New Clear Vision


constructive commentary for the chronically farsighted


Enduring Occupation

October 24, 2012 By: NCVeditor Category: Current Events, David Smith-Ferri, Politics

Sunrise and Sunset in Afghanistan

by David Smith-Ferri

October 7, 2012, Kabul, Afghanistan — At 5:15 a.m., the main street outside the Afghan Peace Volunteer’s (APV) apartment is quiet, and the first weak rays of gray light filter down through dusty, polluted air. In the distance, the hulking brown mountains circling the Kabuli plain emerge ominously from darkness. After yesterday’s dust storm, a thin brown film covers everything: windows, the shop stall roofs where children fly kites in the evening, bicycle seats, burlap sacks protecting fruit and vegetable displays, doorknobs, throats, the leaves of trees. Early bicyclists and pedestrians make their way. A man pushes a wheelbarrow, and a black horse pulls a hooded rider and an empty wooden cart. Twenty minutes later, the first street vendors appear, blowing on their hands in the cold, and seating themselves on stools. They sit directly across from our apartment, and lift handfuls of thick, peeled carrots out of 40 kg. sacks. Hunched over, they grate the carrots into two rising, orange pyramids. All day, among the pervasive grays and browns and blacks of this neighborhood, these mounds of carrots are sunrise and sunset on the main drag. (more…)

Fairness in Hypocrisy Valley

August 14, 2012 By: NCVeditor Category: Culture, Harry Targ, Politics

And So It Goes in Higher Education…

by Harry Targ

I have spent much of my adult life in Hypocrisy Valley, a small community which is the regional center of commerce, agriculture, and modest industrialization. It also is the home of a major university, Hypocrisy Valley State University, which has a reputation, we are told, in agriculture, engineering, and science. As a state supported institution it is obliged to serve the research and educational needs of the citizens of the state.

The faculty size of the university and the student population has grown by 25 percent in forty years. The university is the largest employer in the county, and many workers say that while they receive low wages, are not treated with particular respect (except for the annual spring fling distribution of free hot dogs), they work at the university because of the health and retirement benefits, which exceed benefits from other employers in the area. Of course, state law prohibits Hypocrisy Valley employees from organizing staff or faculty unions. (more…)

Invisible Boundaries

May 10, 2012 By: NCVeditor Category: Culture, Family, Robert C. Koehler

Let’s Get on With Our Lives…

by Robert C. Koehler

Nothing fills an emotional void quite like the piercing drone of bagpipes. No matter the kids were rolling their eyeballs as they shuffled two-by-two into the stifling field house — this was profound, and I was on the verge of tears.

Oh, there she is. My daughter. Gulp. Eighteen years old. A college student. I stifled the impulse to wave and embarrass her still further. We had fleeting eye contact, then she turned to the business of finding her seat, one of almost 500 reluctant stars of this event.

I sympathized with their reluctance. Ceremony is about the past, not the future; and the past, represented by a thousand graying moms and dads looking on from the bleachers, wasn’t quite ready to let them go. It had them in its loving tangle. They were making the best of it.

I knew how self-conscious I would have been. All weekend I’d been reliving my own undergraduate career. The previous night, after arriving in St. Paul — a seven-hour trek from Chicago — we’d gone to dinner at a Vietnamese restaurant and I couldn’t shut up about the old days, and the wonder that I had survived them. (more…)

Occupy Asteroids?

April 26, 2012 By: NCVeditor Category: Current Events, Ecology, Economy, Randall Amster

To Boldly Share What No One Has Shared Before

by Randall Amster

Sometimes the news reads like a cross between a corporate promotional campaign gone haywire and a rejected science fiction B-movie script. The announcement this week of an asteroid mining venture — backed by Google executives, the Perot Group, and James Cameron, among others — is precisely the sort of item that conjures both absurdity and horror in its full implications. Like rubberneckers passing a highway pileup, let’s take a closer look because we just can’t help doing so…

The company, called Planetary Resources, Inc., intends to mine 100 or more near-Earth asteroids for resources including water and various precious metals. Space resources are “just so valuable” and “really are the low-hanging fruit of the solar system,” co-founder and co-chairman Eric Anderson told SPACE.com. The idea is to generate resources in space sufficient to impel additional colonization efforts, creating a network of veritable “in-space gas stations” to fuel ongoing and expanding operations. (more…)

Word Games

April 06, 2012 By: NCVeditor Category: Culture, Matt Meyer, Politics

Removing ‘War’ from the History Books?

by Matt Meyer

As any good teacher should do on weekends, I have been preparing for my New York State Regents-based course in United States History. In light of last week’s revelations that the New York City Department of Education (the largest such public bastion of knowledge in the country) has sent out a list of proposed words to be avoided in the creation of tests, the scope of my new curriculum might end up looking something like this:

After the Revolutionary Skirmish of 1776, there were great debates about the founding principles of the new nation. As the thirteen colonies became thirteen states, questions of representation became especially heated when Southern state leaders asserted the need for the continuation of freedom-less-ness for people of African descent. Eventually, a Civil Hostility took place, which saw an end to vassalage. This helped pave the way for the US to become an even more respected power, but it did not truly become an international force until involvement in World Big Fight One. (more…)

Critical Thinking

February 06, 2012 By: NCVeditor Category: Community, Jennifer Browdy, Politics

A Crucible Moment in Education

by Jennifer Browdy de Hernandez

There was some rolling of eyes in my community when President Obama announced he would like to see high school mandatory until age 18.  That’s because at Bard College of Simon’s Rock, my alma mater, where I’ve been teaching for the past 17 years, the standard procedure for students is to leave high school at about age 16, generally after 10th grade, and shift into our early college program.

Most Simon’s Rock students are motivated to step off the beaten path and try a different approach to college because they’re high achievers who are bored in high school.  A few come to us because they’ve been so socially mauled in high school that Simon’s Rock becomes not only an academic, but also a social refuge for them. (more…)

Bench Strength

November 21, 2011 By: NCVeditor Category: Community, Guest Author, Politics

Public Art Controversy Brought People Together for a Cause

by Kristin Anthony

{Editor’s Note: In Prescott, Arizona, a work of public art created with the participation of over a hundred community members was recently destroyed by local officials in the middle of the night. The controversy set in motion a range of reactions, including the resignation of a city council member and calls for a coherent public art policy. The originator of the art project, which was a mosaic-tiled bench, reflects on the issues and overall experience.}

During my time in Prescott, I had the opportunity to create a community bench as a senior project for Prescott College. I had seen many of these structures in Nepal where there is a deep sense of connection between people and nature.

Enthusiastic to bring this idea to the U.S., I received approval from the Parks and Recreation Department and worked with the city for many months before the bench finally came to life. After eight weeks of work we were asked to stop construction, and three weeks later the bench was torn down. (more…)