I have noted stories of high schools dropping honors and AP classes in the name of so-called ‘equity’ like this lately, with a great deal of sadness and sympathy for those kids who would have benefited most from more challenging classes. The intelligent, motivated and intellectually-gifted students are bored beyond all reason by the standard classes – I know that I certainly was, and my high school days were from 1969-1972 in a largely white blue-collar working-class to no-class suburb of Los Angeles. This was when California public schools were still pretty good, and students were ‘tracked’ by abilities as well as interest in higher learning. I’d estimate that only thirty or forty out of a graduating class of 600 or so were tracked towards the Honors/AE classes; Sunland-Tujunga was, as I said before, a blue-collar, working-class community, with a small sprinkling of middle-class. My own mother was about as pushy a tiger-mom as there was, and her collegiate ambitions for us didn’t go much beyond the state university system, never mind any of the west coast Ivies. An east-coast Ivy wasn’t even in the same universe.
The Calculated Infliction of Misery
The sudden recent fatwa declared by the great and good in the Biden Administration against the less-expensive gas ranges was … really rather curious – and for what purpose? Cooking (and heating) with gas is (or was) relatively cheap, energy-efficient, beloved of cooks for generations. It has the advantage that if you have an older stove, you can still cook with gas in a power outage. I lived for six years in Spain, where both the stove and the flash hot water heater were powered by propane bottles, and a power outage (which occurred regularly) was only a relatively mild inconvenience. I could cook a hot meal, and we could take hot showers. An all-electric home, such as the one I live in now is miserable, to the point of being unlivable, without consistent electric power, as my neighbors and I were swiftly reminded during the Great Texas Snowmagedden, two years ago. And from this story, linked on Instapundit, one can’t help wondering if the geniuses in Biden’s government are demonstrating trying again, with the so-called safety benefits of locking hot-water heater thermostats at 110-120. The ostensible reason given for these two quasi-campaigns is a tender concern for the ‘health and safety’ of the general public and the best of intentions, but the way to hell is paved with good intentions.
The Hard “Nope”
It was a post at Bookroom Room that led me to jump aboard this particular train of thought – that most of us have certain concepts embedded in us so firmly that absolutely nothing will ever get us to violate them. As Bookworm put it, “Because as I’ve contended for years, every person has one absolute truth. It’s the one thing they know to their bones is true and the world must align with that truth … For my mother, who would have been a fashionista if she’d had the money, style and beauty were her truths. She sucked up all the lies about Barack and Michelle Obama until the media talking heads said that Michelle was the most beautiful, stylish first lady ever, above and beyond even Jackie Kennedy. That ran headlong into Mom’s truth and, after that, she never again believed what the media had to say about the Obamas.”
It’s a concept worth considering – our own truths, which we will stubbornly hold on to, refusing any threats or blandishments. It varies from person to person, of course. Some have only small and irrelevant truths, which are never seriously threatened, and there are those who have no real truths at all, save perhaps self-aggrandizement – but even so, for some keeping to their truth is a hard struggle, deciding to hold to that truth against everything – especially if they have status or a living to make, in denying that truth.
In the last year that we lived in Spain, I came to the knowledge that many very supposedly-well educated people had the most surprising gaps in their general knowledge of things. This realization came sometime in 1991, I think – and since then, evidence of this has mounted into a heap the size of the Matterhorn. But this was the first time that I saw proof of this in someone that I had assumed to be somewhat well-educated. I took a neighbor and her children on an excursion downtown. (I had been assigned to the base there for more than five years, the neighbor and her family were recent arrivals – the father of the family was our newest Protestant chaplain.) I wanted to show them the fascinating and quaint old city heart of Zaragoza; the Cathedral of the Pilar, the ancient cathedral, La Seo, the central plaza with the old palace of the city hall at one end, a stretch of ancient Roman wall at the other, and the 19th century food market with its’ ranges of individual tiny stalls under the iron roof. The children were of an age to appreciate all this, enormously.
The March of Folly
That’s the title of a four-pronged historical examination by Barbara Tuchman: an examination of four specific episodes in history (or in the case of Troy and their gift horse, possibly mythical history) where the leadership of a political entity decided – against all good advice and reasoned opposition – to go full out in idiocy counter to their best interests, the pursuit of which left them very much in a worse situation than before. Pride, stubbornness, stupid devotion to a set of principles which wound up biting them in the nether regions and supposedly serving a warning and example to the rest of us. Yet – as MS Tuchman notes – political bodies kept on doing it, over and over again. (Although I and others do have some serious beefs about how she categorized the saga of US in Vietnam.) It’s a readable overview, a quick skim of what happen in four separate eras when four different entities decide against all good advice, interests and viable alternatives, to go ahead and pee on that electric fence; a reminder – as if we really do need another one, that self-interested stupidity is a human constant.