Skip to main content

Reply to "College "Education" Is BS"

For example, why are books on Linux more relevant than say Souls of Black Folk by WEB Du Bois. Why is Dancing Wu Li Masters more relevant than Toni Morrison's Beloved or Michel Foucaults Order of Things.

I would have removed much of the science fiction and the electronic texts and included more historical (African Diasporic as well as European) and sociological, philosophical, and anthropological texts (particularly those whom Paul Ricouer refers to as the masters of suspicion; i.e., Freud, Marx, and Nietzsche.)

How many computers were there in the world when W.E.B. Du Bois wrote Souls of Black Folk?

Souls of Black Folk was published in 1903. The vacuum tube had not been invented. It would be another 5 years before Henry Ford introduced the Model T. Do you have any idea how much that changed the American way of life? Du Bois was born in 1868. Marx didn't die until Du Bois was 15 years old. People are constantly talking about children being the future but clutter their heads with trivia from the past. I included Soul On Ice and Black Men: Obsolete, Single, Dangerous? but you chose to ignore those. They are much more up to date than Du Bois. Are they too controversial for your educational institutions?

The Dancing Wu Li Masters is about physics. Physics is about reality. Toni Morrison's Beloved is fiction but without science. Slavery is over but economic servitude is not. John Kenneth Galbraith talked about the planned obsolescence of automobiles in 1959. His book The Affluent Society is in my list. Malcolm X and MLK could both have read it, but I am not aware of either of them ever saying anything about planned obsolescence. I can look out my front window and see the supposedly "nice" cars that Black people are driving. The only mention of science and technology by MLK that I know of is about "guided missles and unguided men."

But Martin Luther King did something that was very astute in relation to technology and psychology.

The Uhura character, though given little real prominence in the show and only given marginal exposure in the Trek movies, is nevertheless recognised as an essential staple of Trek lore. Nicholls was rightly peeved that Uhura was basically a glorified switchboard operator, albeit a switchboard operator with the silkiest voice in the Alpha Quadrant.

The actress once revealed that, considering leaving the show in 1967, no less a figure than Martin Luther King had advised her to stay, because she represented a great role model for black people on a primetime TV show.

I have done a search of a website that has the scripts from the original Star Trek series. I think there are more lines with the word computer than there are lines by Lt. Uhura in the entire show. I don't know if MLK regarded the technological background of the show as a significant factor but he grew up without television. I find it difficult to imagine childhood without TV and now kids will take computers for granted, but will they have any understanding of how they work?

The people who write history books usually focus on people instead of technology but it is the technology which gave the people THE POWER to do the things they did. Suppose the American Indians had been technologically advanced when Europeans showed up. Imagine Christoper Columbus sailing up to the shores of America and standing on the beach are Geronimo and Sitting Bull with AK-47s. How would that have affected the so called course of history. Of course that raises the question of what kind of culture the Indians would have had if men casually walked around with AK-47s. But my point is that the last 600 years of history is based on who had technology and who didn't, so the future is going to be based on who understands technology and who doesn't.

I have read Souls of Black Folk. I even downloaded it to my computer once because I wanted to search for something without reading the book again. There was a place where Du bois talked about Black men buying buggies when they could have been buying land. He was thinking about wealth and depreciation. I don't think Du Bois was a dummie just because I didn't include him. I included books specifically about economics which you also ignored.

Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic. - Arthur C. Clarke

And not so well known:

90% of everything is crud. - Theodore Sturgeon

On one level, sure, sci-fi attracts the kids and the chicken-head-eating-geek adults who love to see cool spaceship battles, and B5 does a good job at providing that for them. But behind the makeup and the sets is a series unlike any that's aired on television -- a five-year novel for television that's as mature, adult, and engrossing as NYPD Blue or Homicide or any of the other great dramas on the air today.

The majority of what is called sci-fi is mediocre to grabage, usually thrown together to make some money off the uncritical. The opinions of people that are not "into sci-fi" are usually based on this dreck.

Many of the great SF writers are not just writers but have degrees in sciences and engineering. So real sci-fi usually contains real science. Isaac Asimov had a PhD in chemistry. Robert Heinlein studied naval engineering at Annapolis. And of course there is Arthur C. Clarke. During the Second World War, he served in the Royal Air Force as a radar specialist and was involved in the early warning radar defense system which contributed to the RAF's success during the Battle of Britain. He retired in the rank of Flight Lieutenant. After the war, he obtained a first class degree in mathematics and physics at King's College London. In the 1940s he forecast that man would reach the moon by the year 2000, an idea experts dismissed as rubbish. When Neil Armstrong landed in 1969, the United States said Clarke "provided the essential intellectual drive that led us to the moon." His most important contribution may be the idea that geostationary satellites would be ideal telecommunications relays. He proposed this concept in a paper titled "Extra-Terrestrial Relays - Can Rocket Stations Give Worldwide Radio Coverage?", published in Wireless World in October 1945. It was also met with derision by experts.

For example, why are books on Linux more relevant than say Souls of Black Folk by WEB Du Bois.

Have you heard that the richest man in the world made his money on computer software? I believe his name is Gates. Maybe Bill something or other. Some people say that the only threat to the Macro$cam monopoly is Linux. I have been talking about Black people worldwide standardizing on Linux for more than 4 years. It appears that the honkys will have to do it for us. Have you heard about the $100 laptop for the 3rd world? It will run Linux.

Leaving ourselves open to the software monopoly of Microsoft is like letting someone remove money from your wallet whenever they decide. Microsoft changes file formats and the older software can't read the newre file formats so the user is forced to upgrade. Some governments have finally gotten there acts together and moved to address the problem.

It is interesting you don't mention what I regard as the weaknesses of my list. There are no books about biology and health and medicine and nutrition. None about automobiles or architecture or civil engineering. The objective is to increase the list not detract from it. The only reason I would remove a book is to replace it with a better on about the same subject. I can't suggest books about subjects I don't know. I was originally thinking other people would want to contribute to those areas, but I think the larger percentage of people are interested in treating knowledge like personal property and that makes it possible for the educational system to function the way it does. The fact that you are on this website proves you must be using technology. You probably own a television and a cellular phone but you suggest removing electronics books. I don't expect EVERYBODY to be interested in electronics. But when your stuff breaks down you want somebody to know how to fix it? RIGHT!? Oh, they were supposed to go to school to learn that.

I suggested creating a reading list back in the 80's at a mensa meeting. This White woman looked at me like I was nuts. I first created a website with two, then three booklists, a sci-fi list and a non-fiction list. I later split the non-fiction into techy and non-techy stuff, and added sections about electronics, economics and accounting. Haki Madhubuti's book BLACK MEN triggered the whole thing. He has a booklist in his book, from pages 135 to 155, a total of 349 books. To me the wierdest thing about his list is that it is classified by Black and non-Black authors. 253 books by Black authors and 96 by the rest. Is that a significant criteria for judging a book? All he gives is title and author and they are sorted alphabetically by author. You can't tell the fiction from the non-fiction. Future Shock by Alvin Toffler has a fine title for a sci-fi book but it is non-fiction but someone unfamiliar with it might have no idea what it was about. I read it back in the 70's, non-fiction. He also has The Art of War by Sun Tzu but makes no suggestions about which translation, there must be more than a dozen. So I thought, "I can put together a book list far more useful than this." He doesn't have a single book about technology but near the beginnig of his book he talked about White boys building planes that could fly but he had a toy that he could just pull along the ground. So that started the project. I sold my 4-unit apartment building last year, so the books in the second bedroom, my library, had to be packed up. There were more than 2,000.

I think the list should consist of about 1000 books. The objective is not for everyone to read all of the books. I am thinking of it in 3 steps, kind of like Sturgeon's Law. 10 books at the core which everyone should read, then another 90 with more specialized interests, then another 900 going into the details of the specialties.

This is getting too long. Time for a break.