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AvatarComments by Roland Dodds*

On “The Rise and Fall of Progressive Rock

Very true of most bands really. Something about music that just drips with prep school privilege and manners just brings that middle-classness to the top.

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Some of Aphex Twin is danceable, but a lot of it is pretty jarring (my wife hates when I play it).

One of the things that always endeared me to Aphex Twin was irreverence. Clearly the guy takes his work seriously but doesn;t have a problem putting in comical/ridiculous elements, taking a piss out of his own prestige in a way.

Perfect example: take a listen to his track "Milkman"
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bdcittGmyHg

The lyrics? "I wish the milkman would deliver my milk in the morning. I wish the milkman would deliver my milk when I'm yawning. I would like some milk from the milkman's wife's tits."

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I do think the reaction against prog had a lot to do with its members being white, middle-class men that were also very pretentious. It is an easy group to scorn (maybe more so today).

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But there is a special hatred for prog that isn't applied to other types of music that are also not popular with women. I have never met anyone who loved Aphex Twin that wasn't a male about my age with an extensive record collection, yet he is still considered "cool" by the larger music community.

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I think Saul has laid out why it is considered a "failure." It is that the greatest prog acts and bands are still seen as "uncool" even by the people who have clearly been influenced by them.

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He does speak a bit about stateside acts like Kansas and Rush. He even has a short bit about modern prog acts like Mars Volta. I should note that he also spends time tracking the development of some of prog's biggest acts (like Genesis) into the realm of pop as prog was becoming a dirty word.

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How is it used in electronic music? I love acts like Aphex Twin; obviously not "prog" but I also saw it as forward thinking.

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That incident is in the book (it was Indian food actually). I actually thought that sounded like an awesome thing to happen at a show; so much is going on you literally also bring in take out.

On “Linky Friday: Doomed, Gloomed, and Unfed

[E6] Trump wants to build solar and wind stations on his Wall. I still think the key is Taco Bell franchises (because, obviously, “run for the border.”)

Ha, I agree to both.

On “The Rise and Fall of Progressive Rock

I did not take it that Weigel represented prog as a "failure." He is very celebratory of the musical accomplishments many of these bands achieved (both financial and artistically). He does note the real backlash that developed against the style and its tropes however.

As noted in my piece, the more interesting stuff for the average music fan not deep into prog history is the way the changing industry really hurt experimental music. Prog really did ask a lot of its listeners and pushed boundaries with its music. There was a small window of time in the record industry where labels were willing to invest years in bands that lost them money with the belief that they would pay off eventually. Ironically, one of the reasons British labels liked releasing punk rock in the mid-60s was they were very easy and cheap records to make. For all its language of rebellion against the man, a lot of the early punk stuff out of England was sustained by the major record labels.

This gets us into our conversations about the role middle class white men can play in culture today as well. A lot of the backlash was against the type of people that played and enjoyed prog. Middle-class white guys who take their art seriously (and tended toward the pretentious) were easy to dismiss and lampoon.

On “The College Try

"The ability to safely fail is intrinsically tied to the structure of a class. The more dogmatically a professor teaches a topic, the less safe students will feel to fail, and the more carefully they will make sure to check the boxes, rather than allow themselves to explore the topic from other approaches."

Additionally, if we are asking students to take risks and try new things with their work, we can't punish them for the assignments they submit in the first few months of the semester that fail to achieve standards. Too many teachers include EVERY grade a student receives in a cumulative manner, which punishes students for things they tried but failed at early on. The sooner we can get away from the system, the more likely students will actually feel like taking risks is worthwhile and possible.

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@saul-degraw I teach at a public school. Mind you, it is a bit different from many other publics in that we receive all of our funding from local property taxes and take nothing from the state.

This has been a bit of a mission for me in the last few years as I got "woke" to a critical thinking approach to education. I think most schools, even good high schools like you mentioned, fail our kids because they:

A. Don't have the expertise to actually employ a critical thinking approach in their classroom. This is true even for good teachers who do wonderful things in their classrooms and inspire students to pursue the field later in life.

B. Would receive backlash from parents and thus avoid it.

I can't stress how important B is in why our schools (K-College) seem to fail in developing resilient, critical minded individuals. I am writing a longer piece about how our grading policies and curriculum need to be updated to better instill this mindset, but it requires that we as a society drop the "I got perfect grades throughout school" nonsense as a badge of honor. When I see universities celebrated the fact that their incoming class has a "4.7 average," I roll my eyes in disgust. What does that tell you other than the fact you have admitted people who have been only praised all their life and that your institution considers that a strength?

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I agree with @fillyjonk, a lot of these critical thinking skills have to be taught earlier than college. In the middle school humanities class I teach, developing strong argumentation and evidenced based critical thinking is at the forefront of what we do. Yet, I know that many schools (including lots of high schools) avoid our approach for a number of reasons.

1. There can be a lot of pushback from parents if a student does not receive an A. Like others have mentioned in this thread, you need to be able to fail to really learn and if teachers are just handing over an A for by-the-numbers work, they are doing a disservice to students. Giving students the opportunity to fail, and not making it a punitive process, is vital to creating a strong critical thinking program.

2. People want a very quantifiable grading process which instills in students a by-the-numbers approach to completing assignments/projects. We avoid a checklist-like rubric for that very reason. If tell them exactly what the essay should look like and say, you get people completing madlibs like work.

3. Our program has developed a reputation in my local community and is generally supported by parents and administrators. We have given presentations to locals about the process and why they should expect their kids to see "approaching standards" quite frequently in the first few months of their time in our class. We have also had enough students go through our classes over the years to champion the process and detail why it is more valuable than rote memorization and an easy A. But it takes time and effort to build that credibility.

4. We have tenure. We still get angry emails from parents who are unhappy to see "approaching standards" applied to their child's work. We explain why and move on. I know plenty of college teachers that live and die based on student reviews.

5. This is a more controversial point but one I will throw out there: a decent portion of society will never have the critical thinking skills to excel in some of these professional industries. They may go through college and get a degree but the number of folks who actually approach the world in a critical manner will always be limited.

On “One Way To Receive Useless Self-Improvement Advice

I agree. I never really dated online, but I know for a fact my wife and I would never have been paired up using one of these sites. When it comes to personal tastes/interests/religion/education, we don't share that many things. We would not have given each other's profile a second look. Yet, we meet each other at the right time and all of that stuff just didn't seem that important when compared to our other goals (having a family, etc.).

For what it is worth, I say look into friends and acquaintances in your life.

On “An Unfortunate Turn of Events

I find that hard to believe. BAMN is well known in the Bay Area for being a cult-like group. They have always shown up at protests for the last few decades and tried to take them over as a revolutionary vanguard. I find that most local activists hate the group and see them as a nuisance. The people celebrating them as great anti-fascist organizers are always those from out of the area who don't know the group's history.

They remind me of NATLFED, another communist cult group I was sadly part of, in that they continue on in some form even when they have no real influence in the community.

So I doubt any politician who has cut their teeth in the Bay would be supportive of BAMN. Is it just that they were at some protest together or shared a stage at a march at one point? Because heck, every Bay Area politician would likely be in the same boat.

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Yes, adding to @francis point, the right surely have engaged in a whole slew of violence against opponents over the decades. Sometimes, the current right is either unaware of this or wants to wish it away and make all these recent confrontations about "free speech." As I tried to note in my piece, it is important to remember where left-wing self-defence organizations came from and the historical context for their creation.

Having said that, the public displays of political mob violence during my lifetime here in California have always been of the left-wing variety.

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Are you telling me I can't trust the guy with a twitter anime avatar dressed as Adolph Hitler? What is this world coming to?

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Someone on the internets said leftist protesters are all funded by Soros.

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In my experiences since the 90s, these kinds of street fights are unheard of in the Bay Area. We have had plenty of instances of people rioting/fighting the police, but in almost every case, it is one side fighting and the other side just absorbing it to diminish the negative impact.

Now we seem to enter a realm where the right is more than happy to show up and get into massive brawls in the streets. Eventually, people are going to be killed.

@jaybird: I am not sure what you mean by "anti-anti-support." Maybe it is too early to wrap my head around it.

On “Saving the Symphony

I would add that videogames seem to be a place where a lot of non-classical music listeners have the most exposure to the form. I plan to attend an event in SF later this year where a symphony is going to play a number of Zelda tunes. I guarantee many of the people in attendance will see no other classical concert that year.

On “In Praise of Youtube Pop-Culture Academics

@murali "I’m not saying that its not a great paper; it is. Its just that having a low citation count only means that other academics dont want to read your paper, not that the paper is of little public interest."

That is true. It may be that a paper is not read by other academics but is read and used by the larger pubic. I imagine that many of the academic papers published in the areas noted in my piece are read by almost no one, layman and expert alike.

On “It’s All Right To Cry

@burt-likko Sorry to hear about your multiple losses. Sounds like you have had a rough year; hopefully it turns around.

I find that I have cried more since my children were born. I rarely cried prior to their arrival, but I find myself weeping over sad movies and music more often. Not sure what the correlation is between the two.

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Well said Kristin.

On “Breaking Down the Father on BBC Being Interrupted by His Children

God, I pray nothing I ever do goes viral and analyzed to death to find the "real" meaning embedded in it.

On “I Know How College Got Expensive

@rtodkelly "I have trouble sorting out how much of my own reaction is my own possible class prejudices, and how much is a realistic reading of the difference between what you learn in Psych 101 at a CC rather than a university."

I go through this with my wife a lot when we discuss education. She was born and raised in a working-class immigrant family; I am from a white middle class one. She thinks I am too picky about how the local public schools are run and that I disparage the Cal State college system too often. I imagine part of my opinion comes out of my class consciousness, but I also like to think I know more about these education systems and simply want my kids to get the best bang for their buck.

*Comment archive for non-registered commenters assembled by email address as provided.