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My Little Pony: Welcome to Rainbow Falls!

Narrated by: Tracey Petrillo
Length: 17 mins
5 out of 5 stars (3 ratings)

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Publisher's Summary

Explore a never before seen location of Equestria, Rainbow Falls, as the ponies attend the famous sporting event known as the Equestrian Games!

©2016 Hasbro (P)2016 Hachette Audio

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My kids love it!

Penning a review of a book that posits the death of expertiseis surely bound to invite criticisms that I lack the appropriate expertise toeven contemplate such a thing. How dareI purport to know better than the author? I almost feel tempted to tout my own credentials to divert some of thosecriticisms, but that would take away from making an informed, reasonedcritique. I can only hope it will betaken in the spirit in which it was intended.

While I certainly feel some sympathy for the topic of thebook, the quality of the argument is a little uneven. The beginning of the book, in particular,comes across as a bit of a rant demanding respect for experts with some validexamples mixed in with examples that smack of demanding respect for rich,white, male privilege, and generational disdain. The irony is that the author isn't that mucholder than I am, and certainly doesn't remember the era he claims to want torecreate. The second half of the book ismore even, but really fails to provide any solutions to the identified problemother than to exhort the public to do better. The author can't really seem to decide whether he respects self-learningor not. At times he rails against thefake expertise of autodidacts, and at other times suggests that those of usoutside academia need to be more intellectually engaged. The confusion seems to be rooted in a similarconfusion to that surrounding the term meritocracy. A true meritocracy and a true autodidact aregood things, but many people who claim to be products of meritocracy, and thosewho claim to be self-taught, are neither meritorious nor possess genuinelearning. It's important to disentanglethe terms from the claims, but this is part of the larger problem identified bythe book.

Certainly, anti-intellectualism in America is real, and themodern lack of respect for experts--including knowledge and truthgenerally--are also real. A respect forauthority can go too far, as the author correctly identifies, but as a societythat depends on specialization as all modern societies do: a healthy respectfor those who have acquired knowledge and skills you do not have (if onlybecause there are not enough hours in the day to know everything) is necessaryfor society to function. However, theauthor does not fully escape arguments for his position that smack ofintellectual snobbery, even while acknowledging the expertise of theplumber. The Ivy League pedigree isshowing here. But instead of dwelling onthat, I want to address a couple of his more specific, and more problematicexamples, and where the author appears to stray into areas where he himselfappears to be uninformed.

One complaint typical of white men is about trigger warnings,and safe spaces, while ignoring the problems of casual racism and sexism. The author makes this same mistake twice inrapid succession and rails about the challenge to intellectual authority thisrepresents, and inability of young people to confront hard issues. He misses the point of his own examples. Trigger warnings are useful to help peoplesteel themselves mentally for a difficult conversation. They simply acknowledge that humans areemotional creatures, and if we have been through a difficult experience relatedto the topic under discussion, a warning gives us a moment to prepare ourselvesfor the inevitable flood of emotions. Warnings are about not being needlessly cruel,while still engaging with difficult topics. By preparing ourselves, we can remain calm and rational, rather thanbeing surprised by it and be more likely to get carried away by thoseemotions. Not having them would be adisservice to a rigorous and thoughtful discussion. This is entirely differentthan students becoming upset at racist Halloween costumes. The causal racism or sexism of ages pastsends a silent message that I, the wearer of this costume, don't respectyou. Frequently, such costumes alsoadvertise a lack of understanding of history (the very definition of beinguninformed). Asking for cultural andracial sensitivity outside the classroom is only teaching students about thepublic disregard for discrimination: it is not confronting difficultissues. Why should we want to preservebehavior in the public space where we communicate to our fellow citizens thatwe think everyone else is less of a human being if they are not a whiteman? Walking to class should not be anobject lesson in causal sexism or racism, and demanding a certain level ofhuman decency outside the classroom does not mean students are not prepared toconfront it on a rigorous intellectual level in the classroom. Moreover, asking the English department tobroaden their idea of ''great poet'' beyond European white men to those whomight also be great but who have been systematically excluded fromconsideration for centuries is not anti-intellectual, or even anti-expertise. Rather, it is demanding that the faculty dotheir jobs: apply that expertise to acknowledge the abilities of those who havepreviously been overlooked.

Another error the author makes is to suggest that becausenon-Ivy League schools aren't sufficiently ''competitive,'' that are producingan inadequate education, because, he says, students don't graduate at the same rate as schools with more privilegedstudents. He completely disregards thefact that many Ivy League students are there either on scholarship, or aresupported by sufficiently wealthy and privileged families that they can affordto just take classes; so, of course, they may be not only of above-averageintelligence, but also can dedicate their time to study and to take advantageof opportunities their less-privileged peers cannot, like unpaid internships orresearch opportunities afforded by wealthier schools. Students at commuter universities andcommunity colleges do sometimes have some of the issues addressed by theauthor, but the students are usually also older, many have families and thusmore responsibilities, or are from less privileged families who cannot givetheir kids a free-ride to college, and so must work to help supportthemselves. Paying for college is notonly expensive, but eats up the time needed to study, and makes it impossibleaccept all the opportunities that might be available that would eat up evenmore time. It also means that studentsmay not be able to afford to take as many classes at once, and so yes, it maytake longer. Personal emergencies suchas illness or job loss may disrupt the ability to take courses for extendedperiods of time. But these same schoolscan represent opportunity that would not be available for highly talentedstudents who did not have the grades or the focus at an early age, or theprivilege of going to a high-quality private school, that would guaranteeadmission to the Ivy League, even assuming they could afford it. While certainly higher education, and publiceducation is experiencing problems, those problems are more closely related tothe dearth of funding and the pressures from the administration than it is thefault of the students. And do I getasked (as a college-level math instructor) to give A's away to students thatdon't deserve it? Sure, I do. Is it annoying and even a little insulting?Sure, it is. But, supposing that thisrepresents the majority of students is simply not statistically accurate.

The most disappointing aspect of the book, though, is thelack of realistic solutions. Yes, it'simportant to recognize that there are problems in education in America,cultural problems, and problems of accepting fact and correction. Without giving some thought to serioussolutions to the problems identified (real or imagined), this is why the bookcan read so much like a glorified rant. The public doesn't understand statistics to critique scientific orpseudo-scientific claims found online. Advocating for greater information literacy would help. Reimagining public libraries to takeadvantage of the information curating expertise of librarians would behelpful. The author's only suggestion isfor the public to ''do better,'' or defer to the knowledge of experts harder,without really making any practical way to make that a reality. In the end, it makes the book more of adisappointment than anything else.

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Cute Story

This is a cute story that my daughter loves it very much and it is suitable for little girls to listen.