On Rustication

Forty-five years ago today, I was “rusticated”—which is to say departed the University for a metropolitan area eight hours’ drive to the southwest, at that time less than one-fifth the population of Chicagoland and only one-eighth its density, which would certainly seem like being sent to the countryside to anyone who grew up within a forty-mile radius of the Loop. Recent events have conspired to cast my mind back to that event and reflect on its meaning.

Warning: autobiographical details ahead; and while acknowledging a certain Conradian truth quoted just below the jump, I must insist that those details are the least important. If there is anything worth pondering here, it is the lessons for our time, and the finding of a way to avoid utter catastrophe, which must include avoiding idealizing our past. When I was a child, I spoke as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child: but when I became a man, I went to the University of Chicago, and I put away childish things.

Read more

Finishing School

So, the recent fiery yet “mostly peaceful” pro-Hamas demonstrations of support on various university campuses making the fiery and “mostly peaceful” headlines over the last couple of weeks may yet have unfortunate results for the affected schools. This would be a consummation devoutly desired by those of us on the sort-of-conservative side of the political spectrum, who have viewed the increasing academic lunacy and dysfunction with concern and mistrust. Honestly, it’s long been obvious that there is a massive stench emanating from those ivy-hung quadrangles of higher learning. The tuition to attend them has been increasing at a breakneck rate for two or three decades, even above the rate of inflation, while the graduates of those institutions appear dumber and dumber and the ratio of administrative staff to student body approaches 1:1. Of late, even those graduates boasting diplomas from formerly respected colleges appear barely scathed by literacy, or any kind of practical, useful-to-the-working-world knowledge and skills at all. No wonder that an increasing number of 18 year olds are coldly, rationally considering the cost-to-benefit ratio and opting for a trade school or an apprenticeship.

Read more

Separate

So this is a story which first percolated up to my attention at the Powerline blog last week – a perfectly vicious attack on a teenager by a bigger and apparently stronger teenager, which has put the first teenager in hospital with likely permanent brain damage – if she even recovers consciousness at all. There’s something about having your skull repeatedly slammed on a concrete sidewalk which will do that. The attacker has been detained, which is a nice gesture on the part of local law enforcement, and a Go-Fund-Me appeal has already raised a considerable sum for the medical care of Kaylee Gains. The name of her attacker, hereinafter referred to as Little Miss Thugette, however, seems to be under a veil of secrecy in those few stories which have appeared in the news media. The comments appended on sites where the story does appear tend towards the cynical: if the colors of the two girls were reversed, most commenters acknowledge that there would be screaming headlines for weeks in all the print media, TV pundits rushing to make their two cents clear by taking a knee (literally or metaphorically), the inner cities in blue states would already be in flames and Al Sharpton would be ubiquitous in demanding justice. (Of the mob and rioting sort, naturally.)

Read more

The Question of When…

The question of when to talk to your children, when you live in a repressive dictatorship was something I remember from reading James Michener’s essay into political reporting The Bridge at Andau; an account into the Hungarian Revolt of 1956 against the Soviet Union, published the following year. There came a time when parents of school-aged children, Michener wrote, had to open up to their children, if they were anti-Soviet dissidents, religious, or simply Hungary-first patriots. It was a fine line; either live a lie in front of your children regarding your own beliefs, and at worst, see them irretrievably buy into the whole Soviet system if you left it too late, or trusting that they were sufficiently mature, to be adept at concealing such dissident beliefs in front of their schoolfellows, Communist-indoctrinated teachers – and informers among them. How old did your children need to be, before they could dissemble in front of peers, teachers and spying informants among them? It was a matter of deep concern to Hungarian parents, as Michener related. (Parenthetically, as a teenager and young adult I had never been the least bit enchanted by the golden chimera of communism in any guise. Growing up, my parents knew too many people who had fled from Communist-dominated or threatened countries and had heart-rending stories to tell of their experiences in living in and fleeing Cuba, Russia, Eastern Europe, the far East. Reading Michener’s account of the Hungarian Revolt definitely drew a line under my antipathy towards all-powerful dictatorships of the so-called proletariat.)

Read more

The Price Paid for DIE

So serial plagiarist and Professional Womyn of Color (Academic Division) Claudine Gay has been turfed from the comfy corner office at Hah-vaard, to the tune of much lamenting from The Usual Suspects. Frankly, I’m long past caring very much about what goes on in the hallowed halls of an increasingly overrated, intellectually debased institute of so-called higher learning. I was never in a position to be an Ivy student/alum, contribute monetarily to an Ivy, or in a position to hire a graduate from one of them, so the matter to me would be moot. Except…

Unfortunately, the ruling class, intellectual elite of this increasingly bedraggled nation have been overimpressed for decades with Hah-vaard and other enormous hedge funds with a finishing school of storied history attached, so willy-nilly, we must pay attention to the place. Apparently, MS Gay achieved her exalted position through the magical combination of possessing a vagina, a melanin-enhanced epidermis, and an expertise at vicious academic infighting, but no great intellectual shakes, literary skills, or any but the most banal insights into the human condition in evidence. Nice work, if you can get it, I suppose. A triumph of the Diversity, Inclusion and Equity industry, or as we like to abbreviate it around here, DIE.

Read more