Thursday, February 23, 2012

Tony Mares' "Ode to los librotraficantes"

 I posted the Librotraficante video which responsed to the banning of the books in Tucson High's Ethnic Studies program, and I was turned onto this poem by Tony Mares (

From Tony Mares' website:

Ode to los librotraficantes

You carry books as you roll along
in your caravan through Texas, New Mexico,
and on to Arizona. You are
the most dangerous caravan in America.

Once your ancestors crossed the Rio Grande,
their bodies wet from the swirling water,
the sweat running down their backs.
Now you carry wet books in your caravan,
books dripping with wisdom. You are

the most dangerous caravan in America.
You scatter books in underground libraries
along the highways of the Southwest. You are
lighting the fires of imagination in young minds
of all cultures along your route. You are
the most dangerous caravan in America.
Tony Mares

My poem dedicated to the brave cultural warriors who take banned books to Arizona

Read the rest at:

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Tucson Weekly and Video of Noam Chomsky Education Lecture

"Hey Were You in the Tucson Weekly?"

 (Photo by Zachary Vito)
I got that question a couple times yesterday before I finally went online and found the Tucson Weekly's photo story on Noam Chomsky. My recent post on Chomsky lacks the high quality photos of Zachary Vito, so I'm going to post a couple below with the image of yours truly.

Check out my notes from Noam Chomsky's lecture.

And Tucson Weekly's Photo Coverage.

Or the Video of Chomsky's lecture from Arizona Public Media.(I ask my question at 1:26)

(photo by Zachary Vito)

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Internet Memes Representing the Public Discourse

The Six Part Syllogisms of Spatial-Visual Rhetoric
In addition to the Academic Coach Taylor Tumblir I've tweeted for its hilarious mash-up of Football coach and Feminist theory, these six paneled What People Think I Do memes have been circulating with images of everything from Director to Stay at Home mother. 

The ones below came to me through go old Facebook, and the most salient feature about the comments posted by the people posting these plays on stereotypes, assumptions and exotification/over-romanticization of different professions is that people tend to comment "So true," or "If you are such and such, then you'll totally get this."

 I suggested there's a syllogistic aspect of the arguments built through the series of point-of-views, and there's a definite recognition of public discourse in terms of what others are supposedly "thinking" or what we imagine they are "thinking." There's certainly some truth to all of these and the numerous and seemingly un-ending variations hint at the acceptance of this kind of literacy practice, possibly for the immediacy and expectation of narrative resulting in a punchline.

I was listening to a Berkman Center podcast from the Rolling on the Floor Laughing Conference (I might have messed up the title) at MIT. The authors of the podcast asked the all-important question of "What is a meme?" 

Attendees hemmed and hawed when answering, but included:
  •  "powered by people sharing it," 
  • "shareable pop culture content," 
  •  "you can't have a meme if no one else relates to it," 
  • "a joke that catches on," 
  • "something funny that's ridiculous," 
  • "people's boredom powers a meme," 
  • "witty statements over an image," 
  • "reinacted and recreated by millions," 
  • "in order to be recognized and adopted, there needs to be a recognizable portion of that."

Dawkins: Greek word for something imitated (mimesis, if I'm correct); ideas in the form of memes replicate the way genes do, evolutionarily. In order for something to become a meme, it must transform as it moves from person to person (

As the six-paneled memes above address, the political subject matter of memes can be empowering because they can be anonymous, but the spread of these memes voice the growing resentment.

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Noam Chomsky at University of Arizona

“Education for Whom and for What?”

Noam Chomsky spoke at the U of A this evening and I had the chance to not only attend his lecture, but also ask a question during the Q&A session and got him to sign a copy of Hopes and Prospects. Below are the notes of Noam Chomsky's lecture, introduced as the "most cited living author" and third most cited behind only Plato and Freud.

He began by asking the question "for whom is education," explaining there were two fundamental ways of viewing the question.

The Elitist Intelligent Minority Viewpoint
1. Higher education was for elites, keeping the rest dumbed-down with technical training. In the 1920s, there were essays expressing this view about education for the elites. It said there was a necessity to distinguish between the responsible minority and the meddlesome outsiders, and the intelligent minority had to be protected from the herd.
He referred to Emerson who said something to the effect of needing to educate the majority to keep them from the minority's throats, frightening them into obedience through education.

Chomsky explained the framing of the Constitution was actually inspired by the elite, intelligent minority rationale. At the conference on the Constitution, the idea was put forward marginalize the public or they'd be trouble. And if they were allowed to vote, they would take land away from the rich. So, the Constitution set about to reduce democracy, keeping power in the hands of the Senate which wasn't voted on at the time.

Relating the forms of governmental control, Chomsky referenced Aristotle, who discussed and analyzed the different forms of government, finding democracy the least bad. Still, the idea of the poor taking the rich's money existed, although Aristotle didn't see it as a bad thing eliminating inequality, creating a middle-class, sometimes referred to as welfare state kinds of measures.

Chomsky also mentioned Hume, who Chomsky said describes government as founded on opinion.

 [Much love to Jerry Lee for snapping this snazzy pic]

Education is for Everyone Viewpoint
Advocating Jonathan Rose's The Intellectual Life of British Working Class, Chomsky said everyone should read Rose's piece which contrasts the pursuit of knowledge by working class Britain versus the philistines of the aristocracy.

Comparing the pursuit of knowledge by working class to the 19th century U.S., Chomsky pointed out that blacksmiths would hire young men to read to them the classics while they worked. His point was that there was a genuine pursuit of knowledge by working class people that taken away from people as the U.S. began to shift economies, where in which factories didn't allow the same kind of high culture enrichment. Chomsky specifically speaks of the factory girls who made these criticisms, feeling their dignity taken from them along with their intellectual pursuits.
In 1930s, there had been lively programs for worker education. Chomsky remarked that his own unemployed working class relatives at the time took part in high culture education programs, watching performances of Shakespeare and other activities.
He spoke of images from the Enlightenment regarding education. He spoke of pouring water into an empty vessel, which Chomsky admitted tended to have cracks allowing for contents to leak out.
He then spoke of the image of the string laid out which symbolized the path a student could take, following the string in the direction of the student's curiosity. This cocept came from Humboldt who started  university system in Germany.

No Child Left Behind
Chomsky then discussed the state of science and how many over-strict procedures emphasizing rote memorization of scientific facts took the value and enjoyment of discovery out of how science is taught. Science became a game of recalling boring facts. He then explained how he'd gotten around Chemistry in college by not attending large lectures, skipping labs and filling in the lab books results that were logical based on the desired outcomes of the labs. He passed with an "A." This example he used to compare to the No Child Left Behind policy that's been around 10 years without progress, adding that serious education is radically different.

At MIT, where Chomsky teaches, he has a colleague who teaches science. Whenever a student asks the colleague what will be covered during the semester, the colleague answers: "It doesn't matter what we cover. It only matters what you discover."

Post World War II, Chomsky argued, changed the U.S. system of higher ed. The U.S. emerged as a global force. The U.S. pioneered mass education motivated by transition from agricultural economy to industrial economy. In the industrial system, people once again shed culture, and some went on strike for more dignity, feeling like slaves.

New Spirit of the Age
Gain wealth and forget all self.

No longer preservation of commons, protecting common forests from predatory acts of kings and nobles. The failure to attend to commons will be our undoing. [Applause from audience]

 (Photo By Zachary Vito)

New drive to make everything a commodity. Chomsky cites Marketing and PR firms desire to "create wants", stimulating consumerism, paying attention to fashionable consumption.
Chomsky questions whether the New Spirit will be overcome, or whether we'll just be lemmings marching over the cliff?

After WWII, there was a shed of old world baggage. There was less desire to study in Europe for students in U.S. Those fleeing Europe were feared and disdained. Starting fresh was important.
There was a change in the nature of the economy with an impact on the university.

Disregarding economist Adam Smith's advice to the colonies of pursuing the competitive advantage and getting advanced goods from advanced countries, the U.S. did not become a third world country.

A memorandum by Lewis Powell rejected the civilizing effect universities had on the large population. He advocated for a certain kind of free enterprise, lobbying on behalf of tobacco and federal subsidies while also arguing that too much democracy was trouble. The public was supposed to be passive and apathetic [a return to both the intelligent privileged minority and similar to apathy toward politics of majority].

He ended his discussion speaking about a fee-free college in Mexico he admired, comparing to the current state of California's universities that are becoming more expensive and corporatized, educating only the privileged. Referring to his home campus of MIT, Chomsky said he recognized the influx of corporate funding and the threat of not renewing contracts. However, Chomsky said there wasn't an secrecy around the corporate funding at MIT, unlike some other schools which have had scandals. His point being that corporations push for short-sighted findings that produce financially beneficial results while overlooking long term potential results.

(Photo By Zachary Vito)
I was fortunate enough to be the second person posing a question during the question and answer portion (see photo above). I started by saying the majority of people there believed education is for all, and in light of issues like No Child Left Behind and HB 2281, how were we to find hope and inspiration as educators?

He responded talking again about the free university in Mexico and the student movements currently going on.

There were many more questions about the Occupy Movements which Chomsky supported, hoping that the strategies by the movement wouldn't have diminishing returns and that the people who the activists are trying to connect with (the rest of the 99%) aren't turned off by the occupy tactic.

Video of Chomsky's lecture from Arizona Public Media.(I ask my question at 1:26) 

I apologize for any spelling and other errors, but I'm writing this the night of, directly from notes.

The link to the video of his Feb 7 talk: What is Special about Language?

Also here:

Monday, February 6, 2012

Tis the Season for Conferences

March Madness

It might only be the beginning of February, but I'm gearing up for March.

I mentioned the international conference on Technology, Knowledge and Society I attended at UCLA in January and that was only the beginning of the presentation pandemonium to come. Somehow, I managed to submit to conference convening primarily in March.

First off, I'm off to San Marcos, Texas where I was a predoctoral fellow. There, I'll be presenting as a part of the Tejas Foco of the National Association of Chicano and Chicana Studies Tejas Regional Conference. 

As in the image above, I will then be in St. Louis, Missouri from March 21-24 for the 2012 CCCC. As a past CCCC Scholar for the Dream, I always look forward to attending the ceremonies along with this years scholars--one of the PhD students I peer-mentor is one of this year's award recipients. Not to mention all of the great NCTE Latina/o Caucus workshop/meetings.

Rounding out March, I'm heading to UCSD for the  2012 Cultural Studies Association Conference, themed CULTURE MATTERS from March 28 through April 1. 

I'm getting tired just thinking about all of the travel, but I think these conferences reflect the intersections of my research interests and will charge my scholarly battery with great presentations and discussion.
Crossing boundaries and speaking in foreign tongues like a pochteca...

Saturday, February 4, 2012

More Bad News for Latinos in Arizona

Candidate For City Council In Arizona Removed for 'Lack of English Proficiency'

(image taken from:

Another case of calling the validity of Latinos into question in the contested state of Arizona. Lawmakers put through bills like SB 1070 calling into question the legality of all Latinos' citizenship and HB 2281's challenging of the validity of Latino/a history. Now, in protection of governmental power, a candidate whose primary language is Spanish is removed from City Council ballot due to her perceived proficiency or lack of in English.

From Huff Post Latino Voices:
"A Yuma County Superior Court judge touched off a furor last week when he disqualified Alejandrina Cabrera, a candidate for city council in San Luis, Arizona, from running for office over what he called a "large gap" between her English proficiency and that required to serve as a public official."

Written by Mary Slosson for Reuters

Online Universities, High-Pressure Enrollment and High Debt

Considering Going to an Online College, Watch this First

So this isn't my typical kind of post, but a recent recommendation to follow the sponsored University of Phoenix Twitter feed reminded me of this Frontline video should be a must-see for anyone thinking of attending an online university:

I've spoken with students who've been contacted by these universities who pressure college-age people who hadn't been thinking of going to college, and hadn't tried affordable alternatives like community colleges, and the university salespeople "help" students enroll, take out thousands and thousands of dollars from the government and other loans. As the video explains, many students never graduate and are left thousands of dollars in debt that's leading to the next housing-loan type of economic downturn.

Once again, I'm not trying to talk anyone out of going to college, but I recommend community colleges as a much more affordable alternative to online classes ($100s/community college vs. $10,000s online).
A popular, updated slideshow in the Huffington Post's College Section is their "Majoring in Debt: College Students Struggle Under Weight of Loans" showing students from schools with higher graduation rates than online colleges who are unable to find jobs.