Economist Blogs: Beyond Commercial Journalism

Google Reader Screenshot

Who needs CNN? (Click image for larger view)

I broke my own rule by sending the following to students in an email, rather than posting to the web:

[Student] and I had a talk about economics journalism, and how CNN and even Reuters and McClatchy are second-rate (for CNN, third-rate) compared to professional economists who blog their views regularly. Since you guys seem interested in figuring this stuff out, but don’t seem to have figured out that the hardest-hitting and most in-depth (and readable) analysis is in the top-tier economists’ blogs, I offer the following starter-pack. It’s multipartisan, from right to left (especially Economists Club).

You’re smart enough to figure out Google Reader and RSS feed subscriptions with a simple Google search (use those terms), so I’ll just share a few economics blogs that go way deeper than the mainstream media.

Subscribe to them, read them regularly, and you’ll feel your brain swell beyond the pop journalism dimensions:

Here’s a Google Reader Bundle of the Econ blogs I read. Click the imageĀ  to go to the RSS feed for all of them (and feel free to drop recommendations in comments) Update: As a perceptive reader points out, Matt Taibbi is not an economist — though he’s a valuable (and hilarious) investigative journalist specializing in the Wall St./Politics nexus — so I removed him from the bundle:

Economics Blogs Bundle

Click the image for the Bundle page, subscribe there.

Back to Blogging Again–Elsewhere, and Elsewhat

But not here. I’m blogging with my History of China students here. Why?

Crazy, beautiful backstory: Several eons ago, I wrote a “Must-Reads Before Dying” post that the inimitable Stephen Downes challenged for its omission of Confucius. I met his challenge with a cheeky “Confucius? Really? Too stuffy for students” type response:

And Stephen, notice the sentence before this update? Of course there are omissions…. The Dao De Jing? A deep book, but too ponderous and opaque next to the joyous alternative of Zhuangzi. The Analects? Sure, though far from a literary masterpiece.

Fast forward to, oh, the last three years teaching the entire history of China six times over (it’s a semester course, so I get to watch that epic story twice a year). With each turn to the “100 Schools of Thought” of Classical China, during its very un-classical and downright barbarous Warring States Period, I’ve had the pleasure of re-visiting Master Kong’sĀ Analects and, with each re-visit — and re-read, and reading of new translations (my god, the Ames and Rosemont philosophical translation is rich), and re-annotation — and I’ve had the pleasure of esteeming and enjoying him more and more. (Prof. Robert Eno of Indiana University has an excellent, free “teaching translation” here.)

So, Mr. Downes: a mega mea culpa. You were so very right — and your philosophical background, which you recently pointed to in a Stephen’s Web post defending the value of a philosophy major, showed that value in your challenge to that “Must-Reads” post. Do I still love Zhuangzi and Laozi and the Daoists? Absolutely. But Confucius has grown on me with each new read until now, he — and Mencius and Xunzi — are even more “must-read before dying.” The bloody Chinese hit the jackpot in terms of ancient wisdom. Crazy cool.

So anyway, yeah: not much calling to write about technology in education any more (obviously, as the silence shows). But to use it to write alongside, with, to, and for students? And anybody else interested in what the world’s oldest living civilization may have to offer the young upstarts like our own? Oh, yes.

Anyway, that’s how this blog started, years ago. It was for my students. I began because I was making my freshmen in Korea blog about history and literature, and pulled the old “practice what you preach” thing by blogging alongside them.

Now, though, it’s China and the West in the ultimate civilizational stand-off. Drop by and join the conversation if you’re interested (and here’s the class blog, chocablock with readings to catch you up if you want an education in Chinese history that has nothing to do with textbooks and everything to do with provocative reads and questions).

Consider that an invitation. Here’s the card:

Writing China screenshot

Colorful Student Writing Award

Mao swimming the Yangtze

Mao swimming the Yangtze at 72, in 1966

I asked for voice in the “Was Mao Really a Monster?” editorial assignment, and boy did I get it in this student’s opening:

The cool waves splashed against his chest, his glimmering green teeth glistened in the beautiful sun, his body moved majestically in the cool waters. This is not the image of a great brute, but of an excellent ruler. After seeing Mao’s adorable face, there is no way you can classify him as a monster.

I’m not making fun of the writer, by the way–the kid’s bright, and the sentences above, though obviously written in what David Sedaris might call a “kicky” (and academically heretical) mood, are pretty elegant for teen prose. (A webcam reflection he did this week made me recommend, in all sincerity, that he consider aiming to become the next-generation Pee Wee Herman.) And since he couldn’t resist going for the laugh–and succeeding in giving it to me, out loud, just now–I pass it on for your enjoyment.

(More on Mao’s historic swim below:)

And speaking of Pee Wee, here’s a blast from his amazing 1980s wonderland. It’s one of few children’s shows I watched religiously as an adult:

Eine Kleine Rap Music

Confession: I’m no fan of student rap projects. So how nice to be compelled to send this email “grading” Ashley’s and Rachel’s Russian Revolution rap:

email grade

 

Here’s what I’m talking about.

On other fronts:

Since starting this job in Singapore three years ago, I’ve been overwhelmed with graduate school–Master’s in Ed Leadership will finally be done in July–and with the typical demands of teaching and annually refining new courses and, less typically, of forming PLCs and learning how that works by doing it.

That has left an average of maybe five minutes a week, over these years, of free time.

Now that the degree is done, I hope to get back to writing–possibly in a new space, though, and on new topics based on new loves. Just FYI, in a sort of “I’m not dead yet” way.

If there is such a place

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