Outside Reading — Is Our Children Learning? edition

dumpster books

A National Death Wish: How Science, Education, and the Future Were Sacrificed For Profit and Power by Jared Yates Sexton

As Jared Yates Sexton meticulously argues in his new essay, published by The Muckrake, where we are at now is where the devolving Republican philosophy has been leading for at least the last forty years. The party’s political leadership has been in an ever-escalating war against all manner of knowledge and expertise for decades, all because shared conclusions of scientists, physicians, and economists commonly run counter to their greed-first legislative preferences. Republicans are mishandling the duty of governance during the global pandemic because that is what they have been expertly training themselves to do all along.


Milan announces ambitious scheme to reduce car use after lockdown by Laura Laker

Elsewhere, there are heartening signs of people and places coming together to set a better path into the future, one based on lessons learned during the current health crisis. This isn’t unique. Much the same thing happened after the flu pandemic of 1918, including in the Unites States, where leaders took seriously the exposed flaws in the social structure. This news article from The Guardian, written by Lauren Laker,  provides insight into the ways in which the Italian city of Milan is working strategically now to make sure the metropolitan area works better for citizens after the pandemic.

Thirty Years Ago, Hollywood Won the Battle Against the X Rating. But It Lost the War. by Keith Phipps

Writing for The Ringer, Keith Phipps delves into a topic I find absolutely irresistible: the creation of the NC-17 movie rating. My fascination stems in large part from the fact that rating replaced the previous adults-only designator, X, during the time when I was co-producer and co-host of a weekly movie review show at my college radio station, and our program-opening news segment covered NC-17 developments many, many times. I also appreciate it as a prime example of unintended consequences. The stigma that developed around the X rating, prompting the need for a change, can be attributed an early choice made by the MPAA, the entertainment industry organization that doles out the rating, to copyright all of the ratings at the time of their original creation, in the late nineteen-sixties, except for the X. By trying to spare the ratings board the chore of sitting through an onslaught of pornographic movies, the MPAA allows the X rating to become a marketing tool for smut peddlers, essentially losing control of it. Phipps doesn’t really get into that history, but the article does a dandy job of recounting the last gasp attempt at restoring legitimacy to an adults-only rating.

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