Monday, June 15, 2009

The Realities of a College Education

Several different authors have been hinting at it for decades, but I believe this by Abraham H. Miller is the first piece I've read that cuts directly to the truth about a university "education."

The Realities of ‘College Education’

Shared via AddThis

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Anderson Cooper Sucks Balls!

Normally, the people who bring us our cable McNews are so steeped in professionalism and obsessed with meeting strict, self-imposed standards they forget that they need to sprinkle all that weighty fare with the levity of a lighthearted, childlike tee-hee every now and then.

That's why it was so good to share a giggle with Anderson Cooper, Ali Velshi and David Gergen last night on AC 360 in their discussion of the Tea Party tax protests:

Of course, light-hearted riffing on "tea-bagging," or some variation thereof, has achieved full-fledged meme status within the past couple of days. The normally self-serious Rachel Maddow and guest Ana-Marie Cox delivered a segment well spent on the subject, and Keith Olbermann, that exemplar of journalistic and personal integrity, featured the term two nights running, with the "tea bag" tally running well into the hundreds.

Maddow, Olbermann and Cooper are especially in need of fun and frivolity at the moment, if only to take their minds off the fact that they're all getting pounded in the ratings. Unfortunately, gravitas is not much to Americans' liking, no matter whether such seriousness is an objective reality or only a empty claim. They may have professional perfection to purvey, but as far as the public is concerned, they're just selling sedatives. To put it more succinctly, nobody's watching them. (Present company probably excepted).

Cooper's show, in particular, is really taking it on the back end ever since Glenn Beck took his act over to Fox News earlier this year. Say what you want about Fox and Beck, and I reckon a lot of what you say would be true, but the question is, What does this tell us? What it tells us is that there is or was enough to this tea party business to make people stop caring what the Coop, Maddow or Olbermann had to say. Talking up the protests to Cooper's former viewers has been quite a coup for Beck, and it's only a matter of time before AC360's sponsors start to follow the money. It seems unfair, but that's the way of things sometimes. It's enough to make a really serious news reader to feel like he's been rode hard and hung up wet, as we used to say in the South.

They've got to somehow win all those rubes and those advertising dollars back. That's why it's so important for Cooper, et. al to answer Fox's tea party distractions with jovial incessant references to "tea-bagging." That is, if they want to continue to claim the mantle of professionalism.

Saturday, January 24, 2009

"Post-Partisan" O to Republicans: "I Won...Bitches"

Every single day for eight long years, I've had to see and listen to brain dead left-wingers, thinking more with their bile ducts than their brains, screaming about a recklessly arrogant president, not taking the opinions or concerns of others into account, belittling their points of view, etc., etc.

Our current president swore to change all that. He promised to be the "post-partisan" president, and vowed to listen to left and right alike.

A respectful president he vowed to be. A listener: A uniter, not a divider. A man not infected with the sickness of hubris.

That's why his behavior toward House Republicans concerned over wasteful spending in his "stimulus" legislation has me so confused.

The New York Post from Friday night reports that the president handled Republican objections in the typical left-wing fashion: When you've been called out for doing or saying something incredibly stupid, don't defend your actions. Instead, make some snide remark about the other person listening to Rush Limbaugh.

For one thing, when you want to take the taxpayers' checkbook and write checks for nearly a trillion dollars on an ecomonic "stimulus" that's only going to stimulate porkbarrel projects for unqualified contractors in Democratic districts, it doesn't require someone listening to Rush Limbaugh for that person to have doubts about the whole plan.

For another, when you want to do something as stupid as this, could it be that all the ideas or advice that Rush Limbaugh might wish to share couldn't possibly make things any worse than you're rushing to make them?

And finally, could you be a bigger fucking baby if you tried?

Can you imagine if your predecessor had handled Democratic objections to his economic policies by saying: "I won. I'll trump you on that."

Can you imagine the animal howls of rage from the Left if Bush had tried to dodge responsibility for his own proposals in such a rude and churlish fashion?

I can't imagine it, quite frankly. Because President Bush never said anything this childish or this reckless.

Not that any of this will matter to most of those few who hear this troubling account of President Obama's childish arrogance. For them, he will always be the "post-partisan" leader he promised to be, not the tyrant he actually is.

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Pussy Nation

John Derbyshire, in his "November Diary" at National Review Online, hits the nail on the head. There's no doubt that the problems we face are very complicated, but Derb's brief comments cut right to the heart of the matter: At some point, we became a nation of pussies:

Randall Parker wonders why we are such pussies about these Somali pirates. Well, why wouldn't we be? We’re pussies about everything else.

We’re pussies about capital punishment. Instead of speedily dispatching psychopaths who commit beastly murders, we give them 15 years of free gym time and cable TV while we wring our hands about their rights. Then, if we finally decide to give the swine what they deserve, we make their exit as hygienic and painless as possible. Why? Because we’re squealing, simpering girlies, that’s why.

We’re pussies about enemy nations, embarking on decades-long, trillion-dollar campaigns to make them love us, instead of quick ten-million-dollar lessons in why they should fear us. Why? Because we seek love and approval, like the furrowed-brow, teary-eyed, compassionate pansies we are.

We’re pussies about people who come to our country without permission, stay here without permission, work without permission, and leech on our school, hospital, and welfare systems. Eisenhower rounded them up and expelled them, but we’re assured we can’t do that. We can’t, we can’t. Why can’t we? Because we are timid, cringing, mincing, driveling, sniveling, weeping, moaning, soft, flabby, PC pussies, that’s why.

While all the talk about pussies is definitely the highlight, Derb's whole Diary is worth a read.

Friday, February 15, 2008

"People were crawling on each other, trampling each other,"

As with the Virginia Tech shooting, we'll be hearing a lot of anecdotal testimony about what went on during those few seconds where 5-6 people were killed and many more were injured. There's so much we don't know, but there's so much about this that troubles me and has me thinking:

Is it wrong to hope that some of those who were murdered died trying to overpower the gunman?

Is it wrong to wonder how many of the wounded were injured by other students, shoving them out of the way and running over them? How many of the dead were killed this way? I hope none, but if some were, will the authorities even release that information?

Is it wrong for me to bring up, given the fact that this guy had time to "nonchalantly" reload at least one of his guns, the mentality that might lead some to hide under their desks and pray: "Oh God, just let him shoot someone else! Oh God, just let him shoot someone else!"

During all the discussions earlier this year in the wake of the Virginia Tech shootings, I saw a lot of people saying, "you can't pass judgment; you have no idea what you would do in such a situation with no time to think about it, etc., etc."

But those folks are only half right: It's true; I don't know what I'd do in such a situation. But I can make a distinction between the avert-your-eyes-and-hope-the-crocodile-eats-someone-else mentality and the courage shown by the passengers on United flight 93, even if I'm never faced with situations like that.

I tend to waver on the question of armed students, only because I'm presented daily reminders of how irresponsible college students generally are. Whoever we as a society allow to carry a weapon like that ought to be well trained, it goes without saying.

But what bothers me so much more about stories like this is the apparent lack of moral training that so often makes victims of crime mere lambs to the slaughter or, worse, craven odds-players who trust that the gun-wielding (or box cutter-wielding or nuke-wielding) maniac will be satisfied after destroying their neighbor.

A couple relevant articles:


Friday, June 8, 2007

Put Her in the Stocks!

Isn't that what they used to do with whores?

I guess she begged/cried/paid/blew her way out of jail after only 4-5 days of her already-reduced sentence. I don't understand how anyone can either defend that or be surprised by it, given the almost complete lack respect for the law by the very people who are supposed to uphold and execute the law (i.e. judges, sheriffs, lawyers, etc.). Just look at the Mary Winkler
fiasco for confirmation of that.
This, together with the mere fact of the media coverage of the whole episode, are the kinds of things that convince the paynims that we are godless monsters, and encourage them to attack us.

Sunday, April 29, 2007


I see the brilliant minds on the higher education commission in our small, Southern flyover state want to once again dumb down the standards by which our students can be eligible for what we hilariously call the "Hope Scholarship." It seems many of the poor children aren't maintaining the requisite 2.75 GPA their first year of college, or keeping a 3.0 every year thereafter to keep getting state lottery-racket money. The Tennessean has the story.

Now I can't speak to the experience of those who go to Vanderbilt or Rhodes or maybe a handful of other private institutions in our little state. It probably is at least somewhat more difficult in some of those places. But I can speak with authority about the lack of standards in our state institutions. Do you have any idea how easy we've made it to keep a B average in one of our universities? Can you write a complete sentence? Then you're years ahead of some of the students I've taught. If you can write a simple, one-page business letter without completely mucking it up, then you're years of ahead of most of my students. If you can write a coherent three-page paper about your experiences in high school or if you can write a five-page research paper that accurately documents the sources you use without committing plagiarism either inadvertently or on purpose then congratulations! You would earn yourself an A in my class!

The fact is the vast majority of students I've taught--and I've taught at our state's flagship public institution and at one of the second-tier universities--have very little ability and even less inclination to communicate in writing at even a very mediocre level. More than this, even the precious few who are willing or able to learn to write well have not the slightest inkling of why they would ever need to learn to do so. They just do it because we tell them to.

Then there are the ones who can't tell the difference between a noun and a verb. Some of these students--who are in college--can barely even read.

I believe that the situation is worst with regards to learning to read and write because I've had the following experience several times: Many of the students who struggle to meet even the very minimal requirements in my class struggle with other courses as well. But they at least see the value of these areas of study, and more than once have I been asked by a failing student to pass her because she needed to spend more time studying for her nursing or early childhood education or physical therapy course--you know, on the things that really matter.

All through the system--from the elected fools who devise criminal scams to pay for handouts to the doting parents of mediocre students in order to have boosted statistics they can exchange for votes; to the parents who push their immature, poorly-prepared kids to go to college immediately after high school in the belief that increasingly devalued bachelor's degrees will be meal tickets for their progeny (if indeed they've even thought about it beyond the meaningless, media-proliferated platitudes like those found in the Leaf-Chronicle and Commercial-Appeal last week); to the students themselves; to the teachers who have found themselves unable to explain to their students why they need to learn to read and write and who don't have the courage or the energy to demand that their students meet higher standards--I can see the abdication of responsibility from everyone involved to prevent an unmitigated catastrophe.

Pay attention: If you have kids in a public university in our little state ( especially if they graduated from one of our even more poorly-managed public high schools), the chances are that they are inarticulate little boobs who think that they are just brilliant, because you always told them that they were, because I held my nose and gave them B's in Freshman Comp, and because the state legislature thinks it's wise (or at least politically expedient) to dumb down the standards.

Now they want to dumb them down even more. So we'll all just continue to tell ourselves that everything is fine. And none of us will ever know any different until it's too late.