In The News

California Fires:

Florida recount of Governor and Senate elections:

Finalizing governor election in Georgia:



Separating Families: AP Investigation: Deported parents may lose kids to adoption

Climate Report:

Interesting podcast series on Student Loans:

Gladwell, Success, and cultural narratives

some excerpts from the class blog posts 10/19

Malcolm Gladwell proposes an analogy to put perspective to dispute the idea that a certain trait is the reason for success. “The tallest oak in the forest is the tallest not just because it t grew from the hardiest acorn; it is the tallest because no other trees blocked its sunlight, the soil around it was deep and rich, no rabbit chewed through its bark as a sapling, and no lumberjack cut it down before it matured” (Gladwell 20). In other words, success is dependent on more than just a person’s certain quality, or upbringing; it’s almost a game of luck. In terms of Gladwell’s analogy, you don’t know if you’ll be planted in the rich soil. or if a rabbit will chew your bark, it’s all just contingent. Whether you’re the best seed in the pile and just never get planted, it all just depends on your destiny.


In Paul Loeb’s “Soul of a Citizen” Loeb talks about our heroes and how they are put on a pedestal that seems impossible to reach from the average citizen’s viewpoint. As he said “This belief pervades our society, in part because the media rarely represents historical change as the work of ordinary human beings who learn to take extraordinary actions”. This goes hand in hand on what Gladwell says about success, and how success doesn’t mean the best and the brightest of people. These hero’s and successful people weren’t extraordinary people from when they were first born. It’s been a lot of factors that led up to them becoming icons such as hard work and determination, but more importantly environmental factors such as time period, culture, or birth month. Take for example the Bill Gates story in Outliers, Bill Gates in high school had a computer club which had time sharing, most colleges didn’t even have this at the time, so in eight grade Gates was able to rack up a significant amount of hours in programming before he even hit college which put him a cut above his peers. So Gates while still reached the top through hard work and ambition had a significant advantage from the start. Examining success stories in this light makes these people seem less like demi-gods where us average citizens could never even hope to reach and more like average people who just had all the stars align combined with hard work and dedication.


The first chapter of Outliers by Malcolm Gladwell discusses one crucial idea: that success is more than just what we perceive it to be. The main idea is that people do not rise from nothing. Although the passage of the book focuses on the sports aspect of success, the author was trying to explain how “the culture we belong to and the legacies passed down by our forebears shape the patterns of our achievements in ways we cannot begin to imagine” (Gladwell 19). As previously mentioned, Gladwell uses the example of sports cut off dates to illustrate that success if more than just hard work. Gladwell explains that being born between the months of January and March, you had a higher opportunity of making it into the major leagues than those who are born in later months. Although they may be equally talented, Gladwell’s example illustrates how sometimes we are born with an extra advantage to be successful. That extra step towards success has a huge impact on future success because according to Gladwell, “It is those who are successful, in other words, who are most likely to be given then kinds of special opportunities that lead to further success” (Gladwell 30). The primary point Gladwell is trying to make within this chapter, is that there are many components to lead to success, and starting from nothing is not always how one becomes successful.


When people are taught about changes in history, they are rarely taught about how the person achieved it or the struggles they went through. A prime example of this is Rosa Parks. When people learn about her they don’t learn that she was apart of the NAACP and that she had attended several of their meetings or that other people have also attempted sitting in the “Whites Only” area. All people learn is that an African-American woman came along, refused to get up for a white male and sparked the entire Montgomery Bus Boycott single handly. Since this version of her story is so widespread people feel that her success came instantly, making them think theirs should too.


Another text that relates to the “Outliers” is the text we read on Frederick Douglass. In Frederick’s life he was not allowed to read or write, along with his people. They were slaves that were treated harshly due to the color of their skin. Thus, white people had advantages because they were allowed to go above and beyond in their lives. They did not have to be held back like the blacks were. This gave the white people the advantage to be more successful in life. Overall, Gladwell asserts that the way we look at success has often been defined by glorifying personal achievement, hard work, and innate talent. Although he does not condemn hard work and does not go against people’s hard work ethic, he believes they had certain advantages to go along with their hard pursuit of their goal that they achieved.


Most times everyone hears the story how someone who achieved success started off humbly and built their legacy through hard work. Outliers is to bring attention to the fact that people do not rise from nothing and that parentage and patronage play vital roles. Gladwell says that parentage and patronage are, “invariably the beneficiaries of hidden advantages and extraordinary opportunities… that allow them to work hard and make sense of the world in ways others can’t.” It started to click when I relooked at all the people we’ve read or watched about. People like Nelson Mandela, Benazir Bhutto, and President Obama all have one thing in common. All three have well-educated parents as well as themselves.


info/perspectives on Moore’s Capitalism


After finding some research, some points were clarified. I found out that the culprits did not get away with unjustly locking kids up. They were punished for what they were doing, which somewhat restores my faith in some parts of humanity. I also learned that the size of the incident was much larger than expected. According to the scandal’s records in the Juvenile Law Center website, “The scope of the violations of the children’s rights in Luzerne County turned out to be more egregious than anyone could have imagined. From 2003 to 2008, the Luzerne County judicial corruption scandal altered the lives of more than 2500 children and involved more than 6000 cases. Over 50 percent of the children who appeared before Ciavarella lacked legal representation; 60 percent of these children were removed from their homes. Many of them were sent to one or both of the two facilities at the center of the corruption scandal. Believed to be the largest judicial corruption scandal in our history, the story was featured in a 2009 episode of ABC’s ‘20/20.’” This was far larger than I had ever expected. Something that I still wonder is how did it take so long to notice that something was not quite right with the judgements if a whole 2500 people were involved? My guess is that nobody really suspected anything from the juvenile court, considering they are expected to be very trustworthy.

Source: (Links to an external site.)

I Am, Amazing Grace, etc related

The Butterfly Effect: (luck, opportunity, cause/effect)

The meaning of the butterfly: Why pop culture loves the ‘butterfly effect,’ and gets it totally wrong

Amazing Grace

Desmond Tutu

from a recent Article on Kozol’s work: “For nearly 50 years, this educator, author, and civil rights activist sounded the alarm about the damage done to pluralistic democracy by our increasingly polarized education systems. He argued that fewer integrated public schools mean fewer opportunities to learn mutual understanding and collective responsibility, essential qualities for a tolerant democracy. With his landmark New York Times best-sellers—Savage Inequalities, Amazing Grace, The Shame of the Nation—Kozol shaped a generation of teachers and writers covering schools and inequality. See Article Here.


also of interest in current events:

Southern Poverty Law Center: Rise of Hate Groups

Pilots, College Teachers, etc…

Higher Ed is not unlike the airline industry and it’s treatment of pilots (see Moore’s Capitalism a Love Story example of pay and treatment of pilots):


also of interest in current events:

Southern Poverty Law Center: Rise of Hate Groups

International Women’s Day

Events and Actions around the globe in recognition of women’s rights, human rights, social justice, healthcare, access to resources, education, equal pay, etc etc…

March 8 Women’s Strike events and actions:

How Men Can Support Women’s Rights

International Women’s Day

What is Citizenship?

active, involved, voting, having a voice in society, create change, appeal to voted-in officials to change views, having guaranteed rights, being aware of current events, responsibility of what’s happening at state and etc levels and what’s happening around you, knowledge about your country and etc, choose citizenship beyond given rights, follow your beliefs to change things for the better, invest in what you care about, being a part of a country/rights/privileges, culture, being active by going to court and fighting for change, being informed about local and federal politics/gov’t/ issues/etc, act of being involved in society, aware of events around world to get more perspectives and opinions, duties and obligations to fulfill, give back to community or country, to be engaged formally or informally, social media talking to friends or co-workers, debates, voting, running for office, different people have different responsibilities to help community, taking pride, improving to better a community for yourself and for others, participation in politics, respect, equality, nonviolence, paying taxes, working, law, knowing what’s happening around you, access to resources, human right to partake in gov’t/city/state events/opportunities/etc, responsibility to follow laws/rules, to change laws that don’t benefit or perpetuate harm etc, educate oneself on issues in local and world community, taking care of others around you, common good, take action, protest

Detroit public schools: working toward better resources to support literacy for kids in the schools etc

Protecting the environment, animal facing extinction, addressing arguments about climate change, petition gov’t reps, CA water limits, college dorms shower/water conservation, more investment and spread of solar powered tech, charge for shopping bags, toll roads, address arguments about native land/oil/pipelines/safety/water

Being a good neighbor: trade between countries (participating in conversations, influencing political leaders about the good and bad of trade, etc), being welcoming especially to refugees, ACCESS event to fix houses in Detroit

Public transportation especially between urban and suburban areas; cost; benefits: those who live in cities can get to suburbs to work, more people using buses, environmental benefits via car reduction, more efficient (reduce cars, space, etc), provides more opportunities to people to move around, more interaction between members of communities

Running for public office: school board, mayor, city rep, treasurer, party reps

Being more socially aware of neighborhood/environment: get involved via social media, use that to speak out/listen in, video share, petitions, in-person conversations, informal participation can turn into formal participation, movements can start on SM and carry over into physical life, ice-bucket challenge (ALS) raised money and awareness, Trump uses social media to spread info, potential for social media to share/spread info, political organizations on Twitter, ACCESS organizing on SM and holding events, talks, etc in person

Be active by going to events to learn more and get involved, donate time, start locally, meet others, connect/network, build community

Be educated in order to be able to talk about things, know more, make your own informed opinion based on information/multiple perspectives, education helps society economically and in other ways, contribute to society in productive ways etc, learn more to be involved and participate (eg run for major by talking to people and learning about issues in your community)

current events -statements on immigration etc.

for those that are interested there will be a town hall at the Ford Performing Arts: This Wednesday (Feb 1) at  6PM
to talk about  all this andwhat we can do
It is being convened by the  ACLU and ACCESS

Welcome Mat is a searchable database of resources for refugees, immigrants, and volunteers. It provides links to dozens of other organizations, including legal agencies. Mary Lane, who runs the site, is incredibly helpful and has done a ton of legal work for immigrants and refugees in Detroit over the years.

American Civil Liberties Union:

Council on American-Islamic Relations:

National Immigration Law Center:

United We Dream: – See more at:

Letter from UMD Chancellor:

Dear colleagues and students,

Along with many of you, we are very concerned on behalf of our students, faculty, and staff at the implications of the executive order issued by the White House on Friday regarding entry to the United States by foreign-born persons, immigrants, asylum seekers, and refugees. This sweeping order has created fear and anxiety among many of our students, faculty, and staff. It has also created hardship and uncertainty for individuals with valid work and study visas who happened to be out of the country at the time of the issuance of the order.
President Schlissel issued a strong and detailed statement Saturday expressing the university’s support for its faculty, staff, and students with respect to these issues. The statement can be found here on the university’s webpage. Several paragraphs bear quoting here:

Fostering an environment that promotes education and research at the highest levels is among my most important responsibilities as the University of Michigan’s president. The leadership of the university is committed to protecting the rights and opportunities currently available to all members of our academic community, and to do whatever is possible within the law to continue to identify, recruit, support and retain academic talent, at all levels, from around the world.

We are currently focused on potential changes to immigration laws, policies and practices that could affect the status and safety of U-M students and personnel, particularly international students and those who may be undocumented. This includes several programs and policies that affect international students and faculty. Additionally, we are working to understand the implications on our community of the “extreme vetting” executive order blocking immigration from certain countries.

The statement also includes a number of specific commitments with regard to student privacy.

The university’s actions related to immigration status are consistent with our long-standing positions on non-discrimination, privacy and public safety. Those are:

  • The University of Michigan welcomes and supports students without regard to their immigration status. We will continue to admit students in a manner consistent with our non-discrimination policy. Once students are admitted, the university is committed to fostering an environment in which each student can flourish.
  • The university complies with federal requirements associated with managing its international programs. Otherwise, the university does not share sensitive information like immigration status.
  • Campus police do not inquire about or record immigration status when performing their duties.
  • In accordance with federal law, the enforcement of immigration law rests with Immigration and Customs Enforcement and Customs and Border Protection. Campus police will not partner with federal, state, or other local law enforcement agencies to enforce federal immigration law except when required to do so by law.
  • The university maintains a strong commitment to the privacy of student records for all students, consistent with state and federal laws. We do not provide information on immigration status to anyone except when required by law.
  • The university offers in-state tuition to undocumented students who meet certain conditions.
  • The university offers confidential counseling services to all students.

President Schlissel speaks for the whole university community with these words. In particular, the policies of the University of Michigan-Dearborn are governed by the commitments expressed in this announcement.

The University of Michigan-Dearborn welcomes and values the international members of our community, and we will continue to do everything in our power to ensure that their engagement at the university is as rewarding, inclusive, and unburdened as possible. President Schlissel has created an Immigration Policy Committee to provide advice to university leadership and to assist in problem-solving around ongoing and emergency issues of immigration and international education. Professor Sally Howell represents UM-Dearborn on this committee.


Dan Little

News, Bias, Fake-News, ‘Post-Fact’

How False Stories Spread during the Campaign Season


Russia and the Spread of Fake News

Twitter Bots

Living in a Post-Fact World?

Fake Or Real? How To Self-Check The News And Get The Facts:

Media, Profits, Post-election

Interference in Election Campaign

Amazing Grace

*some reflections from the Canvas homework Assignment on the book

Jonathan Kozol Amazing Grace ,”To the Reader”; Page XIV-XV
In this section of the book, Jonathan Kozol speaks of his revisions and conversationsthroughout Amazing Grace. He states that he has revised and shortened a select fewconversations throughout the reading in order to concisely fit within the confines of the book.Throughout the writing the reader would not be able to tell exactly which conversations were“assembled and reproduced.” The conversations carried out between Jonathan Kozol and manyof the speakers within the book are clear and understandable. Through his writing I am able topicture and feel the experiences and emotions of the women, men, and children in the SouthBronx. Kozol’s organizational technique(s) allow for easier understanding and comprehensibility.It allows one to focus on particular words and phrases and to actually gain a sense of what thiscommunity is experiencing. The importance of these conversations and ultimately these people isclearly present within Kozol’s writing. Kozol includes many small events that took placebetween him and the interviewees that seem to hold little significance to the reader, but a greatsense of importance to the people within the community.


What stood out to me was the reality of the extreme struggle these children and people in the community go throughout daily. For example, when the author asked Anthony what he wished for Christmas, they young boy tells him his coat is his present and “the present I desired;” I also agree that this is an unusual way for a child his age to be speaking. Additionally, it is truly sad that these kids are considered lucky if they have something to eat for Christmas. This is sad because compared to us or people all around the country during the holidays; they get all kinds of gifts, feast with family, and not worry or even think about the things like the people in the Bronx go through. As a final point, it’s sad that this young 12 year old boy has to encounter drug deals, see people using drugs, and be afraid of going to the park; where kids should be having fun and not worrying about things like this.


One story in the second half of the book is when Kozol talks about pregnant women. They more likely to receive care inside of a prison then outside of the prison. They receive prenatal and perinatal care. Many parenting classes and even therapy. Women wanted to go to prison due to the long amounts of waiting time that hospitals say. They wouldn’t let a woman into a hospital for four months. I found this intriguing because to think that pregnant woman aren’t able to receive care unless they are in prison is very astonishing. I can’t believe the government won’t help it’s own people when they are in need. Especially a pregnant woman. Although being born inside of a prison is no better then being born in a ghetto, at least the woman receives care. (Page 164)


On Pg. 25 they are talking about evil on earth and the woman says that all the rich with powerwho ignore and do nothing to help the poor are evil, at least in her opinion. The fact that she iswilling to call all those around with money evil shows how mistreated and ignored she feels withher mother sick and living in such a small space they can barely afford it’s hard to blame her.Although I believe she is right they may not be intentionally allowing towns and areas of cities tobecome ghettos and the people in them to become poor and jobless, but by ignoring it andpretending it does not happen they are enabling it. By enabling the destruction of hundreds oflives they become evil in the eyes of all who are watching.


Another passage where I was impacted was in chapter 8 when the book talks about howthe Orphans project of New York is expecting 32,000 to 38,000 babies to be born HIV positive.This really hurts me because our country spends large amounts of money on all sorts of policiesand programs that are not really necessary , but the government can not spend some of themoney to bring more stability in the poor communities.


Another story that stuck out to me from the second half of the book starts in chapter five pg. 158 concerning the Rikers Island jail. There are several things that fascinate me from what is stated in the following pages; to start, the city spends $58k yearly on each adult inmate and $70k on each juvenile, which is nearly 10 times the amount required to educate a child in a public school. The local/state level government evidently cannot properly prioritize their financial spending to better the communities that are struggling with poverty and addiction. What’s more surprising is that the money spent on those inmates aren’t even effectively used. For instance, there was a story of a baby who died in the jail and was buried in a box worth a measly $27. You would think that the city would have basic human decency and give juveniles, especially newborns, proper burials if they were to die in the jail. That is clearly not the case. It makes me wonder what the $58k or $70k is spent on; surely the expenses to house one inmate in a jail cell with basic necessities (food/water) cannot amount to that much. Admittedly, the jail does offer some nice benefits for newborns, so much so that it offers better services than that of a hospital. But wait, isn’t that a bad thing? Apparently, pregnant women that are in jail are guaranteed prenatal and perinatal care, parenting classes, and addiction therapy. However, if a pregnant woman were to give birth outside of jail, there would be a four-month waiting list for prenatal care. Again, this is clearly a case of negligence by the local/state government. They need to start funding programs for people like these that are in need to take care of their children. Otherwise, they will grow up to be involved in drugs and gangs and they will miss out on education.


In chapter one, Kozol talk about a seven year old named Cliffie. He is described as interesting and Kozol says he seems very grown up. I immediately found myself attached to this character because I love kids, and the way he speaks and says things makes him seem wise. Specifically, I was most drawn to the story of the young boy going to get pizza for his family one day when he comes across a hungry man. When the author asks if his parents were mad at him for giving the man some of their pizza, He says, surprised, “Why would they be mad? God told us share!”  I was so intrigued by this because it reflects the modern world. I would think if I were to go get food and give someone half of my parents food they would not be happy, but this young boy who doesn’t even think twice. It reminds me of one of those viral videos where one person will give a homeless man food, and when they send in another person to pretend to be starving, the homeless person always gives what they can. If a regular, decently dressed guy asks another ordinary person for food, the answer is always no. When people have very little, they are more willing to give than people who have more.

In chapter two, Kozol meets with students from 7-12 years old to talk about public schools. What immediately caught my attention was  when asked where they think all the white people went, a 12 year old boy, Jeremiah says “It isn’t where people live, it’s how they live.” I cannot get over how children’s minds work. A 12 year old in “our world” is ready to expect his first iPhone by the end of December, but these children who have so little are thinking of terms in this way. As the conversation goes on, they are asked about role models. It interested  me that they groaned at Martin Luther King because he’s mentioned so often. We talk about him just as much, but we love him. We study him from elementary, through college, and watch movies. I’m most intrigued with children because they are not afraid of norms, they speak their mind and are actually very wise.