Books: I listened to the audiobook “The Fallen Angel” by Daniel Silva. From Goodreads (here):
Art restorer, assassin, spy—Gabriel Allon returns in The Fallen Angel, another blockbuster espionage thriller from #1 New York Times bestselling author Daniel Silva. The acclaimed author of Portrait of a Spy, Silva (“a world class practitioner of spy fiction” —Washington Post) is an undisputed master of the genre who has brought “new life to the international thriller” (Newsday).
A breathtaking adventure that races around the globe, The Fallen Angel begins in Rome, where Allon is called upon to investigate a murder at the Vatican, one with disastrous repercussions that could plunge the world into a conflict of apocalyptic proportions. If you haven’t yet been drawn into Daniel Silva’s thrilling universe of intrigue, danger, and exceptional spycraft, start here—and see why the Philadelphia Inqurer declares that, “The enigmatic Gabriel Allon remains one of the most intriguing heroes of any thriller series.”
From Inside Higher Ed on a new report from the American Academy of Arts and Sciences (here):
…. “While English continues to be the lingua franca for world trade and diplomacy, there is an emerging consensus among leaders in business and politics, teachers, scientists, and community members that proficiency in English is not sufficient to meet the nation’s needs,” the new report says.
John Tessitore, senior program adviser at the academy, helped compile the statistical portrait based on existing data on second-language learners and speakers in the U.S. for the academy’s Commission on Language Learning. He said the commission believes that foreign language should be of a higher priority throughout the American education system -- not at odds or competing with other priorities, such as science and math, but alongside them.
“This is about increasing access and making language learning available,” he said. “Every student should have access and should be able to learn a language over the course of their educational life, whether they go to college or not.” ….
In the report “The State of Languages in the U.S.: A Statistical Portrait” (here), there a two charts relating to Oregon:
From page 10, showing Oregon with less than 13 percent enrolled in foreign language classes:
Caption: “Proficiency in a second language requires extended course sequences that ensure adequate opportunities to learn and practice using the language. As of 2014, only twelve states had more than one in four elementary- and secondary-school students studying languages other than English. (Note that English language learners are not included in these reports.) The share of elementary- and secondary-school students enrolled in language classes or programs in individual states ranged from 7.9% in New Mexico to 51.2% in New Jersey. The share for the nation as a whole is 21.5%. In comparison, more than half of all students in European primary schools were learning another language in 2014”
And from page 12, reflecting the Rand-PPS study (here):
Caption: “A recent study of students in dual-language immersion courses, which controlled for factors such as socioeconomic disparities, found that students who speak both English and non-English languages at home achieved higher English language arts performance in dual-immersion classes than students in non-dual immersion programs. By the time dual-immersion students reached the 5th grade, they were an average of seven months ahead in English reading skills compared with their peers in non-immersion classrooms. By the 8th grade, students were a full academic year ahead. These findings support claims that learning a second language helps students tackle the nuances and complexities of their first language.”
Books: I just finished listening to the three audiobooks (“Some Luck,” ”Early Warning,” “Golden Age” ) that make up Jane Smiley’s “The Last Hundred Years Trilogy.” From the NY Times review (here):
.... Her new book is the first volume of a trilogy — one of the few forms left for her to tackle — and in characteristic, workmanlike fashion, she has already completed the two other volumes, which will probably follow in the spring and next fall.
“Some Luck” starts in 1920 and follows the fortunes of a Midwestern farming family, Walter and Rosanna Langdon and their five children, until 1953. Each chapter covers a single year; sometimes a lot happens, as when Frank, the eldest Langdon child, goes off to World War II, and sometimes not much at all except for the unending cycle of farm life: the planting, the harvest, the sheep shearing, the always changeable weather. The point of view skips from character to character, and as the story expands, some people drop out for chapters at a time, only to suddenly pop up again....
I would not want to have a movie made about my college years.
Movie: I watched the movie “Barry” on Netflix. From Time (here):
A fictionalized account of Barack Obama’s first term as a Columbia University student is a meditation on belonging.
A movie doesn’t have to be a grand cinematic experience to open up your worldview. Vikram Gandhi’s Barry is, by almost any measure, a modest picture: In this fictionalized account of Barack Obama’s first term as a Columbia University student at in the early 1980s, a young newcomer named Devon Terrell plays the future 44th president, a bright young man who has every reason to feel at home in the world….
From Roger Ebert (here):
A common image of President Barrack Obama in Netflix's "Barry" is that of a quiet young man, cigarette often in hand, looking towards something or reading. He’s always thinking. But as much as director Vikram Gandhi's film is motivated by presenting a young Barack Obama as a vessel for different conversations of identity, race and what defines an American, its scant narrative eloquence limits those ideas to mere food for thought….
From Scholastic (here):
A tour-de-force by rising indy comics star Gene Yang, American Born Chinese tells the story of three apparently unrelated characters: Jin Wang, who moves to a new neighborhood with his family only to discover that he's the only Chinese-American student at his new school; the powerful Monkey King, subject of one of the oldest and greatest Chinese fables; and Chin-Kee, a personification of the ultimate negative Chinese stereotype, who is ruining his cousin Danny's life with his yearly visits.
From Goodreads (here):
All Jin Wang wants is to fit in. When his family moves to a new neighborhood, he suddenly finds that he's the only Chinese American student at his school. Jocks and bullies pick on him constantly, and he has hardly any friends. Then, to make matters worse, he falls in love with an all-American girl...
Born to rule over all the monkeys in the world, the story of the Monkey King is one of the oldest and greatest Chinese fables. Adored by his subjects, master of the arts of kung-fu, he is the most powerful monkey on earth. But the Monkey King doesn't want to be a monkey. He wants to be hailed as a god...
Chin-Kee is the ultimate negative Chinese stereotype, and he's ruining his cousin Danny's life. Danny's a popular kid at school, but every year Chin-Kee comes to visit, and every year Danny has to transfer to a new school to escape the shame. This year, though, things quickly go from bad to worse...
These three apparently unrelated tales come together with an unexpected twist, in a modern fable that is hilarious, poignant and action-packed. American Born Chinese is an amazing rise, all the way up to the astonishing climax--and confirms what a growing number of readers already know: Gene Yang is a major talent.
There was public testimony at the 11/29/16 and 12/6/16 meeting of Portland Public School Board by members of Portland Chinese community asking for a Chinese immersion program at Harrison Park.
The 11/29/16 Board meeting. See 19 minutes and 20 seconds for start. See minute 29 for the submission of a petition by almost 400 Chinese resident asking for a Chinese dual language immersion at Harrison Park.
The 12/6/16 meeting. See 27 minutes for 30 seconds for start:
Movie/Video: I watched the movie “The Chinese Mayor.” From IMDb (here):
Mayor Geng is a very proactive leader of a highly polluted city, which was the capital of China 1600 years ago. His dream is to restore and replicate the ancient city, creating a tourist destination and revitalizing the local economy. The documentary follows him around on his day to day activities. The focus of the documentary is the relocation of the illegal residents in the city center, demolition of their homes, and the recreation of the ancient city. This is an important work because it documents both methods and results in the revitalization and modernization of this part of China. Mayor Geng is relentless and achieves extraordinary success, but incomplete success, by the end of the movie when he is replaced. His goal was revitalization of Datong and it is unclear whether his efforts will result in the anticipated economic growth or a huge "ghost city" with a large displaced residential population. The producer of the documentary gives the viewers the information, allowing them to draw their own conclusions about the merits of the project. History will be the ultimate judge. The documentary doesn't detail some relevant issues, such as why the residents who were relocated had no legal rights to the property that they occupied, see: The Hukou System. Also, preservationists are critical of the project see "Faux Ancient City". While pollution was cited in the introduction to the video, there was little documentation of pollution or the efforts made to deal with it.
From Variety (here):
Granted remarkable access to the daily business of a high-ranking mainland Chinese official, Zhou Hao’s “The Chinese Mayor” offers a fascinating verite portrait of the collision between progress, politics, corruption and citizens’ rights in a rapidly changing People’s Republic. This rare peek behind the usual scrim of government image management is a natural for niche broadcasters and anyone else interested in quality current-events documentary feature
Book. I finished the audiobook “Dark Money: The Hidden History of the Billionaires Behind the Rise of the Radical Right” by Jane Mayer. From Goodreads (here):
Why is America living in an age of profound economic inequality? Why, despite the desperate need to address climate change, have even modest environmental efforts been defeated again and again? Why have protections for employees been decimated? Why do hedge-fund billionaires pay a far lower tax rate than middle-class workers?
The conventional answer is that a popular uprising against “big government” led to the ascendancy of a broad-based conservative movement. But as Jane Mayer shows in this powerful, meticulously reported history, a network of exceedingly wealthy people with extreme libertarian views bankrolled a systematic, step-by-step plan to fundamentally alter the American political system.
The network has brought together some of the richest people on the planet. Their core beliefs—that taxes are a form of tyranny; that government oversight of business is an assault on freedom—are sincerely held. But these beliefs also advance their personal and corporate interests: Many of their companies have run afoul of federal pollution, worker safety, securities, and tax laws…..
From the NY Times review (here):
…. One is tempted to say that since plutocrats have been pulling political levers since the start of the American Republic, the current concentration of ideology, money and power is not a uniquely dangerous development. But that may be to dismiss Mayer’s warnings too quickly. Hanna bought the votes of politicians, but he didn’t have a collection of think tanks, a nationwide network of pressure groups or a collection of subsidized university programs to propagandize on his behalf. The business lobbies of the postwar years knew what they wanted and generally got it, but theirs was a limited agenda that stuck to a relatively narrow set of demands. And for parts of the past century, wealthy players were restrained, however imperfectly, by campaign finance laws aimed at keeping the process open and aboveboard. Sinister as much of the system was, one could entertain the idea that a new regulatory regime might someday bring it under greater public scrutiny and control. In the aftermath of the Citizens United decision, that no longer seems a realistic prospect. This alone may make the indignities that Mayer writes about a departure from the ones that have gone before.