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Saturday, January 5, 2019

“Why Didn’t I Win”, by Elizabeth Warren (2020)

Charisma is an ability to say trivial things in a way that makes some people feel they heard a divine revelation.
“Why Didn’t I Win”, by Elizabeth Warren (2020)
The real political paradox that no one in the media is even trying to explain is that statistically speaking the Democrats should be winning the majority of all elections, but they are not.
Based on the number of people who support the Democrats and the number of people who support the Republicans democrats should have the White House, the House of Representatives, the Senate, the most of local legislatures and the majority of the governorships.
The facts however defeat this theory.
How can the Republicans keep winning with less voters supporting them than the number of voters supporting the Democrats?
Pro-democratic media give basically only one answer, they keep saying again and again and again that the Republicans win because they cheat (in different forms, but the essence is the same).
But the statement that the Republicans cheat is not an explanation; at the best it is just a constatation of a fact.
If the Democrats want to win big they have to go beyond this trivial constatation.
If the Republicans win by cheating, the first question for the Democrats is why does cheating work (not why do the Republicans cheat – this question is not productive); and the next question is how to beat the Republicans in their own game (whether we like it or not, but politics is a game)?
I am afraid that after 2018 midterm elections the Democrats are not going to even think about this because they are euphoric after taking of the House of Representatives and picking up some governors.
But the fact that in 2018 the Democrats got the House and picked up some governorships doesn't mean that in 2020 the Democrats will still have the same support.
Many of those races have been won by a hair.
Voters who swung to the Democrats may easily swing back to the Republicans, especially when the prize is the Presidency.
And what do the Democrats do to prevent this from happening?
At least, nothing new.
The biggest problem the Democrats have is that they are …
Well, now I would like to say “stupid” or “idiots”, but some people find this language vulgar or rude.
I would say to those people that “rude” has different meaning in different cultures. In some cultures that language would be considered straight, direct.
Plus, words like “stupid” or “idiotic” have a very simple and specific meaning: they both mean an inability to think; they both describe a person who cannot think.
Just the reason for inability to think is different.
“Stupid” describes a person who cannot think due to some biological reasons, based on genetics. “An idiot” is a person who can't think because of psychological reasons; this is more of a behavioral issue based on the culture the person grew up in.
Saying that democrats are stupid or idiots is not really different from saying that the Earth is round.
Firstly,  this is an approximation.
Secondly, this statement describes an object/system as a whole.
The Earth is not exactly around, and the Earth is not exactly smooth/even, it has mountains and valleys.
And many members of the Democratic Party are very smart and knowledgeable people, no doubt there.
However the Party itself, as a system, is functioning in such a way that its actions are simply not smart.
So, for people who prefer polite language a say “the Democrats as a group are not smart”.
However, as I've been stating before, I write for people who can move their emotions aside and concentrate on the content, focus on the logic and the reason, and the plans.
What would the Democrats do if they were smart (as a social group)?
I’ve got a whole blog on this matter, and I am not going to repeat here again everything I said before.
But the most important steps are:
1. Accepting the fact that they have been outsmarted by the Republicans in general and by Donald Trump in particular.
2. Accepting the fact that the core of the Democratic Party has been corrupted, and the manifestation of this fact was the 2016 nomination of Hillary Clinton.
Everyone who disagrees with these two statements will be an impediment to the Democratic Party.
Everyone who agrees with these two statements may become a leader of the Democratic Party (or a leader of an inflectional third party).
Let’s say one does not reject upfront the statements I just made, at least may think about them, what’s next?
Then one needs to ask does he/she want to do something about it?
If the answer is – yes, then I would suggest actually take a break from actions and start reading.
It is obvious for me that America is on the verge of large social changes.
On the Wall Street people call it a “correction” (e.g. when a bubble bursts).
In science people call it a “paradigm change”.
In social study people call it a “revolution” (does not have to be bloody, though).
There are many reasons for the changes, this alone could have been a very long discussion.
But we should expect a drastic social change, and we need to participate in making it to happen (there are many different forms of participation).
The latte requires a very specific knowledge, i.e. the knowledge of the laws governing social changes.
Those laws exist and they are as inevitable as laws of physics.
All people who participate in a social revolution are being divided into two groups: those who lead and those who follow.
The difference between the leaders and the followers is very simple: those who lead have charisma strong enough to inspire people and  (very important for the right outcome) base their actions on the knowledge of the social laws (or at least on their interpretation of those laws). Those who follow do not have their own logical understanding of what and why is happening (although usually think that they do), but they are hypnotized by the charisma of the leaders and trust that the leaders know what they do (for them political leaders are not much different from other celebrities who make them feel good).
That is why everyone who seeks to be a leader of a change needs to learn how those changes happen.
Every known social revolution had its roots in small groups of people talking about future. People were so captivated by the ideas of social change that they have invested a lot of their own time into thinking, reading, talking, and writing about it.
Here is an example.
In the end of the eighteenth century  Marxists circles in Russia were discussing works of Karl Marx and other philosophers. In the beginning of the nineteenth century Russia had several underground political parties. In 1917 Bolsheviks succeeded in a political coop. Many of those  people who thirty years before that year were sitting in small rooms having heated discussions about the meaning of “Das Kapital” now were leading thousands of hungry Russians to take over the Capital.
BTW: this is a good example for supporting a very well-known statement: “Knowledge is power”; but I prefer my version on this statement “Knowledge becomes power” (also, this example shows a common timeline - i.e. decades).
The political process similar to the one that was happening then in Russia, simply is not happening so far now in America.
Prominent politicians, including Elizabeth Warren, believe that they know everything they need and act according to the old patterns of political behavior which are already less and less effective (hence, the title of this piece; however, there are at least a dozen more names which could be used instead).
The new generation of politicians is yet too self-centered and their charisma so far is strong enough to keep them in a spotlight, so they feel no need to think beyond their immediate slogans (that includes the bills they wave as a flag to demonstrate to their followers how progressive they are).
This situation will eventually change, because sooner or later their followers will begin to feel disappointed in their leaders who will not be able to deliver on their promises.
This time may become fertile for people who have been preparing for this time.
Preparing means investing their time into thinking and rethinking, reading and discussing, and – based on the old laws – developing new strategies for political actions required to make the political transition from the current social-economic state to the new one (the picture of which itself has to be developed during those discussions).
Ready to study?
Start from classics, add contemporaries, include odd figures (like yours truly) – no need to discuss everyone, for that there are experts who can shine a light. The main goal is to achieve a clear and detailed (!) picture of what is right, what is wrong, why, and how to right the wrong.
Then and only then one should start planning the actions.
There is no rush, there will be plenty of time, social transitions do not happen overnight (at least in a democracy).
Finally, when having a more specific conversation about the paradox mentioned at the beginning of this piece, I recommend to start from making the list of all “bad things” the “cheating bastards” Republicans do to win. The longer is the list – the better. And then think about it. And also think about all those millions (30? 40? 50?) of Americans who blindly support Donald Trump no matter what he says or does, and about people who do not support anyone. For the future Democratic leader those people will have to become the target audience – not the people who are already inclined toward the Democratic party. And to win over enough of those people the future Democratic leader will have to make to them a collective appeal, not just “I promise you”, but “I and … promise you”.
But that would mean that the future Democratic leader would be smart; and not just smart, but would be equipped by the knowledge that came from the deep study of the classics, contemporaries, and odd figures; and not just equipped by that knowledge, but would be able to synthesize the new political strategy – strategy (!), political machinery, not just bills –  based on that knowledge.
Sadly, but realistically, there is almost no chance for that to happen in 2020. Currently Democratic leaders demonstrate behavior which usually is described as narcissistic, they show jealousy toward each other, and they have no common vision of the "rights" and "wrongs".
The links in the text represent a small portion of the writing on the matter available on Those posts do not represent a coherent view (it is not a book, it is a collection of essays, many of which were just a reaction to a specific event). However, they contain bits and pieces which when put together represent a coherent strategy.

Here is the place for my 2020 comment.  

American Republicans are just Russian Bolsheviks!

American Republicans are just Russian Bolsheviks!
(Original version of this post has been published in the summer of 2016 and available here.)
When I came to the U.S. I wanted to become a part of the greatest democracy in the world, so I decided to register as a member of a political party. After checking the general ideas of the two largest parties I decided to become a Republican. In Russia there was only one political party and in order to become a member, one had to get through a lot of scrutiny. The first surprise was that to become a party member here in the U.S one has to do one thing – make a small payment at least once a year. That was easy. So, for a number of years I was a dormant Republican. The Hell broke during 2008 Presidential elections. I personally liked senator Obama as the best of all candidates from both parties. But soon I started getting a lot of crazy letters from RNC, many of those had lots internal contradictions, or no logic at all. Those letters brought a lot of limply plain lies. People who wrote those letter assumed that I was a stupid uneducated person who is angry at everyone and they wanted to make me even more angry (remember, it was the time of a financial crisis and a lot of people were very angry already, including me). The authors of the letters clearly did not want me to think, they did not reason with me, did not lay out any arguments. I saw patterns of brainwashing and emotion manipulation.
Very similar patterns, indeed.
Very soon I realized that RNC was using exactly same media technologies Russian Communist Party has been using for decades. Among many common themes were “Everyone hates us/U.S. and we must defend ourselves even if we need to sacrifice our individual freedoms”, and “We must have a strong leader”, “We are the only people who know the truth, all others are liars and influenced by our enemies”.
Anyway, I do not like being manipulated (one of the reasons I left Russia; and one of the reasons I recognized the patterns), so I quit being a Republican simply by stopping making my annual payment. However, I have been getting that kind of letters for a long time. In hindsight, I should have collected them.
A very similar behavior I observed again in 2016. But this election year was the craziest of all. I already have posted a couple of posts on similarities between the current attempt (at least as it is seen today) of a mob revolution in the U.S. and some of the mob revolutions in the past. That includes the fact that all of the mob revolutions are based on emotional manipulating and directing people’s anger to an uncritical support and destructive actions. Here I want to add a couple of more.
The majority of people supporting an odious leader do not want to participate in an everyday social building. They want to have “a strong but fair king/tsar” who would rule with “an iron fist”, mercilessly eradicating all enemies (of course the “king” will never turn onto his current supporters, or will he?). Those people are looking for an easy way out, they want somebody else doing the work for them – like reading, thinking, comparing, analyzing, communicating, compromising, writing documents, etc. However, the history proves that the new “king” never does what he promised, and just uses the opportunity to strengthen his power by getting rid of anyone who disagrees.
Another group of people who support an odious leader is ones who are just looking for a personal political/financial gain (of course, when it happens, it will never go away, or will it?).
It has been interesting to see how many prominent Republicans lined up behind a candidate they all initially ridiculed – not as a candidate but just as a human being. And now they all praise the same human being they ridiculed and laughed at. Did they change their views about Trump as a human being? Of course not! But they swallowed their feelings anyway. One might wonder - why? The main answer is – because they have become afraid of being pushed out of the politics by the aggressive Trump supporters who brought him up the ranks. To the public those high-ranking Republicans say that they do it “for the Party”. Some of them may be saying it even to themselves – a common version of self-manipulation (no normal person wants to admit the lack of integrity – even to themselves).
However, even this phenomenon is not new in the history. For example, during the purge, in 1937 - 1938 in Russia, more than a dozen formerly prominent party and government leaders were charged with espionage and treason, and with killing other prominent Russian leaders. Eighteen former top party members out of twenty-one were executed (including Nicolai Bukharin who for many years was one of the closest allies of Josef Stalin). The most astonishing thing was that they all confessed to the bogus offenses. In personal letters found and published much later many of them made a statement that they confessed not because of being tortured (not all of them were) but to preserve the Party unity, because they wanted to avoid the Party to be broken into factions fighting for the power, especially in front of looming war (
In hindsight, that purge of the top party members finalized Stalin’s path the Russian throne.
I do hope that Donald Trump will not win (when a student asked me who would I vote for – I said: “For the lesser of the two evils”). However, I hope even more that the Republican party will be broken in factions, and the aggressive, racist faction of “deplorables” will eventually shrink down (like KKK did) taking with it all the current Trump endorsers. But the healthy part of the party will eventually reconstruct itself as a true conservative movement – because the democracy needs two strong parties (at least) to function.
BTW: many of those who in 1938 manufactured bogus trials soon were purged, too.

 If you read this post, I suggest to read "The Degradation Of White Male American Elite".

Thursday, January 3, 2019

Bill Gates and The End of An Era.

Recently Bill Gates posted his note where he is reflecting on 2018 and looking forward in 2019.
The note contains 2665 words.
Word “Education” was used only three (!) times and very close to the end of the note.
Here is the quote: “How can we use data to gain insights into education … The use of technology in education. How much can software improve students’ learning? For years we have been hearing overheated claims about the huge impact that technology would have on education. People have been right to be skeptical. But I think things are finally coming together in a way that will deliver on the promises.” 

And that's that. 

And this is after spending hundreds of millions of dollars.
I read this as the sign of a defeat.
Transforming education turned out to be much harder than it was originally thought, and now Bill Gates does not know what to say about it, and what to do about it.
That is why in 2018 he has been focusing on such projects like:
* Alzheimer’s disease

* Polio

* Energy

* The next epidemic

* Gene editing

* Reinventing a toilet.
Of course, Bill Gates could say that he was not alone in his endeavor to reform education, he had advisers. But that would only tell us something important about his advisers, and also about Gate's associates who found those advisers, and again, about Bill Gates who hired those associates, wouldn't it (the "team of non-rivals", I guess)?

I expect that in one way or another eventually Bill Gates will re-turn to education, but when it happens he will be much more careful in making his claims. Unfortunately he doesn't seem to be brave enough to start from openly accepting his defeat, but that would have been the best first step in the new direction (there is a general pattern/algorithm for solving difficult problems).
There is, however, at least one area where his experience, even if it is mostly negative, could have been very helpful (in science a negative result is the result worth to be analyzed; this approach works in science, but it also could work in making a society better).
Bill Gates could have become the center of attraction and a reflective mentor to other rich philanthropists, like Mark Zuckerberg, Elon Musk, Jeff Bezos – of course, if those would like to join their forces. 

The chance of that happening, however, is very slim. As I have mentioned before in various publications (see some links below), our the most rich and powerful are more interested in feeling good about themselves than about the social results of their philanthropic actions. Why else every one of them wants to change the world singlehandedly?
  (From Five Projects Critical for Education)
It's not like "I want to help making the world a better place." 

It's more like "I, ______, want to make the world a better place!"

And BTW, there is nothing wrong with that

Wrong is pretending that one is infallible.

And can you imagine what could they - our rich and famous - do together?
Together they could finally move a needle in reforming education and start the slow process of elimination of intellectual segregation in America (or another possible term "educational segregation").
This could mark the beginning of a new era in education.
For curious people (the only people responsible for progress): Links to some publications on the matter (followed by a short slide presentation) which could help to design a better strategy for reforming education (naturally, some posts might share similar themes; I will fix it if I will decide to make them in a book):

Seven Reasons Why Rich Philanthropists Fail at Making Systemic Changes in Education

When reforms are due, too much of experience may be as bad as too little of it.; the case of Bill Gates.

A word of advice to Mark Zuckerberg: “You are not Steve Jobs, and that’s a good thing.”

The Beginning of The End of The Chan-Zuckerberg Initiative

To Dr. Priscilla Chan (and everyone who is hungry): food for thoughts.

How much of the NSF funded fundamental scientific educational research is really fundamental?

Publicity v. the Mission, a Tough Decision For the NSF

Five Projects Critical for Education

Will the Yidan Prize Affect the Evolution of Education? Most probably - not.

"Backpack Full of Cash": pointing at a problem, not offering a solution

The Role of Education in The Contemporary World

One Education Trend That Will Revolutionize The Workplace.

On the science of teaching science

Vision v. Imagination: What Does a Venture Capitalist Use? 

Is The Cat Worth Be Saved? or A Curious Case of a Risky Entrepreneur.

Treat Education Like Space Exploration - the diagram

An Open Classroom; An Open School - a Concept of a Movement

The full list of the publications on the methodology of teaching science

=>>click HERE for the full list of posts on this blog


What is the difference between an expert and a professional?
A professional does what is needed to be done.
An expert explains - why.  
How do people become professionals?
By accumulating professional experience.
How do people become experts?
By reflecting on accumulated professional experience.
(C) Valentin Voroshilov
The mission (i.e. the reason for existence) of science as a human practice is making reliable predictions.
The mission of a scientist as an agent of that practice is discovering truth and presenting it in a testable form
The mission of a teacher is fostering in students his/her love for learning. 
The mission of a science teacher is sharing with students the feeling of pleasure from thinking.
The mission of a mentor is sharing with students the feeling of pleasure from doing the right thing.
The mission of a parent is making children feeling safe, loved, and confident.
The mission of humanity is making world a better place
(C) Valentin Voroshilov

In her book “Ghosts in the schoolyard” Eve L. Ewing talks about racism in education (I call it “intellectual segregation” or "educational segregation"); watch the interview at Racism has been there for hundreds of years. It is still here. And almost nothing is being really done about it. Click here to the link to the book.
am not an idiot or a reckless person. The reason I can allow myself writing what I think, even if that is perpendicular to commonly adopted and conventional views, is that my financial situation is sufficient and stable. Of course, as a normal person, I wouldn't mind making more money, or being involved in more interesting projects (as described in my generic resume). But I do not have to pretend to be someone I'm not to make my living. 

Wednesday, January 2, 2019

One Education Trend That Will Revolutionize The Workplace.

One Education Trend That will Revolutionize The Workplace.
There Dr. Agarwal writes, quote: “These are some key trends to keep an eye on this year:
Education emphasizing hybrid skills.
Education goes omnichannel.
Education underscoring soft skills remains critical.”, end of quote (for the full description please read the full piece).
For people who have been in education for a long time these trends are not new. Many educators have been making similar statements.
In fact, twenty years ago in my PhD dissertation I also was writing something very similar.
But my point was different from merely pointing out at the set of skills new employees will need to have (even twenty years ago).
My point was, and still is, that if we (people, consumers, employers) want our employees to have all those skills, we need to have teachers who do possess those skills, too.
As an expert in a field pf teacher professional development, I described in my dissertation various training techniques designed for helping teachers to advance all the skills we expect to see in all school graduates.
Not much has changes since those times.
One true difference is that nowadays we have a very different meaning of word “Teacher”, then we had it twenty years ago.
A teachers is not just a person with a chalk and a blackboard anymore.
A teacher is …
Well, this discussion actually has to become the focus of any reformations in education; this discussion requires much more time; plus I have been extensively writing on the matter (e.g. follow to this link).
But the only true trend in education is which will revolutionize the workplace is redefinition of the meaning of what “teacher” or “teaching” means.
And, BTW, after twenty years in the field I can assure everyone: don’t expect any big shifts in 2019.
Deep changes in such inertial social practice as education take a very long time.
And the fact that today learners can (more or less) distribute their learning process in time (stop learning and resume it later) and space (be an official student at different places; being not present at the official location of learning) does not play as crucial role as Dr. Agarwal wants as to think; simply because it does not affect the content of learning and the learning activities of students (i.e. things that teach). And BTW: time and space distribution of leaning have been know and used for decades; the new aspect is the means for communication.
In the end, the real change can start happening only when the place of learning stops being matter at all. It should not matter where and when and how one was being educated. The only matter matters is what volume of knowledge and set of skills one has. For that, in addition to teaching entities (on-site or online) the industry needs to develop assessment centers, where anyone can get a certification for his/her level of education.

A copy of a note from the main page:
am not an idiot or a reckless person. The reason I can allow myself writing what I think, even if that is perpendicular to commonly adopted and conventional views, is that my financial situation is sufficient and stable. Of course, as a normal person, I wouldn't mind making more money, or being involved in more interesting projects (as described in my generic resume). But I do not have to pretend to be someone I'm not to make my living. 

=>>click HERE for the full list of posts on this blog