Category Archives: Education

Not In Our University

Mary Graber writes about the academic cocoon and ongoing denial, and the disastrous and unrecognized effects on college students’ knowledge and thinking ability.

Professors use school funds to attend conventions, where they meet at “round tables” and share strategies for surreptitiously introducing “gender” — all nine by famous feminist theorist Judith Butler’s count — into discussions about Russian history or Renaissance literature. Even where core curriculums are still in place, be aware: these teachers are infusing such Marxist-inspired theories. Even schools affiliated with Christian denominations have professors who brag, “Nobody knows. I teach the way I want to” — as one did to me last weekend.

So terms like Obama’s “spreading the wealth” and “redistributing income” clang pleasantly inside a freshman’s skull, echoing such cozy nostrums as “social justice” and “sharing.”

Yet, while asking one of my students why he was voting for Obama, I learned that he was for “change.” (Full disclosure: this was after the student brought up “change” as point of comparison to another “historic” personage whose speeches we were discussing.) But no one in class knew who Bill Ayers was, who the Weathermen were, and what they did. Such evidence of ignorance, however, does not dampen their estimation of their own decision-making abilities.

As anyone who has dealt with the four-year-old who insists “I know how to do it!” understands, arrogance is inversely proportional to age. Professors who themselves are perpetually in the stage of rebellious adolescence are not likely to recognize or report their own biases on surveys. Their students don’t know enough to know what they don’t know, and how much of it their professors are keeping from them.

It’s a bubble waiting to pop. Do parents really realize what a poor value they’re getting for high college expenses?

The Appalling State Of Higher Education

This is a depressing story about the inability to enforce rules against plagiarism, and the comments more so. I don’t think it was this way when I was in school.

And of course, it’s of a piece with a general decline of ethics among the young. And why should they care? The system doesn’t. I’m starting to think that Glenn Reynolds is right — academia is the next overfunded speculative, empty bubble about to burst.

A User-Hostile Service

As one can surmise from the previous test posts, I’ve been trying (after three quarters of a year) to fix the problems with my Movable Type installation.

I went to one of the providers listed at MT as consultants, to try to get some help (unnamed, to protect the guilty). They have been somewhat helpful, in that they have eliminated possibilities of what the problem might be, but they haven’t actually determined what the problem is ($150 later, and asking for more).

But that’s not the point. The point is the (to me) user hostility of their system.

When I get an email from them, it comes in the following form:


[message from unnamed service…]

In my first response, I ignored it, and just replied below (as I always do, since as a long-time emailer, I bottom post to response).

The response was:



Your reply was blank. I’m assuming this is because you were trying to quote
me instead of deleting everything and then replying. Please give it a try
again by deleting all the original text.

Oh. OK.

They were serious.

They were determined to allow nothing that they emailed me to be quoted in my response. And moreover, even if I top posted, they didn’t want to see their response in my response.

Is it just me, or are they nuts?

Here was my second email in response to this absurd and deliberate policy (the first was minimal, and unreplied to):

One other point. Do you realize how annoying it is to:

1) not include my response in your response and

2) make me jump through hoops to include your response in mine?

Not to mention top posting (though in this case, it’s almost meaningless to distinguish between top and bottom posting).


Do you think that it enhances the customer relationship?

This alone is almost enough to make me want to write off my current investment in you as a bad one, and find someone who can help me without being such an email PITA.

The response?

Please help us understand why you feel like you should always include our response with ours? Our web based desk records everything, including our responses so we don’t need to see it multiple times. This creates duplicate records.

We work with thousands of customers and didn’t see this as a problem before.

Here is my response:

Please help us understand why you feel like you should always include our response with ours? Our web based desk records everything, including our responses so we don’t need to see it multiple times. This creates duplicate records.

Yes, because bandwidth for a few lines of text is so expensive…

It is important because I would like to have some context for what I’m responding to, and you should have some context for what you’re responding to, in the email to which you’re responding. If I want to find out what we’re talking about, I have to go back and dig into my outbox, to figure out WTF we’re talking about. If you don’t find this annoying, I don’t frankly understand why. If you don’t want excessive repetition, just delete the older stuff. That’s how it worked on Usenet for years.


We work with thousands of customers and didn’t see this as a problem before.

Then you must have worked with thousands of top-posting morons raised on Outlook and AOL, and who only know how to upload to blogs with FTP, thus opening themselves to attack. It drives old-timers like me, familiar with old-school email and Usenet, NUTS.
I have never before run into a system that MADE IT DIFFICULT (AND ATTEMPTED TO MAKE IT IMPOSSIBLE, EVEN WARNED RESPONDENTS NOT TO DO IT) TO QUOTE AN EMAIL IN RESPONSE. This is a new, and infuriating system to me.

Can you point me to anyone else who has deliberately and maliciously set up their email responses this way, because it is a novel and off-putting approach, that has been making me angry with each exchange? I’ve been sort of happy with you, in that you seem to be attempting to help, even though you have made no progress whatsoever in solving my problem, other than telling me what it isn’t, but you can’t imagine how frustrating this is. Deliberately attempting (in futility, obviously) to make it impossible to include context of email responses is, to me, insane.

That’s where it stands at this point. Who is nuts?

The Worst And The Dumbest

Remember that civics test? Well, this should inspire confidence in our political “leadership”:

US elected officials scored abysmally on a test measuring their civic knowledge, with an average grade of just 44 percent, the group that organized the exam said Thursday.

Ordinary citizens did not fare much better, scoring just 49 percent correct on the 33 exam questions compiled by the Intercollegiate Studies Institute (ISI).

But they did fare better. What does this say about our so-called “elites”? Forget about a literacy test for voters. How about one for candidates?

I Only Missed One

I scored 32 out of 33 on this test (I missed the last one–Doh!). Unfortunately, most people don’t do that well.

I really think that we should bring back literacy tests for voting. They shouldn’t have gotten rid of them because they were being used to racially discriminate–they should have just ended the racial discrimination.

[Friday evening update]

I have to say that readers of my blog, even the non-USians (or at least the ones commenting), are way ahead of the curve. Nice to know.

A Corrective

…to the charlatans like Jim Hansen. Here are two useful books. First, Cool It, by Bjorn Lomborg who, while he doesn’t deny the science behind global warming, he doesn’t need to, because he has actually prioritized useful government policy actions based on cost and benefit (something that the warm-mongers refuse to do, e.g., Kyoto). Second, from Chris Horner, Red Hot Lies, which is well described by its subtitle: “How Global Warming Alarmists Use Threats, Fraud, and Deception to Keep You Misinformed.

Yup. As many reviewers note, “climate change” isn’t really about science–it’s just the latest ideology to come along for the collectivists to use in their latest attempt to bend us to their will.

Too Much Self Esteem

Never before have so many been so proud of so little:

The findings, published in the November issue of Psychological Science, support the idea that the “self-esteem” movement popular among today’s parents and teachers may have gone too far, the study’s co-author said.

“What this shows is that confidence has crossed over into overconfidence,” said Jean Twenge, an associate professor of psychology at San Diego State University.

She believes that decades of relentless, uncritical boosterism by parents and school systems may be producing a generation of kids with expectations that are out of sync with the challenges of the real world.

“High school students’ responses have crossed over into a really unrealistic realm, with three-fourths of them expecting performance that’s effectively in the top 20 percent,” Twenge said.

Don’t they realize that half of them are below median intelligence? Probably not, because they got an “A” in math, even though they didn’t understand it.

One of the perverse and tragic problems with incompetence is that it generally includes an inability to recognize it.

America The Illiterate

I don’t generally think much of Chris Hedges, and the comments are nutty, but I largely agree with this piece:

The illiterate and semi-literate, once the campaigns are over, remain powerless. They still cannot protect their children from dysfunctional public schools. They still cannot understand predatory loan deals, the intricacies of mortgage papers, credit card agreements and equity lines of credit that drive them into foreclosures and bankruptcies. They still struggle with the most basic chores of daily life from reading instructions on medicine bottles to filling out bank forms, car loan documents and unemployment benefit and insurance papers. They watch helplessly and without comprehension as hundreds of thousands of jobs are shed. They are hostages to brands. Brands come with images and slogans. Images and slogans are all they understand. Many eat at fast food restaurants not only because it is cheap but because they can order from pictures rather than menus. And those who serve them, also semi-literate or illiterate, punch in orders on cash registers whose keys are marked with symbols and pictures. This is our brave new world.

Can democracy survive for long, with such an electorate? Of course, he doesn’t finger the primary culprit–our fascist public school system which manufactures exactly the sort of people who will keep it in power.

[Late afternoon update]

Are individualists losing the IQ war with the left?