Archive for the 'Academia' Category
Posted by Jonathan on 8th April 2016 (All posts by Jonathan)
A biting critique of recent public arguments by liberal academics, by Seth Barrett Tillman:
There is a final possibility. Apparently, some non-originalists believe they are part of a victimized, long-suffering, powerless, discrete, insular intellectual minority. As Professor Jack Balkin, a prominent commentator (but not one of the Alliance-for-Justice-350), wrote:
Accepting that opposition as the proper frame for debate just locks liberals into a clever rhetorical strategy created by movement conservatives in the 1980s, who wanted to put themselves on the side of the American constitutional tradition, and liberals on the outside looking in. [here] [here] (emphasis added)
The notion that in order for liberals to believe in a living Constitution they have to reject originalism in all of its forms is the biggest canard ever foisted on them. [here] [here] (emphasis added)
In this intellectual milieu, signing a letter you do not really believe is not hypocrisy: it is virtue. Thus, signing such a letter is the natural and justified response of victims to an unfair world imposed upon them by malevolent intellectual forces which have deformed reasoned, public debate. That’s not hypocrisy: that’s something else entirely. I am going to refrain from characterizing that reason, but I expect the public will take the hint.
Is it any wonder that millions of Americans vote for Trump?
Worth reading in its entirety.
Posted in Academia, Elections, Law, Leftism, Political Philosophy, Politics, Trump | 2 Comments »
Posted by Jonathan on 3rd April 2016 (All posts by Jonathan)
Instances of anti-Semitism by this standard are ubiquitous in American academic life. Nearly a dozen academic associations have enacted formal boycotts of Israeli institutions and in some cases Israeli scholars. Student governments at dozens of universities have demanded the divestiture of companies that do business in Israel or the West Bank. Guest speakers and even some faculty in their classrooms compare Israel to Nazi Germany and question its right to continued existence as a Jewish state.
Yet, with very few exceptions, university leaders who are so quick to stand up against microagressions against other groups remain silent in the face of anti-Semitism. Indeed, many major American universities, including Harvard, remain institutional members of associations that are engaged in boycotts of Israel. The idea of divesting Israel is opposed only in the same way that divesting apartheid South Africa was opposed — as an inappropriate intrusion into politics, not as immoral or anti-Semitic.
Martin Kramer goes further:
Larry Summers asks why universities sniff out every trace of prejudice, but look the other way when it comes to anti-Semitism. “University leaders who are so quick to stand up against microagressions against other groups remain silent in the face of anti-Semitism,” he writes, especially when it takes the form of Israel-hatred. My answer: Jews themselves hesitate to use the A-word. Why? It’s not supposed to exist anymore. And if you’re not for yourself, no one will be for you.
He’s right too. Western leftists who don’t hesitate to make reckless, ignorant statements about supposed apartheid in Israel, an open society with gay pride parades and anti-Israel Muslims in the legislature, are circumspect about the commonplace human-rights horrors of Iran and the Arab world.
The unwillingness of liberal American Jews to call out anti-Semitism on the Left reminds me of the unwillingness of self-described liberals/progressives to acknowledge the effectiveness or moral justification of armed self-defense in response to criminal violence.
Posted in Academia, Current Events, Jewish Leftism, Leftism | 32 Comments »
Posted by Jonathan on 28th March 2016 (All posts by Jonathan)
Seth Barrett Tillman:
Non-originalists communicate in two different discourses.
One discourse is the mode of truth: it is the mode they reserve for their sophisticated clients and legal briefs, for their colleagues and students. In this discourse, non-originalists critique originalism as …
1. Wrongheaded or false because the Constitution is not prolix, it is only an outline, and the gaps must be filled in by each generation;
2. Wrongheaded because the Framers’ and Ratifiers’ intent is not discoverable;
3. Wrongheaded because different Framers’ and Ratifiers’ intent, although discoverable, was not unified;
4. Wrongheaded because original public meaning is not (now) discoverable (e.g., the Constitution is too old);
5. Wrongheaded because during the framing era and during ratification there were a multiplicity of original public meanings;
6. Wrongheaded because judicial rulings and precedent are the superior means through which to determine the meaning of the Constitution;
7. Wrongheaded because judges, academic lawyers, and lawyers are not good historians;
8. Wrongheaded because the Framing-era and ratification lacked democratic bona fidés by modern standards;
9. Wrongheaded because we should not be ruled by the moral norms or the dead hand of the past; and,
10. Wrongheaded because originalism gets the wrong (e.g., conservative or libertarian) results.
The problem is that non-originalists have an entirely different discourse, a second discourse, when they communicate with the public. When non-originalists communicate with the public … non-originalists transform themselves and their discourse into naked, unabashed originalism. It is really quite astounding.
Lexington Green adds:
You are restrained in your condemnation of this despicable dishonesty.
The public has very little understanding of law, the Constitution, the legal system, lawyers, courts or anything else that people like us think about all day long.
There is nonetheless a vague, inchoate sense that there something called a constitution, and it is in writing, and most people who think they know anything about it mistakenly believe that it says that all men are created equal, and that it protects our rights, whatever those happen to be, and that the government has to do what The Constitution says.
If you were to tell these people, well, actually, we law professors and judges and lawyers have figured out that you don’t actually have to do what the Constitution says, because … it won’t matter what the “because” is. The typical American will respond with something along the lines of “are you fucking kidding me?”
My seat of the pants guess is that between between 1% and 5% of the people in this country have any idea what has been going on with the U.S. Constitution in the courts in the last 50 years.
These guys are being smart not publicizing the reality. If Joe and Jane American voter knew what was going on they would cut the funding for these people.
Read the whole thing.
(See also this post by Lex from 2008.)
Posted in Academia, Civil Liberties, Law, Leftism, Political Philosophy | 20 Comments »
Posted by Michael Kennedy on 1st March 2016 (All posts by Michael Kennedy)
A great piece in the Wall Street Journal today about what has happened to Economics and Economics education.
I took an Economics class in college in 1957 and it changed me to a Republican. My first vote was for Richard Nixon in 1960. My family was furious as they thought we were related to the Boston Kennedys and they had always been Democrats. I wonder if an Economics class would have that effect today?
And that political economy and my assessment of it has changed over a career spanning more than half a century. Here are five developments I would emphasize:
I agree with his appraisal.
1. Diminishing returns to research. A core economic principle is the Law of Diminishing Returns. If you add more resources, such as labor, to fixed quantities of another resource, such as land, output eventually rises by smaller and smaller amounts. That applies—with a vengeance—to academic research. Teaching loads have fallen dramatically (although the Education Department, which probably can tell you how many Hispanic female anthropologists there are teaching in Arkansas, does not publish regular teaching-load statistics), ostensibly to allow more research. But the 50th paper on a topic seldom adds as much understanding as the first or second.
This has been characteristic of Medicine, as well as other academic subjects.
Emory University’s Mark Bauerlein once showed that scholarly papers on Shakespeare averaged about 1,000 a year—three a day. Who reads them? How much does a typical paper add at the margin to the insights that Shakespeare gave us 400 years ago?
That isn’t all he has shown.
The attitude touches the President’s favorite pastime. Tevi Troy reported in Commentary how much Obama enjoys television, particularly SportsCenter and the middlebrow series Homeland and Mad Men. The New York Times added Breaking Bad and The Wire in its article “Obama’s TV Picks: Anything Edgy, with Hints of Reality,” and while it warned of the foolishness of “psychoanalyzing” a president based on “the books he reads or the music he listens to or the television shows he watches,” the story mentions not a single book. One would expect Marxists, feminists, queer theorists, post-colonialists, anti-imperialists, and media theorists to chide Obama for his bourgeois, masculinist taste, but as far as I know they have remained silent.
Obama’s taste runs more to sports and rap music.
Read the rest of this entry »
Posted in Academia, Big Government, Civil Society, Economics & Finance, Education, Leftism, Politics | 17 Comments »
Posted by David Foster on 20th February 2016 (All posts by David Foster)
Jonathan Haidt summarizes a paper (by Bradley Campbell and Jason Manning) which may help explain some of the dynamics now manifesting themselves on college campuses and even in the larger society. In brief: prior to the 18th and 19th century, most Western societies were cultures of honor, in which people were expected to avenge insults on their own–and would lose social respect and position should they fail to do so. The West then transitioned to cultures of dignity, in which “people are assumed to have dignity and don’t need to earn it. They foreswear violence, turn to courts or administrative bodies to respond to major transitions, and for minor transgressions they either ignore them or attempt to resolve them by social means. There’s no more dueling.” The spirit of this type of culture could be summarized by the saying “sticks and stones may break my bones but words will never hurt me.”
Campbell and Manning assert that this culture of dignity is now giving way to a new culture of victimhood in which people are encouraged to respond to even the slightest unintentional offense, as in an honor culture. But the difference, Haidt explains is this:
“But they must not obtain redress on their own; they must appeal for help to powerful others or administrative bodies, to whom they must make the case that they have been victimized.” Campbell and Manning distinguish the three culture types as follows:
“Public complaints that advertise or even exaggerate one’s own victimization and need for sympathy would be anathema to a person of honor – tantamount to showing that one had no honor at all. Members of a dignity culture, on the other hand, would see no shame in appealing to third parties, but they would not approve of such appeals for minor and merely verbal offenses. Instead they would likely counsel either confronting the offender directly to discuss the issue, or better yet, ignoring the remarks altogether.”
I had read something about this model a couple of months ago, and was reminded of it by a discussion at Bookworm Room. She described a scene of insanity at Rutgers “university,” in which students were so traumatized by a speech given by Milo Yiannopoulos that “students and faculty members held a wound-licking gathering at a cultural center on campus, where students described “feeling scared, hurt, and discriminated against.”
Read the rest of this entry »
Posted in Academia, Civil Liberties, Civil Society, Deep Thoughts, Education, Human Behavior, Leftism, Miscellaneous, USA | 15 Comments »
Posted by Jonathan on 19th February 2016 (All posts by Jonathan)
Seth Barrett Tillman responds to the president of Williams College:
Dear President Falk,
I read your February 18, 2016 letter to the Williams Community. I do not understand it. You don’t quote, link to, point to, or even summarize anything Derbyshire said or wrote. So the reader has no way to understand precisely what he said or wrote that crossed any “line” or even, when he said or wrote you allege constitutes hate speech. How is the reader supposed to understand your letter?
Read the whole thing.
1) President Falk’s statement that “Free speech is a value I hold in extremely high regard” sounds a lot like “Your call is very important to us”.
2) Hate speech is speech. The reason why no one who expresses concern about “hate speech” ever mentions such a thing as “love speech” is that it’s obvious that speech that no one objects to requires no protection. The term “hate speech” is verbal camouflage used to obfuscate anti-free-speech arguments.
Posted in Academia, Civil Society, Culture, Current Events, Leftism, Political Philosophy | 8 Comments »
Posted by TM Lutas on 5th January 2016 (All posts by TM Lutas)
Forum shopping the prosecution of felonies by choosing the campus courts or the criminal courts is a massive case of privilege that is not available to most Americans and favored most strongly by today’s campus Left.
Check your privilege indeed.
Posted in Academia, Education, Law, Law Enforcement, Politics | 11 Comments »
Posted by Michael Hiteshew on 18th December 2015 (All posts by Michael Hiteshew)
The Manhattan Contrarian writes on Consensus Science And Orthodoxy Enforcement
This is an old problem with the left, where everything – and I mean everything – is politicized and put into service to the Agenda of The Party. For those on the ground, they are almost unaware that there are serious alternatives to The Party Line. Every question or criticism is dismissed out of hand as propaganda from entrenched interests or misinformation or so obviously and laughably wrong only an idiot could believe it because everybody knows that’s not true! For those in the middle of The Party hierarchy, there are big payoffs to being a loyal Party Apparatchik. Marcia McNutt is advancing nicely along that road. She will be well rewarded for her willingness to crush all dissent while presenting her smiling and attractive to face to the public. For those at the top, the only purpose of anything is to advance the power and control of The Party with themselves at the helm. And everything can be sacrificed to that end. And will be.
Posted in Academia, Environment, Medicine | 9 Comments »
Posted by David Foster on 29th November 2015 (All posts by David Foster)
Hillary Clinton, if elected president, would likely do for gender relations what Barack Obama has done for race relations.
Speaking of Hillary, anyone remember her response when the harmful impact of her proposed healthcare plan on small businesses was questioned? Her response was: “I can’t be responsible for every undercapitalized small business in America.”
No one was asking her to “be responsible” for them, of course, only to refrain from wantonly devastating them. Should Hillary become the Democratic nominee, Republicans need to ensure that this quote, and other similar ones, are brought to the attention of every small business owner in America.
There are a lot of small business that are run by women, and an effective attack on the Democratic hostility toward small business should help to reduce Hillary’s advantage among the female demographic. Part of such attack should consist of hammering on the cultural factor–the truth is, Hillary feels contempt for you, Ms small businessperson–and part of it should consist of a very specific and tangible critique of particularly obnoxious regulatory and tax policies. (I recently ran across a message board on which Etsy sellers, really micro-manufacturers, almost all female, were discussing the pain suffered while trying to comply with IRS inventory accounting rules.)
Marco Rubio’s comment statement that “we need more welders and less philosophers” was unfortunate. His overall point is entirely correct–we need to stop stigmatizing vocational education and assuming that College is and should be the only path to a really good job–but he could have said it better. (See discussion at Ricochet, led by an actual philosopher.) Republicans need to be careful not to project contempt toward anyone who thinks of himself as an intellectual, in the way that Obama projected contempt for a wide swath of working people with his snide comment about “clinging to guns or religion”…which comment certainly cost him votes and would have cost him a lot more had Republicans been able to use it more effectively.
In that same debate, when the subject of whether large banks should be bailed out in crisis situations came up, neither Cruz nor Kasich mentioned the existence of the FDIC. I don’t care about Kasich, but Cruz should have responded that ‘we have the FDIC to protect the vast majority of depositors–although we need to ensure that it is adequately funded by fees to the banks–so the real question about a bailout has to do with protecting the bank shareholders and bondholders–and no, we shouldn’t do that.’
Posted in Academia, Business, Economics & Finance, Education, Politics, USA | 14 Comments »
Posted by Jonathan on 27th November 2015 (All posts by Jonathan)
Seth Barrett Tillman:
In fact, we all know that it is this very real possibility—the omnipresent depressing likelihood of future Paris-like attacks—which is the urgent crisis that demands our immediate attention and our best efforts. All our lives and our children’s lives depend on it. All know this, except Dr. O’Donnell. For her, the “urgent [matter is] to ensure that students and professionals do not resort to prejudicial judgments about others”. This is the sort of grand category error that the public has come to expect from a disconnected transnational, elitist, academic class: an academic class which sees tradition, loyalty, and patriotism as primitive, and whose promoters teach that nations, citizenship, borders, and law defined by elected parliaments are irksome problems to be overcome.
Worth reading in full.
Posted in Academia, Civil Society, Education, Leftism, Political Philosophy, Politics, Terrorism, Tradeoffs | 13 Comments »
Posted by David Foster on 17th November 2015 (All posts by David Foster)
In one of my posts on the aftermath of 9/11, I introduced the metaphor of the Attrition Mill. An attrition mill consists of two steel disks, rotating at high speed in opposite directions and crushing the substance to be milled between them. Metaphorically, I see America, and western civilization in general, as being caught in a gigantic attrition mill, with one rotating disk being the Islamofascist enemy and the other disk representing certain tendencies within our own societies…most notably, the focus on group identities, the growing hostility toward free speech, and the sharp decline of civilizational-self confidence.
The combination of the upper and lower disks of the metaphorical Attrition Mill is far more dangerous than either by itself would be. For example, the student government at the University of Minnesota has rejected a resolution calling for annual commemorations of the 9/11 atrocity. Why? It was argued that such a resolution would make Muslim students feel “unsafe.” The “Students for Justice for Palestine” said that being reminded of 9/11 on its anniversary would lead to increased “Islamaphobia.”
It seems pretty clear that this sort of ridiculously deferential “sensitivity” does not make immigrants, or children and grandchildren of immigrants, more likely to assimilate. Contrarily, it reinforces group identifies and intergroup hostilities. And in doing so, it creates a social environment in which it is much more likely that actual terrorists–representing the upper disk of the Attrition Mill–will go unreported or even be actively supported in their ethnic/religious communities. And that, in turn, greatly increases the risks inherent in large-scale migration.
Hillary Clinton reacted to the Benghazi murders by blaming a video, going so far as to tell a grieving father that he would have his revenge–not on the killers, oh, no, but rather we are going to have that filmmaker arrested . Here, we see the threat and actuality of Islamist violence being used as an excuse for interfering with the free-speech rights of Americans…and you can bet that if that precedent is successfully established, it will be applied with plenty of other justifications, too.
(On a related note, John Kerry came very close to saying that the attacks on Charlie Hebdo were in some manner justified.)
And both disks of the Attrition Mill are revolving with increasing speed. The attacks on Charlie Hebdo, the Paris kosher grocery store, and the Russian airliner were followed by the large-scale attack that just happened in Paris. The lower disk of the Mill is turning faster as well: Amherst students are demanding restrictions on free speech, with compulsory “reeducation” for offenders. We have seen insane behavior at Yale, with students raging at a couple of professors who dared to suggest that people not go overboard about the issue of Halloween costumes. Here is Alan Dershowitz on what is happening to our colleges: “the fog of Fascism is descending”
Read the rest of this entry »
Posted in Academia, Civil Liberties, History, Islam, Leftism, Terrorism, USA | 29 Comments »
Posted by Jonathan on 12th November 2015 (All posts by Jonathan)
Read Heather Mac Donald’s column at City Journal.
Imagine an Ivy administration that encouraged frat boys and athletes to abuse women and get into trouble with the law. That’s analogous to the current situation, the only differences being the identities and characteristic weaknesses of the members of the respective groups being egged on and suppressed. The young hysterics desperately need guidance from mature adults who have their best interests at heart. Instead the system their parents trust and pay an arm and leg for indulges, out of cowardice or ideological zeal, the kids’ worst impulses.
Institutional racist or anti-female conspiracies, the figments of fevered leftist/feminist imagination, have never been less frequent, but anti-intellectual and anti-male conspiracies are everywhere.
The college administrators will do fine. The victimized students, mostly men, will learn hard lessons. Many, though not all, will emerge stronger for it. But many of the young leftist women, and some of the men, who have been overprotected and fed lies their entire lives, will have significant difficulty functioning in the real world.
If DCFS employees encourage or look the other way at the corruption of children it’s a scandal. How is it different when university administrators do the same thing with vulnerable young adults?
Posted in Academia, Civil Society, Feminism, Human Behavior, Leftism, Political Philosophy, Politics | 18 Comments »
Posted by David Foster on 5th November 2015 (All posts by David Foster)
Glenn Reynolds has some thoughts
I believe that excessive credentialism is definitely reducing social mobility and inhibiting the full use of America’s human talents…and that the excessive reverence paid to “elite” colleges is part of this problem.
I’m reminded of something Peter Drucker wrote, way back in 1969:
One thing it (modern society) cannot afford in education is the “elite institution” which has a monopoly on social standing, on prestige, and on the command positions in society and economy. Oxford and Cambridge are important reasons for the English brain drain. A main reason for the technology gap is the Grande Ecole such as the Ecole Polytechnique or the Ecole Normale. These elite institutions may do a magnificent job of education, but only their graduates normally get into the command positions. Only their faculties “matter.” This restricts and impoverishes the whole society…The Harvard Law School might like to be a Grande Ecole and to claim for its graduates a preferential position. But American society has never been willing to accept this claim…
We as a country are a lot closer to accepting Grande Ecole status for Harvard Law School and similar institutions than we were when Drucker wrote the above.
It is almost impossible to explain to a European that the strength of American higher education lies in this absence of schools for leaders and schools for followers. It is almost impossible to explain to a European that the engineer with a degree from North Idaho A. and M. is an engineer and not a draftsman.
See also my 2011 post Drucker on Education, which includes additional excerpts from Professor Drucker on this topic. Very well worth reading and contemplating.
University Diaries also has a post and discussion thread on Glenn’s column.
Posted in Academia, Education, Society, USA | 5 Comments »
Posted by Michael Kennedy on 18th October 2015 (All posts by Michael Kennedy)
The discussion on Global Warming, has shifted to “Climate Change” as the warming has slowed or stopped, depending on your politics. Now there are a few rather timid questions being asked about this highly charged topic.
“Doubt has been eliminated,” said Gro Harlem Brundtland, former Prime Minister of Norway and UN Special Representative on Climate Change, in a speech in 2007: “It is irresponsible, reckless and deeply immoral to question the seriousness of the situation. The time for diagnosis is over. Now it is time to act.” John Kerry says we have no time for a meeting of the flat-earth society. Barack Obama says that 97 per cent of scientists agree that climate change is “real, man-made and dangerous”.
This is the consensus of politicians. Scientists ? Read the resumes of the people pontificating on Climate Change. How many are real scientists ?
A Member of Parliament with a Physics degree, was ridiculed by the BBC for questioning Climate Change.
Peter Lilley, a long standing member of the energy and climate select committee, has made a formal complaint to director general Lord Hall after discovering that mandarins had issued an apology following claims he made that the effects of climate change were being exaggerated.
Appearing on BBC Radio 4’s ‘What’s the Point of The Met Office’, Mr Lilley stated that, while he “accepted the thesis that more CO2 in the atmosphere will marginally warm up the earth”, he questioned the assertion that global warming would be as dramatic as is being portrayed in some scientific circles.
Mr Lilley, who graduated with a degree in natural sciences at Cambridge University, said: “I’m a ‘lukewarmist’, one who thinks that there won’t be much warming as a result of it, and that’s the scientifically proven bit of the theory. Anything going on the alarmist scale is pure speculation.”
Sounds mild to me.
Mr Lilley was horrified to discover that the BBC later placed “health warnings” on the programme’s website, and issued an apology for “giving voice to climate sceptics” and failing to “make clear that they are a minority, out of step with the scientific consensus.”
The apology was written to listeners who had complained, including academic Dr Andrew Smedley, of Manchester University, and then re-stated on the BBC Rado 4’s programme Feedback.
That sounds like “Trigger Warnings” in American university life. This sort of thing has gotten more common the past 20 years. Why ?
Read the rest of this entry »
Posted in Academia, Environment, Science | 11 Comments »
Posted by Michael Kennedy on 26th September 2015 (All posts by Michael Kennedy)
Some years ago, when it came out, I read Allan Bloom’s The Closing of the American Mind. It struck me as a profound commentary on the weakening of college education and about changes in college students that I did not like and which had occurred since I was one myself.
It seems to be getting worse now, according to this essay in Psychology Today.
Dan Jones, past president of the Association for University and College Counseling Center Directors, seems to agree with this assessment. In an interview for the Chronicle of Higher Education article, he said: “[Students] haven’t developed skills in how to soothe themselves, because their parents have solved all their problems and removed the obstacles. They don’t seem to have as much grit as previous generations.”
In my next essay in this series I’ll examine the research evidence suggesting that so-called “helicopter parenting” really is at the core of the problem. But I don’t blame parents, or certainly not just parents. Parents are in some ways victims of larger forces in the society—victims of the continuous exhortations from “experts” about the dangers of letting kids be, victims of the increased power of the school system and the schooling mentality that says kids develop best when carefully guided and supervised by adults, and victims of increased legal and social sanctions for allowing kids into public spaces without adult accompaniment. We have become, unfortunately, a “helicopter society.”
I think this is exceedingly dangerous and is behind the war on college age men. Some this can be seen in the hysteria of “Rape Culture” and various hoaxes perpetrated by magazines and by the Obama Administration’s Department of Education and its “Dear Colleague” letters.
In order to assist recipients, which include school districts, colleges, and universities (hereinafter “schools” or “recipients”) in meeting these obligations, this letter1 explains that the requirements of Title IX pertaining to sexual harassment also cover sexual violence, and lays out the specific Title IX requirements applicable to sexual violence.2 Sexual violence, as that term is used in this letter, refers to physical sexual acts perpetrated against a person’s will or where a person is incapable of giving consent due to the victim’s use of drugs or alcohol. An individual also may be unable to give consent due to an intellectual or other disability. A number of different acts fall into the category of sexual violence, including rape,
Those acts include many that an earlier generation would consider harmless and part of the normal male-female relationship.
From one reader review of Bloom’s book written years after its publication:
Bloom begins with the problem of liberal education at the end of the 20th century – in a world where students are taught from childhood that “values” are relative and that tolerance is the first virtue, too many students arrive at college without knowing what it means to really believe in anything. They think they are open-minded but their minds are closed to the one thing that really matters: the possibility of absolute truth, of absolute right and wrong. In explaining where we are and how we got here, Bloom presents a devastating critique of modern American education and its students, an intellectual history of the United States and its unique foundation in Enlightenment philosophy, and an assesment of the project of liberal education.
We are well past that stage of the deterioration of American culture.
Read the rest of this entry »
Posted in Academia, Book Notes, Civil Society, Culture, Education, Feminism, Morality and Philosphy, Society | 23 Comments »
Posted by Ginny on 23rd August 2015 (All posts by Ginny)
I’ve been reading Daniel Walker Howe’s The Political Culture of the American Whigs(1979). It slowly gave me a better understanding, since I started in a complete fog. Like his Making the American Self, here Howe chooses representative figures to give narrative, character & understanding. Just because the book is forty doesn’t mean insights don’t remain. Howe enlivens the Whigs and reminds us our parties still have more than a bit of the Whig & the Jacksonian. But, surprisingly, an anecdote used to illuminate John Quincy Adams reminds us of a spring candidacy.
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Posted in Academia, Book Notes, Religion, Science | 3 Comments »
Posted by Dan from Madison on 11th August 2015 (All posts by Dan from Madison)
Years ago, Shannon Love did a series of posts on these pages about “number gut”. From this post:
A number gut is an intuitive feel for the possible magnitude of a particular number that describes a particular phenomenon. A good number gut tells you if the results of some calculation are at least in the ball park.
My number gut (or b.s. detector, in this case) went off today when I saw this story. Here is the money:
Chicago Public Schools officials on Monday proposed a $5.7 billion operating budget for the upcoming school year…
Holy crap that is a lot of money. There are 396,000 students in the CPS. $5.7bb / 396k = $15,447 per student. Really.
From this article from 2014 about the most expensive private schools in Illinois, it looks like all of the students could go to Loyola Academy, and can almost all go to St. Ignatius College Prep for that kind of money.
Posted in Academia, Big Government, Chicagoania, Education | 15 Comments »
Posted by Ginny on 6th July 2015 (All posts by Ginny)
Or, the accurate but revealing title, How Moments Lead to Life Time Prejudice, Unmoved by Research
I loved literature classes. My general fecklessness led to reading 17th century prose on night duty at the mental hospital when I was 20, absorbing little. My choices were seldom sensible – at first I had the excuse of being 17, of hitting college when the world changed fast – but still, I matured slowly. Few I knew experimented with drugs, but we successfully screwed up our lives without them. Simply put, my judgement was lousy in men, jobs, and energy/time management. But I loved going to class (not, mind you, always doing the work – I often hadn’t read the assignment). But in the hot world of adolescence, especially in the sixties, the cool calm of walking into a classroom ordered my days, gave me a separate peace – quiet, cool and cerebral. It challenged my mind as the world outside my emotions.
That’s why I keep distance. My friend describes my teaching as cool – well, yes. I address students by their last names. I’m not their friend nor entertainer; I don’t want to offer me but the work – deep and textured and lovely. That’s where our eyes focus – on the text. So, that old model persists. Harvey Mansfield’s address notes that formality has its place, signals respect.
Read the rest of this entry »
Posted in Academia, Education, Lit Crit, Personal Narrative, Society | 10 Comments »
Posted by Ginny on 2nd July 2015 (All posts by Ginny)
Some comments here criticized lectures. I doubt that medium is as central as the comments imply. Few who teach skills depend only or even mainly on lectures. Lecturing itself has been marginalized. The passion for “critical thinking” is a theoretic good, but, naturally, pedagogical studies emphasize method over content, new & theoretical over traditional. But, I would argue, lectures are designed to clarify content & connections, to model critical thinking. They are useful. (I’m not getting into content – the understandable complaints about that are topics for another day.)
Not surprisingly, my defense is defensive. I lectured. Apparently I conveyed passion but could also elicit boredom. For some, that love made a bad class bearable, for others, it was meaningful. Most bubbled in positive but not extraordinary evaluations. Probably some felt I was nattering on, then socked it to them on the test. And lectures let minds drift. But I lectured.
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Posted in Academia, Customer Service, Education, Lit Crit | 10 Comments »
Posted by David Foster on 10th June 2015 (All posts by David Foster)
Sgt Mom recently posted about the “Sad Puppies” affair: basically, it seems that the science-fiction publishing industry and its leading association and award structure have become highly politicized in the name of “progressivism”…in reaction, a contrarian movement arose called the “Sad Puppies” (there are also “Rabid Puppies”)…and these groups have been vitriolically attacked by some prominent members of the SF publishing establishment.
It strikes me that this would be a good time to update and repost my earlier Theme roundup of posts on the general topic of politicization.
A very funny post about a very serious topic. Sarah Hoyt, herself a science fiction writers, tells of (and illustrates) some of her own experiences with the Science Fiction Writers Association.
What kind of things do you think they talk about at a convention of the National Art Education Association? Best ways to teach perspective and watercoloring techniques? How to explain Expressionism and Impressionism? Not these days.
“Political correctness” has become a serious threat to American society
What makes people want to live in a politicized society, and what is day-t0-day life like once the complete politicization has been accomplished? In this post, I cite some thoughts from Sebastian Haffner, who came of age in Germany when the Nazi movement was casting its spell, and a vivid fictional passage from Ayn Rand, who grew up in the early Soviet Union.
Gleichschaltung. A word much favored by the Nazis, it means “coordination,” “making the same,” “bringing into line”…especially, in Nazi usage, “forcible coordination.” The orientation toward Gleichschaltung is very apparent in today’s “progressive” movement and today’s Democratic Party.
Prestigious Physics Professor Protests Politicization. Harold Brown, professor emeritus at the University of California Santa Barbara, explains the reasons for his resignation from the American Physical Society.
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Posted in Academia, Big Government, Civil Liberties, Civil Society, Current Events, Germany, History, Political Philosophy, Russia, USA | 19 Comments »
Posted by David Foster on 3rd June 2015 (All posts by David Foster)
I’m currently reading The Edge of the World: A Cultural History of the North Sea and the Transformation of Europe. There’s an interesting section on the 7th-century monk Bede, a thoughtful scholar who wrote the first history of England. A couple of centuries later, he would be known as the Venerable Bede, a Doctor of the Church…but back when he was just another monk:
He once heard that he had been accused of heresy by someone who was having dinner with a bishop. He was aghast, he told his friend Plegwin, he went white.
Sure glad people don’t have to worry about things like that these days…but actually, this passage reminded me of something I read in the WSJ a few days ago. It’s an excerpt from an article by Laura Kipnis, a feminist professor who–because of something she wrote in February–has been attacked by feminist students who tried to use Federal Title IX mechanisms to shut her down. She was cleared of the charges against her, but says:
After the essay appeared, I was deluged with emails from professors applauding what I’d written because they were too frightened to say such things publicly themselves. My inbox became a clearinghouse for reports about student accusations and sensitivities, and the collective terror of sparking them, especially when it comes to the dreaded subject of trigger warnings, since pretty much anything might be a “trigger” to someone, given the new climate of emotional peril on campuses. . . .
A tenured professor on my campus wrote about lying awake at night worrying that some stray remark of hers might lead to student complaints, social-media campaigns, eventual job loss, and her being unable to support her child. I’d thought she was exaggerating, but that was before I learned about the Title IX complaints against me.
Posted in Academia, Book Notes, Britain, Christianity, Civil Liberties, USA | 13 Comments »
Posted by Ginny on 3rd June 2015 (All posts by Ginny)
In freshman composition, I often devoted part of a class to short essays. The arguments I chose for focus interested me – probably more than my students. One was to write an essay prompted by an axiom or song lyric. Generally it may not have worked in terms of academic writing, but writing is writing. and a few years ago, one student responded to this Proverb:
“A man without self-control is like a city broken into and left without walls.” Proverbs 25:28
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Posted in Academia, Book Notes, Human Behavior, Obama | 8 Comments »
Posted by David Foster on 6th May 2015 (All posts by David Foster)
A “safe space” at Brown University:
The safe space, Ms. Byron explained, was intended to give people who might find comments “troubling” or “triggering,” a place to recuperate. The room was equipped with cookies, coloring books, bubbles, Play-Doh, calming music, pillows, blankets and a video of frolicking puppies, as well as students and staff members trained to deal with trauma. Emma Hall, a junior, rape survivor and “sexual assault peer educator” who helped set up the room and worked in it during the debate, estimates that a couple of dozen people used it. At one point she went to the lecture hall — it was packed — but after a while, she had to return to the safe space. “I was feeling bombarded by a lot of viewpoints that really go against my dearly and closely held beliefs,” Ms. Hall said.
and at the University of Chicago:
A few weeks ago, Zineb El Rhazoui, a journalist at Charlie Hebdo, spoke at the University of Chicago, protected by the security guards she has traveled with since supporters of the Islamic State issued death threats against her. During the question-and-answer period, a Muslim student stood up to object to the newspaper’s apparent disrespect for Muslims and to express her dislike of the phrase “I am Charlie.”
Ms. El Rhazoui replied, somewhat irritably, “Being Charlie Hebdo means to die because of a drawing,” and not everyone has the guts to do that (although she didn’t use the word guts). She lives under constant threat, Ms. El Rhazoui said. The student answered that she felt threatened, too.
A few days later, a guest editorialist in the student newspaper took Ms. El Rhazoui to task. She had failed to ensure “that others felt safe enough to express dissenting opinions.” Ms. El Rhazoui’s “relative position of power,” the writer continued, had granted her a “free pass to make condescending attacks on a member of the university.”
Why do so many college students choose to “self-infantilize?” Judith Shulevitz, author of the above-linked NYT article, quotes Eric Posner:
Perhaps overprogrammed children engineered to the specifications of college admissions offices no longer experience the risks and challenges that breed maturity.
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Posted in Academia, Civil Liberties, Civil Society, Human Behavior, Leftism | 31 Comments »
Posted by David Foster on 13th April 2015 (All posts by David Foster)
Peter Thiel is interviewed by Tyler Cowen, in a conversation that ranges from why there is stagnation “in the world of atoms and not of bits” to the dangers of conformity to what he looks for when choosing people to why company names matter.
Evaporative cooling of group beliefs. Why a group’s beliefs tend to become stronger rather than weaker when strong evidence against those beliefs makes its appearance.
More academic insanity: the language police at the University of Michigan.
Why Sam Sinai became a computer scientist instead of a doctor
A National Archives official, in an e-mail comment that the people were not supposed to see: “We live in constant fear of upsetting the White House”
Why a pact with Iran throws Arab liberals under the bus (“liberals” used here in the archaic and largely obsolete sense of “people who believe in liberty”)
Garry Trudeau (he wrote a cartoon called Doonesbury–is it really still being published?) gives his thoughts on the Charlie Hebdo murders perpetrated in the name of Islam–by accusing the cartoonists of “hate speech” and denouncing “free speech absolutism.”
The secret Republicans of Silicon Valley
Baseball, the stock market, and the dangers of following the herd
Antoine de St-Exupery’s original watercolors for The Little Prince
Posted in Academia, Arts & Letters, Business, Civil Liberties, Human Behavior, Islam, Markets and Trading, Society, Sports, Tech, USA | 12 Comments »