Friday, June 27, 2003

Bending Rules 

Lots of e-debate on campus this week via our discussion list. When should rules be bent? When should laws be broken? When should the Constitution be interpreted creatively? When should marriage vows be twisted? A similar theme, with predictable responses from most. Here�s some of what I wrote back:

Apparently there is a �rule� against state employees� using taxpayer-paid, on-line computer-listing services for �personal gain.� To the extent that employees� use of this service to sell their cars might allow them to avoid paying want-ad charges to a proprietary publisher, that would clearly and literally constitute an �against-the-rules� �personal gain.� Some, however, argue, not only that such a �personal gain� would be de minimus, but that a greater �community good� would be effected if the rule could be �bent.�

Similarly, I note that Justice O�Connor, writing for the 5-4 majority in the Michigan Law School case (Grutter v. Bollinger) seemed to argue that the Michigan Law School�s admission policy�s apparently obvious literal violation of the 14th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution - as it provides �equal protection� to individual �persons,� rather than �groups� - is de minimus, relative to the greater �community good� that educational diversity can bring. "And besides," O'Connor opined, "we hope to stop this reverse discrimination in, oh, maybe 25 years."

Reminds me of a recently espoused (pun intended) argument: �I did not have sexual relations with that woman. It�s only oral sex; and besides, I hope to stop doing it in the not too distant future.�

As a minority of one on this campus, I write only to suggest that when the Constitution needs clarification, let�s think about amending it, rather than creatively interpreting it. Article V spells out how to do it; and we�ve done it 27 times in the past. When laws need adjustment, let�s try enacting new ones, rather than breaking old ones. And when rules need tweaking, let�s try rewriting them, rather than bending old ones.

On the other hand, to paraphrase Robert Frost,
- - - - -

Before I wrote more rules I'd ask to know
What I was ruling in or ruling out,
And to whom I was like to give offence.
Something there is that doesn't love a rule,
That wants it down. I could say 'Elves' to him,
But it's not elves exactly, and I'd rather
He said it for himself. I see him there
Writing more laws on stones grasped firmly by the top
In each hand, like an old-stone savage armed.

And he likes having thought of them so well.
He says again, "Good rules make good neighbors."

Tuesday, June 24, 2003

Back to Skopje 

I'm leaving in the morning for Macedonia for a couple of weeks of work. I'll post when I can, and between those times Dave and Jack have agreed to pick up some of my slack. I was there in March and the connectivity was spotty as well as having a server crash back here, so I'm hoping this time I can upload some pictures and visit via the blogs.

Quick thought on the Supreme Court 

I'm not going to write much on this, as David has already done a commendable job. If you want to read more, I suggest our Alliance friends at Power Line as well as the Volokh Conspiracy and Jack Balkin. (Howard Bashman has linked up just about every news piece imaginable -- just scroll.) I think we all expected a split-the-difference decision on this, and I get the feeling that this is largely an example of stare decisis from O'Connor. Frankly, I hope this is the last decision O'Connor makes, so that her lack of heroism on the bench will be saved forever. She's had ample opportunity to shape the law as we thought would happen after her appointment. Once more, she's spit the bit. Hopefully for the last time.

The price of stupidity 

Which of these is stupider?

1.) Chancellor McCormick gets a contract extension through 2007, even though he now gets to preside over a budget cut of $191.5 million which he couldn't get reduced by the Legislature.

2.) MnSCU lays down a blanket prohibition on guns on campus. I assume this means we'll have signs saying this area is safe for illegal gunholders to inflict damage on others ... except in parking lots.
We feel strongly about protecting people on our campuses, and we will continue to monitor the effects of the new state law and our policy," Board Chair Mary Choate said.

Under the new state law, visitors on college or university property are allowed to carry pistols if the visitor has a permit, but all other firearms are prohibited.

So a visitor can have a gun, but I can't. Um, yeah, Mary, thanks a lot. Can't wait to see you as a human shield.

3. From the St. Cloud Times, June 20th: (due to brain-dead archiving, SCTimes links tend to go dead quickly)
Locally, St. Cloud State University President Roy Saigo recently received an extension to his initial three-year contract, which would have ended June 30.

Saigo, 62, received a raise to his $169,000 annual salary, university spokeswoman Lisa Helmin Foss said. The raise was a percentage of his salary. That number was unavailable Thursday evening.

Saigo's two-year extension will begin July 1 and end June 30, 2005. Saigo has been president of MnSCU's largest school for almost three years.

His $169,000 is about at the top end of the highest level of compensation for university presidents. The Chancellor's latest plan has added steps for presidents (compare it to the previous one), so it's possible for Roy to get up over $200,000. So the top dog gets more milkbones while managing us into a fiscal crisis. It's probably a bounty for pursuing mascots.

Monday, June 23, 2003

Say HUH to Michigan 

Today�s majority opinion in Grutter v. Bollinger (the Michigan Law School admissions case), written by Justice O�Connor may well baffle students of logic for decades to come. Here�s one more stab at understanding the majority�s reasoning:

"Under the 14th Amendment, Group classification [has] long [been] recognized as in most circumstances irrelevant and therefore prohibited.


government may treat people differently because of their race only for the most compelling reasons,


student body diversity is a such a compelling state interest that can justify the use of race in university admissions.


group classification should be subjected to detailed judicial inquiry to ensure that the personal right to equal protection of the laws has not been infringed,


to be narrowly tailored, a race-conscious admissions program cannot use a quota system.


race may be used as a �plus-factor� in admission considerations to obtain a �critical mass� of an under represented minority,


a �critical mass� is not necessarily a �quota� so long as no number or percentage is ever explicitly written down or said.


the only justification for the use of race in the admissions process is obtaining the educational benefits that flow from a diverse student body,


use of race as a �plus-factor� in admissions must have a logical end point, durational limit, and sunset provision.


A politically desirable end can justify normally unconstitutional means so long as cleverly narrow redefinitions of the means are employed, so long as no quantifiable objectives for using such means are ever explicitly articulated, and so long as one hopes to discontinue using those means at some point in the not too distant future.

Sunday, June 22, 2003

The future of higher education in Minnesota 

For those interested in the future of higher education in Minnesota, two pieces of required summer reading appear in today�s Minneapolis StarTribune (free registration now required).

In the first article, former Governor Elmer Andersen (Republican) argues logically that all citizens would benefit if our state�s lead universities (including St. Cloud State University) were divorced from MnSCU and brought under the umbrella of the University of Minnesota. �MnSCU has failed to make of the seven state universities a truly coordinated system,� Andersen said. "They seem to be individualized to regions in the state, allowing for duplication and energy-draining rivalry.�

In a similar vein, even today�s StarTribune�s editorial suggests that duplication should be eliminated �in the four-year institutions at Moorhead, Crookston and Bemidji, or Morris, Marshall and Mankato.�

All too logical for taxpayers, n�est-ce pas? �Au contraire,� can be predicted to be said by MnSCU�s power-hungry minions and the leaders of the unionized faculty of MnSCU�s universities. MnSCU is too busy developing non-quantifiable �strategic planning goals,� and the faculty union is too interested in trying to micro-manage each state university to allow any university president to do more than try to settle all lawsuits (regardless of merit), worry about restructuring (given the rapid exodus of various Deans), rant about visiting teams� politically incorrect logos, and draft platitudinous �Strategic Priority Goals.�

Friday, June 20, 2003

Why we teach, coach, and parent 

Perseverance. What a lesson! Baseball. What a metaphor! With all due respect to the Fraters� love of hockey, no major team sport comes close to Abner�s game in underscoring the importance of individual effort.

Following his death earlier this week, we honor the struggles overcome by Larry Doby, the first African-American to play in the American League. From the playgrounds of Patterson, NJ, Doby rose to stardom with the Cleveland Indians. He was signed by Bill Veeck just six weeks after Jackie Robinson joined the Brooklyn Dodgers.

Today a young man from a different generation also deserves our respect for his perseverance on the diamond. Early in the spring of 1997, he was still only 14 years old when he became the best friend of our younger son. Watching him throw curves in our front yard, you knew even then that he had special athletic talent. In his high school years here in Minnesota, he won All-Conference honors in both hockey and football. But he excelled at baseball, earning All-State kudos and playing in our state�s All-Star games.

In the fall of 2000, this young man matriculated to Stanford, hoping to pitch for the Cardinal (formerly known as the Indians). During his entire Freshman year, he saw no game action. He got to travel to Omaha in June, 2001, for Stanford�s appearance in the College World Series, but he was not allowed to suit up or even sit in the dugout. The next year, the sophomore did appear in 9 games for a total of only 12 innings; and he did not see any post-season action as the Cardinal advanced again to Omaha.

But the young man would not give up his dream. Those in St. Cloud, MN, who follow the River Bats during the summer may remember this right-hander who pitched at Dick Putz Field last summer for the Rochester (MN) Honkers. Perseverance finally paid off this spring, during the young man�s junior year at Stanford. With a 6-1 regular-season record, he appeared Tuesday in the Cardinal�s CWS elimination-game win over South Carolina at Rosenblatt Stadium.

But last night his dream truly became reality. Still facing elimination by the Cal State-Fullerton Titans, the young man relieved a Freshman lefty (who scored a perfect 800 on his Math SAT) in the bottom of the sixth inning. Pitching out of jam after jam on national television, the young man scattered three hits and four walks over 4 1/3 scoreless innings, until his team finally caught up and eventually won the game 7-5 in the tenth inning.

This weekend in Omaha, Stanford faces Rice in a two-out-of-three series for the national crown. Our younger son reports that the young man�s arm is hurting big time this morning; but he thinks he should be able to contribute by Sunday. Look for Minnesota�s own #19, David O�Hagan to hurl for the Cardinal sometime against the Owls.

Perseverance pays. It�s what we teach. And living vicariously through the successes of the next generation is why we teach, why we coach, and why we parent.

Thursday, June 19, 2003

I'm in tears 

Lileks asked for Fark to join in his defacing. And they thought the turban was bad?

Another dorm speech code 

Attention: FIRE. The Volokh Conspiracy has found another case of free speech violations on campus, this time at the University of Alabama. Already students are being asked to take down the Confederate flag.
Last week, students living in Byrd Hall, home to the Mallet Assembly, said Res Life officials told them to remove a Confederate flag hanging in the dormitory's second-floor hallway in accordance with the new policy.

[Professor-in-residence Byron Rush] White said the father of a current Byrd resident had complained about the flag to the building's black janitor, asking how she could tolerate such a display. The janitor then tipped off White.

White said he called Res Life and was told no complaints had been received. He said he received a phone call later in the day from Res Life after it had received a complaint.

"They were citing an impending rule that would be in effect this fall," White said. "We refused based on First Amendment rights, and a day later Residential Life dropped the issue."

White said he does not believe the rule is a result of the incident at Byrd Hall.

"It seems that the root cause is most likely the flags and other displays in the windows at [Mary] Burke Hall," White said. "However, this incident did tip the University's hand as far as the new rule was concerned."

Foster said the policy does not specifically target flags.

He said Res Life assistant director Allan Guenther and other UA officials will review and revise the initial draft.

"What flavor the policy has is still being determined," Foster said.

White said he believes the Byrd incident reflects how the University will enforce the new policy.

"The incident at Mallet shows us how Residential Life plans to use this rule," he said. "Someone complains, whatever is complained about is declared offensive and the owner must take the display down or face punishment."
Sound familiar? Yes, it certainly does. I love the line "What flavor the policy has is still being determined." "A rich, toxic bouquet full of censorship, with a slight aftertaste of communism. A generous nose of McCarthy. Goes well with celery sticks and light ranch dressing at diversity training."

Free speech and gun rights elsewhere 

Must be Australia day. Eugene Volokh points out that the gun control folks Down Under are just as good at bullying academics who disagree with them as the affirmative action zealots here. Gun Control Australia is quite put out with an economics lecturer (God, we're in the middle of everything, aren't we!!) named John Whitley.
Dr Whitley has associations with two extremist gun organizations and wants all students to carry guns so they can protect themselves.
I am still waiting for a gun-control advocate to show me a "gun organization" that is not "extremist".
But the economics lecturer is not content with a fully armed university, he wants all women to carry guns so they can resist attacks by males.
"Females, do you hear me!?! He wants to arm FEEEe-males!!!! What is the world coming to?" The suggestion is to either dismiss Dr. Whitley or "insist that the Adelaide University relocates to Alaska or, maybe Alabama."

We'll take them.

Prof. Volokh notes,

Naturally, the Australians have their own views on free speech, which differ from those of Americans. But under any definition of academic freedom, what Whitley is doing is within its core zone: He's arguing that a democracy should change its law, because he believes that the evidence shows the new law would be better for the nation than the old. Even if one accepts that certain kinds of legal change (e.g., advocacy of legalizing genocide) would be so monstrously evil that advocating for them is outside the boundaries of academic freedom -- a view that some democracies may take, though I think they'd be generally mistaken to do so -- it seems to me quite clear that advocating broader gun possession and gun carrying is far outside this narrow exception.

Historical movies 

One of my summer activities is to catch up on the movies I miss during the year, both due to business and due to the crappy selection of films by the one guy that owns all the screens in town. (Dude, if you're reading this, I've got my idea for an art house theater, and I've got a bull's eye painted on your Bruce Willis-loving ass.) I get enough grief from Mrs. B over my frequent sojourns to the Twins -- seeing indie films in the Twin Cities is out of the question. Instead, I use Netflix to get much of what I want. Anyway...

Last night I watched Rabbit-Proof Fence, which recently shared honors for Best Libertarian Film with Minority Report (the only of three movies discussed here to come to St. Cloud ... grrr). Rabbit Proof Fence is about three half-caste Aboriginal girls who are forcibly removed by the UK provincial government to be re-educated to be white. They escape their captors and follow a 1200-mile-long fence to keep rabbits in the desert and out of the agricultural areas (hence the movie title) to re-unite with their family.

I liked the film greatly, but on the second viewing I was struck with the thought, "How do we know that the antagonist in this character is truthfully portrayed?" Maybe it was because it was Kenneth Branagh, whose Shakespearean work I love, that made me think that. I thought I would come in this morning and fish around for an article about how Phillip Noyce researched this movie. Google burped up this piece on several of these recent films, including Ararat, a movie that is of course near and dear to my heart. Ararat's theme is that the filming of a documentary about the Armenian genocide changes those who had views of the genocide drilled into them from their youth.

Aboriginal history is a heated topic in Australia, as Tim Blair noted last year, and Andrew Bolt wrote a column in The Sun savaging the movie, with rebuttals and rejoinders abounding. (I can't seem to locate the reply that I noted Noyce was to have written to Bolt's editorials. He apparently gave a sarcastic nod to Bolt for free publicity when RPF won the AFI award.)

So this morning I also make the rounds of my usual blogs and find Critical Mass talking about almost exactly the same thing.

[Historian Keith] Windschuttle went on to summarize how the story of genocide that is so central to Australian history (not to mention national identity) is in no small part the fabrication of historians who play fast and loose with facts, misquoting as needed and even making up statistics when necessary. He goes on to list just a few of the glaring errors he found when he checked the major historical work on the subject against the sources they cite.
Calling this another Bellesilles, Erin notes,
The genocidal narrative of Australian history appealed to people's unresolved guilt about the colonization of that continent, blaming settlers for the deliberate extinction of the aborigines and in the process helping to fortify a reparative agenda in the present. Windschuttle argues that the reality is far more complex and far less satisfying because it does not provide a clear, politically correct focal point for blame: "True, the full-blood Tasmanian Aborigines did die out in the 19th century," he writes. "But this was almost entirely a consequence of two factors: the long isolation that had left them vulnerable to introduced diseases, especially influenza, pneumonia and tuberculosis; and the fact that they traded and prostituted their women to such an extent that they lost the ability to reproduce themselves."
I wrote about "four fingered objectivity" with a historian here a few weeks ago, and I got this most interesting answer (this was a private email, and I will protect the source, but the quote is too good to pass up.)
One of the key paradoxes historians face is that the past is gone and inaccessible to us. We can examine surviving evidence from the past, but we cannot examine the past itself. Even the memories of surviving witnesses are flawed. Thus the pursuit of accuracy in the writing of history is an act of faith. I cannot achieve the Truth about the past, but I seek to approach it. Who knows the Truth? My answer is God.

The alternative is to say that there is no difference between writing history and writing historical fiction. Or at least I can't see any other choice.

So let's face it: Without the diaries of the Kenneth Branagh character, we've really no idea what A. O. Neville said in relation to the girls in Rabbit Proof Fence, and we're left to wonder why those words and ideas come out of Branagh's mouth. I'm sympathetic to the movie because I'm predisposed to distrust government, and I find the arrogance of governments thinking they can raise children better than families can entirely believable. Buy the premise, buy the bit. But it does the cause of liberty no good -- and I doubt we'll find Noyce to be a libertarian -- to play fast and loose between history and drama.

Wednesday, June 18, 2003

Another mascot falls 

First they came for the Minutemen, next they came for the Rebels. It appears that that Colonel Sanders-looking dude at Ole Miss is done. According to the Charlotte Observer:
Mississippi will sideline its Colonel Rebel mascot this football season, taking another step to distance itself from the South's Confederate past.

Ole Miss officials have said they want a more intimidating mascot than the Southern gentleman with his cocked wide-brimmed hat, snow-white goatee and cane.


In the last decade, Mississippi has been steering its image from the Old South by phasing out symbols that some say are racially divisive. Confederate battle flags, once pervasive at football games, have been banished and "Dixie" has been dropped as the school's unofficial fight song.

But unlike the Rebel Flag and "Dixie," there has been no outcry to oust Colonel Rebel.

Boone said changing Colonel Rebel has more to do with modernizing Ole Miss' image than vanquishing Confederate symbols from campus.

The private Ole Miss Loyalty Foundation that supports sports has spent $30,000 for the New York-based Phoenix Design Works to study Colonel Rebel, Ole Miss lettering and logos.

That last is the money quote. It's all about getting spiffy new duds for fans of a middling SEC football school to buy.

Still: Minutemen; Rebels; ??? If I was a fan of the "Dallas professional football club", I'd be worried. The Dallas Tuna? The marketing opportunities boggle the mind.

Beautiful, Michael 

This one goes in my .sig heavy rotation:
Teachers aren't underpaid for what they do, not really. They are underpaid for what we would like them to be.
Also stop by at HigheredIntelligence and say hello to new blogger Bill.

Props for alumnus blog 

Following the GoStats links I found a reference to us from EckerNet, run by a confessed former SCSU student. Stop by and say hello.

Teaching democracy here and abroad 

Regarding the refusal of Middle East studies programs to take federal scholarships, Jay Nordlinger's Impromptus today makes a related point:
It so happens that I have a friend who joined the USIA � the United States Information Agency � in its infancy. Before that, she was a Ph.D. student and then a teacher at Columbia (and Barnard). At lunch the other day, I asked her how she happened to leave academia to begin a Foreign Service career. She said, "I had a lot of foreign students, and I was appalled at how ignorant they were about the United States. I thought they were actually dangerously ignorant. So I thought I had to reach these people earlier � to spread the word about the U.S. and democracy before they reached adulthood. I wanted to do something, to have a part in this. So I leapt at the USIA."

Not many people are as idealistic, clear-eyed, and just plain good as my friend � but truth about the United States is more important than ever, particularly in the Middle East, as we all know. A glance at � site of the Middle East Media Research Institute � is enough to tell us that.

This quote rocked me today. We teach a required course on this campus on Democratic Citizenship which is taught across a number of departments. Here are two examples (one and two). I could write pages about those two syllabi, but I invite you to simply draw your own conclusions. Then compare those with what Nordlinger's friend seeks to teach. I wonder to myself: Where would I be better employed?

Fishing for FIRE 

Greg Lukianoff of FIRE has written a piece for the NAS Online Forum ripping Stanley Fish's latest writing in the Chronicle of Higher Education. Fish argues that in many cases, cries of "First Amendment rights" are a smokescreen for other arguments, ranging from protecting Tom Paulin's right to speak at Harvard or campus newspapers callously printing anti-Semitic screeds to the Emma Goldman Center fundraising letter.
But what it protects unpopular speech from is abridgement by the government of its free expression; it does not protect unpopular speech from being rejected by a newspaper, and it confers no positive obligation to give your pages over to unpopular speech, or popular speech, or any speech.

Once again, there is no First Amendment issue here, just an issue of editorial judgment and the consequences of exercising it. (You can print anything you like; but if the heat comes, it's yours, not the Constitution's.)

As Lukianoff points out, all Fish's chosen examples are relatively petty, including the Toni Smith case that Fish cites as a real example of First Amendment protection. In contrast, the cases that FIRE is pursuing, such as the proliferation of speech codes, are legitimate examples of First Amendment problems. Moreover, Lukianoff says of the cases Fish does cite,
They very easily could have become First Amendment or free speech cases, however, if the university had decided to take some action. Therefore, it made perfect sense for the students and the faculty advisor in the newspaper cases to remind the administration that, under the First Amendment, they could not be punished for their speech. Their "crying First Amendment" was not, as Fish smugly concludes, an act of ignorance, but rather an intelligent effort to avoid the fate of so many others punished for free expression on their campuses.
UPDATE: And it isn't like Fish doesn't know about FIRE. Erin fisked Fish already.

Tuesday, June 17, 2003

George Will goes yard against Wolverines 

George Will takes a unique lunge at �race-norming� in the University of Michigan case, arguing why the Supremes should rule against Wolverine administrators later this month. Despite Will's unorthodox stance, he finishes his swing with a thunderous grand-slam tenet of the SCSU Scholars: the �doctrine of group rights� must be rejected, since �rights inhere in individuals.�


We have this discussion frequently in economics classes about how to allocate scarce resources, where the example is either seats in an economics course or (the perennial favorite of faculty) parking. All goods get allocated, we teach our young charges, it's just a matter of what you use as the allocation device. Markets, of course, use prices.

Some people have a problem with that. Laura Billings would be one. And Mitch Berg does a beautiful satire thereof. Laura tries out her reductio ad absurdum trick bag.

Say you're at the grocery store after 5 p.m., and every checkout lane is backed up to the bread section, all except for the "10 items or fewer" express lane. For a reasonable premium, you ought to be able to haul your 116-item cart up to that register and speed right through.
As Mitch points out, there's always been delivery, as well as convenience stores (thus the name, right?). And let's not forget PeaPod. Another thing we teach, Ms. Billings: Substitutes abound.
how about when you get to the movies right during the trailers only to find out that the theater is practically full and that there's someone � probably some sad sack who didn't have anything better to do than to get to the movies on time � sitting in your favorite center aisle seat. Well, for a convenience surcharge on top of the regular price, you should be able to bypass the ticket line, have the kids at the concession stand hand you your pre-ordered popcorn and Jujubes, while the ushers move the guy who got there before you over to another seat, right against the wall. If you paid a little more for the privilege, that's fair, right?
Laura, have you ever seen Jack Nicholson at a Lakers game? Where do you suppose his car gets parked? And in case you didn't notice, there are people who bring drinks to you down there, rather than having to schlep to the concessions.
Just imagine how wonderful our lives would be if we could store up all of this privilege on a little electronic convenience card.
Um, smartcards?
You could swipe it and bypass the hour-long line for the ladies' room at Dixie Chicks and Norah Jones concerts.
You're not going to like this, Laura -- they're thinking about it for the new sports stadium. According to the Metropolitan Sports Facilities Commission, they're already doing this at Safeco Field in Seattle. And you should check out the .300 Club at Bud Lite's new Miller Park in Milwaukee. For $500, you dodge the bratwurst lines with the hoi polloi.
You could flash it and move your kids to the head of the waiting lists of the selective colleges they didn't quite make it into.
That used to be called "alumni contributions". Now it's called "affirmative action."

Laura, take a bite of a reality sandwich. We'll move you to the head of the line.

University repositories of tax dollars 

Via Critical Mass, Stanley Kurtz is asking whether the government should subsidize through Title VI of the Higher Education Act those programs which breed "extreme and one-sided criticisms of American foreign policy", particularly in Middle East studies programs. The twist is that while these programs and universities accept federal dollars for just about everything under the sun, they do not accept grants that provide scholarships to students who in return work for the US government. This was the decision for example of the Middle East Studies Association of North America,
A government-funded program that emphasized cooperation between the U.S. academy and government agencies responsible for intelligence and defense will increase the difficulties and dangers of such academic activities, and may foster the already widespread impression that academic researchers from the United States are directly involved in government activities.
Well that would be all fine and well if applied consistently. There is the example of Hillsdale College which refuses to accept government aid of any kind in return for not being bound to carry out the dictates of the federal education bureaucracy. But others are being more selective, and Kurtz wonders if it's all to do with anti-American sentiment among these researchers. The boycotters argue in reply that students who accept the scholarships have a bull's eye painted on them. I never drew any of these dollars, but as a contractor working on overseas assignments I can tell you the suspicion is there regardless. (I did get one of those National Defense Student Loans in the 1970s, but repayment was the only string attached.)

What to make of this? On one hand, Kurtz is clearly opposed to the views of Edward Said, whom Kurtz believe has led a generation of Middle East scholars down the road to an anti-American viewpoint. And one might think this is just a battle between them. But there's more: Many universities who cannot (if public) or choose not (if private) to forgo students receiving federal financial aid must cope with federal mandates on everything from affirmative action to peanut butter allergies. Is it really that much to ask that those that take federal dollars not be allowed to refuse students who choose to take a grant to learn foreign languages in return for a chance to help in national defense?

Monday, June 16, 2003

University repositories 

Since I seem to be just in quote mode today, here's Lileks on UMD idiotarian James Fetzer:
Some people believe that we are but a day away from torchlight rallies and death camps, that a vast pulsating mass of nascent fascism throbs right beneath the surface of American society, eager to shoot through the cracks. They will only breathe easier when a president quotes Che in his inauguration address. The world is full of these guys, and it always been - but what�s unique to our society is that these people find a home in the Universities.

When I was growing up, the term �professor� connoted respect and accomplishment. It was a name society gave to its wisest citizens.

Isn�t it funny what children believe. No matter what their age.

How Michigan Imitates Brazil 

A student's lament:
"Gabriella Fracescutti, 19, has filed one of nearly 300 lawsuits against the State University because of its quota policy. She has dreamed of being a surgeon since she was a high school freshman -- 'I like blood,' she says sheepishly -- and studied during her entire senior year for the vestibular, the national college entrance exam. She did very well, scoring 82.5 percent, better than half the students admitted ahead of her. But her application was rejected, essentially because she is neither black nor poor.

"'I just don't understand how you can justify someone with a lower grade getting into the school, and turning me down. Why, because I have blond hair?' said Fracescutti, the daughter of an architect and a botanist. 'I have friends who are whiter than me and didn't study and didn't do well on the test, but they wrote down they were [black] on their application and they got in. My grandmother is black. I could have written down that I am black, but I didn't feel right about that. In a country like Brazil, everyone's blood is mixed together.'"

No word on how many points being black or poor are worth in Brazil. A quote from an admissions counselor in Brazil sounds like it could have come from here:
"The biggest advantage of this quota system," said Paulo Fabio Salgueiro, the admissions director at the State University [of Rio], "is that it has broken this myth of a nonracial society. Brazilians have by and large always believed there are no white Brazilians or black Brazilians, just Brazilians. But the debate over quotas has forced everyone to confront the fact that racism, discrimination and social exclusion are alive and well here."
But once again, the problem isn't one of race but one of economic disparities. As the article notes, perhaps unwittingly,
In a country where the distribution of wealth is more uneven than in virtually any other place in the world, the question of racial identity is hardly academic. Race does indeed matter here, sorting rich Brazilians from poor Brazilians in much the same way it does Americans and South Africans. To some, the country is a living, breathing rebuttal to the idea that racism will lose its currency as Americans increasingly intermarry and produce darker children.
So would universities support a program that targetted Appalachian poor white teens, complete with an Appalachian Student Center and an Appalachian dorm wing? Not likely. [Hat tip: PowerLine.]

Line of the day 

From Prof. Reynolds:
Sadly, you could probably get 250 faculty in America to demonstrate in favor of the Iranian government, so long as you could cast it as an anti-Bush event.
True. True.

Sunday, June 15, 2003

We second that 

Power Line has a recommendation for summer reading, if you haven't read the novels of Alan Furst yet. I got Jack hooked on these last year, after they entertained me through a long summer assignment in a faraway land. Atmospheric, well researched and absolutely captivating. (Think I'm looking for a dust jacket line? Sure.) The only problem is, I want more. Write, Mr. Furst!

PowerLine links to this essay on Furst in the Claremont Review of Books.

Saturday, June 14, 2003

I will learn PhotoShop, I will learn PhotoShop, I will... 

James Lileks, the Mullah of Culture of the Northern Alliance, has moved to the front page of the Saturday Variety section (he had been on page 2), and invites readers to doodle with his face.
Go to,"download" the picture from the Backfence site, and abuse it. Give me horns. A mustache. Big wet puppy eyes, a full-facial Maori tattoo, a nose stud, I don't care. In fact, the less the final product looks like me, the happier I'll be. (Note: This is not a sneaky way for me to satisfy my curiosity about what I'd look like with breasts. Keep them clean, please.) There are a few different poses you can use. Submit as many as you like, and we'll run them in place of the real picture.
Mitch drew up a picture of us using the template on the left index. Here it is, and we offer it as one possibility for a Saturday mugshot for James. (He's in the secret square.)

We haven't used it yet on the index due to protest from the Fraters that the image does not befit a bunch of Minnesotan bloggers, but its applicability here is too sweet to refuse.

Friday, June 13, 2003

Not to be confused with office hours 

Courtesy the Volokh Conspiracy, I read a great recollection of student evaluations by law professor Eric Muller at U. North Carolina.
The question for the students was "Is the professor able to impart the subject matter (e.g., communication skills, organiation, responsiveness to student questions, stimulation of interest in the subject matter)"

This student's response: "Yes, but he is kind of like the hippie teacher from Beavis & Butthead in his delivery."

This reminds me of my favorite answer on my student evaluations. Asked to evaluate the examinations and assignments in the class, a student responded, "He pulls his essay questions out of his ass." This bothered me some -- it takes me a long time to write a good essay question -- and I mentioned it to my wife. A few months later I woke up one morning and, as is my wont, grabbed the Wall Street Journal and headed to the bathroom. I read an article that made me think of an exam question for my macro theory class. I said this to my wife at breakfast and she said, "That student was right: You do pull exam questions out of your ass."

Republicans vote against Father's Day 

Here's a story about a Father's Day Resolution that almost didn't pass the California Assembly. Why?
"That's the kind of thing that makes you think they're from another planet from time to time," Assemblywoman Jackie Goldberg, D-Los Angeles, said of lawmakers who voted against the fatherhood resolution, HR 32.

"I don't know of anybody in the general public who would be unhappy or upset by a resolution saying all fathers in all kinds of families should be recognized on Father's Day."

But critics said HR 32 was part of a pro-gay agenda designed to embarrass conservatives and support alternative lifestyles.

"If all they'd said was 'we honor all fathers,' and left it at that, then every single father would have felt we were honoring them," said Assemblyman Ray Haynes, R-Murrieta. "But they have to inject all this extraneous garbage into it."

Controversy centered on wording that praised the "wonderful diversity" of America's fathers, saying they include "single fathers, foster fathers, adoptive fathers, biological fathers, stepfathers, families headed by two fathers, grandfathers raising grandchildren, fathers in blended households, and other non-traditional fathers."

Only one Republican voted for the resolution. Why?
Assemblyman Jay La Suer, R-La Mesa, said he has a wife, two daughters, represents "mainstream America" and doesn't call himself a "biological father."

"I'm a traditional father," he said. "A biological father can be the result of a one-night stand, rape, incest -- I don't want to be grouped with that."

Assemblyman Tim Leslie, R-Tahoe City, said biological father sounds like "something created from a test tube."

I'd say the whole bill was made in a test tube. [Hat tip: Tongue Tied.]

Thursday, June 12, 2003

Bad statistics are contagious 

Now, where have we seen this before?
"I don't doubt that [school superintendent] Jim Sweeney loves children and had dedicated his life's career to improving education," she said. "The school district has done some wonderful things ... but (on state tests) half the students are still below the 50th percentile. That's a problem."
Oh, that's right! The reach of SCSU is amazing, no? The commenters at loved it. [Hat tip: No. 2 Pencil.]

Or maybe entertainers 

Let me not leave you with the impression I hated graduate school. Some professors were very helpful, others just damned funny and a few were both. One of my favorites at Claremont was Dan Vandermeulen, who taught micro theory entirely as an exercise first of linear programming, then as game theory. And funny without meaning to be. Delightful until it was time to take quals and find out the rest of the world did calculus. "That's a limiting assumption," Prof. V. replied. Apparently Tom Sargent at Chicago is another.
Professor Sargent, I don't quite understand what you mean by "preference shocks". I thought that violates xxx's assumption that household's preference is constant over time...

Sargent: So, I woke up in the morning. I wanted to go play basketball with my buddies. Then I was told that today was the day to mow the lawn. That's preference shock.

You wake up sick, that's preference shock. It turns out to be important in some model with health.

You guys don't get emails like I did. Dear Professor Sargent I love to take you exam but my grandmother died yesterday. Grandmothers always die during basketball seasons. My friend in Minnesota, he has a student whose grandma died three years in a row. His story was that his grandpa remarried."

Those were the days, my friends. {Hat tip: Newmark's Door.}

Maybe more economists should be administrators 

The Commissioner of the Northern Alliance writes in the Weekly Standard about the commencement address of Harvard President Lawrence Summers. Summers, a former economics professor and Secretary of the Treasury, is trying to revitalize undergraduate education at Harvard. Like Hugh, I see some good and some bad in the speech, but two things struck me.
in sorting through the various balances that any curriculum must strike -- between depth and breadth of knowledge, between content and method, between freedom and prescription, between education in a common heritage and openness to the future and the world -- I hope we will look to the plausible intellectual aspirations of our students and ask ourselves what knowledge and capacities they ought to take with them into the world.

The letters from students and faculty raise two seemingly contradictory themes. One is the call, by both faculty and students, for greater flexibility in choosing courses. The other is a yearning that I have heard often from students in my visits to the Houses, for greater guidance with respect to what they should know in certain broad fields of knowledge.

Yes, that's true enough and has been for about 25 years. I recall when I entered St. Anselm as a freshman that my only choice the first semester was over which natural science I would take ("Want chemistry with that?") and which language (Latin for me). You didn't get an advisor at that time -- they handed you a schedule and you went on your merry way to classes and parties.
I recently commented to one of our leading art historians that it would be terrific if Fine Arts 13 were still available as an introduction for students who would probably never take another art history course in their lives. Reacting with a mixture of consternation and hilarity, she wondered how I could possibly expect any self-respecting scholar to propel our students -- like a cannon ball -- from "Caves to Picasso" in one academic year.
Tenure or no, she'd be gone if she worked for me. The most rewarding course I took at St. Anselm was a year of western civilization, which was "Babylon to the UN". I don't know if the fellow who taught it respected himself, but I respected him.
Fourth, in thinking about the capacities with which we should equip our students, we would all, I suspect, agree on certain fundamentals:
  • All of our students should know how to compose a literate and persuasive essay;
  • All of our students should know how to interpret a great humanistic text;
  • All of our students should know how to connect history to the present; and
  • All of our students should know -- they should genuinely understand at some basic level -- how unraveling the mysteries of the genome is transforming the nature of science, and how empirical methods can sharpen our analysis of complex problems facing the world.
Summers, who worked on international affairs during his undersecretary days at Treasury, also has much to say about how students connect to the developing world and recognizes the contribution of international students to learning. There's much to commend about the address. Hewitt notes that Summers has a handpicked committee working on revitalizing Harvard's curriculum. Of course, at St. Cloud you have to be a union member and we have to have the right balkanization of membership.

I for one wish President Summers good luck.

Wednesday, June 11, 2003

Every time I try to get out they keep pulling me back in 

Reader Paul Nelson send me a link to Critical Mass on the question of tenure again. Erin seems rather punk today about the prospects of the humanities.
The academic humanities stink, ethically speaking. They stink so bad that I wonder a lot--a lot--about whether there is any ethical way to inhabit them at all. So you tell students the truth when they ask {about going to graduate school --kb} ... but that's hardly organized resistance or a coherent critique of the system. ...

What Crews is basically saying is that whether or not a department invokes "collegiality" as a criterion in tenure decisions, all tenure decisions in the humanities are ultimately decided according to that criterion. It's a harsh statement to make about your home discipline: that its standards of excellence are those of the popularity contest. But it's damningly, all too visibly, true. This is one reason why I think tenure probably ought to be abolished, at least in the academic humanities. It's been corrupted and abused beyond recognition by people who won't even admit, by and large, that this is the case. Such people don't deserve the privilege and the power that tenure confers.

[picks up jaw] I'm certainly not about to defend "collegiality"; at the same time, what gets published (so that you don't perish) is going to be driven by what the market is buying for publications. As I mentioned a few days back, faculty -- and in particular, those in the humanities and in the newer social sciences -- really dislike reference to anything called Truth, when the capital means that there's one that exists objectively. We're not talking interpretations of Twain here -- we have historians who say they cannot tell us the Truth of what happened when, and the denial of general principles in comparing the political economy of two places in the world. The swamp that these have become we find in Erin's following post of a letter from someone who's decided from reading the blogs that academia isn't for him or her. While I'm glad that student's eyes are opened, I'm sad that there will be two fewer hands draining the swamp.

Who crashed the party? 

Hugh Hewitt asks an interest question as he returns from his 25th class reunion at Harvard.
[W]ho was running admissions in the spring of 1974, and [is] the bias that was applied then is being applied today? It is hard to imagine any fair process resulting in a body of 1600 that cast only 22% of its votes for George W. Bush, and which has only a 17% Republican registration.
There's more in this piece. I think part of the answer is that SAT or no SAT, Harvard is still able to choose admissions by something akin to the old-boy's network.

Posters as public property 

Mike Adams is his jovial self in this discussion of women's studies programs. He also makes a good point about the use of university funds.
I think that it was probably a mistake when you decided to hang posters around campus in protest of the Ludacris concert. I don't question your general right to hang posters but, instead, your specific choice in this instance. I am referring to one that you created which shows a woman kicking a man in the face in an apparent show of women's "empowerment." While mine is only one opinion, I think that others will agree that such a poster could actually promote the view of feminists as "ridiculous man-hating lesbians."

I was also disappointed that you paid for the posters with university funds. I also don't think it was wise to print "brought to you by the Women's Resource Center" on the bottom of the poster. The Center should combat misogyny, not promote mrogyny. Think about it.

Professor Adams indicates in his byline that "He is available to speak on college campuses if situated at least 200 yards from the Women's Studies Department and provided with a bulletproof vest." Particularly with our new CCW law, I suppose we'd better. If you read this, Prof. Adams, consider yourself invited. {Hat tip: Critical Mass.}

Tuesday, June 10, 2003

Poll shows no love of affirmative action in admissions 

I hope our own survey people are reading this. The Marist College Institute for Public Opinion released a survey yesterday indicating that while 85% agree or strongly agree that "living and learning among people of different interests, abilities, gender and racial backgrounds better prepares college students to live and work in society," 64% of non-white respondents opposed or strongly opposed using a student's race "as a factor when schools decide which students to admit to a college or university." I'm quoting directly from the questionnaire, so that any reports you read in the press about this can be judged for presentation of the results. Only 28% of non-white respondents opposed or defintely opposed "using a student�s scores on college entrance exams like the SAT as a factor when schools decide which students to admit to a college or university". Again, the presence of quantitative methods is recognized as breaking down the old-boy's network, and it was happening long before the Civil Rights Act, as did other movements to reduce poverty.

Reflecting on John's post 

I fell asleep before getting to a reply on John's guest post yesterday and so I must put them up now. We of course agree on the desirability of comments and the difficulty of dealing with trolls (that's why they've persisted for about as long as there's been an Internet). What I would like to do is comment on John's numbered points:
  1. Tenure criteria should be clearly spelled out. It's hard to disagree with this; I compare this to the rules vs. discretion argument in macroeconomic policy. Discretion, the story goes in economics, can lead to time-inconsistent practices -- tenure decisions that look like "the right thing to do" in one case may create precedents that are not optimal over the long run. (Think of negotiating with hostage-takers as an example.) And if you're going to use rules, then a big advantage is transparency, which John and I agree is desirable. The proponents of discretion will say that there are extraordinary cases which the rules cannot handle; human knowledge of all future situations is imperfect. That's true, but rules in my view look like they lead to fewer sub-optimal outcomes than does discretion. Tenure is a case in point.
  2. Who thinks tenure and academic freedom are absolutes?Certainly not the Left; having defeated McCarthyism in the 1950s (they didn't do it alone, btw, but don't let that stop a good story) they now seek to impose their own. Nor does the AAUP, whose 1940 Statement of Principles on Academic Freedom and Tenure contains this passage:
    Academic freedom is essential to these purposes and applies to both teaching and research. Freedom in research is fundamental to the advancement of truth. Academic freedom in its teaching aspect is fundamental for the protection of the rights of the teacher in teaching and of the student to freedom in learning. It carries with it duties correlative with rights. [1]

    Tenure is a means to certain ends; specifically: (1) freedom of teaching and research and of extramural activities, and (2) a sufficient degree of economic security to make the profession attractive to men and women of ability. Freedom and economic security, hence, tenure, are indispensable to the success of an institution in fulfilling its obligations to its students and to society.

    The footnote [1] refers to an interpretive comment adopted in 1970, to wit:
    1.The Association of American Colleges and the American Association of University Professors have long recognized that membership in the academic profession carries with it special responsibilities. Both associations either separately or jointly have consistently affirmed these responsibilities in major policy statements, providing guidance to professors in their utterances as citizens, in the exercise of their responsibilities to the institution and to students, and in their conduct when resigning from their institution or when undertaking government-sponsored research. Of particular relevance is the Statement on Professional Ethics, adopted in 1966 as Association policy. (A revision, adopted in 1987, may be found in AAUP, Policy Documents and Reports, 9th ed. [Washington, D.C., 2001], 133�34.)
    The question in the Sami al-Arian case is whether he abdicated his responsibilities. As FIRE noted after al-Arian's indictment last February, when al-Arian spoke on campus after 9/11 his university explicitly called it "protected speech" but dismissed him anyways. One could have argued that his speech was not protected -- and I'd argue that his appearance on the O'Reilly Factor in September 2001 would not be considered ethical by the AAUP's Redbook -- but it's not clear that dismissal is always the proper response to an unethical act. That said, if al-Arian is guilty of the charges in the current indictment for abetting terrorists, he must be dismissed, as his ability to teach in the classroom would be forever compromised. As the first statement in the AAUP ethics states:
    Professors, guided by a deep conviction of the worth and dignity of the advancement of knowledge, recognize the special responsibilities placed upon them. Their primary responsibility to their subject is to seek and to state the truth as they see it. To this end professors devote their energies to developing and improving their scholarly competence. They accept the obligation to exercise critical self-discipline and judgment in using, extending, and transmitting knowledge. They practice intellectual honesty. Although professors may follow subsidiary interests, these interests must never seriously hamper or compromise their freedom of inquiry.
  3. Is tenure everywhere and always a good thing?No of course not; it's a good that creates both benefits and costs to the university, and to the faculty member. John and I engaged this debate a few weeks ago on Invisible Adjunct. (See also here.) Tenure is part of a labor contract; individuals add or subtract features to a contract to create compatible incentives for the employer and employee. I've accepted Richard McKenzie's thesis that tenure arises as an insurance in a labor setting where decisions on promotion and pay raises are made democratically -- a thesis testable by observation of co-ops and other types of labor settings with democratic features. There may be other types of contracts that create the right incentives as well that don't use tenure (buyout clauses, perhaps.)

    I'd also add to John's last question in this point that I did try to ascertain whether the criteria at Smith were met by Miller, and that in private schools that criteria could include some philosophical leaning of the faculty. Asking a devoutly Christian school like Magdalen College (which Critical Mass posted two weeks ago) to tenure a Muslim is absurd. I work in a state university, however, and here I would argue that there should be no philosophical standards asked of faculty approaching tenure. Again, transparency is key -- someone working at Magdalen must know at the time of appointment whether holding a non-Christian belief system will be cause for denial of tenure, and it is the employer's responsibility to make that clear.

  4. Are the problems systemic, or are academic bloggers just looking out for themselves? I can't speak for any other blog but this one, and we put this up to improve things at SCSU. We're not trying to "save the academy" because I don't think any of us feels capable of doing so. We connect to stories on other campuses only to the extent that they parallel what happens here -- and many stories do. As I wrote a week ago, the reason for Scholars to go public is that many of the symptoms of the Left's attack on the academy occur here without any attempt to hide what they do. (Of course, the hiding is beginning now in part because we've shed light on the problems.) And one of the problems that recurs on all campuses is exactly what John discusses -- the use of one's academic position to espouse views far afield from one's expertise. I would argue, for one, that the AAUP's guidance on "extramural utterances" should be seen as extending to speaking about areas outside one's expertise. The Ethics statement makes the point:"When they [faculty] speak or act as private persons, they avoid creating the impression of speaking or acting for their college or university." This does not happen enough today.

I notice that Haloscan is working again, so comments are once again welcomed. Thanks for your offering of "intelligent cross-examination," John.

Monday, June 09, 2003

Thoughts provoked on tenure (guest posting) 

John Bruce has written several comments on our blog and elsewhere, but recently has had trouble using our comment facility (HaloScan has been up and down some over the last week.) Regarding my posts here and here on the Jim Miller/Smith College tenure case, he has some thoughts that I decided warrant a guest post. I've edited only for insertion of links where I can. My comments later tonight in a separate post; I must run to an appointment now.
I was interested to see the information on the Miller tenure case at Smith at the SCSU-Scholars site. I've noticed that the comments facility seems to be sometimes available there and sometimes not, and I simply don't know whether this is related to Critical Mass's decision to disable comments (though since it is her blog, this is her right).

I would note, though, that Glenn Reynolds links to a David Warren column on blogs, wherein Warren refers to the comments section as a "cross-examination" of the blogger. It's clear that in my case, attempts at "cross-examination" sometimes win "awards", such as at Invisible Adjunct, sometimes draw posts, as they did from Jack, on how refreshing it is to be disagreed with on a thoughtful basis, and sometimes apparently are a major reason for disabling comments.

One hates to resort to well-worn phrases, but it appears that one person's thoughtful cross-examination is another's trolling, and I simply don't know which applies in your case. {I hope this post proves I don't think you a troll, John. -- ed.}

However, pleased as anyone must be with the outcome of the Miller tenure case, I think there are related issues that ought to be addressed in academic blogs, and so far as I can see, simply haven't been. Here are some but not all:

1. King notes that there appear to be general assumptions at Smith that 3-5 published (presumably peer-reviewed) articles are needed for tenure. This goes to an issue I've raised in various comments in various places: what is wrong with an institution publishing such policies with a view to transparency in these cases? There can certainly be a discretionary component to the process as well -- but why not simply make basic criteria clear? Wouldn't this reduce misunderstanding in such cases?

2. The discussion of the Smith/Miller case occurs simultaneously with the AAUP's debate on censure for the University of South Florida for adverse action against Sami al-Arian, a tenured faculty member now in jail pending trail (I believe this is the situation) for conspiracy to commit terrorism. It doesn't appear that academic blogs that I've seen are raising this issue, pro or con, though it has appeared on The Weekly Standard . The AAUP clearly takes an absolutist position on tenure and academic freedom -- all or nothing, your tenured faculty member may be the moral equivalent of John Gotti, but his entitlement to tenure continues. What is the opinion of the academic blogging community on this matter? Is the apparent absolutist position of the AAUP evidence that the tenure "game" is being run entirely on behalf of those currently tenured, and steady, if gradual decline of tenured positions in the academy is not of concern? If not, are opinions on how the AAUP might work to make tenure a more attractive option to universities worth addressing in blogs?

3. The academic blogging consensus appears to support the idea that tenured status is a more or less unquestioned good, and indeed something of an entitlement. This despite unclear or ambiguous criteria for the tenure decision at most universities, and as was posted earlier at SCSU insufficient information to make a clear observer's conclusion in the Miller case. And while we know a little more about Prof. Miller now, we still don't know how his revised qualifications match Smith's tenure criteria, however they may be defined. A reconsideration may have the same result next year; is it the principle of academic blogging to support the candidate in every publicized instance if the candidate meets some measure of attractiveness or non-conformity?

4. There seems to be a sense of disquiet among many academic bloggers that there are serious problems in the academy. Favorite subjects include the apparent ability of radical feminists and other fringe opinion groups to dominate campus discussion, or restrictions on campus on conservative speech. A perennial, as we see above, is controversial cases of tenure approval. Yet I find it hard to shake the feeling that academic bloggers by and large feel that "if this particular problem can be fixed to my satisfaction, I will be happy." If I can get tenure (or if the current preferred victim of denial can have his case reversed), that will solve the problem. If we can get some kind of affirmative action so more conservatives can get tenure, that will solve the problem. If I don't have to listen to militant feminists (or socialists or vegetarians) on campus, that will solve the problem. Aren't problems in the academy much more systemic and widespread than that? I hate to raise this point, but the publications listed by the blogger on the Critical Mass site -- an Associate Professor of English publishing apparently for academic credit on a subject like early plastic surgery -- seem to me to be part of the problem. Assuming early plastic surgery and body image are acceptable subjects for academic attention, should we be considering fields like sociology or psychology as more appropriate? She may feel the problems in the academy will be solved if we can somehow turn down the volume on militant feminism, but the problem of English professors studying topics not very clearly related to their field (and let's move on through folklore, myth and ritual, the anthologized works of Stalin, electric automobiles, etc.) will continue, and quite possibly contrbute to the declining status of the humanities.

These are just a few suggested areas where the academic blogging process is imperfect and might benefit by welcoming intelligent cross-examination.

Sign of Division 

Division Street is the main thoroughfare through St. Cloud, with a major regional shopping mall on one end, downtown on the other, and the Land of 10,000 Chain Stores in between. Billboards darken the sky, including the one with the suggestive backside I mentioned several weeks ago. Recently Alternatives to War (the Minnesota group -- it appears there's another such organization in New York) has bought a billboard because they feel they are being put upon by being called "unpatriotic". The sign says, "Dissent-- good for democracy; Silence-- good for tyranny; Speak Out." Oversimplification -- good for persuading the stupid. As Jonah Goldberg also wrote in the article I quoted earlier today,
"For every Mandela, Gandhi, or Thoreau there are 1,000 � no, 10,000 � drooling morons, jabbering misfits, and opponents of progress with equal claim to the title "dissenter," "dissident," "protester," "rebel," or "non-conformist." When a group or society is heading in the right direction, the maverick is no hero for telling everyone to turn around."

Private discussions for public institutions 

Cold Spring Shops notes a battle going on at Univ. of California at Irvine, at which a student government legislator who got a resolution passed calling for viewpoint diversity has been rebuked in an email from a dean for not discussing the issue with enough faculty members. The dean's memo to every member of the faculty and staff along with the student and the Irvine Review student paper concludes: is disappointing that these public allegations have been made against our School prior to the completion of the consultation process that I had recommended to David. I am copying David on this message, and I again encourage him to follow up with our chairs and with our elected faculty chair, as I recently recommended. The publication of Mr. Asuncion's article, including the allegations made by David in his proposed resolution, have publicly called into question the integrity of our faculty without our having an adequate chance to respond to David's concerns, and this is most unfortunate since it is always best (and most fair) to address concerns privately prior to airing them publicly.
I refer to this as "the death of a thousand small meetings". They will not only be stonewalled, but when the students become frustrated enough to resume trying to pass the resolution the faculty will claim shock and surprise: "I thought we had reached an understanding on this; I'm disappointed to see that ..." And of course, you can get to the end of the school year and run out the clock.

And is it "always best (and most fair) to address concerns privately prior to airing them publicly"? At a public university, no. That's why this blog exists. For example, we're still waiting to read this preliminary report the St. Cloud Times editorialized last week. I fully expect it to come out in the fall, wrapped in that cheap waxy paper with the legend "Sanitized for your protection."

When did the old-boys network leave? 

One that snuck by me last week after reading Jeffery Rosen's defense of affirmative action in admissions: Jonah Goldberg reminds us that diversity didn't replace the old-boy network but rather the meritocratic impulses of the 1950s and 1960s. Money quote:
Nobody can reasonably dispute that there was an old boy network which discriminated not only against Jews, blacks, and what few Asians there were around � and, of course, against women � but against middle-class ethnic whites as well. What people forget is that the SAT and a host of other measures were created in the 1950s and 1960s in order to dismantle the old boy network, to give the poor and socially disadvantaged a chance to compete with the sons and daughters of privilege. And it was remarkably successful on that score. America's elite colleges and universities became vastly more integrated � ideologically, socially, and racially � because America made the decision to live up to the meritocratic ideal (the marketplace and the G.I. bill probably had a lot to do with it, too). The average IQ at elite U.S. schools soared as the duller children of privilege were forced to compete with middle-class Jews, Catholics, and blacks in ways they never had before. But there were costs. Higher education became much more of a national job-training program and less of an incubator of virtue and good citizenship. Local communities lost some of their best and brightest to the big cities because, for the first time, their best and brightest had an opportunity to compete there on a fair level. And, yes, the self-esteem of some groups suffered as fair chances failed to yield "fair" results.

And just as the meritocracy had costs, so does diversity. In fact, it would have costs even if minority applicants had identical academic records and SAT scores indistinguishable from the general pool of students because the concept of proportional representation is ultimately arbitrary when set against the riot of desires, aspirations, abilities, and attitudes of the college-bound population.

Read the whole thing. {Hat tip: Cold Spring Shops.}

Much more on a tenure case 

As I noted on June 5th, there was a tenure case at Smith College that had several bloggers wondering if the academic freedom of the faculty member denied tenure was violated. On the sixth, Erin O'Connor wrote that the college's grievance committee had found evidence of violation of academic freedom and overturned the tenure decision. Last night the Scholars received two letters from Prof. James Miller, the faculty member up for tenure.
I noticed that on June 5th you wrote about my tenure case. The five members of Smith's Grievance Committee have unanimously ruled that 2 members of my dept violated my academic freedom during my tenure review. As a result, I will be coming up for tenure again this coming year.
Professor Miller is in the economics department at Smith. He later noted that the original vote for his tenure was 3 in favor, 5 opposed and 1 abstaining, so the two votes that the grievance committee found tainted were decisive.
Your article also mentions that you believe I have had 2 articles in refereed journals. I have had 6 academic articles published or accepted. (I certainly don't blame you for not finding out about all of them.) Before I came up for tenure many many people said that at Smith you need 3-5 articles to get tenure.
His resume is offered in support. In it he has an online journal publication which is referreed and forthcoming articles in the American Economist and in Public Budgetting and Finance. And it turns out I've read him before but hadn't made the connection; he writes for Tech Central Station. He's written as well for National Review Online (part of the charge of his heresy against academia, I suppose), the Weekly Standard (ditto), and other media outlets. (I see he was once a blogger, but I don't know if he still is.)

Prof. Miller was kind enough to send his letter to his college's tenure and promotion committee after the department voted to deny tenure. Without going into all the gory details, let me make two general observations.

The problem, in my opinion, is that the field of economics has become sufficiently specialized (I don't want to use the word "arcane", but you might) that a department that wanted to deny tenure to someone who was "uncollegial" or NOKD ("not our kind, dear") could easily create the type of denial recommendation that befell Miller. It would be true as well in the natural sciences, but there the rules of what is research and what is not are clear, and the march of political correctness goes through worse slop than Funny Cide did. You find you need to rely on the department recommendation because creating an independent assessment takes one out of one's own expertise -- many faculty tell me how poorly they did in economics, which unfortunately doesn't stop them from telling me how bad an idea tax cuts are. So it is hard to fact-check an economics department tenure and promotion committee's ass. In the case of Miller, the grievance committee interviewed every member of his department who voted on tenure. A tip of the cap to them; I doubt this happens most other places.

UPDATE:Andrew Sullivan takes up the case today, and gets the follow-up from Miller as well. No credit given to us or Critical Mass?

Saturday, June 07, 2003

Dude, you've got InstaPundit! 

I wondered when Prof. Reynolds would recognize the greatness that is Fraters Libertas. The wait is over. With this, the presence of the Northern Alliance on Big Daddy's blogroll is complete.

The Conspirators are next on our quest for world domination.

A Michigan case mystery solved 

AppellateBlog links to a Washington Post article that describes behind-the-scenes machinations at the 6th Court of Appeals on the University of Michigan case. The undergraduate portion of the case, which was never decided at the appelate level before the Supreme Court took it up, was delayed over either a technical motion or a desire to get two conservative judges to retire, depending on your view of things. Howard Bashman notes that the court's opinion failed because the chief 6th Circuit judge Boyce Martin was unable to get five of the nine judges (after removing the two conservatives in semi-retirement) to sign what he had thought was the majority opinion. The misconduct has been pursued by Judicial Watch, who will release the May 28th ruling on Martin's conduct when it is public.

Friday, June 06, 2003

Consensus minus more than one 

The work of the Independent Review Committee for campus climate comes under critical discussion in a St. Cloud Times editorial today. Apparently the Times has a copy of a preliminary report of the IRC, which as far as I can see has not been released to the university; the last report from IRC was a progress report dated May 6. The committee declared in that report that it will work with a consensus voting model that grants veto power to any member from a "protected class", a model which the Times seems to think has created problems.
the Independent Review Committee, charged with making recommendations to university administration, recently released draft recommendations complete with a preamble that seems to be more of a disclaimer than a document seeking change. It alludes to significant dissension among its members and even questions the credibility of studies done on discrimination at the university.
We've made a major point about the credibility of the Nichols, JCRC and EEOC reports. They are written by groups who have goals at odds with creating a true representation of campus culture. Nichols wants a job, and EEOC and JCRC base their existence on finding patterns on discrimination wherever they look. (The Rankin report, written last, isn't as damning but also makes very few recommendations.
"Key members of the committee were not present for significant meetings, and we do not have consensus on any of these recommendations," reads the preamble. It goes on to point out the recommendations were formed by a work group, which did not include people of color in the meeting before issuing the draft.
Part of the problem is that faculty contracts only cover a 168 day period which ended over three weeks ago. It has always been a source of contention that administrators want faculty committees -- vested with great power through collective bargaining -- to work through the summer without pay. The Times seems ignorant of that point. But it is telling that the committee, which agreed on the use of consensus voting, now finds it difficult to create any recommendations. Anyone who has had a little public choice theory could have predicted that the decisions of this committee would be greatly influenced by the voting method they adopted, and this one is already coming back to haunt them.
And with the release of this draft last week, the university announced further committee work will be delayed until fall because of contract issues and budget cuts. Now Sept. 30 is the new deadline for a final report.
Part of that, again, is the voting system chosen -- they are likely to cycle through several options several times, and possibly never arrive at a solution as long as someone continues to offer new ones. When the Times suggests that IRC should offer solutions "in a unified and timely way", that's a pipe dream. And part of it is that faculty work for pay, and there's no money to pay these faculty through the summer.

The Times also criticizes the IRC for not providing recommendations for the Affirmative Action office. But that was never in the committee's charge; the university is pursuing that reorganization through a different process.

Thursday, June 05, 2003

Another corrupt tenure case? 

Erin O'Connor believes she may have found another corrupt tenure case, this time at Smith College. There's a whiff of PC persecution, like the KC Johnson case (which Erin helped expose to the wider world) I haven't noted too many of these, since Erin covers that beat pretty well, but since this is an economist, I thought I'd look into it.

The fellow in question, Professor James Miller, has two articles in refereed journals according to my search on EconLit (a search engine available with FirstSearch) dealing with the use of economics in trial procedures. He also has a book on game theory (he's created an Amazon page to show his book with others in his area.) This isn't a stellar portfolio, but at the same time there are many schools like Smith where this would be considered sufficient.

The "coming out a conservative" part of the story is his occasional articles for National Review Online. His articles include pieces on deterring nuclear threats, airport security and copyright law. But the one mentioned in the Smith College Sophian (registration required) is one titled "Campus Colors". The article requires a fairly close read, because there are some things in here that one might want to question.

Professors' leftist beliefs primarily stem from their economic outlook. Most people in the not-for-profit sector are usually at least liberal (e.g. social workers, government employees, state-subsidized artists.) Not-for-profit workers voluntarily forgo the capitalist dream of achieving wealth through the marketplace and instead rely upon the government and private contributions for support. The conservative economic agenda of strengthening the business sector by reducing the burden of government is likely to have diminished appeal to those who work for organizations which aren't taxed or significantly regulated.
I think the observation is true, though I think the logic for it is a bit of a stretch.
The large number of non-U.S. citizens in American colleges necessarily makes these schools less patriotic. You wouldn't expect an American-based professor who is of Chinese citizenship to be as pro-U.S. as the average American is. As long as U.S. high schools continue to provide deficient training in math and science however, American colleges will have to continue to heavily recruit students and faculty from abroad if the schools want to remain world class.
I don't know if this is at all true, and it's this quote that drew one of the letters explaining a no vote for tenure for Miller. While international faculty may be liberal compared to the American public, it's been my general impression that they are not liberal compared to American-born-and-raised faculty. The ideological difference between African faculty and African-American faculty, for instance, is noticeable. I don't think this misperception by Miller is "extremely disturbingly [sic]" (as the letter against tenure states), but it's not helpful.
The best way for governors to reduce the influence of leftists in public universities would be to insure that professors are hired and promoted primarily on the basis of their teaching skills. Currently, most public universities care far more about research than teaching. For most professors in the humanities and social sciences (excluding economics) conducting research means getting published in leftist journals. Practically the only way for a women's-studies professor to get a lifetime college appointment is for her to contribute to the literature on why America is racist, sexist, and homophobic. If instead professors' career advancements were determined by their teaching skills, then professors would have to satisfy the needs of their students, not the ideological demands of radical journal editors.
Here he needs to be a little more careful. The large land-grant schools like those in the Big Ten certainly fit this description of needing to conduct research in leftist journals. But the state universities like SCSU don't even require this much. They can be satisfied with writing articles for conferences only attended by those of the same ideological bent. At a regional social science conference, for example, there are two groups of economists who meet -- an institutionalist section and a section for mainstream economics. The two seldom cross-pollinate, and when they do the sparks fly. (I've been involved in some of these sparks, but that's another story.) These presentations are listed by faculty for promotion and tenure decisions, and they count.
Students also bear much of the blame for political correctness on campus. This is not because students themselves are overwhelmingly left wing, but rather because they are often apathetic and infrequently challenge their leftist professors. Questioning a professor's politics is unlikely to endanger a student's grade. Even most left-wing professors prefer students who talk and challenge to those who quietly submit.
Again, that doesn't fit my experience or those of the students who submit to NoIndoctrination or Campus Nonsense. I think it borders on blaming the victim, actually.

I don't know enough to say whether this is a corrupt tenure case, and I suspect none of the outside commentators do. It's not at all unusual to see petitions filed for faculty who lose a tenure decision, and those petitions are borne of personal relationships between faculty and student rather than students making informed impassionate judgments on a faculty member's teaching. There's no record of a teaching award, though one student is quoted commenting positively on teaching. More than focusing on Prof. Miller's tenure, if I were President Christ I would wonder what could be done to improve a school where over 100 students sign a petition that expresses the concern "that this decision will decrease the little political diversity that exists amongst the faculty at Smith College."

One last short note: There is an impression by Invisible Adjunct (in Erin's comments) that economics departments are in general more conservative than elsewhere. At grave risk of overgeneralization: Yes, true for research universities, but not true for small private school economics departments. Since the research journals in economics are general pro-market (not necessarily free market, btw, but again, save that discussion) and since the publication requirements in the small lib-arts schools are less, more liberal economics professors tend to congregate more in the small private schools.

UPDATE: Critical Mass reports that the Smith College Grievance Committee "has unanimously agreed that Miller's academic freedom was violated. The decision to deny him tenure has thus been invalidated and he'll come up for tenure again".

Grading Teachers 

Have unions in the teaching profession harmed the quality of teaching? An opinion piece in today's New York Times (registration required) thinks so. "Quality decreases whenever there are shortages of a service or commodity," says the author, a dean of a school of education. Naturally, he's opposed to increasing supply by reducing the licensing requirements ("it flies in the face of professionalism") but he does argue for merit pay.
With a dearth of teachers in fields like special education and mathematics, wouldn't it be appropriate to pay those teachers more, to attract more professionals into these critical areas? A differentiated salary schedule could also reward outstanding teachers and board-certified teachers. If the faculty union at City University of New York can agree to a contract permitting outstanding professors and those in hard-to-fill areas to get higher salaries, surely the teachers' unions can show some flexibility.
Well, it won't happen here in Minnesota. And only administrators get it in MnSCU. Not faculty.

Wednesday, June 04, 2003

The Big Four redux 

The Commissioner speaks again about the big four blogs and the influence of the blogosphere. Instapundit notes an article in PC Magazine by John Denton:
Within the next year, both David Letterman and Jay Leno will make jokes about blogs and even discuss them. "Nightline" will do an entire show on blogging. San Jose journalist and blog promoter Dan Gillmor will be a guest for the episode. This is the point where blogging will become mainstream. Shortly thereafter, we will see blogging millionaires, as venture capitalists figure out ways to make money from the trend.
Maybe we should become the Northern Conglomerate.

Four-fingered objectivity 

The latest issue of Science Insights (in .pdf) from the National Association of Scholars calls attention to a publication by the SHiPS Teachers' Network on Women, Gender and Science. One of the subjects is on the "bias in "objective" knowledge based on sex". As John Wenger at NAS points out,
Carol Iannone made a wonderful comment [at an NAS meeting --kb] about people who cannot use the word �truth� without four fingers in the air (making quotation marks). The author of this essay is a perfect example of this phenomenon, as I once again ask why �objective� has quotation marks around it. I realize this is getting tiresome, but the objection has to be made, because a lot is at stake. Is science made objective if both men and women examine something, or is the inclusion of women merely meant to broaden arbitrary perspectives? Who can tell?
As I discovered here one day, using a capital T on the word Truth draws great derision from the Left. Jack warned us months ago -- I should listen to him more.

Taranto for the Alliance? 

This morning's OpinionJournal carries an extra feature by James Taranto, who edits the must-read Best of the Web, covering both the James Carroll memo at the LA Times and the ending of the ban on Native American team nicknames at the (red)StarTribune. Taranto makes note of something I did not know before:
Then there's the case of the Cincinnati Reds. In 2001, Star Tribune ombudsman Lou Gelfand announced that the paper was ending its embargo on this team's name, after an alert reader informed him that "Reds" has nothing to do with Indians and is, rather, a shortening of the team's original name, the Red Stockings.
Given that the ban started nine years ago, for how long did the STrib embargo the Cincinnati Reds? And how did my beloved Red Sox avoid the ban?

I mean, just look at these two offensive logos!

Tuesday, June 03, 2003

Bears no resemblance 

From our Allies at PowerLine comes word of a FrontPage article that describes a brand of anti-Semitism that we haven't seen here. From Ms. Johnson (a.k.a., "Little Trunk"):
University professors and administrators frequently throw the term "McCarthyism" around as a term of abuse under inappropriate circumstances, but when the phenomenon actually appears, as in Professor Qumsiyeh�s message, they are tongue-tied. Professor Qumsiyeh�s message contains all the hallmarks of the phenomenon usually described as McCarthyism. It makes unfounded accusations from a person in a position of authority against students who possess no recourse against him. The accusations are intended to damage the reputations of the students he listed by smearing them as members of a sinister "pro-war cabal," as "Straussians," "neo-cons," "Israeli apologists" and "racists."
Or "extremist". During the attempt to gloss over the Israeli flag incident, the Jewish Faculty Association made an issue of a Jews for the Preservation of Firearms' poster (which Dave put up on this blog) and referred to it, in the words of its president in an email to me, as "For many Jews, especially those with family members who were exterminated during the Holocaust, this poster raises issues of simplification, exploitation, sensationalism, and the provocative appropriation of a key Jewish image for an extreme domestic political position." This was enough for the JFA to state that "While the majority of Israelis are Jews, not all Jews are Israelis. To confuse the two is not only ignorant, it is very much part of contemporary variants of anti-Semitism that are on the rise in Europe and the United States." Another faculty member said, "When students make shameful choices, what is the other option? ... The students seem to have misunderestimated the offense they caused--OR they intended to be offensive and belligerent."

As I replied to them, "Besides, if extremism weren�t protected on college campuses, where exactly would it be? Senator McCarthy, call your office!"

Monday, June 02, 2003

New math quiz 

Today�s quiz covers the new math that�s associated with the ever shrinking teaching year here at St. Cloud State. Suppose you wanted to pay for a 3-credit course over a 15-week semester, not including a final-examination week. The total number of instructional hours you would receive for your tuition would be:

(a) 45
(b) 41.25
(c) 37.50
(d) 36
(e) 35

The correct answer this year and next is (d) 36 hours; but today we get word from our Academic Vice President that for the 2004-05 academic year, the correct answer will be (e) 35 hours.

How does this new math work? First one needs to understand that 3-credits (three hours a week) really means only 2.5 hours of classroom time. Next one must understand that faculty here need to have more and more non-instructional days - not so that we have more time for research, but so that we can sit through more and more faculty-workshop, forum-discussion, and diversity-training days. In 2004-05, our students will be able to attend classes on only 140 of their faculty�s 168 �duty days.�

Isn�t it interesting that word of our reduced teaching time comes out this week, when the legislature has finally adjourned, and when most students are off campus for the summer?

Decline to specify 

Here's a thought: Joanne Jacobs points to a Washington Post article that an increasing number of students decline to state their race. I checked our statistics, and indeed it shows up here too, from a percentage of 10.5% in 1994 to 15.5% in 2000. Thus the share of African American students on campus has risen among those who choose to identify themselves from 10.7% to 13.7% over the same period, rather than from 9.5% to 11.6% if you don't take the "decline to specify" into account.

The UND FS? 

A couple of years ago there was a battle on campus whether or not our student newspaper could refer to the University of North Dakota's sports teams by their nickname, The Fighting Sioux. Now the StarTribune, which stopped using Native American nicknames for teams nine years ago, is considering whether to rescind the ban. This won't make our president very happy.

The STrib suggests using the initial I for the Cleveland Indians (so you could call them the I's, just as the Athletics are the A's). Well, if you've ever read Ball Four and remember the two favorite words of manager Joe Schultz, you'd not want to use FS for UND. (Hat tip: Tongue Tied.)

Sullivan won't go there 

Andrew Sullivan links to a NYT Magazine article by Jeffrey Rosen that argues for Michigan-style quotas because the alternative preferred by the Bush administration -- the x-percent plans that allow for admission of any student who finished in the top x% of her or his high school class -- because it's even more harmful to academic standards. Writes Rosen,
According to Douglas Laycock, who has reviewed the undergraduate admissions figures for the University of Texas, the school before the 10-percent plan admitted 93 percent of all applicants at the top 10 percent of their high-school classes. Now it has to admit the remaining 7 percent of white and black students who would have been rejected under the old system. I asked Laycock to describe the students in this group. ''These are students with some serious weaknesses elsewhere in the file,'' he said. ''Either very low test scores, or they didn't take college prep courses, or their recommenders have serious reservations, or they have a lousy writing sample or some combination of those things.''

In other words, by taking a single attribute -- class rank -- and requiring the university to throw out all the other more nuanced measures of intellectual diversity and academic ability -- from test scores to musical skills to success in overcoming adversity -- the 10-percent plans guarantee the admission of white and black students who are both less academically prepared and also less likely to contribute to the diversity of the university as a whole than the white and black students they are displacing. The effect on academic standards has been tangible: Laycock said the percentage of students admitted from the top 10 percent of their classes with SAT scores below 1,000 has tripled since the 10-percent plans were introduced. To keep the new admits from dropping out, the university has had to offer remedial classes.

So the argument goes like this, it seems: We can't get rid of affirmative action in admissions because if we do, the states will adopt something worse. No doubt that's true in the case of Texas (adopted under Gov. Bush, btw), Florida (yup, Jeb) and California. But argue for something unconstitutional just because the alternative the states currently offer is worse is just poor thinking. Sullivan responds:
The assumption of his case - indeed of the entire debate - is that minorities will simply as a matter of fact always score lower in test scores. That's a given for the foreseeable future, if not for ever. Mickey Kaus once described those liberals who simply assume the permanent neediness of minorities as "Bell Curve Liberals," people who would never admit it but have internalized the notion that minorities are simply dumber than the majority. They either believing that such inferiority is in part genetic and in part environmental or entirely environmental. But the upshot is always the same: these people are helpless; and all we can do is rig the system to disguise it as much as possible and minimize social resentment and division. The only way we can have racial integration in universities is therefore by destroying academic standards. I'm sorry, but I can't go there. If the alternative to quotas is the evisceration of standards, then we truly have lost our faith in the power of meritocracy and the equality of the races. Jeff's argument, while compelling, is a counsel of despair. We should resist it. Keep the standards. Drop the quotas.

Sunday, June 01, 2003

Yup, we're the yardstick 

Dave posted on some racial incidents at Bethel College this spring, and Bethel's response received favorable press ... with a little swipe at SCSU at the same time.
few places present a more suitable environment for hard lessons than a college campus. Problem solving, brainstorming and enlightenment should be the hallmark of every place of higher learning. The young people at Bethel are learning an ugly lesson in an environment many of them considered protected. However, it's not like this is the first time racial hatred appeared on a Minnesota campus � numerous charges of discrimination and hate crimes have been made at St. Cloud State University in recent years. The University of St. Thomas has coped with a few outbreaks of hate crime, as did Macalester College about four years ago.
Yup, we're sure "putting this behind us", eh, Roy?

The value of replication 

I've added the blog of John Lott to the blogroll. As anyone who's followed the gun law story even cursorily will tell you, Lott's two books, More Guns, Less Crime and The Bias Against Guns contain important information in the debate on whether Minnesota's new shall-issue law will help reduce crime in Minnesota. What John has done has been to recreate the data from More Guns (the original dataset being lost in a hard disk crash) and made it avaiable for anyone who wants to replicate the study. (That information is available on the academic side of his site -- warning: You have got to have someone able to run STATA to use the datasets.)

Several economics journals keep datasets to verify all of their empirical work, and a whole journal, the Quarterly Journal of Business and Economics, seeks "replicative works and articles that synthesize the literature in business, economics, and social sciences, especially topics that bridge several disciplines." I really wonder why this doesn't happen at more places. Much of the flap over Lott's work is easily resolved by going to the data. At least with him, you can get it.

You can also see on his site yet another example of how the Gray Lady fails the test of objectivity in their reporting -- and even an example of how Fox has slanted coverage of gun issues (scroll through John's blog). I assume Ally Mitch will take after those.