Friday, August 29, 2003

Alliances, attacks, alcohol, and the size of Selleck's forehead 

We've watched with amusement the "war" between Hugh Hewitt and the Fraters Libertas, or Libertatis (if you listen to the Dictator of Declensions). As a good economist I can certainly understand Lileks' stand, but we'll agree with Mitch that this is a "battle" best left unfought. PowerLine is blissfully silent on all this, and probably getting more hits, guys!

I at first thought if I absolutely had to take sides on this I would of course defend the honor of Minnesota from the western interlopers. Hewitt isn't buttering my bread, after all, and you guys did put me onto Speyburn, for which I am eternally grateful (except for my liver.) But my choice would be tempered by two things:
  1. Vodka beats gin every day. It has curative powers. In Ukraine I worked in a collective with six Ukrainian bankers, one of whom insisted on using 50 grams (think two thin fingers) to ward off anything bad he ate from the bank's cafeteria at lunch. (It leaves no odor on the breath, by the way.) Rather than fu-fu additives you use infusions including buffalo grass (called "hunters' vodka) and ashberry. Ukrainians have a saying: Lemon vodka for when you're sick, pepper vodka for when you're dying. I like dying, from the freezer.
  2. I am having nightmares over the size of Selleck's noggin. Seriously guys, it's scaring me. What the hell is it? The Amazing Craniac?
UPDATE: Hugh offers a settlement in return for an annual cup of Fair Fries. You have good taste, sir!

You should get out more 

Via InstaPundit, Arnold Kling says we academics should experience the rest of the world.
This essay is not meant to be an attack on higher education. I do not wish to devalue traditional scholarship or academic excellence. However, I do want to suggest that college professors could benefit from diversity of experience. A few years spent working in a corporate or government setting would benefit professors by giving them first-hand knowledge of organizational behavior and politics in practice. I think that both our society and our universities would be improved if professors were required to spend a few years taking Real World 101.
My CV contains only a year outside of academia. So far.

Dilbert on PowerPoint 

And I promise I won't talk about PowerPoint junkies anymore.

Hat tip: IDBlog.

New Michigan admission rules 

Financial Aid Office has all the details. It has questions to ask applicants "What would you as an individual bring to our campus community" to contribute to "an academically superb and widely diverse educational community", and to "Describe an experience you�ve had where cultural diversity�or a lack thereof�has made a difference to you." Just about what we expected: "This is just a naked attempt to maintain quotas," Abigail Thernstrom of the Civil Rights Commission notes. Joanne Jacobs finds the essay "creepy".

Theoretical orientation 

I love the new school year, because we get email again that shows how far the campus has sunk. This morning's email box includes a note from the "Coordinator of Sexual Assault Services" talking about the "Respect and Responsibility" workshop that I noted last spring is a requirement for all students at SCSU.
In order to create as safe a campus as possible, new students (with six or more credits) are required to attend a workshop entitled Respect and Responsibility which outlines expectations for student�s conduct and provides information about sexual violence and discrimination. Students learn what they can personally do to reduce sexual violence and biases motivated incidences, policy information, consequences for acts of sexual violence and discrimination, and available resources to go to for assistance.
I don't find that at troubling. It would be nice to have a place to go when Christians get harrassed, but I suppose that's just quibbling. No, what caught my eye is a few paragraphs down.
The workshop has been a requirement since 1992 for all first year students, with transfer students being added to the requirement a few years later. The program began as a two hour workshop on sexual violence prevention. In the early 1990s we were receiving 35 to 40 sexual assault reports, compared to the last several years in which the year-end totals were in the upper teens. Several years ago the curriculum was modified to add the topic of oppression and discrimination in an attempt to educate and reduce bias motivated incidences occurring in our campus community.
Now look. Sexual violence prevention is a universal good, and teaching students the process for reporting it, and informing students which behaviors are acceptable and which are unacceptable -- provided you can do so clearly -- should be an integral part of orientation. But oppression is a theory of why discrimination happens. It is not a fact, and it is not even settled opinion. The place to discuss that theory is a classroom, not in orientation. Theories get discussed in courses that pass through a curriculum process -- no such process was followed for orientation. And if anyone thinks I'm just quibbling here follow the link to our earlier post, wherein the orientation's full title is given: "Respect and Responsibility: Sex, Race, and Power." It's not just sexual assault, and it's not just a discrimination course. It's an attempt to implant a particular view of social interaction on new students without giving them a chance to consider alternative views.

Thursday, August 28, 2003

Many holocausts 

While impressive in its details of the Holocaust Museum, Mitch's post "History Calling" (relating to our post on North Korea last night) misses a point when he says
Because it's happening. Again. And, just like the first Holocaust, you're not going to hear about it on the major media until it's far too late.
But genocides and holocausts have been among us for a very long time -- when Hitler laid out his plans for conquest and was told he would be treated poorly by history, he replied, "Who remembers the Armenians?" My father is an Armenian-American and I grew up with the stories of that genocide, reinforced to me the other night while watching my new DVD of Ararat. Reading the work of Rudolph Rummel drives in the simple point: Power kills. Power concentrated in a single man, from Talaat to Hitler to Mao to Idi Amin to Milosevic to Kim Jong Il, kills with an efficiency and alacrity that is quintessentially 20th Century. Between Kim Jong-Il and Kim Il-Sung, Rummel estimates that upward of 1.6 million North Koreans have been killed by their government. Sounds like a lot, but it's only 1% of all murders by government in the 20th century. And over 95% of these murders come from totalitarian regimes, most practicing murderous communism and socialism.

Asking "Where is Mrs. Cho?" is a question that has been asked in other places, with other Mrs. Chos -- about 160 million Mrs. Chos -- for a century.

Not Mastering the Plan for Education 

If you think Minnesota's state university budget is bad, be glad you don't live in California. The Wall Street Journal covers the impact of California's budget implosion on its colleges and universities.
Among the hardest hit have been the state's community colleges, which many low-income students use as a stepping stone to better jobs and a better life. Many classes are full at these schools, others have been canceled, and enrollment fees have rocketed 64% higher, threatening to lock out many poor students.

And the woes at the state's other school systems promise more trouble for the community colleges. As fees shot up 30% at the California State University and University of California colleges, more students are expected to flock to the already-overburdened community schools. Things are expected to get even worse next spring, when CSU plans to slash enrollment growth nearly in half, denying admission to as many as 20,000 students. Six of its 23 campuses won't accept any freshmen or transfer students at all.

Hugh Hewitt comments today that
The inability to get into these colleges, their rising costs and rotten course offerings --now those are issues that all relate back to the crazy priorities of a Sacramento ruled by special interests that don't care about the state college and community college systems.
But the choices are being avoided. Cruz Bustamente, according to the WSJ article,
said last week that if he were elected he would roll back fee increases at the community colleges and open up more classes to meet demand. He would pay for the proposed changes with proceeds from a $12 billion revenue-raising plan, including $8 billion in higher taxes.
This means he is not willing to take on any of the special interests and crazy priorities. But it's hard to take on the middle-class entitlement that is state tuition, as we see as well in Alabama. Schwarzenegger says he will not cut further (though he may not roll back like Bustamente) and Ueberroth says he wants to spend more if he can find the money. California's 1960s "Master Plan for Education" is not going to meet the 21st Century soon, if I read these articles correctly.

UPDATE: WSJ article link fixed thanks to find by Financial Aid Office.)

How to get a college education, and where 

The NAS Forum has greatly increased the frequency of their essays, and the focus this week is on college rankings and student performance on SATs. (Their archives are still Bloggered, so scroll down from today's entry.) In re: the rankings, Wiliam Casement asks why the weights on the rankings are as they are. The rankings are higher for schools that retain more freshmen; it's not clear why that's a desirable thing when we're admitting students of lower quality. Of course, they'll say, they're not -- they're admitting students of high quality because their acceptance rate is lower. But "what is important is the composition of the class that has been assembled, not what has been discarded in the process," says Casement. And most worrisome is the use of "peer evaluation" -- the best schools are the best schools because the people who run the best schools say so. 25% of the US News rankings come from these evaluations. Of course, criticism of the rankings is not new, and USNWR has changed weightings over the years in response to criticisms. As Frank at Financial Aid Office notes, the question is almost always not which is the best research university, or even the one the admissions officials like most, but which fits the particular needs of your son or daughter. My own view, heavily influenced by Jeffrey Hart's "How to Get a College Education" and Smiling Through the Cultural Catastrophe, is to be sure the school gives you a way to steer around the ridiculously bastardized general education curricula that most universities have. You can do that at a broad variety of schools, as I discovered in researching with my son where he would go.

In a second article, Thomas Reeves bemoans the disparity of white and minority SAT scores, even while we trumpet an overall increase. He lays blame squarely on modern culture:

Walk into a classroom, as I have many times, and begin lecturing to students dressed as clowns and prostitutes, proud of their tattoos and nose clips, eager only to clap on the headphones at the end of the hour and be surrounded by screaming Rock and rap stars. They want no part of what you have to say, and see themselves as prisoners and victims. Where in their entire lives do they see people who are thoughtful, educated, and enthralled with the highest cultural expressions of our civilization?
Hart suggests that you find these people teaching courses in "American Colonial History" or "Seventeenth Century English Poetry" (and maybe not even there) but practically never in a course in a department with the word "studies" in their title. ISI has an online book A Student's Guide to the Core Curriculum that is also of immense help.) Speaking out against this popular culture is all well and fine, but, to paraphrase, the no-thinkers will always be among us. What we need to provide is an opportunity for those who have taken John Galt's Cartesian formulation -- "I am, therefore I'll think" -- to steer towards in Hart's words "intellect operating at its maximum power, establishing a standard of excellence to which the university aspire[s] in every area of its activity." Something that will gain no points in the next USNWR rankings, because they know not what to measure.

Wednesday, August 27, 2003

Forgotten axis  

We're not sure that we'd like to cede our status as the western outpost of the Northern Alliance, but we're happy to align with R.B. at Infinite Monkeys, the Commissioner, and Claudia Rossett in asking, "Where is Mrs. Cho?" I wish I knew how to make banners -- along with the friends of Israel and the Free Iran ones, we should remember the eastern outpost of the Axis of Evil. We'll begin with adding the Free North Korea blog to our blogroll.

PowerPoint junkie 

The new booklet from Edward Tufte (and the Wired article spun from it) has spawned a wave of posts in the blogosphere, all of which are of the sort that "we all know this and we should do better". I've admired much of Tufte's work and I am also a PowerPoint user. So I bought the booklet, and I can testify that it is rather devastating to most of the packaged PowerPoint slides that come with economics texts. I also went to the website of Peter Norvig to see his Gettysburg PowerPoint presentation. I read this on Monday night, and then went to convocation and, of course, the President's convocation address, complete with PowerPoint. (I'll give him credit for not reading the slides -- besides which, most of them were soft warm fuzzy photos or graphs that were meaningless.)

I recall when I worked in Ukraine in 1996 I had been asked about a particular problem by an advisor and speechwriter for the governor of the national bank. I had some graphs I wanted to show, some data, and maybe two points. Working with a translator who might have to think a while before finding the right words for "elasticity of money demand with respect to expected inflation" means writing down some things in advance. Put this together and it's a good use for PP, in my view. I had the slides translated and just spoke in English (the advisor spoke English, but I had the feeling he understood less than what he let on.) I thought my brilliance had mesmerized him and he asked me at the end to teach him how to do that. "How to do what?" "That," he said, pointing to my laptop. I still misunderstood and thought he wanted me to show him how I got the data for the graphs. No, he wanted to know how to make PowerPoint presentations. ("Dammit, Jim, I'm an economist, not a software trainer!")

Should we abandon it for teaching? Yes and no. I think the prepackaged PP slides for a textbook are a good starting point, but the tendency is simply to use them as they come out of the box. That's a mistake. There are almost always too many, so you need to delete a bunch of them. I've read some people want one every minute or two, which for a presentation is fine, but for teaching is too fast. And then spin yourself out to websites as often as you can. And by all means -- give them the slides! To me the best reason to use PP in a classroom is that the students needn't worry they've missed anything, because they can download/print/view the slides over and over. So maybe they just listen and learn.

Grade for yourself 

What grade should we give for President Saigo's speech? Read it for yourself. One key performance indicator: Word count for "Multicultural Understanding and Social Justice" -- 681; word count for "Scholarship" -- 86. And I swear, if I had a nickel for every time an administrator said "each of us is like a thread in a tapestry", I could balance the department budget. I thought I was going to gouge out my eyes.

And the integrated PowerPoint slides? Awful. I've been meaning to write about Edward Tufte's rip of PowerPoint that is on every blog in the land. I'll do that after dinner.

Admissions counselor employment act. 

This is how University Attorney (noted by Financial Aid Office) described the race-based admissions process that will be employed on university campuses in the wake of the Michigan decisions. The University of Michigan must now hire more admissions workers because they will rely more on essays than they did before. In attempting to mimic the law school admissions process, which was ruled constitutional by Justice O'Connor and a bare majority, they may use the same essays. Law school applicants are
...invited to choose a maximum of two additional essay topics among six choices. The choices include: why they want to come to U-M, career plans, why their academic record does not necessarily reflect their ability to succeed in law school, overcoming obstacles in their life and experiences that have taught them about the value of diversity.
Michael at Highered Intelligence offers $100 to Michigan if the number of blacks and Latinos admitted changes by more than 10%.
Let me be the first to assure everyone that what this means, at least from the point of view of the admissions officers, is more opportunity for minority applicants to turn their "oppressed" status into a virtue, giving said admissions officers a nebulous "plus factor," enabling them to continue doing what they were doing before without being explicit about it.

Tuesday, August 26, 2003

Dittoheads likened to motorheads 

I went to the diversity session this morning and again this afternoon that Dave mentions below. After attending it I was moved to write a letter to Rush Limbaugh (I think I've done this once before, over what I cannot remember.) Here's what I sent.
Today (Tuesday) was convocation at St. Cloud State University in central Minnesota. The president made his opening remarks and then we were to receive diversity training. The speaker conducted some rather innocuous exercises that he felt illustrated how people were different. He seemed quite reasonable -- we've had diversity trainers in the past who were as agitated as this guy was calm. I was actually impressed. Then he runs through how we as an institution should "manage diversity". This meant to him changing work rules so that diversity is a goal, and so work rules would not allow someone to put up a racy "tool and die calendar" at the office. (I assume he meant some variant of the Pirelli calendars.) And then he says, "If your office mate wants to listen to Rush Limbaugh -- you know, he's one of those dittoheads -- and wants to listen to Limbaugh, he can, but here are your headphones." (I was taking notes on my laptop as he spoke. I typed it as I heard it.) So the comparison is someone looking at scantily clad women on a calendar to someone listening to your radio show. I just shook my head, and thought well, the guy's a liberal, and taking a cheap shot at Rush is all in a day for liberals. I let it go.

But in a separate session this afternoon, he does it again. He refers to students listening to your show again as "dittoheads" and says "you know, so that they don't think, they just follow whatever Rush says." Laughter around the room. What I thought was a throw-away line appears to be a regular part of his training. Conservatives are not thoughtful, no better than visitors to a peepshow, just follow the script.

Now I confess to not being Rush's biggest fan, largely because his command of economics pales before that of his own guest host Walter Williams. But it struck me that the man felt perfectly safe saying this. Here he had discussed (in the afternoon session) how we won't speak out about racist or sexist comments unless there's a person of color or a woman in the room, but did anyone speak out against this rather crass treatment of conservatives?

Does part of his definition of diversity include "diversity of thought"? Hell, no.

Monday, August 25, 2003

Bribes to attend diversity training . . . Priceless! 

Today comes word from the new Dean of our College of Business that the President of St. Cloud State University will award �discretionary dollars� to that college on campus that has the highest percentage of its faculty attend this week�s �non-mandatory diversity training sessions,� keynoted by a Penn State administrator profiled earlier by King.

Amazing! Now we know that the "ante has been raised" on meeting one specific "priority strategic" goal for our university. (So much for achieving our "non-priority strategic" goals.) But, hey, what a keen idea! "Let's bribe 'em into attending diversity training sessions, using all the power of the SCSU central-administration purse strings that we can." I never would have thought of such a nifty way to foster intercollegiate "collegiality." How insightful (not to be confused with "inciteful")!

The early betting line on the �winning college:�

College of Education: 2-5
College of Social Sciences: 4-5 (would be co-favorite except for Econ dept.)
College of Fine Arts & Humanities: 3-1
College of Science & Engineering: 20-1
G.R. Herberger College of Business: 500-1

Stay tuned as for more laughs and lunacy when our academic year starts tomorrow.

Sunday, August 24, 2003

Ya gotta lay your money down 

The current odds on winning the California recall, via This may be the best early look at the effect of Simon leaving the race.

Angelyne 500-1
Arianna Huffington 40-1
Arnold Schwarzenegger 5-8
Cruz Bustamante 1-1
Field (Any Other Candidate) 25-1
Gallagher 500-1
Gary Coleman 500-1
Gray Davis Remains Governor 3-1
Larry Flynt 500-1
Peter Ueberroth 10-1
Tom McClintock 18-1

For comparison, here's the current info at

Recall Fails (Davis stays) 9-2
Arnold 7-6
Cruz Bustamente 2-1
Ueberroth >50-1
McClintock is over 100-1.

Burns the Books! 

Courtesy of Joanne Jacobs, we read that Ray Bradbury's Fahrenheit 451 was itself censored! Bradbury himself:
There is more than one way to burn a book. And the world is full of people running about with lit matches. Every minority, be it Baptist / Unitarian, Irish / Italian / Octogenarian / Zen Buddhist, Zionist/Seventh-day Adventist, Women's Lib/Republican, Mattachine/FourSquareGospel feel it has the will, the right, the duty to douse the kerosene, light the fuse. Every dimwit editor who sees himself as the source of all dreary blanc-mange plain porridge unleavened literature, licks his guillotine and eyes the neck of any author who dares to speak above a whisper or write above a nursery rhyme.

Fire-Captain Beatty, in my novel Fahrenheit 451, described how the books were burned first by the minorities, each ripping a page or a paragraph from the book, then that, until the day came when the books were empty and the minds shut and the library closed forever.

"Shut the door, they're coming through the window, shut the window, they're coming through the door," are the words to an old song. They fit my lifestyle with newly arriving butcher/censors every month. Only six months ago, I discovered that, over the years, some cubby-hole editors at Ballantine Books, fearful of contaminating the young, had, bit by bit, censored some 75 separate sections from the novel. Students, reading the novel which, after all, deals with the censorship and book-burning in the future, wrote to tell me of this exquisite irony. Judy-Lynn Del Rey, one of the new Ballantine editors, is having the entire book reset and republished this summer with all the damns and hells back in place.

I hope they will highlight the restored words and sentences and paragraphs.

UPDATE: This was written by Bradbury in 1979.

Saturday, August 23, 2003

Hard vs. soft 

There's a fine New York Times Magazine article on Larry Summers, the economist and Harvard president. The writer seems perplexed by Summers' rough-edged personality (I can think of hundreds of economists with personalities like Summers', though almost none with his intellect) and spends more time there than on what I found his best point: Summers wants students to be more scientific.
The fundamental reason Summers wants to change the undergraduate curriculum is that, as he explains, the nature of knowledge has changed so radically. Summers often says that one of the two most important phenomena of the last quarter-century is the revolution in the biological sciences. And yet, as he also often says, while it is socially unacceptable at an elite university to admit that you haven't read a Shakespeare play, no stigma at all attaches to not knowing the difference between a gene and a chromosome or the meaning of exponential growth. Summers compares this ignorance to the provinciality of never having traveled abroad. He wants every student to live in science for a while and not just to do some sightseeing in a course designed to help you ''think like a biologist.'' Summers is not categorically opposed to the ''ways of thinking'' approach. ''The hard question,'' he said, ''is the line between learning a lot of science in one area and surveying more broadly but less deeply and thus less close to the genuine professional enterprise.''

But the intellectual revolution that Summers says he hopes to capture in the new curriculum is not limited to science itself. ''More and more areas of thought have become susceptible to progress,'' he said, ''susceptible to the posing of questions, the looking at the world and trying to find answers, the coming to views that represent closer approximations of the truth.'' Tools of measurement have become ubiquitous, as well as extraordinarily refined. Archaeology, Summers observed, ''was at one stage kind of a 'Raiders of the Lost Ark' operation. Now we're hiring a chemist who can figure out diet from fingernail clippings.''

Political scientists are using computer modeling to make comparative studies; mathematicians analyze the pattern of change in the AIDS virus to explain why the interval between infection and sickness is so long. The great universities have traditionally defined themselves as humanistic rather than scientific institutions. Summers's point is not so much that the balance should shift as that the distinctions between these modes of understanding have blurred, though clearly in a way that favors the analytic domains -- the soft has become harder, rather than the other way around.
Of course this is worrying to some members of the campus; when political theorist Michael Sandel says ''By training and temperament, economists are intellectual imperialists,'' he's quite right. It is not so much rational choice (which Sandel seems to oppose) that is the source of the imperialism, but that economists are taught to test theories and cast aside those that don't measure up. Summers himself says, ''The idea that we should be open to all ideas is very different from the supposition that all ideas are equally valid.'' I suspect Summers uses the word "Truth" with the capital T.

Deep Thoughts for the classroom 

Entertaining myself by reading some Deep Thoughts by Jack Handey and think other faculty could use these for their classrooms. Let's lay a few of these on slides for our students this term (oh I know, we're not supposed to use PowerPoint any more, but I already paid for the slides.)

Friday, August 22, 2003

You have GOT to be kidding 

Alas, not:
Cynthia McKinney, the feisty former 4th District congresswoman, is headed for the Ivy League.

Officials at Cornell University in Ithaca, N.Y., confirmed that McKinney has been named a visiting professor at the institution. Under her contract, she will serve as a guest lecturer for three years, beginning this fall.

"Cynthia McKinney is a person of considerable achievement in the political sphere," said Porus Olpadwala, dean of Cornell's School of Architecture, Art and Planning, who served as chairman of the 13-member faculty committee that selected McKinney for the part-time professorship.

"She is an internationally renowned advocate for voting rights and human rights. She has taken clear stands on a number of critical issues and been a strong voice in Congress," Olpadwala said.

Wonder how many East Indians will enjoy her lectures? Jewish students? Cannot wait for the announcement of a visiting professorship to Pat Robertson.

Tales from the trenches of collegiate budgeting 

Stephen Karlson reports:
[Y]esterday the Dean of the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences pulled the old close-the-Washington-Monument trick, responding to a criticism of administrative expenses that has been circulating in the state by showing three job descriptions, for advisors and research personnel serving students, whose salaries are classified as administrative, and further observing that the College did about half the teaching with about 25% of the University's administrative expenses. That still leaves a lot of assessors of the obvious, counselors of the unprepared, diversity boondogglers, form fiddlers -- the paperwork for an external speaker exceeds that for a carload of corn to be milled in transit -- and vice presidents to go after. Are you listening, California?
We have noticed this at St. Cloud State. Again, looking at the latest budget figures, only $80,000 of $2.8 million being cut from the budget here is coming from "classified" salaries -- while $2.1 million comes from unclassified. I've been struggling all week with a supplies budget that is less than $700 per faculty member, no equipment budget, and students who can't get into classes they need in our major. (Why so little, you ask? Well, in our college they took the money from supplies and equipment to pay for another faculty member in ... wait for it ... women's studies. Swell.) We're the monument, and I don't sense that anybody cares.

P.S. Stephen, we've been off quarters for five years. The late date of the State Fair (and it's not late to those of us who lived in California) is most likely due to the later growing season here. The zuchinni are just now in the stores, corn for less than three weeks.

Ferris Bueller's year off 

In all the discussion around the blogosphere of UNC's revocation of Mark Edmonson's admission to their university after he simply blew off his senior year of studies, the one I like best comes from Steve at Begging to Differ:
The basic tension at work here is between admissions officers (who consider grades a reflection of curiosity, ability, and effort) and students (who consider grades merely a prerequisite for college admission). UNC admitted Edmonson not on the basis of his grades per se, but on the basis of what his grades ostensibly revealed about him. By slacking off his senior year, Edmonson demonstrated that he considered his classwork a means to a specific end - and once that end was achieved, he no longer had any use for it.

Many students feel the exact same way - and to a large extent the admission process encourages a cynical view. Edmonson's sin was not gaming the system, but being obnoxious about it. Every clever slacker reading these words knows that Edmonson could have mailed it in and still gotten a satisfactory GPA. Instead, he chose to blow off school completely. His gambit revealed the admission process for the mechanistic numbers game that it is, and this the university simply cannot abide.

Frank at the Financial Aid Office notes that the language of the admissions letter is vague for a reason:
If the language is a little vague (as Eugene Volokh suggests), that vagueness is more often applied to the student's benefit, since it leaves the admissions office room for discretion when there are real reasons for a grade decline. (Examples I have seen include deaths in the family or parent[s] being laid off.) An admissions office doesn't want to pull someone's offer; the student has to give them a reason to do so.
Having your GPA drop from 3.8 to 1.3 would certainly be one. But Volokh's updated reply disagrees:
If their offer is conditional, they should expressly state the conditions, and make clear that they are conditions. If they don't want to make a legally binding offer at all, but just express interest, they should make that clear. Perhaps they should win even under this letter. But it wouldn't hurt to make things more clear -- to decrease the chance of losing a lawsuit, to decrease the chance that a lawsuit would be filed, and to keep students from misunderstanding what the offer is, and possibly relying (though in a foolish way) on such a misunderstanding.
I always fear going into law when there are law professors present, but ... is the acceptance letter really a contract? I think there's an advantage to making it one, in that we want entering students to be able to make plans, commit deposits, reject other schools' offers so they can make offers elsewhere perhaps, etc. But Frank's point about having some flexibility for a GPA decline that is the result of reasonable external events and not because the student revealed by his behavior he just wanted a high GPA for admission and not for a love of learning, would be a good argument not to have admissions offices commit to something as binding as a contract. In an ideal world conditional offers make sense, but I'm hesitant to say that we should remove discretion from admissions offices.

Thursday, August 21, 2003

To whom much is given, much is required 

Via PowerLine, a commencement speech at Hillsdale College by Prof. Robert George of Princeton. The speech titled "Freedom and its Counterfeit" drives home the responsibilities that come with freedom and sings the praises of Hillsdale's graduates. They are trained already, he says, that true freedom comes from a commitment to truth and to virtue.

Such a wonderful speech in comparison to the many hateful graduation speeches like that at Rockford College. To Big Trunk's question of "who is going to explain this to our robed masters?" we add George's own words:

President Fairfield said one thing on that day in 1853 that we cannot, alas, say today. Near the end of his address, he declared that �our educational establishments ever have been the faithful allies and firm supporters of all that is ennobling in our free institutions.� Tragically, the legacy of our educational establishments in the twentieth century has been altogether different, and very much worse.

Rush and eggs 

Maybe the reason we hate the StarTribune so much is not its writers but its readers. Noted by Fraters Libertas today is this letter from someone troubled to find a Rush Limbaugh column in her beloved Red Star:
I was troubled when I saw that the Star Tribune featured a commentary by Rush Limbaugh, a notorious racist hatemonger whose points of view are more about sharpening the sword of divisiveness than uniting us.

He is nothing but a right-wing demagogue and haranguer of the intolerant and undereducated.

The Elder responds:
I've had to put with a continuous barrage of the leftist rantings of Krugman, Dowd, Scheer, and worst of all Molly bleepin' Ivins staring me in the face at the breakfast table day after day, year after year. Publishing one editorial by Rush doesn't even begin to compensate for the suffering that I've endured at the hands of the Strib editorial page.

About our mandatory diversity trainer 

We department chairs have now received a "personal invitation" to workshops on "diversity and power relationships" from a Dr. Terrell Jones from Penn State, whom we are all told has an "approach to the topic of diversity [that] is interesting, stimulating, and thoughtful." You don't say! Well, let's have a look at this fellow, shall we?
W. Terrell Jones is currently the Vice Provost for Educational Equity at The Pennsylvania State University. Dr. Jones earned his Masters and Doctoral degrees in Student Personnel Services from Penn State. He has presented workshops and speeches on cultural diversity, cultural/ethnic identity, racism reduction models and intercultural communications for the public and private sectors as well as for student and professional diversity focused conferences. He is the author of several articles on diversity in higher education and is a consultant for many institutions that are committed to cultural diversity and multicultural development.
For a guy trained in student personnel, he seems to have had a little problem with students. From a student newspaper at PSU last year.
During a meeting last week between the Senate Diversity Committee and Jones, Jones expressed doubt in the senate's ability to understand diversity because the senators present weren't diverse themselves.

"You can't talk about diversity since you're all white," he said.

This was the second time Jones publicly suggested that many non-minorities do not understand diversity issues. During a day of meetings with black state legislators and students in April 2001, Jones told two newspaper reporters that most white people are not good at dealing with racism.

The 2001 statement is available here and included this exchange.
In his interview with reporters, Jones said he was still upset by an October 2000 Collegian article in which a student was quoted making a racist remark against him. Jones was informed about the quote before it ran in the paper and declined an invitation to respond to it.

Jones told two newspaper reporters that most white people are not good at dealing with racism. Turning to the Collegian reporter, he said the reporter was untrustworthy.

"Please put that in your paper. I said, 'I don't trust you,' " Jones said. He turned away and said nothing more.

So Dr. Jones has a little history here. What will he say to us? We can get some idea from these notes from a speech he gave at Iowa (in Word .doc form -- here's the Google html version). He puts four parts to diversity: affirmative action, valuing differences, leveraging diversity and managing diversity. What I find telling is his description of the resistance to diversity.That is, those that oppose this model are in denial, fear, or are waxing nostalgic. I do not find these explanations "interesting, stimulating, and thoughtful." But then he probably won't trust me.

Conservatives in academia, again 

Frank at Financial Aid Office sent a note to me to look at this discussion at CalPundit. I'm afraid it's fouled my mood. You'll need to take the time to scroll through the comments, because they are quite revealing. The dismissiveness that the Left displays to our concerns doesn't shock me at all. And there's no interest in discussion, just posturing that some right-wing so-and-so is "100% full of shit", a "whiner" or whatever.

I think there's one confusion that needs to be cleared up, however. Yes, there are areas of academia where conservatism might be more popular (though it's far less prevalent in economics than it appears those outside the field believe -- see my earlier post on this). In my department the arguments are not over Friedman vs. Marx and only a little more Friedman vs. Keynes. It's more like Friedman vs. Hayek (to most leftists that's a distinction without a difference, but I beg to differ!), or Friedman vs. strong-form rational expectations, because that's largely where the profession has gone. (There aren't "pro-labor economists", as one commenter asked, because economists of all stripes are fairly agreed that unions cause unemployment, and nobody seems to be in favor of that). And while my experience is that most scientists tend to believe in some form of socialism (I have explanations for why, but that's another post) I am willing to believe those who claim that ideology plays a very minor role in hiring, tenure and promotion in the natural science departments.

But that misses the point of the argument (or at least my argument) that inter-departmental battles on campuses tend to be dominated by the left. They organize more, and are more interested, in controlling committees on general education, curriculum, diversity education, etc. Nobody is permitted to oppose them as they take control of faculty email lists. Most of those conservatives cited by the leftists in CalPundit's discussion choose not to take part in the battle. They are quiescent, and in their quiescence they allow the leftists to influence the administrations on their campuses unduly. When it does happen, like Larry Summers taking the presidency of Harvard, the results are predictable: The left gets its panties in a bunch.

Thankfully, the students are responding themselves. I'd hope that would embarass all these right-wing academics the left thinks are lurking in the halls. I'd hope it would inspire them to speak on discussion lists, show up at mandatory (or not) diversity training and speak the truth to lies, join discussion groups on what's happening on our campuses, etc.

But I'm just a whiner and 100% full of shit, right? Fine, but I also follow Rule #1 (as many salespersons I know say): Outlast the bastiches.

Tuesday, August 19, 2003

Off Weds. 

I am taking #1 son of to start his college career tomorrow. Back Thursday!

If Jackie Robinson breaking the color line ended the Negro Leagues... 

... do diversity initiatives at America's colleges and universities mean the end of historically black colleges and universities? "By 1971, only 34 percent of black college students were enrolling in HBCUs and that figure dropped to just 18 percent in 2000. " Is that due to expanded opportunities elsewhere or a diversion of students from HBCUs? Discuss. [Hat tip: Dissecting Leftism.]

Is now the time? 

We've argued if the faculty are liberal, but it appears the groundswell of opinion is that the student body is becoming increasingly conservative. We've noted this earlier, but a new piece in The Economist goes further.
Why this upturn in conservatism? One reason is a healthy desire to tweak the noses of people in authority. America's academic establishment is so solidly liberal that Naderites easily outnumber Republicans. The leftists who seized control of the universities in the 1960s have imposed their world-view on the young with awesome enthusiasm, bowdlerising text-books of anything that might be considered sexist or racist, imposing draconian speech codes and inventing pseudo-subjects such as women's studies.
Combine this with 9/11 and the fact that Republicans right now are doing a good job of recruiting youth to their programs like College Republicans or YAF, add an enthusiastic leadership from people like the CRs' Scott Stewart, and the groundswell, argues The Economist, turns into a youthquake. But without a cause that pushes them into common cause, all that organizing has nowhere to go. CR and YR were around when I was a student in the late 1970s, but there wasn't much to hang your hat on: Nixon was disgraced, Ford had lost, Saigon had fallen and being anti-Communist was largely discredited. It took time to put new ideas in place. The Left, perhaps unwittingly, is giving rally points for the conservative movement on campus.

For example, Mark Steyn a couple of weeks ago wrote about the censorious treatment of anyone who discusses homosexuality in an unapproving way, from judicial nominee William Pryor to a teacher in British Columbia suspended for writing in a newspaper that homosexuality was not "something to be applauded". Steyn's money line:

He didn't say gays are evil. But he did say homosexuality wasn't something to be applauded. And, if we start letting people decide who they are and aren't going to applaud, there's no telling where it will end.
Sylvain Galineau at the Chicago Boyz comments on this:
There could be a debate. People might think for themselves and actually choose a different opinion. Now 'Think Different' is a fine campaign for Apple. But when it comes to some topics, this kind of attitude is beyond the pale.

... [D]isagreement is freedom. The freedom to disagree could also imply, for instance, the ability to offer commercial services for heterosexuals only, just like the myriad of travel agents catering to the gay and lesbian market. In practice, the former will get you a cease-and-desist letter from the ACLU, the latter praise for your tolerance, when it does not make you a "diversity" visionary.

At any point in time, such coercive enforcement of moral beliefs is also the hallmark of an entrenched establishment. And in universities, the media, Hollywood and many other corners of American society, liberals are now either the authority in power, or an influential force that relies on intellectual intimidation to push itself further. They censor, control, define and shape world views, compose and impose a proper vocabulary and generally silence and otherwise smear dissenters. Which makes you wonder when the generational ebb and flow will topple this particular establishment. In other words, when will the Left suffer its own counter-cultural revolution ?

Looking at the data on student attitudes and the aging of the Left, the time may be now.

Worth noting about Walsh 

Connecting to the story just below, here's the publisher's review on the dust jacket of the accuser's book, Exquisite Desire. (Dug out of the Google cache.)
Carey Walsh investigates the character of erotic in writings from ancient Israel, particularly the Song of Songs, and how the erotic is connected to the experience of the divine." "In the Song, the erotic is expressed in terms of desire. The wanting and yearning of the text's author, assumed to be a woman, is heightened by the periodic absence of her male lover. The Song is therefore not an allegory of God's love for Israel or Christ's love for the church, as it has often been understood, but essentially a book about how badly two people love and want each other." "The experience of sensuous desire, wanting, and yearning, Walsh points out, is not unrelated to our spiritual selves. For our spiritual quest is precisely the yearning for meaning, the hungry desire for it, and the painful coping with its periodic absence. We yearn for a relationship with the Divine, though often we experience its absence.

God and Woman at Rhodes 

We shared with you last month a story about a tenure decision that gave way to a sexual harassment suit at Rhodes College. The Memphis Flyer runs another story about it this week (rated PG-13). Ralph Luker adds some background as another historian well acquainted with the accuser.
she graduated Phi Beta Kappa from Allegheny College; she earned a graduate degree at Yale University; and she completed her graduate studies at the University of Chicago. She had excellent teaching evaluations at Rhodes and she brought two books to the tenure decision. Frankly, at a good liberal arts college, such as Rhodes, it just doesn't get much better than that.
The article confirms that Walsh was a good instructor, and that perhaps 500 students signed a petition urging the college to keep her. The petition is offered in the lawsuit as evidence that she was not denied tenure for poor teaching.

The lawsuit centers on Walsh's tenure year conferences with her department chair, Ellen Armour, and the story includes quotes that are shocking if true. Rhodes, a college of about 1500 students with Presbyterian roots, has sent an email to the campus asking that all media inquiries funnel through their public relations office, where hopefully the transparency their college president discussed in a CASE publication last month will be on full display.

In the new Flyer article, we also learn that Walsh issued a campus-wide broadside against the religion department in which she worked.

In this religion department, Jesus, I was informed by the New Testament scholar no less, was a wimp, Paul an idiot, the Resurrection, a no-brainer (no), God, alas, an ancient delusion, irrelevant yet curiously worthy of contempt.

I'm no saint or fundamentalist, just an average, lazy Catholic, tolerant of differences, but I was deceived and axed when I didn't share cynicism about faith.

If you've ever watched someone undergoing a tough tenure decision, some of Walsh's behavior is easily described as someone under understandable stress. But there's more to this. It is pretty clear that the defense is based on denial of wrongdoing and chalking up Walsh's behavior to psychological problems -- the Flyer reports one history professor there as besmirching the school on the basis of "[a] 22-page lawsuit filed by someone 'under the care of a psychiatrist'" which "certainly suggests that the author might have some difficulties constructing reality," and she is described as a scatter-brain (who nevertheless wrote two books in six years.) [Hat tip: Critical Mass]

Part two of the Lang case... 

... is up at Critical Mass.

The tension between markets and motives 

Economics Professor Gratitude Award goes to Mitch for his coverage of how the "terror market" idea got shot down.
there's something the naysayers miss - and always miss - about capitalism: While its methods may be divorced from any direct moral imperative, its results are inherently moral anyway.
That is, there really isn't a tension. See Mises, Human Action, Chapter 15, section 9, for more.
We may admire those who abstain from making gains they could reap in producing deadly weapons or hard liquor. However, their laudable conduct is a mere gesture without any practical effects. Even if all entrepreneurs and capitalists were to follow their example, wars and dipsomania would not disappear. As was the case in the precapitalistic ages, governments would produce the weapons in their own arsenals and drinkers would distill their own liquor.
Any firm who wants to hire someone who knows his economics would do well to consider Mitch, who's available at reasonable rates. They would profit from the experience.

Fallen comrade 

We join the blogosphere in mourning the death of Commissioner Hugh Hewitt's father Bill yesterday. We offer our prayers to Hugh and his family.

Monday, August 18, 2003

How big a ruling is it? 

The Volokh Conspiracy's David Bernstein has an opinion piece in the Washington Times today on free speech and campus speech codes, following on the Office of Civil Right's interpretation of the law. Prof. Bernstein explains some of the history of speech codes (the Santa Rosa case) and argues that for public schools, the days of speech codes may be closing.
Mr. [Gerald] Reynolds [assistant secretary of OCR] sent a letter to universities nationwide, clarifying that "OCR's regulations and policies do not require or prescribe speech, conduct or harassment codes that impair the exercise of rights protected under the First Amendment." In other words, the federal government does not support speech codes that violate free speech. Public colleges with Orwellian speech codes can no longer justify them by hiding behind federal rules. ...

Speech codes enacted by public universities clearly violate the First Amendment, even if the codes are enacted in response to the demands of the OCR. So, requiring public universities to enact speech codes or forfeit public funds is obviously unconstitutional. Nevertheless, public university officials ignored the First Amendment and enacted (or retained) speech codes in compliance with the OCR guidelines. While a few schools may have been truly concerned about the potential loss of federal funding, the prevailing attitude among university officials seemed to be that the OCR's Santa Rosa decision provided a ready excuse to indulge their preference for speech codes.

Bernstein argues that the codes have been on "life support" from Clinton's Dept. of Education despite suffering several court setbacks. Eugene Volokh has commentary as well and he's less sanguine than Bernstein.
the OCR is indeed saying that universities should and may restrict otherwise protected speech -- speech that's not an otherwise punishable threat, libel, fighting words, etc. -- if the speech is (among other things) "severe, persistent or pervasive" enough "to limit . . . a student's ability to . . . benefit from an educational program" (judged from the perspective of a reasonable student as well as this particular student). This might ultimately prove to be a very narrow exception -- or it might not. ... the OCR's letter isn't bad, but it doesn't squarely put the Administration on the side of speech protection here. I wish that the OCR had instead stressed that the First Amendment doesn't allow the punishment of speech (unless the speech fits within the existing First Amendment exceptions, such as for threats or fighting words), and that there's no escape hatch for university administrators that want to stretch words such as "pervasive," "severe," "limit," or "ability to benefit."
I submit all this to the Scholars for discussion at our first meeting of the new school year, which alas approaches too quickly.

Price discrimination for college admissions 

I've enjoyed reading some of Frank's posts at Financial Aid Office, and in comments on a piece on setting tuition rates I said I would work on a longer piece on the question. This is the delivery.

An old professor of mine told me about his son getting admitted to Duke, where the father had also gone to school. Tuition is dear, so the professor contacts the admissions office there and speaks to the director. He says, in effect, "here's how much I am willing to pay, and we'll send the deposit if you will give aid for the remainder." The director blew him out of the office, and the son never did go to Duke. The professor said they blew it; I think the director may have been undiplomatic, but was right not to accept the offer. Here's why.

When we teach price discrimination in economic theory, we tell people that you need three things to be true in order to charge two people two different prices for identical goods.

  1. have market control and be a price maker,
  2. identify two or more groups that are willing to pay different prices, and
  3. keep the buyers in one group from reselling the good to another group.
Market control comes from being able to distinguish yourself from others, so you need to offer "unique programs". I found this article from 1997 discussing tuition price discrimination, and of interest was the policy at Carnegie Mellon of offering deep discounts from the headline tuition rate for those student contemplating majors in the liberal arts but almost none for intended computer science majors. This is only sensible, since CMU has a high reputation in the latter area -- people wanting to get into CMU for computer science are not likely to be as price sensitive because there are fewer good substitutes available (i.e., the demand for that degree was relatively inelastic -- read here for more on elasticity.) My old professor, as an alum of Duke, revealed by his behavior that his demand was relatively inelastic, and so the admissions director called his bluff. Now in that case Duke lost, but I'm willing to bet that is the exception rather than the rule (this professor's picture can be found in your dictionary next to the word "cantankerous".)

One of the lessons we should learn from that article and that experience is that the more specific the good, the more elastic the demand -- and therefore the more difficult it is to make money by raising prices. Demand for dinner is inelastic; demand for meat as part of that dinner is more elastic; demand for beef as the meat choice for that dinner is even more so; the demand for steak, the demand for T-bone, etc. Elasticity depends first and foremost on substitutes. There will be some applicants who apply who have many good alternatives to education at institution X and others who don't, for a variety of reasons. The key to running a good admissions office is to determine what those reasons are, how to separate those with the different reasons, and then adjust the tuitions appropriately. But making your school relatively unique -- imbuing it with "market power" -- is critical too, and outside the control of admissions offices. So these schemes of price discrimination are not available for many universities.

It is worth noting that, though the word 'discrimination' has negative connotations, in this case there is a benefit to the use of price discrimination in education. It allows us to offer more higher education than we would if we offered everyone one price. (Note: I encourage readers interested in learning more economics to visit AmosWeb, which is an entertaining place to pick up glossary terms and has the funny -- to economists anyway -- Ask Mister Economy.)

Many thanks! 

Joanne Jacobs has now gone to Moveable Type and in the process added us to her Edu-Blogroll. We are of course grateful.

No good deed goes unpunished 

Critical Mass has been covering the case of Frederick Lang, an English professor at Brooklyn College, who has been removed from the classroom due to student complaints, which appear to be only due to his grading policy. Prof. Lang is now discussing his case as the arbitrator has ruled; Lang is not a happy camper. I don't know enough about this from the first installment, though I will say that I too ask my students to re-write papers to improve their grades (and I'm not an English professor). I'll write more when I see the rest. I know one of my loyal readers has discussed this point at length in comments at Critical Mass, and I'll hope he summarizes his viewpoints in the comment box.

Sunday, August 17, 2003

You don't even know what to count 

Forgive me for a pure economics post. I ran across this post by Yglesias about his selling flashlights for exorbitant prices during the blackout.
This idea that, somehow, the increased sales of flashlights, batteries, canned food, and bottled water could possibly make up for losing essentially the entire output of several large cities is, frankly, a bit bizarre. On the other hand, I did manage to sell two flashlights on the street Thursday night, one for $20 and one for $25 so my personal output was doing pretty well.
Um, see the broken-window fallacy. Moreover, the P in GDP stands for Product. You didn't produce anything so there's no effect on GDP. Only if it induces rebuilding of Spam and MagLites will there be any effect on GDP. I agree with most people that this effect will be de minimus.

What should Rickert expect? 

Saint Paul of the Fraters Libertas dropped an email to me last night asking whether I would post more on the grind of European league basketball and hockey on players. I had a student a couple years ago, a hockey player who was undrafted from SCSU to the NHL (we've had thirty players taken in the last 16 years) and received an offer to play on a German professional team. An apartment and a car are included in the deal as standard, and there are tax advantages to boot. This student, who had graduated on time and played out his collegiate eligibility, returned from Europe a few months later. "It wasn't for me. There were some things promised that didn't come through, and the style of play didn't fit me." Given he was a relatively physical player and that the ices in Europe tend to be all large, Olympic size rinks (as is our on National Hockey Center), I suppose the latter explanation is not the real reason -- he had to know that was the way. And, as this article indicates, the style of play really isn't physical. It's a place to develop shooting and skating skills.

Basketball, the subject of Saint Paul's post on Rick Rickert, is another matter. We had a post player, Rado Rancik, who now plays in France (and last year's graduate Tina Schreiner is also schedule to play for Samur in France). It's a grinder's game in Europe (I am in eastern Europe or the former USSR about three-to-five weeks a year on average, and I watch it often when I'm over there), and international rules make you play a different game. It's very much a finesse and shooters league, skills I don't think Rickert needs to develop further; he's already a pretty good outside shooter. The middle will be clogged enough to hamper his post play. Rado, in contrast, is purely a face-up player (we would dread watching him attempt hook shots here) and scrappy. He's actually a rather ideal Euro player. Rado's brother Martin, who played at Iowa State, put himself in for the draft and was undrafted. He went to Italy to play, which along with France are higher-quality leagues than Rickert will find (though, as a league champion, they will be in a Champions league this year). Krka tried out former Gopher Dusty Rychart as well, but sent him on to Croatia where he was the teammate of former Ohio State standout Scoonie Penn last year.

So safe to say, Rickert will by playing with middling competition, not another American on the team, in a league that doesn't fare well in international competition. Atop that, travel and cultural adjustments are needed. And Mr. Rickert should also be prepared monetarily:

The standard is to get your first paycheck after the first month (not in advance) with your Club. You can send money over from Europe to any bank in the US. Credit cards are acceptable, as well as traveler checks. Always bring some extra money with you for emergencies.
Rick, nobody will carry your bags, either.

If 500 liberal blogs whine and nobody hears them... 

Shot in the Dark has some observations on how liberal bloggers are coordinating their defense of ... Al Franken.
Blogs on both sides have gotten into big group activities like this. Let's compare them:

  • Right Blogs - Coordinated blogging on Iranian independence day, to draw attention to the anti-theocracy protesters and their suffering, and to support their yearning for freedom.
  • Left Blogs - Coordinated blogging on behalf of comic Al Franken, to support his yearning for relevance.
  • Right Blogs - Gang fact-checking the New York Times, eventually helping to lead to the exposure of a culture of PC and disregard for the truth at the Old Gray Lady.
  • Left Blogs - "Cyber-mooning" Fox News.
As Stuart Smalley said, "Whining is anger through a small opening."

Saturday, August 16, 2003

How much advocacy is permitted? 

Continuing a trend we saw here in Minnesota, faculty and staff at the University of Alabama are being encouraged to lobby for higher taxes. In a faculty and staff online publication, they are being encouraged to put money into a fund to help the campaign for an initiative that would add $700 million in higher taxes. I always find this sort of thing embarassing: Universities using their publicly-funded positions and resources to lobby for more public funding and resources. The Alabama Scholars Association has posted information on this as well (scroll down to "Other News".)
Faculty and staff of the University of Alabama received a letter from President Robert Witt, urging them to support Governor Riley's tax package by calling state legislators (May 2003). The ASA expresses disappointment. Witt should not use his office for partisan political purposes, or to imply that state employees should support a particular political proposal. It is quite possible to be a "good" citizen and to disagree with the governor's agenda. Witt should acknowledge this, and provide an equal opportunity for opponents of the Riley plan to express themselves through the university's "Capstone e-letter."
Best I can tell, that equal opportunity has either not been granted or not been taken advantage of. Meanwhile, Witt is running pro-tax materials in every issue. (Hat tip: Liberty and Power.)

Friday, August 15, 2003

What to put in the shiny red wagon 

Infinite Money R.B. put in the comments box a link to his post replying to my kvetching about training teachers in technology while ignoring what they teach. Along with a plug for several books from ISI, which I'll second (indeed, I've lost a few hours this week listening to some lectures there, including this masterpiece by Alan Kors), R.B. says that the important subjects are Ancient Greek, Latin, mathematics ... and rhetoric.
Junior High students need to study traditional (and maybe formal) Logic (which technically could be studied in the original languages too). We at PCS place a high value on the study of formal Rhetoric for our high schoolers. We're nowhere near ready for it, but in theory, we could use the untranslated version of Aristotle's foundational Rhetorica.
Is this an unreasonable aspiration? If so, since when?

Why do I have the summer off? 

So asks the president of George Washington University.
Universities typically operate for slightly more than half the year -- generally two 14-week semesters. And aside from some summer-school programs, we barely use our facilities at all for three months of the year. This practice, it seems to me, wastes time that we could use for instruction, undervalues our facilities, which stand idle, and costs us money, because we could actually enroll more students and earn more tuitions if we operated more of the year.

Imagine that instead of two 14-week semesters each academic year, we had three trimesters -- with, of course, appropriate vacations between them. Students and faculty would be on campus for two out of three trimesters. We could actually increase our enrollment at the George Washington University by at least a thousand students, yet have fewer students on campus at any one time. In that way, there would be less competition among our students for housing, classes and all our amenities, yet more income for the university and lower prices for students. This would, moreover, please the city zoning authorities and our neighbors by reducing the university population at any one moment.

I wonder what GWU does for summer school. Here we had almost 6000 students taking at least one course in the summer 2002. By a very conservative estimate summer school pulls in about $4.5 million (I didn't have credit hour data to make a better guess, just full- vs. part-time enrollments, so I guessed that part-timers took 1.5 classes on average). Salaries for summer school were under $2.2 million. Cooling the buildings should be a sunk cost (except on Fridays) so we're clearing well over $2 million. How much more would we make on a trimester schedule?

Smart classrooms require effort, too 

From Newmark's Door, an article that argues what education needs now is more training of teachers to use PCs. The article, reporting from a conference on educational computing, says we train them to use a PC, but not how to teach with it. The answer of government is of course more money -- a fourth of the technology money that goes to schools in the No Child Left Behind Act boondoggle must now go to training. (I hear the gravy train coming, it's coming around the bend...) Prof. Newmark makes the point:
the main problem is not how the teachers use PCs, it's the grossly inflated expectations of what PCs can do for student learning. I'm old enough to remember when film strips where going to "revolutionize" education. Then HP calculators. Then TVs in the classrooms. Now, PCs. But the thing that hasn't changed--and I daresay will never change--is most things that are worth learning require effort.
I have set up chatrooms for classes of ninety students, and only two show up. We have had people use WebCT -- and students don't want to deal with that. Why? Could it be the material we teach? Crap in a shiny new red wagon is still crap.

Yeah, what he said 

Donald Luksin lights up Arnold for bringing on Buffett. Compare the two quotes, one of Arnold from the Free to Choose video that I discussed a week ago with the quote of Buffett that Luskin dug up.
"I come from Austria, a socialistic country... I felt I had to come to America, where government isn't always breathing down your neck or standing on your shoes."
"This has been a tremendous economic system. It's a system that showers rewards on my particular skill set... The tax system is the way to distribute the prosperity."
Not that it matters since I don't vote in California any more, but there's not enough room on the Arnie bandwagon for both me and Buffett.

UPDATE (1:15pm): George Shultz is now on board. That doesn't help.

Justice delayed 

The North Central Conference, in which SCSU plays, just announced that the University of Northern Colorado had to forfeit three wins in football because they played an ineligible player. As a result, their 8-0 conference record becomes 6-2, and they tied rather than beat SCSU.
UNC was advised by the NCAA that it committed a secondary violation by playing Cutlip, then a junior transfer from Colorado State who was academically ineligible at the time of competition. Cutlip played in four games, including one loss, before being sidelined when questions arose about his eligibility.

"Northern Colorado used a player that was eventually ruled to be eligible by the NCAA," North Central Conference commissioner Mike Marcil said. "However, the NCAA required the forfeits because the player had not yet been properly certified eligible at the time the games were played."

UNC advanced to the NCAA Division II playoffs a year ago as one of four teams selected by a committee in the Central Region. St. Cloud State, which lost 27-24 to the Bears in overtime during the regular season, was not selected. ...

Marcil said it would have been better if the situation had been resolved by the time playoff teams were selected.

"They were hoping that all this could have been resolved before the season ended so the committee could have taken it into consideration," Marcil said. "It's possible they would have selected St. Cloud State or St. Cloud State and Northern Colorado. We'll just never know."

Cutlip had been arrested four times while playing at Colorado State and busted for a DUI after last season, had arrived at No. Colorado with incomplete transcripts. According to people close to the SCSU football program I have spoken with, the whole mess was not acted on because UNC didn't provide the papers to the conference office until after the season was over. The explanation from Greeley and UNC Athletic Director Jim Fallis.
We need to move forward. We self-reported our violation as soon as we realized we had a problem. We also told the NCAA that it would take some time for us to gather all the needed information, and it then takes them awhile to sort things out.
Sir, the kid practiced with your team for ten weeks after you decided you couldn't start him any more but it took you more than three months to get this kid's transcripts? And then you've got the 'nads to say this?
The Bears beat St. Cloud State 27-24 in an overtime game on the road, which Fallis feels should have been the factor in deciding the conference title.

�The bottom line is that the football team took care of its business,� Fallis said. �And it was with the same team that we took all the way to the semifinals.�

We were ranked #5 in the regional poll at the end of the season (the only other loss was a 1-point loss at Mankato); four get sent to the post-season. If UNC had lost even one of those games, is it not likely we go to the playoffs?

Northern Colorado moves up to Division I-AA this year. Good riddance.

Herb Brooks' St. Cloud angle 

Covered on With nice quotes from our old friend and former administrative VP Bill Radovich, who knew how to turn the air conditioning here off and on.
"He always introduced me as the cheapest guy on earth," Radovich said. "We didn't pay him much. When he left, he always said he had to because we paid him so bad.

"But he never stopped growing the game."

Powered up 

Infinite Monkeys ask about whether the blackouts took out the Northern Alliance. In a word, no. Given it's 90 and very humid here (because the university is saving money by turning everything off on Fridays, the manuscript I'm reading is curled this morning), we are very grateful. On a discussion list I read a purported quote of Jacques Ellul, "Show me how electrical power is distributed in a society, and I'll show you how political power is distributed." (I'll note that the letter-writer could not find the source of the quote, and Google made no offering.) Does this mean political power in the US is held by Ohio?

Thursday, August 14, 2003

God and man at Baylor 

Can a Christian school be true to its roots and be a top-flight academic institution? Marvin Olasky wants to know.
Gaining research awards in the hard sciences and engineering while maintaining a Christian worldview is hard, but not impossible. Darwinian fundamentalism in biology remains a large problem, as proponents of "intelligent design" theory at Baylor itself can attest, but in some scientific areas concepts and products that grow out of research need to prove themselves in measurable ways.

Research in the humanities and social sciences is different. Professors gain prestige for themselves and their universities by presenting papers at meetings of academic trade associations and writing articles for the journals such groups establish. In past years, I've been to the annual conventions of five such groups -- Modern Language Association, American Sociological Association, American Historical Association, American Studies Association and Association for Education in Journalism and Mass Communication -- and can offer Baylor a message from personal observation: You cannot serve both God and academic bigotry.

Along these lines, a look at the schedule of the American Sociological Association's 98th annual meeting (Aug.15-19, 2003) is suggestive. One of the official highlights is a section on "Marxist sociology," but paper and roundtable titles like "Queering Reproduction and Reinforcing Heteronormativity" or "Female Solidarity in the Sex Industry" suggest the radical fixation that is at the heart of much of today's academic sociology.

"What makes us learn? ... Diversity"? 

In the latest American Experiment Quarterly, Katherine Kersten discusses "Why Diversity Stops at the Classroom Door." We've been down this road before -- there's little viewpoint diversity. And it's the view that "skin color and ethnic background ... supposedly make you different, in very important, if ambiguous ways, than your classmates." Her son is a sophomore at St. Olaf, who advertises to prospective students with this gem:
What makes us learn, what makes us better, what makes us think? It's different people from and with different backgrounds. It is diversity. St. Olaf has a vested interest in increasing our campus diversity and enriching our cultural atmosphere. Achieving and maintaining a diverse community is a team effort between the Admissions Office, International Advising, the Multicultural Student Services (MCSS), faculty and students.

St. Olaf develops the mind, body, and spirit through a student body that reflects a diversity of geographic, cultural, economic, racial, ethnic, and religious backgrounds. You may wonder how St. Olaf supports students of varied backgrounds� it all begins with the Admissions Process.

Right. Do you see viewpoint anywhere? Or how about from this list from an article in their student paper? No. Why? Because these backgrounds are assumed proxies for viewpoint. St. Olaf must not have heard of Clarence Thomas.

As Kersten reports, at St. Olaf not one professor could be found to take the pro-war side of a debate on Iraq. Well, who could blame them?

On Friday Feb. 14, students, some professors and President Thomforde protested the war on Iraq outside the cafeteria. Their aim was to promote discussion about the war.
Well, when I want to debate, standing outside a cafeteria in February in Minnesota is always my preferred venue. And most certainly when the college president is in with the protestors. Yes indeed.

Kersten goes with a thorough analysis that relies on Sowell's Conflict of Visions. This reinforces a point I made the other night in a post (that some people think was injudicious) about the venomous intolerance of the left.

The adversary culture, with its unconstrained worldview, holds that people who disagree with it are not just wrong-headed. They are, in a sense, bad people, because they do not have the right intentions. Do you oppose the left's anti-poverty program? Then you don't care about the poor or social justice, or you're greedy. Are you in favor of the war in Iraq? Then you only care about oil, or dominating the world as an American imperialist. On many campuses, this intolerance for divergent (that is, heretical) views is a principal reason that diversity stops at the classroom door.
Overstated, you think? Consider this quote of two professors who despaired for their students not joining her Iraq war protest.
"There's a second when I hear them and my heart just falls."
"We used to like to offend people. We loved being bad, in the sense that we were making a statement. Why is there no joy now?"
That's what passes for higher education today. RTWT.

Wednesday, August 13, 2003

Ivory towers and parliaments 

An interesting article by Gargi Bhattacharyya in the Guardian offers a different look at academic freedom. She seems quite concerned over the boundary between science and state, and how its blurring may have played a role in the death of David Kelly. Academic freedom, she says, is something that seems antiquated to most outsiders.
I know, I know: academic freedom is one of those most esoteric of debates. Who cares, or even knows, what it means? Occasionally university staff appear in public, protesting about the erosion of this freedom. Most of the time we end up looking like remnants from another age, shabbily genteel and completely removed from the realities and pressures of contemporary life. How presumptuous to believe that anyone cares what we think. We are so far from the nexus of power that we can think whatever the hell we like.
But she goes from there to something interesting: People are judging academic research based on the researcher's politics. We all take positions are argue over truth, and evidence should matter. But sometimes it doesn't.
The idea is that we all learn more from the discussion between positions, and that counts as knowledge for us.

Arguing that somebody's academic research has no value because of their politics, especially if you publish this view in a government document that is difficult to challenge, is a strategy that threatens to cut away the place of knowledge in public life. If you disagree with somebody's research outcomes, you need to provide some alternative evidence. Bad-mouthing them because of their own beliefs abandons the idea of evidence altogether. ...

The public benefits from the insights of unpopular research findings because researchers really believe that the pursuit of better knowledge places them above the petty concerns of short-term gain and makes them invulnerable to the whims of the powerful.

I would have thought that it was in everyone's interests that we continue to bask in such delusions.

I'll come back to this subject later.

Ooo! Ooo! Mr Kotterrrrrr! 

Where is Ron Palillo these days? When I was reading Erin's latest post on Activistology, I couldn't help myself. Ooo! Ooo! Prof. O'Connorrrrrrrrrr!!!!! We have exactly that program here at SCSU.
This interdisciplinary Masters Degree in Social Responsibility addresses a citizen's responsibility to others, to society, and to the environment. It provides a solid academic foundation of the theory and practice of social responsibility, historically and contemporarily, within western and nonwestern cultures. It offers practical skills for involved citizenship at the local, state, national, and global levels within a democratic and culturally diverse context.
"He's not a real doctor." "I have a masters degree ... in social RESPONSIBILITY!" These bright young lads and lasses can take whole courses in xenophobia (how does one do field work?), ageism, heterosexism (that's two classes right there, six credits out of no more than 36 needed for graduation), "Change Agent Skills", and "Practicum in Social Change". Bulletin descriptions here for the strong of stomach.

So what do these people do?

Jobs available to Social Responsibility graduates are countless. There are jobs available in : activism, animal rights, children & youth, community building & renewal, disability rights, economic development, environment, human rights and civil liberties, education, immigration, international issues, labor, LBGT issues, peace and conflict resolution, race and ethnicity, women's issues, and more. Many organizations are dedicated to more than one of these areas.
Oh. But can you name any actual jobs? There's one internship advertised in their last newsletter, with Eco-Animal Allies. I leave the rest of their newsletter to you.

Guidance on free speech 

Not that our universities will listen, but the Office for Civil Rights at the Dept. of Education has issued an open letter (reprinted by FIRE)
Thus, for example, in addressing harassment allegations, OCR has recognized that the offensiveness of a particular expression, standing alone, is not a legally sufficient basis to establish a hostile environment under the statutes enforced by OCR. In order to establish a hostile environment, harassment must be sufficiently serious (i.e., severe, persistent or pervasive) as to limit or deny a student's ability to participate in or benefit from an educational program.
The letter invokes a "reasonable person" standard for evaluating claims of harassment, a standard which has been stretched beyond any semblance of meaning on campuses in America. In an accompanying press release, FIRE's Harvey Silverglate finds that
All too often, the proponents of campus restrictions on speech bizarrely have presented civil rights for women and minorities, on the one hand, and civil liberties, on the other, as somehow at odds with one another. OCR recognizes that there is no inconsistency between civil liberties and civil rights and that civil liberties are a necessary precondition for the continued survival of civil rights.

Lay down with dogs, wake up with fleas 

When I quote someone else's writing that includes links, I usually try to include the links. So in the previous post, when I added the update for Shot In the Dark's take on the Cal Poly case, I included two sites he linked to as exhibits of "two-bit bigotry", one of which was Dem-crats.c-m (and I've decided I cannot link to them any more, so disgusting is their site.) So tonight I'm checking referrers and see a hit from something called Rush Limbaughtomy. Well, that's new, I think, and go to investigate. Aw crap. I find someone who must admire Rush, given his impersonation of Rush's pomposity.
It is difficult to describe the feeling of elation and satisfaction with a job so well done that it exceeds all expectations.
Particularly when you have to keep looking up words in the thesaurus.
Readership is up to over 5000 visits in the past 36 hours and the reverse brain-washing is having a ripple effect across the country as thousands of previously Limbaughtomized right wingers begin to gyrate wildly and scream vituperative expletives.
A car crash has 5000 hits -- people like to look at wrecks, and boy you are one. (Can you define a non-vituperative expletive, btw? And what would cause wild gyration? Splitting eardrums from your screaming?) Spoons lit you up, and Mitch held forth, but if you had read our post you would have seen we had nothing to say about you, because there's nothing to say. Your readers and you continue with your anger and your hate for those who disagree with your vision for America. It isn't enough for the likes of you to say "I disagree". You have to find your opponents morally inferior and reprobate.

In other words, you'd make a great academic. Lucky for you, intelligence isn't required. Your "Condi told Willie not to fly on 9/11" crowd can join the professor at UMD looking for the wrench in Wellstone's plane.

Tuesday, August 12, 2003

Sifting through the Cal Poly SLO transcript 

Joanne Jacobs has picked through the transcript in the Steve Hinkle case. I have read the transcript as well and have a couple of additional thoughts. One, the hearing was conducted to only investigate disruption of the meeting. The administration was asked explicitly if they were charging Hinkle with a violation of a policy on posting fliers, and they said no.
RG: (the hearing officer) The conduct giving rise to the charges against the student charged are as follows. On the evening of November twelfth, two thousand two, the student charged disrupted a student meeting at the University Multicultural Center. Is that the extent of the charge?
AT (director of judicial affairs Ardith Tregenza): It is.
RG: Any amendments?
AT: He was also posting in violation of University policies.
SH(inkle): I have a question.
RG: Yes?
SH: Do I have to be notified of any amendments that are charged by [indistinct]?
RG: Yes, technically, if the nature of the charge is substantially amended, then you have � I can technically postpone the hearing for you to have an opportunity to review the charges.
SH: Because I don�t have any of my paperwork if the charge also contains a violation of the posting policy.
AT: I�ll go ahead and not amend the charges in order to proceed today.
So it's only for the disruption of the meeting that he's supposed to be charged, though she continues to bring it into the discussion, even citing him as violating the policy in her closing statement. But when the student identified as S6 was asked to write for the administration what she would like the resolution of the case to be (this comes right after the first quote Jacobs uses), she replies:
�I hope my Bible study group can receive a public apology from the student printed in the
Mustang Daily as well as on texts posted around campus and in the classroom for this hate speech against us.�
But of course, they don't want a hate speech case either, so they duck that question:
SH: No, no. The idea still stands that she thought that the flier was hate speech.
RG: Well, I don�t think I want to hear that question answered. I understand that she answered the
question, that she thought the flier was offensive. Do you have any more questions?
No, nobody wants to say this is a hate speech case, because that makes the case much more difficult to sustain. Instead we are asked to "get along". In Trezenga's closing argument we find
you said it�s obvious the students were upset. You just stated that. If it�s obvious they were upset and it�s obvious that they asked you to leave, why didn�t you, you know, leave? Why didn�t you pursue your questions to them at another time, at another venue?
A right so circumscribed is no right at all. Either Hinkle has free speech or he does not. If Cal Poly SLO is going to argue that there's a time and place restriction on the posting of the flyer in a common area in the student union, where there was no notice of a meeting taking place, then they have in effect re-segregated their campus.

UPDATE: Mitch chimes in.

I poke fun at the two-bit bigotry behind sides like this, or Seeing it from the leadership of a main-line, prestigious public institution, though - it's not a surprise, but it's still a demoralizing surprise in 2003.
Cal Poly SLO is a prestigious institution? It doesn't suck, sure, ranking between Loyola Marymount and Redlands for a masters-level regional, but prestigious? Not with the assministration they've got running the place.

Big Arm Woman continues the theme on using criminals to teach criminal justice:
Head: Whatever. I simply find it difficult to believe that out of 250 of the top criminals in the US, we couldn't do any better than Eric Rudolph. I mean, he's a white Southerner, for heaven's sake!

Wyrm: I thought that might be good for the diversity requirement.

Head: Really, Dr. Wyrm, your attempts at humor don't help the situation.
&c. Be sure not to have your coffee in hand or mouth while reading.

Thanks for everything, Herb 

The sudden death of Herb Brooks leaves those of us in St. Cloud sadder than most. Brooks was always promoting Minnesota hockey, and gave SCSU not only its Division I hockey program but a state-of-the-art arena.
"He was the foundation on which the Division I program was built," St. Cloud State athletic director Morris Kurtz said. "He gave us instant credibility statewide and nationwide to talk to recruits and to sell the Legislature on funding for a new arena. He could walk the halls of the Legislature and, with Herb, there was not any door that wouldn't open."

St. Cloud State became the state's third Division I hockey program; now there are five.

Brooks, a successful coach already at the University of Minnesota, coached here in 1986 and 1987. He then turned the program over to Craig Dahl, who is now entering his 16th season.

There are about ten weekends in the dead of winter that are great fun at the National Hockey Center, and it's Brooks we have to thank.

Monday, August 11, 2003

Reductio ad not so absurdum 

If only a criminal can teach criminal justice, and only blacks can teach black history, should diversity training be taught only by racists? Well, come to think of it...

Blog archive repair: a suggestion 

David at Infinite Monkeys suggests the following to fix bloggered archives.
Go to settings and archiving, and turn off archiving. Blogger swears you won't lose anything, they are still archiving. Blogger also suggests that you now publish, then turn back on archiving. But don't do that. Just leave archiving off. Your permalinks on your main page will now work, and, strangely, your archives sit there untouched.

Then it gets weirder. Brad e-mailed me the next day and said "I see you fixed the archiving, because our August archive is working again." So, after a few hours, I decided to risk things and turn the archive back on. Everything worked fine.
And it worked for us, too. Thanks, David!

Whatever happened to assent? 

(Via Arts and Letters Daily.) Jean Bethke Elshtain describes academics as negators. Contrary to their role in affirming WW2, the Vietnam War cut the legs out from anyone suggesting that Communism needed to be thwarted. The meaning of dissent has been "obscured", with horrendous effect.
Hence in the wake of 9/11, those who disagreed with claims that America somehow brought the attacks on herself were said to be "stifling dissent." But the true measure of dissent isn't whether the vast majority of one's countrymen and women agree with what one is saying but, rather, that one has the freedom to say it. The widely repeated notion that no space exists within American society to make contrarian arguments is risible. Less frequently heard, in fact, is intellectual assent from academic and intellectual circles to something the government is doing or that America is undertaking.
Elshtain, a signer of the What We're Fighting For letter in 2002 that drew harsh criticism from German lefties and apathy in the US, goes on to point out how academics are failing to understand the post-9/11 world:
What we hear far too little of is serious reflection on religion. Religion is epiphenomenal to Marxism and its various offshoots still powerfully influential in the academy. Religion is "false consciousness" par excellence. Osama bin Laden's talk of infidels is thus a quaint rhetorical turn; the "real" reasons for his murderous ideology must lie elsewhere.

With many others, I am convinced that Islamism owes at least as much to the totalitarian movements and ideologies of the 20th century as it does to any version of Islam. But the religious claims are not just a cover for some deeper materialistic imperative. As a result of the suppression of serious discourse about religion in many activist circles, we grow less able to appreciate what is going on in the war on terrorism.

RTWT. If the Commissioner is reading this, may I suggest Elshtain as a guest to your show?

UPDATE: Forgot to put the link in to the article itself. Now fixed.

Saturday, August 09, 2003

It's lonely at the top 

The Cranky Professor notes that two states had university presidents leave their flagship institutions. In the case of University of Tennessee, it looks like the bonehead got caught with not just his fingers but whole hand in the cookie jar. Turns it the boy took a $10,000 kickback for a contract when he was at a state school in Connecticut, points out Bill Hobbs and his commenters. He also points out from this article that there's some question of how the guy got hired; the ex-president's wife says the selection process was "rigged".

A few days ago in Massachusetts, a fellow that can't pick his relatives had to quit his job as president of UMass. Whitey Bulger, the brother of this president, is a reputed mobster in Boston, and brother William talked to the guy on the phone and wasn't sufficiently forthcoming with the FBI. Or so the story goes. It sounds increasingly like this was a battle between the governor and a university president over educational mission. Some are also noting political battles.

Financial aid, the gummint, and homework 

Since I know he reads here, two things for Frank from Financial Aid Office:

1. I'll get back to in loco parentis on Monday. I'm avoiding self-references until my archives are unbloggered.
2. Please take a look at this story from Steve at Helloooo Chapter Two.
Right now, though, there is a certain set of loans that is giving us problems, the so-called "parent loans" from the Department of Education. See, these are loans that her parents took out for her college (and now her brother's), and we think it is only fair that we pay them back like the other loans. No big deal so far, right? Hang on, the fun part is coming: they also have parent loans for Danica's [Steve's wife --kb] little brother, so in all they have 4 account numbers in her father's name, all with varying balances and payoff amounts. Her mom was told on the phone that we could send a check to the DoE address with the account numbers on the memo of the check, and the correct accounts would be credited. ...

In fact, any money sent for any amount was being split between Danica's active loans and her brothers on-hold-while-in-college loans. So the loans we were trying to pay off were in fact not getting paid, and her parents were getting past-due notices. She has had to get this fixed herself by calling in 3 times and getting the money transferred around...

This month they decided that they'd only square the accounts TO THE WAY THEY SHOULD BE IN THE FIRST DAMN PLACE (sorry, can't help shouting) if her father, in whose name the account is, calls them up. He hates doing that stuff--gee, I wonder why?--but did it this time.

But the plot gets even thicker: this time they were told, by 2 different people in fact, that they will NEVER be able to credit the money to the correct account.

Yes, they actually said NEVER.
If you read around here, you'll see we Northern Alliancers are into homework. So if someone wants to explain how the hell this kind of thing happens at the "Department of Edumacation" as Steve calls it, the Scholars will award 10 extra credit points.

More monkey business 

The Infinite Monkeys have reported a smear campaign against our ally Lileks. When will such treachery cease?

Also for Monkey James: Skyy? All shapka and no cattle. The Scholars drink Wyborowa. At $14 a liter, suitable for home consumption.

Friday, August 08, 2003

Transcript available in Cal Poly SLO case 

We reported on the Steve Hinkle case at Cal Poly SLO back in July and concluded my post with the statement, "Time to fact-check SLO's ass." Well, FIRE has done so. They now have a transcript of Hinkle's hearing before the disciplinary panel. In an accompanying article, Greg Lukianoff of FIRE states
There are at least three terrible wrongs here. First, Cal Poly tramples on the First Amendment rights of its own student. Then, they hold a kangaroo court and trample on his due process rights. Finally, they shamelessly evade and distort the facts of what actually occurred. Fortunately for the truth, and unfortunately for the Cal Poly administration, we now possess the tape recording of Hinkle�s sham trial. This scandalous and revealing case is fully documented.

You don't tug on Superman's cape 

It appears NA Wordsmith James Lileks is most displeased in today's Bleat. His annihilation of the Rush lovefest has been splattered all over the blogosphere with kudos around. But he also nips at some others with this comment before dueling with El Rushbo.
Listened to much radio commentary today on the Arnie candidacy, and as usual there was much lamenting and rending of garments on the ironclad right; he�s not this, he�s not that, he said this, he sleeps with a Shriver, etc. I am always mystified by people who would rather die pure than live with imperfections. Every candidate will always disappoint, somehow. Any candidate with whom you agree 100% is probably unelectable. If your bumpersticker says DON�T BLAME ME, I VOTED FOR AYN RAND I'm not particularly impressed. �Cause she�s dead and none of that stuff is going to happen. Doesn�t mean we can�t keep the ideas in play, but if you don�t vote because no candidate vows to privatize the sewage systems and disband the Food and Drug Administration, don�t come crying to me when your marginal tax rate hits 71 percent.
Given my savaging yesterday of Ventura as a centrist Democrat in libertarian clothing (which is pretty much my view of the entire Reform Party in Minnesota that Jesse split with in 2002, btw -- are you listening Mr. Grimes?), that hits a little close. I self-identify as libertarian, and while I'm not a Randroid (the atheism thing gets in the way, for one thing) I do find myself moved by the heroes of Rand's novels. Moved not in the sense that I want to be John Galt, no more than my love of Star Trek leads me to want pointy ears, but moved in the sense that dogged pursuit of the perfect world that Galt or Roark saw is a noble pursuit.

On my short list of great books (not that Hawkins ever asked me) is Leonard Read's Anything That's Peaceful, a much closer libertarianism to my own than Rand's. Here's what he says about choosing candidates that trim their platforms in order to attract votes.

Does responsible citizenship require voting for irresponsible candidates? To ballot in favor of irresponsible candidates as though it were one's duty is to misconstrue the meaning of duty. To cast a ballot for a trimmer, because no man of integrity is offering himself, does as much as one can with a ballot to encourage other trimmers to run for office. Can anyone conceive of any element of protest in such balloting? To vote for a trimmer goes further: it would seem to urge, as strongly as one can at the polls, that men of integrity not offer themselves as candidates.
I'd ask Superman to think about that: There is a paucity of good people in office -- how do we increase the supply of people with integrity when we are told we need to vote for people without it because there are others running who will do worse?
What would happen if we adopted as a criterion: Never vote for a trimmer! Conceding a generous liberality in defining trimmers, millions of us would not cast ballots. Would the end result of this substantial, nonviolent protest, this large-scale demonstration of "voting by turning our backs," compound our problem? It is difficult to imagine how it could. For a while we would continue to get what we now have: a high percentage of trimmers and plunderers in public office, men who promise privileges in exchange for ballots and freedom. In time, however, this silent but eloquent refusal to participate might conceivably improve the situation. Men of integrity and high moral quality-statesmen-might show forth and, if so, we could add their numbers to the few now in evidence.
Again, James says above that the person you agree with 100% of the time is unelectable. Why? Because we keep thinking we have to vote for the lesser of two evils. All that does is increase the supply of trimmers in the candidate pool.
Would a return to integrity by itself solve our problem? No, for many men of integrity do not understand freedom; or, if they do, are not devoted to it. But it is only among men of integrity that any solution can begin to take shape. Such men, at least, will do the right as they see the right; they tend to be teachable.
It is with some dread that I tug on Superman's cape, for messing around with James is not something I ever want to do. But maybe we need to change how we think about voting so that we can encourage better people to run.

And I'm not saying that Ahnuld cannot be a great candidate -- in fact, I think he can because he seems to genuinely believe the principles of Milton Friedman. MSNBC played a tape of him from 1987 saying he wouldn't run ever for politics -- he was asked this by Bryant Gumbel because AS was already known for reading politics and economics. I'm thinking, maybe, Schwarzenegger is not a trimmer.

Literature appreciation too precious to leave to professors 

I was struck by the combination of two articles. Critical Mass and Too Much to Dream covered the other day a story about how Oprah's reading list jumped Steinbeck's East of Eden to #2 on Amazon's bestseller list. Unlike Erin, I'm not a big Steinbeck fan for no reason other than this: Reading him tends to lead to my chin hitting my chest. That is, I just couldn't get into the novel.

The connection I made was to this John Derbyshire article on NRO about "The Importance of Not Thinking Too Much." In it he relates a story about three math professors at a conference; they...
...resurrected an issue from the great "crisis of foundations" that racked mathematics in the early 20th century � during roughly the period from Russell�s paradox (1901) to G�del's theorem (1931). This "crisis of foundations" arose because mathematicians had begun inquiring into the logical and philosophical underpinnings of their subject, trying to find the fundamental axioms underlying all of math, trying to find unshakably firm foundations for the process of mathematical proof, asking questions like: "What is a number, really?"

Well, the three diners all expressed different opinions on the issue in question, which is a very crucial one. ("The ontological status of the continuum" � but you don't need to know this to understand my point.) Harris sought to pursue the discussion down into deeper matters�but found that his colleagues did not have the necessary knowledge, and didn't actually care. These foundational issues, though interesting in their own right, and fine for a few casual conversational exchanges over the dinner-table, do not really matter in the day-to-day work of most mathematicians.

Erin's post contains the similar thought by a professor of English.
"The literary elite persist in dismissing Oprah and her readers ... (as) lowbrow, unworthy of serious attention," said Mark Hall, who teaches rhetoric and composition at Cal State Chico. "As a teacher, however, I struggle to engage my students in reading, and so I wonder if academics might learn something from Winfrey about how to tap into the interests of general readers. ... In my experience, the treatment of literature in the classroom often kills the joy of reading for many students. By contrast, Winfrey fosters the deeply felt pleasure that hooks readers and keeps them engaged."

So why do professors do this? Why do we focus on these arcane debates that don't really influence our work and understanding of the world? I could tell you several such stories in economics. In my lower-division courses we focus on three fundamental ideas -- a pedagogy I took from a lecture Russell Roberts gave many years ago -- of the assumption of self-interest, opportunity costs and marginal analysis. Master those, I tell them, and the rest is application. Yet our text books and lectures are filled with game theory and calculus and countless minutiae.

Why the need for so much complexity, in either economics or English? I feel a rant coming on, but I have to go now.

I hope Jack will post more on this.

Coordinated blogging more fun that a barrel of monkeys 

My question on the use of Schwarzenegger's ties to PRC Fund is picked up by Infinite Monkeys. I read this to say that Bill Simon was portrayed as a Pete du Pont, and that Arnold isn't going to get painted by Davis that way. Probably so.

Lay your money down 

We can't bet on whether a terrorist attack happens, but at Sportsbook, you can bet on the outcome of the Kobe Bryant trial. Current odds:

Charges Dismissed 9-2
Guilty Verdict 5-2
Hung Jury 10-1
Mistrial 10-1
Non Guilty Verdict 1-2
Plea 3-1

Is this an efficient market?

I know, this is off-topic, but some things are just too fascinating.

Thursday, August 07, 2003

Student blogger from SCSU 

Our SCAS Student Citizen of the Year Justin Byma has headed down the road to Hamline, but has some SCSU students working with him on a new blog, From Huskies to Pipers. Glad to add him to the blogroll and we look forward to good things from Justin. Also should mention Kevin Ecker, an alum who recently ranted based on something we wrote. The more the merrier!

Knickers in a bunch 

We're enjoying the run of attention over Ahnuld, but the other thing the Alliance is enjoying today is everyone's attraction to Bettany Hughes. Even Big Daddy is in the hizzouse. So, since I don't watch history during baseball season, I had to see what the fuss was about and followed the Fraters to her picture. Well, I see! But I had seen this face before, on BBC World (this while I was in Skopje, no baseball on the satellite there) advertising for a Great Britons piece on Horatio Nelson. As the Guardian reports, they are using more young women historians there. I watched the Lord Nelson piece, which was hosted by Lucy Moore, who I confused with Ms. Hughes when they said she was a knockout. Gentlemen, there are two. Ms. Moore's presentation of Nelson was captivating.

Quick additional prediction about Ahnuld 

One of the portrayals you'll see of Arnold is his connection to the Palmer R. Chitester Fund. Media Transparency has him linked to Stossel, as I mentioned in the main post below, which ties him to the Bradley Foundation crowd. My guess is he'll get painted by this much as Bill Simon was in 2002. What do our friends in California say?

Arnie vs. Jesse: the cage match 

Ben at Infinite Monkeys has called for a coordinated NA blogging attempt. Mitch Berg and Lileks have chimed in already regarding the statement of whether Arnold Schwartznegger is the new Jesse Ventura (or whether he's the second coming riffing off Jesse's John the Baptist schtick, as Lileks puts it.) There's a serious side to this that bears listening. When Jesse ran and people tried to figure out his politics, he wanted to distinguish himself and once called himself libertarian. And some in the libertarian movement believed it, including Reason's Jonathan Rauch. Of course, it turns out he's not, as Jim Rongstad of the Minnesota Libertarian Party has pointed out several times. Jesse was a supporter of the Profiles of Learning, smart growth and affordable housing plans, and was not at all against taking the tobacco settlement money. As Mitch puts it,
Ventura was elected in 1998. Minnesota was riding high in the dotcom boom - we were no San Francisco, but the economy was thriving. We had had continuous state budget surpluses for most of the nineties, and there was no hint of leaner times ahead. Politics was a fairly trivial business at the time; the biggest problem the legislature had was whether to spend the gajillion dollar surpluses on new programs, or return half a gajillion dollars to the taxpayers.
Jesse was for making the pot bigger, so that he could return less than half the gajillion and still call himself a taxcutter.

So what does this have to do with Arnold? Lots. He is seen as a libertarian as well by Reason's Nick Gillespie (though I suppose we should be careful since they picked Jesse as one too) and the Wall Street Journal's John Fund calls him a compassionate libertarian. I show Milton Friedman's Free to Choose series in some of my classes, and John Stossel's Greed. In both cases, Arnold shows up as an introducer. From Free to Choose:
"I come from Austria, a socialistic country. There you can hear 18-year-olds talking about their pension. But me, I wanted more. I wanted to be the best... Individualism like that is incompatible with socialism. I felt I had to come to America, where the government wasn't always breathing down your neck or standing on your shoes."
This from the interview of Jesse in Tikkun in 2000:
TIKKUN: Do you think that individualism in America is really a thing of the past?

VENTURA: I think in regular, everyday life there's still a lot of room for individualism. In politics it's more difficult. I face it everyday in the fact that I don't have this big piece of political machinery to hack me up. I'm now the most veto-overridden governor in Minnesota history; I wear that as a badge of honor, because it shows that I didn't have the political machinery over there to automatically rubber stamp a veto of mine and save me the supposed "embarrassment" of being overridden. But being overridden on a veto doesn't embarrass me. To me, that's the way the system's set up. I did my job; if they need to override it, that's their prerogative.

So maybe he would have been libertarian but the legislature wouldn't let him.

What a weenie.

So if we're going to compare Arnold to Jesse, we have to hope the comparison stops the day after the election should Arnold win.

Wednesday, August 06, 2003

Structuring faculty senates 

(NOTE: I apologize for not being around for a couple of days. We had to say goodbye to our dog of fifteen years, and frankly my head hasn't been into the blogosphere for a bit.)

Invisible Adjunct, in the midst of several posts on adjunct unionization (try here, here, and here), would like to think that faculty senates would work to help adjuncts.
Frankly, at the moment I am inclined to view adjunct unionization as a hopeless cause. First, in practical terms, it is incredibly difficult to organize contingent workers in any sector. I can't imagine that adjunct unionization campaigns could ever succeed at more than a handful of institutions in the urban areas of the more liberal states. Second, even where adjuncts did successfully unionize, precisely because they would form a body separate from that of the tenurable, any increase in the bargaining power of adjuncts would be perceived as a threat by full-time tenure-track and tenured faculty.
So this gets to the question, she continues here, to how one structures faculty senates. On unionized campuses like ours, membership in the union is a prerequisite to service on the Senate. Since fair-share dues (payments by non-members for the union's collective bargaining "services") are about 85% of member dues, the remaining fifteen percent is a sort of poll tax so that one has the possibility to serve on Senate. As Dave points out, this representation isn't all it's cut out to be.

Now what is quite interesting now that I've read more about our situation is that if you are an adjunct and teach more than one course at SCSU in an academic year (three semester credits), you are covered by our union contract!

All faculty teaching more than 3 semester credit hours or teaching more than one course during the academic year are employees in the IFO bargaining unit and pay either dues (if a member) or a fair share fee (if a nonmember) according to the following schedule adopted by the Delegate Assembly in March 2002:
So see, IA? We already have that here. What has it gotten us? We had a history department explode from fixed-term faculty trying to force a dean to give them tenure. And we have the union also engaged in using adjuncts to get through a budget crisis.
FA (Faculty Association, the union): ...How will adjuncts be used?

Adm(inistration): To the extent that there is money in the budget. We will need to use some adjuncts. I would like not to micro-manage that. Last year there was a $750,000 fund for adjuncts. Two colleges have indicated that they will use adjuncts similar to this year. I can�t promise there will be $750,000 for next year until I know what the allocation will be. I can�t see that we would be using fewer adjuncts than last year.

FA: Are you saying that positions out there will be fixed term or adjunct?

Adm: In our college there were 26 positions requested. We reduced that number by 25%, so the number became 20. We have reduced that to eight fixed term.

FA: What about departments with poor adjunct pools? Will you allow for faculty overload?

Adm: It would be preferable to find adjuncts because the salary would be lower. We can advertise to build adjunct pools.

FA: We tried that. We got one response from someone in a different discipline.

Adm: I believe that adjunct pools are enriched late spring, early summer.

FA: We are close to the U of M. A lot of adjuncts are already teaching there.

What we've seen at SCSU is the use of the union by adjunct or full-time fixed term faculty to lobby for tenure. The union seems not to mind, and seems not to give a fig that adjuncts are used as cost-saving measures (the minimum specified in the contract -- Article 11, Section A, Subd. 5 for those scoring at home (and if you are, good for you!) -- is virtually a maximum as well), and even encourages their use not only for teaching but to be trained for student advising. Fixed term faculty can join the Senate here, beyond the sensible suggestion from Cold Spring Shops, as long as they join the union. If you do not join the union, not only can you not be on Senate, you cannot serve on a single committee that covers more than one academic department. Stephen is correct:
the principle of comparative advantage applies to membership (more prolific researchers stay away), and the academic standing of the university may be inversely proportional to the ease with which the body [faculty senate] achieves quorum.
So I guess the fact that quorum was harder to get last spring is a good sign? No, it's not. They just jigger the rules to do what they want to do anyway. So who do you think shows up?

Monday, August 04, 2003

I think it's becoming a meme 

Daniel Drezner gets a response as well on the question of whether the academy is inherently leftist. Quoting a long disputatious letter he then replies:
Two small points and one larger point in response.

Small point #1: Trust me when I say that there are not a lot of Republicans in political science departments.

Small point #2: With the exception of economics departments, I'd wager that this observation probably holds true for most departments within an arts and sciences faculty.

Large point: The e-mail is still correct. Point taken.

I'd not concede the larger point so quickly. There was a poll last year that showed even economics departments were largely Democratic. The article I mentioned then is now online. I'm sure this won't settle anything, but it's one more datum to add to the debate.

We've got goals, just no money 

SCSU readers of this blog might not know that the 2003-04 Work Plan is already up.
The annual work plan is a response to the Minnesota State Colleges and Universities Annual Work Plan Actions for 2003-2004. It incorporates the objectives outlined in the MnSCU strategic plan, Designing the Future, and MnSCU work plan as well as the goals identified in the St. Cloud State University Strategic Planning Committee.
Not much new here, though at least there's some things that actually look measurable.

One item of interest is that we now have an explanation for the quick departure of our interim Affirmative Action officer after less than eight months on the job.

3.A.1. Establish an Office of Campus & Community Equity to direct university-wide diversity efforts
Responsibility: President�s Office
Timeline: September 2003
So we're getting a new office. Where's the money for this to come from? Probably yet again my supplies budget, down another 20% from last year -- and no equipment money.

There's 116 goals listed. How many of these are funded goals? Well, at least we'll be able to add them up.

C'mon! Pictures! 

A forestry professor who's also a cheerleader? Yup! (Hat tip: Critical Mass.) Must be part of the love your body thing from NOW, right?

UPDATE (8/5): AtlanticBlogger Bill wins the Google prize. Here she is.


Arts & Letters Daily has linked up this article from the News and Observer on the flap over using Nickeled And Dimed as required reading for freshman orientation at Univ. of North Carolina. (I reported the story originally here. Two snips of a very good article.
However, the "Nickel and Dimed" debate is far more than a tired rerun of the ongoing drama "Ivory Tower Liberals and the Right-Wing Fanatics Who Despise Them." The two radically divergent views of the book reflect the increasing compartmentalization of American intellectual life. As our politics become more partisan and our news sources more varied and ideological, it is becoming easier to pass one's life without ever hearing many opinions that challenge one's perspective. Broadly speaking, liberals get their version of reality from CNN, NPR, the Nation magazine and progressive books and Web sites, while the right feeds on a steady diet of Fox News, Rush Limbaugh, the Weekly Standard, Ann Coulter and conservative blogs.


UNC's selection of "Nickel and Dimed" can be seen as a salvo in the culture wars. Given the current political environment, defined by warring camps who live in their own worlds, it is reasonable to conclude that the school's administrators were both clueless and calculating. A part of them couldn't imagine that anyone would find "Nickel and Dimed" inflammatory; part of them, it seems, wanted to send this message: If you thought last year's book was bad, try this one on for size.

Last year's book, btw, was Michael Sell's Approaching the Qu'ran. As another News and Observer columnist notes, the parallels are there, even though she didn't like Nickeled and Dimed.
So at first when I heard about "Nickel and Dimed" turning into this year's Quran controversy at UNC -Chapel Hill, I had to roll my eyes. Aw, geez. Not again. And not that book.

Then it dawned on me:This book about a woman masquerading as something she's not is really the perfect metaphor for so much of what is happening in UNC's latest skirmish in the culture wars.

Put it this way: Ehrenreich isn't the only one faking a job application and putting on a hairnet for political effect.

The university, for starters, portrays itself as a sort of impartial marketplace of ideas, when everyone knows it is a liberal institution.

Conservative state lawmakers portray themselves as defenders of academic fairness, seeking balance for the young people of North Carolina. But what they'd really like to do is teach that arrogant "anti-Christian" UNC-CH a lesson, most effectively by cutting the university's budget.

After reading over Prof. German's letter earlier today and her reply post-blog, I think there's a lesson here for us all -- we need to get out more, both in the blogosphere and on the campus. We do live in these compartments. Maybe I'll go read Atrios ... ah, never mind.

Higher ed in education-deprived places 

I hear many things about projects reforming higher education in formerly screwed up places like Iraq, as Daniel Drezner discusses today. Beyond infrastructure and security issues, however, is a change in how faculty see themselves in the university.
The next stage of reconstruction will be perhaps the trickier of tasks: depoliticizing the curriculum and reintroducing Iraqi students, scholars and scientists to the broader intellectual community through fellowships, exchanges and conferences. Professors were not able to leave Iraq without signed permission from the minister of higher education. So few did. And they have viewed education as a one-way street in which information is passed onto students, rather than encouraging critical, independent thought and analysis.
In the FSU and the former Yugoslavia much of the same was true. And while there may be some hope here, it requires that universities pay faculty for the work they do in transforming their schools into true places of inquiry. Might I suggest, as a start, that these institutions be privatised?

Weird and natural science 

Prof. Rebecca German writes that my impression of academia as inhospitable to conservatives and libertarians is off-mark, at least in the physical sciences.
In all of these discussion, I have yet to see a break down of teaching population by discipline (and would love to see said numbers). At my University the majority of faculty are in science - med school, engineering, basic science. We don't even have public health, vet school, etc. I have colleagues all over campus, and while women frequently discuss the number of women, and various issues associated with that, I know of no hiring or promotion decisions that were based on either religion or politics.

If one scratches further for causes, I think some of this is a reflection of belief and view (that politics doesn't matter) and some of it is a reflection of the reality in academics of science/biomedical/engineering entities- colleagues are important, and productive colleagues are critical, departments get resources, new hires, and ultimate teaching loads, based on productivity. That we are by and large not social constructionists, so those politics are usually not part of what we teach. So, while sure, there are lots of things I think are politically important, I do not give a damn what my colleagues believe.

Prof. German is at Cincinnati, the school that John Galvin was discussing in this piece I used in discussing in loco parentis last week. I'm pretty sure, however, that she is correct. The natural sciences are likely to be more objective because the stakes are higher, and because I think there are more options for faculty to leave when political strife overflows. Our economics department is in the College of Social Sciences and we are at least two standard deviations away from the rest of the college ideologically. That does make us a little unique, it turns out. We used to be in the much larger Liberal Arts and Sciences college which included departments like Prof. German's. It's telling that senior faculty thought decisionmaking was much more rational in those days, based on the criteria she states here. I suspect that Dave would tell us the same is true in business colleges. But it's not the reality of where I live now.

Sunday, August 03, 2003

Our students, our servers, ourselves 

One of the things we experience teaching at a state university rather than the private colleges is the greater likelihood that our students hold outside employment. It's not at all unusual for me to have students who are both full-time at study and in the workforce. Many of them work in the stores and coffee shops I frequent. There are some for whom the stress of outside work hinders their studies, but working while a college student is so engrained in American higher education that we have financial aid programs called "work-study" (though we've had a few in the department office in years past who did neither.)

So I was also struck, as was Brian Micklethwait, by an article that shows how different it is in Britain. Janet Daley had decided to go to Britain after completing her undergraduate studies somewhere in the Bay Area, where she had also worked as a movie theater usher. She was told that she would not be permitted to work. To most American students -- and to me as well -- this comes as somewhat of a shock. And Daley thinks she knows why the practice is different between the US and UK. It has to do with class there vs. here:

You do not become a university student in Britain (at least at the ancient institutions) simply to be educated, but to be made into a certain sort of person. And, generally speaking, it is not the sort who waits on tables or carries a torch down the aisle in a cinema.

Because higher education was, well into the 20th century, largely the prerogative of people on private incomes, the lives and expectations of that class were taken as the model for the student condition. To enter academic life was to become a kind of aristocrat manqu�. In a bizarre (and very British) stab at "equality", the grant system was devised to replicate as closely as possible the life of idle dependence that only the children of the rich had once enjoyed.

In America, "equality" is interpreted very differently. Even the children of wealthy parents often work while they are students. That is because working your way through is not seen only as a practical solution to the problem of paying for education, but is also thought to be a social good in itself.

Americans are brought up to believe not only that work and the economic self-sufficiency that it brings are inherently virtuous, but also that lack of work and the absence of independence are morally debilitating.

Perhaps this is one reason why our students tend to be more conservative than our faculty: They still must engage the real world, where they must persuade others to give them income by providing something of value. Faculty, alas, have freed themselves of this "bondage".
That is one of the reasons why relations between the classes, in the shops and on the streets, are so much more relaxed and pleasant in America than they are here. The guy who is slinging hamburgers today will probably be practising law in a few years' time. The waiter who brings your coffee may be a future professor of history.

And everybody knows that. So you don't treat the waiter, or the petrol pump attendant, or the girl in the coffee shop, as if they belonged to another, lesser species. They are just you, 20 or more years ago.


Saturday, August 02, 2003

Christian Studies 101 - Final Exam 

SCSU�s Summer Church School is winding down this month. Within the next week, please submit below your answers to this honor-pledged, open-book, take-home examination in the comments section. Remember, there are no �right� or �wrong� answers - only those that are �right� or �left.� Each of these five questions is worth 20 points. If nothing else, this summer�s readings have made us think.

Question 1: Does the dissent of Justices Scalia, Rhenquist, and Thomas in this summer�s sodomy case, brought by Lawrence & Garner vs. Texas, reflect homophobic and un-Christian attitudes? Why or why not?

Question 2: Where do you draw the lines between fiction and fact, and between theory and truth, in this summer�s required-reading, blockbuster novel by Dan Brown, �The Da Vinci Code?� Was Jesus married to Mary Magdalene?

Question 3: Compare and contrast the views of the Vatican and Andrew Sullivan vis a vis the case for homosexual marriage? Which view is more �Christian,� and why?

Question 4: Contrast the values reflected by �Ozzie and Harriet,� �Ozzie Osbourne,� and �Will and Grace.� Which is most �Christian,� and why?

Question 5: Assume that you are a delegate to this week�s 74th General Convention of the Episcopalian Church (hosted in Minneapolis by my home parish, St. Mark's). Now suppose that you were ready to vote for the establishment of a liturgical blessing of a couple of committed gays or lesbians. How would you answer critics who might then ask, �Well then, why not bless the union of a menage a trois? What would be the spiritual, philosophical, or intellectual difference between a relationship involving any two - versus any three, or even more - �committed� individuals?�

Friday, August 01, 2003

A hero and a fool 

So says David Brooks, according to this excerpt from Daniel Drezner.
It probably would be psychologically difficult for most Brown professors to share an office with someone who was pro-life, a member of the National Rifle Association, or an evangelical Christian. It's likely that hiring committees would subtly -- even unconsciously -- screen out any such people they encountered. Republicans and evangelical Christians have sensed that they are not welcome at places like Brown, so they don't even consider working there. In fact, any registered Republican who contemplates a career in academia these days is both a hero and a fool.
So too libertarians.

Quick post, back tonight 

Busy day today, and so I'll put up some bare links and get back to you tonight. Connected free speech pieces from Erin O'Connor and from Harvey Silverglate and Greg Lukianoff at FIRE (the latter looks like part of one of the FIRE guides they are writing), Highered Intelligence on whether choosing teachers to teach black history can be colorblind, and a piece on how hard it has been to get people to take senior positions in admissions offices. (Last post courtesy Financial Aid Office.) Bis spater.