Wednesday, November 17, 2010

What is injustice? What is evil?

What is the nature of evil?
How do we recognize it?
What are its components?
We are developing our own definitions of evil based on our reading of
No Country for Old Men.
evil generally seeks own benefit at the expense of others murder of innocents
genocide, killing a baby
morally objectionable behavior

morally bad or wrong; "evil purposes"; "an evil influence"; "evil deeds"
abuse of power
intentional pain or harm, is offensive, or threatening 
dehumanizing, pain, oppression, hatred 
profound selfishness
deliberate cruelty

According to M.Scott Peck: evil is a character disorder;
an evil person:
Is consistently self deceiving, with the intent of avoiding guilt and maintaining a self image of perfection
Deceives others as a consequence of their own self deception
Projects his or her evils and sins onto very specific targets  --scapegoats --while being apparently normal with everyone else
Commonly hates with the pretense of love, for the purposes of self deception as much as deception of others
Abuses political (emotional) power
Maintains a high level of respectability and lies incessantly in order to do so
Is consistent in his or her sins. Evil persons are characterized not so much by the magnitude of their sins, but by their consistency (of destructiveness)
Is unable to think from the viewpoint of their victim (scapegoat)
Has a covert intolerance to criticism and other forms of narcissistic injury

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks

Science teacher Amy Ludoph and I are attending the lecture and book signing for this amazingly well researched book: 
The Immortal Life of HEnrietta LAcks

Lecture, Book signing and Dinner with
Best-Selling Author Rebecca Skloot
later today at 5 pm Tuesday November 16, 2010
Northwestern University Chicago Campus, Thorne Auditorium, 375 East Chicago Ave.
sponsored by The Chicago Council on Science and Technology & Children’s Memorial Research Center

Skloot’s wonderfully accessible work is now being made into an HBO movie produced by Oprah Winfrey and Alan Ball. 
Skloot takes readers on an amazing journey that explores the complicated legacy of one woman’s unwitting contribution to modern science.  
Eric Roston of The Washington Post said the book is “Vivid… A deftly crafted investigation of a social wrong committed by the medical establishment as well as the scientific and medical miracles to which it led.”
Skloot learned about HeLa cells in high school and was curious about their origins.  Skloot spent 10 years researching the life of Henrietta Lacks who was a poor uneducated black woman in the Jim Crow South. In the 1950s who worked the same tobacco fields as her slave ancestors.  When she died of cervical cancer  at age 31, her cells—taken without her family's knowledge—became one of the most important tools in medicine.  HeLa cells became essential for creating the polio vaccine. They were also used to find out more about cancer, viruses, and the effects of the atom bomb. HeLa cells became useful for developing in vitro fertilization, cloning, and gene mapping. Henrietta's cells, still alive today, have been bought and sold by the billions.
The Lacks family did not learn about her cells “immortality” until more than twenty years after Henrietta's death, when scientists investigating HeLa began using her husband and children in research without informed consent and without any monetary compensation. This book connects to our basic question this year about "What is injustice"? The HeLa cells are connected to the unethical history of experimentation on African Americans, the birth of bioethics, and the legal battles over whether we control our own tissues. Over the decade it took to uncover this story, Rebecca became enmeshed in the lives of the Lacks family—especially Henrietta’s daughter Deborah, who was devastated to learn about her mother’s cells. and became highly interested in answers to her questions:
  • Had scientists cloned her mother?
  • Did it hurt her when researchers infected her cells with viruses and shot them into space?
  • What happened to her sister, Elsie, who died in a mental institution at the age of fifteen?
  • If her mother was so important to medicine, why couldn’t her children afford health insurance?
The book is an amazing accomplishment not only in terms of the writing and research, but also in human terms. Skoot's dogged determination to honor the family legacy comes shining through this absorbing narrative.

Monday, November 15, 2010

All-online 2010 Global Education Conference starts today: November 15 - 19, 2010!

The free, all-online 2010 Global Education Conference takes place this coming week, November 15 - 19, 2010!
Steve Hargadon reports:
We currently have 397 sessions from 62 countries scheduled, as well as 63 keynote speakers--an amazing lineup.  Take a look at the conference keynote speakers and presenters:

The conference is a collaborative and world-wide community effort to significantly increase opportunities for globally-connecting education activities. Our goal is to help you make connections with other educators and students, and for this reason the conference is very inclusive and also provides broad opportunities for participating and presenting. While we have an amazing list of expert presenters and keynote speakers, we will also have some number of presenters who either have not presented before or have not presented in Elluminate--please come to encourage and support them, as they are likely to be a little nervous!

There is no formal registration required for the conference, as all the sessions will be open and public, broadcast live using the Elluminate platform, and available in recorded formats afterwards. There is a limit of 500 live attendees for any given session. To verify that your computer system is configured correctly to access Elluminate, please run the self-test at

Please tell your friends and colleagues about this event, and watch for the Twitter hashtag #globaled10.
S. Hargadon

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Next week: Lit Circles for No Country for Old Men

Glad to see some parents join us for the documentary film fest November 10 at Wilmette Theater with 13 films by IGSS students on justice topics.

Pulitzer prize winning author Cormac McCarthy
We are now reading Cormac McCarthy's 
No Country for Old Men --even better than the movie.
"In 1980 southwest Texas, Llewelyn Moss, hunting antelope near the Rio Grande, stumbles across several dead men, a bunch of heroin and $2.4 million in cash. The bulk of the novel is a gripping man-on-the-run sequence relayed in terse, masterful prose as Moss, who's taken the money, tries to evade Wells, an ex–Special Forces agent employed by a powerful cartel, and Chigurh, an icy psychopathic murderer armed with a cattle gun and a dangerous philosophy of justice. Also concerned about Moss's whereabouts is Sheriff Bell, an aging lawman struggling with his sense that there's a new breed of man (embodied in Chigurh) whose destructive power he simply cannot match. In a series of thoughtful first-person passages interspersed throughout, Sheriff Bell laments the changing world, wrestles with an uncomfortable memory from his service in WWII and—a soft ray of light in a book so steeped in bloodshed—rejoices in the great good fortune of his marriage. While the action of the novel thrills, it's the sensitivity and wisdom of Sheriff Bell that makes the book a profound meditation on the battle between good and evil and the roles choice and chance play in the shaping of a life." 
Summary from
Looking forward to the discussions in our literature circles starting next week.

New Trier Organic Garden