.S. Senate took me to Washington in 1974, just after Ford had assumed the Vice Presidency under the new rules of the 25th Amendment. Ford was selected as Vice President after Spiro T. Agnew had resigned in lieu of being prosecuted for taking kickbacks from his days as governor of Maryland. Within a few months he was elevated to the presidency when Richard Nixon resigned in August 1974.

But for a few months he was President of the Senate. Starting with Spiro Agnew, vice presidents no longer spend a lot of time on Capitol Hill fulfilling their Constitutional duties as Senate leader. Hubert Humphrey had been quite active as vice president, carrying key messages from the White House to the Congress, and from Congress to the President, and pushing legislation with Lyndon Johnson, in what was surely one of the most effective legislative teams in the history of the world.

And when he was acting as President of the Senate, I first ran into Gerald Ford — literally.

Read the rest of this entry »

Seymour Papert update

December 26, 2006

MIT’s Media Laboratory says they will post updates as they get them.  As of today, Dr. Papert is resting in Massachusetts General Hospital’s Intensive Care Unit (ICU), taking no visitors, and still in a coma.

Meanwhile, there is also an electronic get-well card you may sign.

‘First, Roy Moore came for Keith Ellison . . .’

December 26, 2006

While denying that they have any racist or other xenophobic intent, critics of Minnesota’s U.S. Representative-elect Keith Ellison, like the abominable Dennis Prager, continue to try to gin up reasons why he cannot carry his own scriptures to Congress, why he cannot have the rights that every school child in America has, because the scriptures Ellison carries are Islamic.

Except for Roy Moore, the Xian Nationalist, unreconstructed Christian Reconstructionist, and Christian Dominionist who probably got the memorandum about how they aren’t supposed to talk about it in public, but who lets it fly anyway.

Representing the Great Booboisie, Roy Moore says Ellison should not be seated in Congress at all.

Alabama’s voters were wise to reject Roy Moore as governor, after Moore burned the people so badly when they trusted him to be chief justice of the state’s supreme court, and he instead turned the court into a circus of religious pomposity and disregard for the laws of religious freedom. Another History Blog Fisks the manifold, manifest errors Moore makes.

I cannot escape the feeling that Moore is speaking for most Reconstructionists and Dominionists, Read the rest of this entry »

Teaching Carnival #18

December 26, 2006

Your students and their parents will tell you, “education” is not the same thing as “teaching.”

Nor is this an exercise in instruction for how to properly bark a carnival, or run the roller coaster or Ferris wheel — but go check it out anyway.  More good stuff, more good blogs, more good links:  Teaching Carnival #18 at xoom.

(And until a few minutes ago, I didn’t know there were separate carnivals, either.)

Tip of the old scrub brush to Another History Blog

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