Tuesday, April 03, 2007

Ask Ryan Anything

Almost forgot! Last week's Ask Ryan Anything went pretty welll - and at least one person asked for it to become a regular thing - so it's Monday and that time of the week again - the time to ask me anything.

Lots have gone on this week, lots to ask me about. I had 2000+ hits just the other day. The Supreme Court had a huge decision, allowing the EPA to control carbon dioxide emissions like they would other climate pollutants. I have a new podcast - and there's been all sorts of stuff going on lately in hopefully repealing 1913. I even bought a new cd! So, if anybody's curious about my take, here's your chance to cause Ryan to write pages and pages of comments stump Ryan.


Anonymous said...

Long-term Educational Trends

Stepping back from year-to-year, are our public schools doing better or worse than twenty years ago?


joe said...

Who is your favorite contemporary Republican, and why?

Anonymous said...

My Favorite Republican

Yes, I'm butting in.

Toss up between Jim Jeffords and Lincoln Chafee? Reason: courage


Mariposa said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Susan M. said...

What CD did you buy?

That Mariposa thing is weird. I haven't used that screennick in years.

Ryan Adams said...

Good question (5:10pm), KBusch. The truth is I have no idea. Twenty years ago, I was 2, so about the best I could do is sort of walk and talk.

That said, I can go by the official testimony of Mrs. Adams - my stepmother - who assures me the work my younger brother have to do today is far beyond anything she had to do. However, they also have the benifit of having 2 college educated parents, living in a nice town and high expectations - as opposed to my Step Mother, who grew up in poverty in a large city and no parents with a college education.

Ryan Adams said...

Joe, that's a tough question. I think I'd have to go with Lincoln Chaffee, though I don't see him as particularly courageous. I just see him as a nice guy with decent views who got rolled over by his party in numerous ways - resulting in him being the most popular loser ever. I feel bad for him and would welcome him to my party.

A second pick would have to be Katherine Harris. Her senatorial campaign provided me with boatloads of laughs.

Ryan Adams said...

Good question, Susan! Mika is a new artist here in America - making his cross-over from Europe - who is absolutely fabulous! I recommend checking out some of his videos on Youtube. His voice reminds me so much of Freddie Mercury's that it's scary - I swear he's Freddie's reincarnation.

Anonymous said...

Getting back to education, if todays work is so hard, why do we always rank so far behind other countries in evaluations. And it seems like we're losing ground.
Then you have survey questions that get highlighted in the news, 30% of high school seniors don't know who won WWII etc.(this is just an example, I don't remember exact number).

David said...

What is your favorite Burritto establishment in Massachusetts?

And on a less serious note, how do we get our kids to become their own educators. With all the teaching to the tests going on kids are missing out on a lot of knowledge that will stimulate them to seek out more information. Maybe even *gasp*shock*horror* get them to go buy a book and read for curiosities sake. Everyone learns better when they are interested in a subject. All in all what can/is being done to foster a life long love of learning.

Ryan Adams said...


Why do we rank so far behind? For one, education in America has always been different. Even decades ago, college was the great equalizer in America: it was simply more stressed, so less people thought of it as a big deal. Yet, that isn't really an acceptable thing anymore - the first two years of college is quickly becoming the 13th and 14th grades.

Why are other countries ahead? There are a lot of reasons. We can look at a few different countries to examine that (/Ryan puts on his comparitive politics hat). Some countries that do well, like Scandanavian countries, simply focus the kind of resources necessary to get the job done. They have some of the best health care in the world that's available to everyone. The middle class in those countries in small - contrast that to America where poverty is much higher, were people have excess worries from health and sickness, etc. and where we pay some of the lowest taxes - while also giving a great deal of our taxes to the military instead of public education.

Many countries in Asia rank very high, perhaps the highest, in maths and sciences. Why? For one, they are really stressing them - which, to me, is both good and bad. (It's great to study math and science, but to forsake liberal arts isn't going to produce whole tons of competent people). Furthermore, someone told me this literally just the other day - so I'm not sure if it's true or not, but it wouldn't shock me - that, by the time someone from China has reached the 7th grade, they've spent a whole year longer in school than an American.

So, how do we remedy these things? I've said this countless times: education just won't happen, no matter how much money we spend, unless we address problems that occur at home. There are two ways to go about that: the first, you could try to address those problems at home. The second, you could try to insulate students from those problems and do more of their learning and studying in school - instead of being left to their own devices at home. That would require both more spending (like Scandanavian countries) and longer school days (like Asian countries). Is America willing to commit?

Ryan Adams said...


Great question!

Though I love Anna's in Brookline, I do prefer New Bedford's No Problemo in most ways. The big advantage Anna's has is a greater selection, but it doesn't quite reach No Problemo's level of excellence. However, anywhere I go con mis amigos es bueno.

To answer your less serious question, pretty much nothing. We have to be honest with ourselves! Life-long education doesn't really exist in America. Of course, that's a generality - lots of older folks are learning, but it's sporadic at best. We're doomed to grow old and stupid. Or not. After all, we both like to read. Getting other people to read is far beyond my skill, however. The only answer I can offer is to suggest we reach out in a multitude of ways to get people to learn - by appealing to what they love. You happen to love reading and therefore read a lot. Other people like art. Other people like sports (well, you like that too). There are opportunities to learn in every venue and multitudes of different kinds of intelligence - getting people to learn about any of them is a noble endeavor and could lead to further interest in other areas, even if by random chance.

PS: I never knew how talented an author you are - you should write more often (your brief paragraph made me laugh).

Anonymous said...

Long-term Educational Trends

I suspect that eduction has changed to the extent that, to attain scientific and technological competence, there is much more to learn. There might be less to learn to attain cultural competence. I have the impresson, for example, that the classical eduction that imparted a knowledge of Latin, ancient and European history, Chaucer, Milton, Shakespeare, and Pope has disappeared even as a model.

It seems from your comparative politics comment that eduction in this country may not have improved enough to keep its international ranking. It might still have improved.


Anonymous said...

Yeah, I'd like to know when that alternative to BMG you have darkly hinted about is finally going to pop out of the oven. I could point you to several threads over there today that cast considerable doubt on the effectiveness of natural selection.

Anonymous said...

If I ran a scoop blog

I ran the thought experiment on Monday: What if I had a scoop blog I co-hosted? What would would it contain? Here's what I came up with.

The blog would have very linky posts on (1) the Guardian Angels, (2) the crime rate (going up? why the murders recently?), (3) something about the latest on health care (I note some activity on http://blog.hcfama.org via Charley), (4) Deval Patrick's recent move against the 1913 law, (5) the Newton North articles that appeared in the New York Times and Boston Globe: what do they tell us about education? What do they say about feminism's progress or lack of it? (6) the problems with Patrick's blog have created some controversy (see the discussion referenced on Barrios' blog). What do we make of that? Goof or no goof? Pratfall or serious mistake?? (7) What do we make of the bill Sciortino is pushing that changes the MCAS requirements?

I think the discussions that need to happen the most, though, revolve around the budget. let's understand what Patrick is proposing to cut and what the tax loopholes are that he intends to close. Further, we need to have some sense of what the legislature is up to.

I could see having regular series like "Seeing Red" where we quote at length a blog from RMG or the like and take it apart -- without being mean about it, though. (We'll leave it to the commenters to be as mean as they want, though!) We could also have a "Liberalism: Kicking the Tires" series where we take some common liberal opinion or view and ask whether it's still true. Examples: How do we know that programs for prison inmates really lower crime? Why doesn't raising the minimum wage adversely affect business? What is the experience in other countries where gay people serve in the military? And so on. These could be very interesting to discuss amoung friends, and very illuminating.

Sound interesting? Dull? Off the mark?

I note with interest the discussion with Harold Ford going on at TPMCafe.


Anonymous said...

All those are perfectly palatable, so long as you whisk in a bit of national politics. And there's always the old favorite, talking back to the news.

But what's really important is simply that it's a moderate and progressive blog, not a talk radio transcript. So: No Republitrolls. They already killed BMG, and made commenting there an endless penitential exercise. I'd rather kneel on jacks, like we did in Catholic grade school. But: No PC police, either. You can't have a rational discussion on dKos any more without getting hijacked by outrage over your racist use of semicolons or your clearly misogynistic description of the Daily Show as "hysterical." So anti-uterine, you know.

Yeah, i vote for neither one of those.

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