Monday, March 31, 2003

You have free speech, but you're an idiot 

Well, in so many words, Columbia's President Bollinger says about Prof. De Genova's comments at a teach-in. I appreciate the simplicity of the president's statement. Would our guy do such a thing? Fuhgeddaboudit. (Link courtesy Instapundit.)

Moynihan and statistics 

Mitch Pearlstein from the Center of the American Experiment sent me a copy of his retrospective on the life of Daniel Patrick Moynihan, who died last week.
It goes without saying that Moynihan himself deserved far better, as the report that quickly came to bear his name didn't contain a racially suspect punctuation mark, much less a single sentence lacking in goodwill.

He was prescient, but he was pilloried. Or, more accurately, in order to forewarn what was sadly in store for our country, he did what good scholars and public servants are supposed to do: He bravely faced hard facts.

(Just two numbers: About two-thirds of all African-American boys and girls are now born out of wedlock. About one-third of all American children now come into this life out of marriage.)

But it was also our nation that deserved far better than the politically correct ambush, followed by the timorous silence, which succeeded the report.

In contrast, back here on the home front Miss Median struck again, this time with a reference to "overrepresentation" and "underrepresentation" in the military, citing this article. As any labor economist worth her salt will tell you, aggregate statistics will not tell you a damned thing about discrimination. And it absolutely ignores the simple fact that we have a volunteer military, so that what MM is criticizing is really the career choices that Latinos and blacks make. But citing aggregate numbers is all the diversity pushers have to offer, and when the numbers go against the story, as they did in Moynihan's work, they prefer to villify the researcher than confront the data.

Saturday, March 29, 2003

Nah, that would NEVER happen 

Instapundit links to this post from the Columbia Political Review's group blog. The editor there is upset with calls for the resignation of Columbia anth professor Nicholas DeGenova, who called for a million Mogadishus to punish the hubris of the USA. Instapundit notes: "as for the part about dreading the day when politics start affecting Columbia's hiring and firing decisions, well, the most charitable thing I can say is that it reveals a charming naivete." Heh.

Friday, March 28, 2003

He sure can figure 

Well, I think we know now where our university president will stand on the University of Michigan case. From a Chronicle of Higher Education article that Dave just emailed me:
"The United States is home to 2,294 four-year colleges and universities. If we were to use a strict quota system for college presidents based on the percentage of Asian-Pacific Americans in the population (3.8 per cent in 1997), 87 of those institutions should be headed by Asian-Pacific Americans. If we were to base our quota system on the representation of Asian-Pacific Americans on college faculties and professional staffs (4 per cent), then there should be 92 presidents from among our ranks. In fact, there are 13. That is about one-half of 1 per cent.

In 1997 the California State University system�s 22 campuses had 276,054 undergraduates, of whom 53,895, or 19.5 per cent, were Asian-Pacific Americans. Based on that representation, you might expect to see four Asian-Pacific American presidents in the system. You�d be wrong. If you were to simply to use the percentage of Asian-Pacific Americans in the overall population of California-11.8 per cent-you might expect to see two or three Asian-Pacific American presidents. Wrong again. There is one.

While nearly one in five students in California State University system is an Asian-Pacific American, only one in 22 presidents is. Something is wrong with that picture.

Yeah, what's wrong with that picture is that you're spending more time counting up racial groups than you're spending telling students what will happen to their tuition or dealing with the fact that 32% of students in a survey think your university has a somewhat or very unfavorable image? (see table 31)

Command and Conquest: Iraq edition -- out soon for XBox? 

So what does it mean for students to support the war but not know where Iraq is or who Tommy Franks is? Karen Hunter laments the ignorance of reality among students who spend hours playing war sims on their computers. I think most ignorance is rational -- there is little benefit to them of knowing who is the commander of the troops in the Iraq theater, because they have little concern over the outcome of the war and it is unlikely that the war matters to them when (and if) they vote. We always seem to assume that everyone should be as informed as we are, but we have separate sets of concerns and interests and so we take in distinct flows of information. Most people who are informed about the minutiae of the conflict, I suspect, would call themselves news junkies or military game players or some other special interest.

A long war with more casualties than we expect will probably increase identification of Iraq and General Franks. Perhaps we should take comfort in the ignorance.

And not popular off campus either 

The protests, that is. Shot In the Dark has more.

Extra credit for political advocacy 

Students are reacting to the onslaught of faculty who use their position to push students into political causes. Some students at Saginaw Valley State are appalled by a letter to the campus faculty asking them to "modify your syllabus ... and join them" at a "Teach In for Peace." Erin O'Connor notes that the administration has found that the faculty are within their rights to do this, but that she hopes "the embarrassment of public exposure will motivate SVSU admins to do what private complaints would not: to ensure that on their campus, education will neither be confused with political advocacy nor sacrificed to it."

But this sort of thing has gone on for years. Women's studies classes hold a vigil in front of Planned Parenthood; there were several classes where students were given credit for supporting strikers of two staff unions on this campus.

There's a very simple solution of course: Someone should create a Teach In for the Liberation of Iraq, and make the same request.

Thursday, March 27, 2003

March madness . . . from PETA 

Human deaths - whether military or civilian - are bad enough. But what's gotten PETA's shorts in a bunch? Why, the idea of dolphins, sea lions, dogs, chickens, and pigeons fighting in Iraq! Read here the rationale of why those compassionate folks are saying: "There is no need to put innocent animals at risk. What will happen to dogs who manage to survive a war in Iraq?"

March madness! I suppose PETA would find more fault with those who would try to defend our nation's economic independence by killing a few caribou in Alaska than they would with those of Saddam's regime who have acid-dipped, shredded, and shot to death hundreds of thousands of innocent humans.

Wednesday, March 26, 2003

Language of the mandatory decree 

The FA received from its leadership the language that led them to create a committee to impose mandatory diversity training (see item directly below this):
A. MnSCU/SCSU shall develop and implement a mandatory diversity training program that shall be given to all faculty and administrators at SCSU. To the extent possible, the program will be developed in consultation with the Faculty Association (the faculty union --kb). A possible option is the TOCAD [sic] program.

B. The said diversity training program shall have a component on anti-Semitism.

Again, the requirement is for general diversity training with an anti-Semitism component, not for anti-Semitism training. Does anyone know what TOCAD is?

Tuesday, March 25, 2003

Baking the bread 

At today's faculty senate meeting, discussion of the mandatory training included in the anti-Semitism settlement. As we discussed here last November, the settlement included mandatory diversity training to include an anti-Semitism component, at the insistence of the Administration. Today the faculty senate discussed how to implement this.

Several faculty, including the only named plaintiff still on the faculty, reiterated that it was not their idea to have mandatory diversity training. The administration insisted on it. And many people -- including many who would argue we need LOTS of diversity training -- insisted that mandatory training doesn't work. Some worry of creating a worse climate on campus (i.e., those of us who don't like to be told how to think will be pissed off.) Others view it as ineffective, that nobody's mind is changed by mandatory training. Yet we're doing it. Any discussion of not doing it was overruled by the fact that it is in the consent decree, so that it must be done.

I'm not buying that. The legal responsibility to perform the action does not lie with the faculty but with the administration. If they wanted it, they should do it. They should propose how to implement this. But they have not. They have been silent ever since the settlement. And now we're bailing them out over fear of being in violation of a consent decree over which we had nearly no control and over fear that the administration might put a bad mandatory diversity training in place.

Let's not mince words: There's no right way to do the wrong thing. This is perceived by the administration, and in particular its leadership, as something it wanted, over the objection of the faculty and the plaintiffs, and now we are giving it to them. President Saigo will portray mandatory training of the faculty as a feather in his cap -- he will list it in his accomplishments as he seeks a new contract from MnSCU or a new presidency elsewhere. He will not buy the flour. He will not proof the dough. He will not bake the bread. But he will most certainly want to enjoy the fruits of our labor.

I for one will vote with my feet. I will not attend, and will gladly sacrifice a day's pay to make my point. If enough of us do it, maybe we can make a dent in the budget deficit as well as deny the administration its cap feathers.

Hi, I'm back 

After two very long weeks, I am back in St. Cloud and feeling chipper again. Nice of the locals to melt the snow and let the ice out of the Mississippi while I was gone.

I have loads to do and will still post lightly this week. Meanwhile, InstaPundit has this story from University of Iowa on how an ROTC center on that campus was vandalized. The reaction of the university was to not have ROTC cadets wear their uniforms on campus. Reynolds responds:
I think they should wear their uniforms every day. It's funny to me that a University that would never respond to racist speech by asking minority students to "try not to be so noticeable" would respond to this kind of behavior in such a meek fashion.

UPDATEIt's happening at Univ. of New Mexico too. Thanks to the indefatigible Critical Mass.

Sunday, March 23, 2003

Iraqi chemical-weapons plant captured just before Oscars this afternoon notes that the Jerusalem Post is reporting that more than 30 Iraqui troups, assigned to guard a 100-acre, camouflaged chemical weapons plant near An Najaf, 90 miles south of Baghdad, have surrendered to troops of the U.S. 3rd Infantry Division. Neither Hans Blix nor Jacques Chirac was immediatedly available for comment; but it's probable that most anti-American Hollywood celebrities will have their jaws flapping away explanations and/or denials when the Oscars go on the air later tonight.

UPDATE (3/25): According to this and this report, the find wasn't a chemical weapons facility after all. But OpinionJournal's Best of the Web points to this CBS story that captured Iraqi soldiers are carrying Cipro. Chances are the Cipro isn't being used for strep throat. --kb

Friday, March 21, 2003

Shock & Raw S#%& 

Looking to be grossed out today? In the San Francisco Examiner you can read how some of that city's anti-American protesters reacted to "Shock & Awe," by staging not just a classless public display of a normal "Shock & Puke" rally, but one of "Shock & Raw S#%&." Maybe they're just crying out for Saddam's two son to give them enemas.

Wednesday, March 19, 2003

Tuesday, March 18, 2003

Tony Blair for President !!!

I just watched Tony Blair make ANOTHER passionate speech to his parliament on CNN. Regardless where you sit on the issue of war with Iraq, Tony Blair is a class act. He seems to argue from deep-seated principles and beliefs, regardless of the political fallout. I always admire people with principles and passion.

I want him for our next president. Tony Blair for president!!!!!! At least you know where you stand with him---even if you don�t agree.

Kevin McGrew

Saddam's shredding machine 

Lest we forget the humanitarian reason for taking out Saddam and his sons, today's much too graphic description of their atrocities in the London Times on-line provides us with grizzly gristle upon which to chew.

Thursday, March 13, 2003

Ideas that won't be explored 

Modern university thought is based on foundations that it won't, or can't, even start to examine critically. I thought of this as I listened to friends debate the war with Iraq. They all agreed that we shouldn't do much of anything without the support of the U.N. What the U.N. is or was or has done to merit this power never came into the conversation. George Will thinks more carefully.

Tuesday, March 11, 2003

Anti-war protesters vandalize 9-11 memorial near L.A. 

Anti-war protesters in La Habra, California decided that today, the 18-month anniversary of 9-11, would be a really special day to trash a patriotic 9-11 memorial site by destroying 87 American flags, ripping up flowers, and vandalizing personal property. Amazingly, according to today's WND story, police stood by and made no immediate arrests.

A local paper quotes La Habra Police Captain John Rees as saying, "for this to be vandalism, there had to be an ill-will intent." Huh? Not a hate crime, because the motive was politically correct? Oh well, I'm sure that either Dan Rather or Peter Jennings will be able to clear up my confusion in about an hour.

Monday, March 10, 2003

9-11 + 18 Months 

Shepherd of souls, refresh and bless
thy chosen pilgrim flock
with manna in the wilderness,
with water from the rock.

Maelstrom of death in falling heap,
billows of smoke and flame;
your sheep in fear yet faith did leap
into thine arms - they came.

Be known to us in breaking bread,
and do not then depart;
Savior, abide with us, and spread
thy table in our heart.

Give us, we pray, thy love divine,
and dry our tears once more.
Make known thy blood through sips of wine,
as we prepare for war.

[Words adapted from those of James Montgomery (1771-1854); Music: St. Agnes; Hymnal of the Episcopal Church, 1982, Hymn #343.]

Please spend ten minutes in prayerful reflection here, on the 18-month anniversary this century's most horrific manifestation of evil in the world. It's well worth the time it takes to load.

Sunday, March 09, 2003

Freedom of speech? Extra-credit only if P-C! 

No, you couldn't make this one up. The Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE) reported Friday that Citrus College (CA) Professor Rosalyn Kahn had offered her Speech class students extra credit if they would write letters to President Bush demanding that we not go to war with Iraq. She would refuse extra credit to any student who wanted to write in support of our administration's policy.

In stepped FIRE to defend what should be obvious to all but perhaps the most zealous militants of Code Pink: that Speech courses at publicly supported colleges should embrace our Constitutionally protected freedom of speech. With King's flashlight currently out of the country, the SCSU-scholars are unable at this time to determine if Rosalyn Kahn is related to late Senator Wellstone's eulogist, Rick Kahn.

Friday, March 07, 2003


I'm going to be away from the US for the next two weeks. If you read over on my other blog, you will hear how the world sounds from Macedonia. I've got the digital camera with me, so images will be provided. This blog will be maintained by Dave, Jack and Kevin in the meanwhile. Best to you all!

Wednesday, March 05, 2003

Committees built to suit 

The other day I reported on a committee that gave different veto rights to its membership depending on "protected class membership". The union is at it again. One of the items in the anti-Semitism case settlement -- no, we haven't forgotten this, we're just doing our research -- is for SCSU to
establish a Jewish Studies and Resources Center and hire a coordinator/Professor of Jewish studies with .5 teaching responsibilities and shall fund the activities of the center and salary and benefits for the position for five years at $100,000 to $125,000 per year.
The Faculty Senate voted yesterday
to create a search committee for the Jewish Cultural Center [sic] Director of five faculty members, three to be selected by the JFA [Jewish Faculty Association] and two to be selected by the faculty as a whole.
Three of five to be selected by a subset of the faculty identified as members of a particular group which is not a body of the union or the Faculty Senate. It's certainly understandable that JFA members and other Jewish members of the SCSU community would be interested in this, but that does not excuse stacking the committee. The settlement states that "[T]he purpose of the center is to provide coordination of activities relating to Jewish heritage and history for faculty, staff, students, and community." So why not have Jewish students or staff or community members on the committee? And there's nothing to indicate to which department this faculty member will be attached, how that department will be involved in the hiring process, or how the courses for this professor to teach will be placed into the curriculum.

A fizzle 

The rally had maybe 150 students total. They chalked the sidewalks on Atwood commons and held their rally inside. Twenty CRs counter-protested with these flyers handed to the protestors, along with several signs. A "spirited exchange of ideas" ensued.

More resources 

Dave is in transit and sends by email links to stories in the Phillipines and Israel today, and a reminder of why peace is only one of many competing goods. (The last is a ten-minute, 7 MB video, and disturbing.)

Resources for protests 

Those wishing to watch the pro-Saddam peace protest on SCSU's campus today can use this live feed of the Atwood mall to watch the festivities starting at 11:15 Central Time. Bring lots of bandwidth.

Union Accountability? Strike Three - Yerrrr OUT! 

This morning we read reports that union lawyer, Larry Gibson, will file a grievance later this week on behalf of the World Umpires Association. An arbitrator will be asked to block Major League Baseball from using computer technology to rate umpires� competence in calling balls and strikes.

So much for that union�s seeking individual accountability. At least on this campus we have local Faculty Association leaders who are working hard to develop objective measures that can be used to assess its members� competence when decisions of non-renewal, tenure, and promotion are reviewed!

What�s that, you say? They want to assess each member�s level of �tolerance,� not �competence.� Oh well, as Emily Litella used to say, �Never mind.�

Tuesday, March 04, 2003

Stopped clock correct 

Highered Intelligence points to this editorial in the Washington Post by NYU Prof. Jonathan Zimmerman on why professors should stay out of the debate either pro or anti-war.
Here in Washington, for example, the local union urged members "to get involved with organizations working toward stopping the Bush administration's march toward war with Iraq."

The unions might be correct in their estimation of the president and his policies. As a teacher, however, I would never sign such a resolution. And if America does go to war, I would urge the unions to avoid any official statements -- negative or positive -- about it.

Why? The answer lies in the special role of teachers in a democracy. Quite simply, our job is to help people learn how to think. And we'll never succeed if we tell them what to think -- about America, Iraq or anything else.


Alternatives (to) economics 

In today's New York Times comes a story about a professor of economics at Harvard who wants to teach an alternative principles of economics course. Currently that department offers its principles course as a large lecture hall course of 800 students, taught for the last twenty years by former Reagan chief economic advisor Martin Feldstein. This seems all well and good, but a group of students calling themselves Students for a Humane And Responsible Economics or SHARE has come out with a petition to create an alternative course that provides "students with a more balanced perspective than is currently offered" by Prof. Feldstein. Professor Stephen Marglin is named as the person to teach the alternative class, and he seems keen to the task.
"I�d use basically the same materials. The articles in the sourcebook are somewhat biased, however, and they�d be dropped and replaced with other readings. About 1/4 of the course would be devoted to critiquing the assumptions of economics,� he said, adding that lectures with weekly sections for discussion would replace the section-based teaching of Ec 10.

The course is not intended to demolish Ec 10,� said Marglin. �It�s an alternative for those who want to work harder and who want a more balanced perspective of views than Ec 10 offers.�

We learn later on that SHARE had been recently revived as a student group in part by Jessica Marglin, the professor's daughter. In the Harvard Independent (link requires free registration), Quang Tran writes of how bored he is in the class and his belief that the class should be retitled "Principles of Martin Feldstein". At the end of the article he describes how much he enjoyed a guest lecturer who discussed basic human rights and economics. No mention, of course, that the guest lecturer would have been invited by Prof. Feldstein.

Of course, the president of Harvard is no mere babe in the woods in economics but Lawrence Summers, a former professor of economics and Treasury Secretary under President Clinton. Asked about the courses, Summers said,

�I certainly don�t agree with quite a number of Marty Feldstein�s policy views. It�s important to recognize that economics does bring a certain individual perspective to understanding social phenomena. ... I think it�s probably the case that Professor Feldstein�s views are closer to the center than certainly Professor Marglin�s and probably Professor [Dani] Rodrik�s [of the Kennedy School, who has been involved in this debate as well].�
Feldstein's course is fairly standard. He uses new CEA chief-designate Greg Mankiw's principles book as well as the readings which Tran complains about. We know as well that Mankiw spoke dismissively of the very supply-side propositions that Feldstein supported during his years with Reagan. Some right-wingers at the National Review don't even like Mankiw's appointment. Yet his book is a foundation of Feldstein's course (and, in the name of full disclosure, my principles course too). I've looked at the materials Feldstein has put online (the syllabus and course materials can be found here) and it's no different than thousands of economics courses taught in the US. He's been so prolific the last twenty years, is it any wonder he can put together a readings book of his own material? Don't we all wish we could?

Monday, March 03, 2003

When can students choose what is relevant? 

Thomas Sowell is just right on more levels than I can write:
People who have already been out in the real world, practicing for years whatever their particular specialty might be, have some basis for determining which things are relevant enough to go into a curriculum to teach those who follow. The idea that students can determine relevance in advance is one of the many counterproductive notions to come out of the 1960s.

The fetish of "relevance" has been particularly destructive in the education of minority students at all levels. If the students do not see immediately how what they are studying applies to their lives in the ghetto, then it is supposed to be irrelevant.

How are these students ever going to get out of the poverty of the ghetto unless they learn to function in ways that are more economically productive? Even if they spend all their lives in the ghetto, if they are to spend them in such roles as doctors or engineers, then they are going to have to study things that are not peculiar ("relevant") to the ghetto.

Worst of all, those teachers who teach minority students things like math and science, whose relevance the students do not see, may encounter resistance and resentment, while those teachers who pander to minority students by turning their courses into rap sessions and ethnic navel-gazing exercises capture their interest and allegiance.

I'll stop there only to avoid copying over the entire article. Read it.

Independent of what? 

The university has now released its fourth report on diversity and campus climate. The Rankin Report was conducted on behalf of student government. I'd say from first reading they got a better deal than the administration did from Mr. Nichols. Unlike that report's call for wholesale changes in the university, Rankin reports what she finds in the data with a more even hand and doesn't make recommendations for what to do next ... except for an insert of "transformational tapestry model" for improving diversity, something which she has published about. How her findings lead to the efficacy of this model to SCSU I cannot say.

The four reports now go to an "independent review committee" which has already established some funny rules.

We operate cooperatively with no chair or contact person ... We rotate facilitators and note-takers and make decisions with a �consensus minus one� policy. In other words, if 0 or 1 people disagree with the proposed action, we have consensus and if 2 or more disagree, we do not have consensus. Consensus is not achieved if the single dissenting voice is the only member of her/his protected class in attendance at the meeting.
I could be mistaken, but I think this means white heterosexual males get half a veto while "protected class" members get a whole one. This does not inspire confidence in what the committee will put forward by month's end as its "consensus".

A badge of honor 

The students have had a faculty member post an explanation of their peace protest on Wednesday.
The students decided early on in the organizing of this walk-out that although faculty and staff would be encouraged to participate, that this would be a student organized, student-led event. We have decided to participate in the national walk-out because we feel that it is the best way in which we can make a statement against this unjust war.
No problem there -- they decided to hitch their wagon to the national protest by a bunch of hard lefties who started planning these protests a couple of weeks after 9/11.
Some may think that with the title "bombs not books" that it seems counterproductive to walk-out of classes.
I think they meant "books not bombs". As most professors will tell you, students mistake Microsoft's spellchecker for proofreading. And as OpinionJournal points out today, "what do these youngsters plan to do to demonstrate the importance of books? Cut class."
First of all, we have just chosen to use the national organizer's theme for convenience sake.
"We were cruising the internet one night, and this looked really cool."
Secondly, we would assert that although classroom participation is important and vital to gaining perspectives about our world, including the war, we also see the valuable opportunity to have education outside of the classroom.
"Classrooms are boring, particularly when we could have a pajama party and sing songs."
This event will have several educational opportunities for students, faculty and staff.
That would be the sleep-in? The open microphone? (When I played in a rock band, this was called "amateur night".) Or would this be the educational videos? At least NYSPC is clear on this. "No really, long speeches are never a good idea." So are boring documentaries.
We, the students, do not want this walk-out to seem as if it is a student vs. faculty/staff event. Instead, we strongly encourage and invite faculty, staff, students and community members to attend and participate in any way they see fit. In fact, we think this type of event is a powerful way to make a difference.
But you identified yourself as "we", which implies a "they". So you've already "made a difference".
In closing, we feel that missing one day of classes is a very small price to pay in order to protest the possible murder of thousands of innocent li [sic]
Well then, you shouldn't mind me charging the price. Indeed, I could give you a sheet saying '"I went to the protest instead of attending class because I support Saddam's taking of thousands of innocent li," suitable for framing. I'll PhotoShop something for you, even. In your world, you could call it a badge of honor.

Damn. Just checked the schedule, and I have a Dean's Council meeting. I think it would be important for me to have an educational opportunity outside the administrative rigors of a chair's life. Where are my pajamas?

Sunday, March 02, 2003

If it was a white guy, it wouldn't be a hate crime 

John Rosenberg and Erin O'Connor pick up the double standard used in hate crime prosecution at the University of Virginia and elsewhere. There are statistics on such things as hate crime prosecutions sorted by race of the victim. Does it suggest a double standard? FrontPage magazine seems to think so. See also this.