Friday, June 27, 2008

While You Were Gone

After spending three days immersed in Stephen King's Duma Key which I found somehow mesmerizing, I have a collection on items I wanted to mention:

Death of a Canadian. José Manuel Caraballo Bravo has a somewhat cryptic piece on Miscelaneas, entitled "Death Surprises Mr. Canada" about an ill-fated tourist. It seems that one known to locals as "Morris," "Mr. Whisky," or just "Mr. Canada" on a return trip to Cuba forsook his resort lodgings for a hotel in town, where not his bad liver but a simple cut on his toe led to somewhat mysterious demise. Horrified at the conditions in the medical socialist paradise- he was heard to utter that he had never seen such a filthy hospital- angered that he was charged for treatment, he betook himself and his festering foot from the hospital to his lodgings where he was found dead in the lobby the following morning. There was a question as to whether he had keeled over or had been the victim of foul play. In Spanish, here.

Death in the Morning. In an even stranger story, a veterinarian was mortally wounded by a rhinoceros named Kiala in the Havana Zoo. In an excess of sympathy, an unnamed colleague characterized it as a tragic accident that could have been avoided if the deceased had taken adequate security measures. At least it wasn't an ape. Under Spanish rules, they probably would have had to try the beast.

Lesson to be Learned? In the twilight zone of truth goes this one from the Huffington Post by Martin Carnoy which posits the question whether we could learn from Cuba's education system. I'll skip the indoctrination angle because he does. So I won't take the cheap shot of preschoolers in Peoria chanting "I will be like Che." I confess to being in a quandary. He has both anecdotal evidence and all these neat statistics, although they do require a bit of monkeying. But as to "Cuban teacher education is tightly controlled by the Ministry of Education, which insists that teachers know how to teach the curriculum," I've got a bit of a problem. Since Cuba is now putting teenagers in the front of classrooms (remember the 14 yr old who killed his student), and Raul recently sacked the minister of education because things on the educational front are so dismal, how can this be true? Well, could there be other factors at work? Cultural values? Selective testing? Changes in the past few years?

Rafael in Havana. He mentioned his discourse in a comment, and it's a must read, laugh out loud. Te la comistes, man! Read it here- it's in English. A note of congratulations, too, for reaching 100,000 hits. Wow!

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