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What is it about nice people that attract total idiots?Nice people are martyrs. Idiots are evangelists.


Wednesday, January 29, 2014

All the things we're not going to talk about.

Of late, I've stayed away from the blatantly political post.  Why?  The black ribbon off to the right there is ample enough evidence of how I feel about the current "state of the Union".  But today, I'm going to touch on some of the things I might talk about if I was talking about them.

(Sort of like "planned disingenuousness", if I may.)

First off, I read (yes, read) a report that FoxNews alerted me to.  It was called "Education or Reputation? A Look at America's Top Liberal Arts Colleges" and was an exhaustive survey of 29 highly ranked Liberal Arts colleges by the American Council of Trustees and Alumni.  This group is an independent non-profit founded in 1995 whose stated goal is "to support Liberal Arts education, uphold high academic standards, safeguard the free exchange of ideas, and ensure that the next generation receives an intellectually rich, high-quality education at an affordable price."  In it, it pointed out three main problems.

First, that the true liberal arts curriculum, where you start out with core subjects such as history, foreign language, composition, literature, economics, math, and science, just doesn't exist anymore.  Out of these subjects, and if you remove the three military academies which cuts it down to 25 schools, you find 13 have a comp requirement; 2 for literature; 11 in languages; one in history (which can be fulfilled by taking classes such as "History of electronic music dance"); 0 in Econ; 17 watered down requirements in math, and 20 likewise in science.  And some of these requirements can be "fulfilled with courses like the one mentioned above, along with:

Food in the Middle East: History, Identity, and Culture (Middlebury)
Mad Men and Mad Women (about the TV show, also Middlebury)
Chess (Grinnell)
The Ethical Shopper (Grinnell)
Bad Words (Grinnell)
Prostitutes in Modern Western Culture (Bowdoin)
History of Hip Hop (also Bowdoin)
'Bad' Women Make Great History: Gender, Identity, and Society in Modern Europe 1789-1945 (likewise)

The second point raised is that freedom of speech and intellectual expression has been cut drastically in favor of "civility", which is apparently required only of "certain" students.  They used a study by another group called the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE) that did an exhaustive survey of the same schools ( with the exceptions of the Military Academies and Vassar), grading on a scale of green light (free speech not significantly imperiled), yellow light (policies of the administration either restrict or could be used to unreasonably restrict free speech), and red light (at least one policy that clearly and substantially restricts free speech).  Of the remaining 25, there were ZERO greens, 11 yellows and 14 reds.  And stories from Vassar left no doubt that had they been surveyed, it would have been 15 reds.

Third point was that because of point one, GPAs were going up while (according to employers) the value of that grade was plummeting.  They found the average student was spending 15 hours a week in the classroom and working on classes another 17 outside class, and then would come into the workforce unready and unwilling for a 40+ hour workweek.  On top of that, tuitions for this lesser education were skyrocketing- $50K+ total expenses for ONE YEAR in many cases.  And this was because when expenses came up, most boards of trustees would automatically grant the increase without EVER discussing increased endowments.  Some of these expenses were due to building projects in which the college being endowed with a new building forgot to account for the fact that a new building will require some 70% of its original cost in maintenance over its life; but most was laid at the feet of an ever mushrooming administrative bureaucracy, topped off by University presidents who routinely made more that Barack Obama does.  I was going to do an in-depth on this, but I'll spare you.

Next thing we won't talk about is the State Of The Union Speech last night.  (I mentioned a couple of times how every time I saw the acronym "SOTU", my mind read "STFU".)  I didn't watch.  But a lot has been made of the President's limited raising of the minimum wage.  Gives you that warm and fuzzy feeling, don't it?  Now people can make more money who really need it, right?  Well, let me give you an example of how this is really gonna play out if he extends it to everyone.

I used to work at a place that started everyone at 7.25.  Laurie and I worked there for 20+ years and never topped 10.50.  Now, you want to START at 10.10?  Well, here's what will happen.  This company is NOT going to take a 39% hit to salaries across the board, not when their employees are mainly migrant Mexicans of questionable legality.  They will close the plants they can (likely Fort Wayne and Sanford, NC);  They will leave open the most modern plant (Amarillo) in some reduced capacity; use Rancho Cucumonga as an import point; and send 95% of the work to China.  Leaving Ft Wayne to try to absorb all those Mexicans into a workforce that they are by and large not going to find anything in.  Then what happens?  Do they go back to Mexico?  No, they go on welfare and food stamps.  By doing what appears to be warm and fuzzy if you DON'T stop and think about it, Obama drives more of our economy into China's arms and increases his constituency ( the "employed-by-government-aid") at one blow.  But we won't talk about that.

The third thing we won't talk about is something I listened to on a TED talk (Google it, it's a great place to learn stuff) yesterday.  A lady who had went from police chief to attorney general (in Jersey somewhere) who did an excellent job of explaining how proper statistical tracking can aid both police, prosecutors, and judges in stopping crime.  And I had just one problem with it.  She gave the premise that out of our overflowing prison population, only 5% were actually violent offender who NEEDED to be kept away from society.  Her main point was developing a statistical matrix that would aid prosecutors and judges to know for certain just who was violent, who was likely to be a repeat offender, and who was likely to skip bail.  Her secondary point was that using this matrix they could do a better job of keeping violent repeat offenders in prison and "harmless" non-violent offenders out.  She used the warm-and-fuzzy example of a dude that was homeless and stole four blankets on a cold night spending 8 months in jail waiting for trial.

But I think to myself, say you let the soft offenders off easy.  The drug dealers, the sellers of stolen goods, the petty thieves.  How then do you discourage THEM, when it is their professions that many times lead to increased violence in others?  Fine them?  Hell, most of them have no money or property to take.  Home detention?  How much of our city do you want to turn into a prison- and how much of a deterrent is it really?  Or how about white collar crime?  Is it going to be on a "just give it back and we'll forget all about it" basis?  Bernie Madoff wasn't violent- not physically.  How do people like him fit the picture?  Before you use this matrix as a way to keep people OUT of prison as well as keeping them in, you'd better look at what you're gonna do with the 95% you are left with. But let's not talk about that.

Finally, let's not talk about our "computer freedom".  A friend told me he had a post "moved back to draft" by Blogger because someone had complained about a picture he had put on his blog off the internet.  It had a link he could use to find out which the offending picture was.  He told me it turned out to be a picture from Mountain View, California.  This set off a red light for two reasons.  I have this feedjit gizmo over here on the right, that tells you where your pageviews are coming from.  I have often seen "Mountain View, CA" on this list, popping in on seemingly random posts.  Enough that I've been just under my curiosity limit of seeking it out.  Then I googled Mountain View- and learned that it was the HOME of Google.  Hmmmm....

So, you know me, I went to my feedjit to see how many times MVC had been searching me lately.  And of course, there were were NO recent searches from Mountain View, California.

There are, however, TWO searches from... "Mountain View, ARKANSAS."

Coincidence?  I wonder...


  1. Let me add to the list of things we Are Not Talking About with this... Common Core. Not only are college students not getting a quality education, but they are also not getting a quality education before they get there. It actually stands to reason that if the education has been Dumbed Down while there are in grade, middle, and high school that they aren't ready for any "real" higher learning. They haven't had adequate lower learning.

    Due to all of the bad policy decisions made regarding trade by our government since Bill Clinton and NAFTA, manufacturing has been hightailing it out of this country and heading for greener pastures. People point the finger and say, "They are greedy. It's all about the money," and part of that is true. It is about the money. They want to pay their people a good wage, provide safe working conditions, manufacture a quality product, and earn a tidy profit (that is capitalism at its finest), but it is impossible to compete (thanks again Mr. Clinton for starting this ball rolling). So, they pack up and move to countries where labor is affordable to reduce the cost of the product.

    As you say, minimum wage is just one hammer pounding a nail in this coffin.

    All of the people who are in favor of raising minimum wage have forgotten who these minimum wage jobs were intended for in the first place. High school students and/or recent graduates who didn't pursue college or trade school (hoping to rise on their merit). Min. wage jobs were never intended for an adult to raise a family on. People were not supposed to try and get by on two or three min. wage jobs on part-time hours. The reason so many high school kids can't get a min. wage job is because grown ups are working them! And, of course, that has happened because the manufacturing jobs that used to be available packed up and moved overseas. We have come full circle.

    So, raising the min. wage will only (as you point out) cause the plants that are hanging on by a thread to pull up stakes and move. If you are standing back and observing this bit of political theatre you must understand that the dominoes are falling just as intended. This isn't coincidence. It was a plan that has come together remarkably well... with the support of much of the people behind it. Ask many Americans and they would give Bill Clinton a third term if they could. You can't tell me that he didn't cover his crap in something sweet... how else can you explain him smelling like a rose. And it wasn't Hillary. Though I suspect that Bill will get that third term courtesy of Hillary.

    Moving on...

    Do you really think Google is interested in your blog? Nope. Me either. But we all know now (thank you Edward Snowden) that the mighty fingers of the government are using cell phone companies and internet companies (Hello Google!) to spy on the Americonned people. (Hello Mountain View!) Anyone steps too far out of line and your license to publish will be revoked!!! So sneaky about violating that 1st amendment right. You can't say this government is good for NOTHING. They are good at plenty!!!

    1. Now THAT is a well-written, completely correct comment! On the part about Google, I'd be more honored by the Government sniffing me than Google. Means I'm doing something right...

  2. CHris:
    I applaud those things you did NOT want to talk about...and how WELL you did...LOL.

    -- I so agree w/ your call on the "higher(?)" educational system...tons of nonsense, little CORE value...amen to that. The real shame is that it has fltered into the MIL academies now...
    Wifey and go over this often, and SHE is a college grad, while I'm a dropout...we both agree that crap is being taught...and awarded that sheepskin for...yet the costs keep going UP...for what?
    -- The "offender" situation...that 5% is more like 85%...period.
    The larcenies, robberies, assaults, rapes, vandalism DO have real roots in VIOLENCE and it's behavioral outlets, otherwise it wouldn't be "fun" for the perps.
    -- That Mountain View, CA thing...every day there is "someone" from that area that stops by my blog (and probably YOURS...I use SITEMETER to track where people enter and exit some good info, too.

    Blogger...owned by THAT raises more red flags than I care to see...and for all the right (or is that LEFT?) reasons.
    We ARE being "watched", but WHO watches the watchmen?

    Excellent post.

    Stay safe and warm up there.

    1. Have to say, the college thing is the report's call... but the repercussions have been evident for years.

  3. Tell it, Brother Martin (first time I've called you that-feels right). I wonder just how many like-minded people are out there amongst the ignorant (I'll say ignorant, although more than a few are downright stupid)? We need to band together and try to shine the light of common sense their way.
    The minimum wage thing just seems too easy to me (meaning, those who are FOR raising it ARE stupid).
    As far as college, my son is taking "Geography of Wine" at Virginia Tech. He's a senior and need 3 credits to stay full-time this semester. Since he's been taking engineering classes, I told him that, even though GOW is frikkin' ridiculous, enjoy it. And don't drive.
    Speaking of college classes, I'd so take that "Western Society Prostitution" one if it had a practical exam at the Mustang Ranch.
    Keep telling it like it is!

    1. I'm glad the MinWage thing isn't just obvious to me. I remember back in the day, I explained trickle down economics to our local paper with a cartoon so they could understand.

      I have no problem with GOW and similar as FILLER classes... but when it's just as valid as a requirement as Freshman American History? No wonder those who support our current administration aren't afraid of socialism.

    2. And that practical exam is NOT covered in your Pell grant.

  4. I don't feel warm and fuzzy. Well, I kind of do but I'm pretty sure it's because I'm sitting next to the fire I built. But I'm not talking about THAT kind of warm and fuzzy.

    The idea of raising minimum wage is a nice IDEA. In reality it's a fluster-cluck waiting to happen. No, minimum wage may not have been designed for adults to try to support themselves and their families on it, but because of the recession and factory jobs leaving so fast they're leaving skid marks and a cloud of dust in their wake, most adults are trying to do just that.

    If this is what the government believes is warm and fuzzy then I'm Einstein.

    1. I sgree completely with you Albert, and may I say it is an honor having a scientist of your esteem comment on my humble blog.

  5. Okay. So we will not discuss my disappointment over the State of the union address. We will not discuss that I felt it was way too generic, and less statistical with little evidence of support for his words. We will not discuss that it looked like a democratic pep rally instead of addressing the people like me. *sigh*

    Interesting stuff about Google. Incidentally, how does one change their location to a generic city or state. I do not have mine listed on Google as to provide anonymity for the boys, but when I come here, there I am. A visitor from xxx was here.

    1. You know, I asked on our local TV site what Democrats thought of Obama threatening to work around a Congress that is half-controlled by his own party. All the response I got was somebody who believes in "the shadows from above who manipulate everything" telling me I shouldn't stir up "the Rep-Dem thing." I asked him to re-read the the question with his eyes instead of his agenda.

      I like your answer better- it might not quite be directed to it, but it tells me what I was curious about. Democrats that are not from the "rabid zombie" fringe do indeed question him.

      As to the generic location, I know that some feedjit entries have a generic location, but not sure how that's done. I'll look into it, but don't hold me to anything.

  6. I want to take the Geography of wine class and drink the wine from all different regions!