Weekend Roundup 10/4/2010

Why Johnny Can't Program: A New Media Requires a New Literacy
Douglas Rushkoff, Huffington Post, 9/30/10

  • Synopsis: Unlike in the 80s, when computers were the new thing, U.S. students don't learn how to program, they learn to use pre-existing programs. Silly -- or worse -- because it's understanding how the ubiquitous machines work that allows you to invent and reinvent the future. If you don't understand the basics of digital power, someone will have digital power over you. Many other countries continue to educate kids to understand code, and it's hard to imagine that these countries won't enjoy competitive advantages from it, too.
  • Takeaway: Do American schools and American culture increasingly groom U.S. kids to be consumers of everything, creators of nothing?

Three Words for Gay Teens: It Gets Better
Trey Graham, NPR.org, 10/1/10

  • Synopsis: The recent string of gay teen suicides has prompted the creation of a YouTube campaign, “It Gets Better,” featuring gay adults talking directly to kids who may be dealing with bullying or harassment by their peers. Trey Graham, arts editor at NPR, wrote a video script telling of the course of his life from a harassed gay teenager with few friends to a nationally prominent journalist with a partner accepted by his once disapproving family.
  • Takeaway: “It gets better. You just have to be there when it does.”
Kenneth Jost, Associate Editor, CQ Researcher


Déjà Vu All Over Again: Are We Repeating Vietnam?
Rufus Phillips, World Affairs, Sept.-Oct. 2010

The Vietnam-Afghanistan analogy isn’t new. But the person drawing it in this piece speaks from far deeper experience than most people. He served in Vietnam from 1954 to 1968 as Army officer, CIA operative, State Department functionary and USAID staffer. And he spent part of a recent summer in Afghanistan. As a result, he opposes the administration’s plan to start withdrawing next summer. It reflects the same flaw that doomed the U.S. war in Vietnam, he argues – failure to take into account the needs and wants of ordinary people.

The Secret World of Extreme Militias
Barton Gellman,
Time, 9/30/10

A veteran investigative reporter reports back after spending months with heavily armed American civilians who are preparing for various sinister scenarios, including a national takeover by a “pro-Muslim” administration. Not all militia members are animated by racist or conspiratorial doctrines, but enough of them are to worry some veteran law-enforcement officials.

Peter Katel, Staff Writer, CQ Researcher