Friday, July 30, 2004

Diamond Bluff and streaming 

The Northern Alliance show this week is live from Diamond Bluff estates in Prescott, Wisconsin, overlooking the Mississippi River.  (Every time I type Mississippi I spell it out loud.  Why?  There is no other word for which I do this.)  Food, fun, and some giveaways which they haven't even told me about.  I'll be there.  If you can make it live, great.  If you can hear us on AM1280 the Patriot, fine.  And if you can't even do that, starting this week we are streaming!!! You'll need IE 6.0 to pick up the broadcast at this location.

NARN On The Web

We greatly appreciate the Taxpayers' League for helping us get the show on the web.  The show will loop with Taxpayers' League Live and Rabuse on the Right for the remainder of the week, so if you miss the live broadcast you can pick it up again at 6pm CT, or midnight, or 6am the next day, etc. 

Hope you'll make it a habit.

You're kidding, right? 

Chumley Wonderbar has found a doozy.
Mankato Mayor Jeff Kagermeier predicts President Bush will get a "fairly warm reception" from both sides of the political aisle when he visits on Wednesday. Kagermeier says a lot of people in Mankato, possibly because it's a college town, can see past the partisanship of politics.
Perhaps Mankato is a unique commodity among college towns, a bi-partisan mecca if you will. Or perhaps Kagermeier is blinded by the light, racked up like a deuce, another roller in the night. Sorry, but I thought one ridiculous statement deserved another.

I never did like that song.

Speaking of books... 

I only received one other suggestion for a book, which was when reader and colleague Phil dropped off a copy of Bowling Alone. I never have read this and have always meant to, and I will, but I am going to wait until I get back. Besides, I don't think it would blog well and I don't want to possibly lose his book while traveling.

So I've decided to grab Peter Balakian's The Burning Tigris. Say thanks at Organic Baby Farm if you like that choice. I'm going out to the BN in a few minutes and if I grab anything else I'll update this post. Otherwise, we'll start writing about that next Wednesday. BN has the opening of the book available for you to read.

UPDATE: I went ahead and got Baseball and Philosophy because it looked very good after perusing it. Dave knows what I like. But I will do Balakian first and B&P only if I have time.

He who dies with the most books wins 

One of the secrets of NARN is that Big Trunk and I like doing the second hour of the show when we have authors on.  And since Trunk gets most of the bookings, he gets most of the books.  This has caused some "mild" jealousy.  So I suppose this quiz makes sense.

You speak eloquently and have seemingly read every
book ever published. You are a fountain of
endless (sometimes useless) knowledge, and
never fail to impress at a party.
What people love: You can answer almost any
question people ask, and have thus been
nicknamed Jeeves.
What people hate: You constantly correct their
grammar and insult their paperbacks.

What Kind of Elitist Are You?
brought to you by Quizilla

Shockingly, Mitch is upset to be called a music snob.

Traveling between two Americas 

The PowerLine guys made a good point the other day (they've a habit of doing this):
This "two Americas" thing puzzles me a bit. I can understand how it could be a winning approach with Democratic primary voters, who represent only a small slice of the population and are driven mostly by resentment. But it strikes me as an odd theme for a general election. While virtually everyone--maybe even Kerry and Edwards--has financial worries at some level, the number of people who perceive themselves as downtrodden, hopeless and unable to save a dime can't possibly approach a majority. An odd approach, I think.

Someone asked me at the bagel shop this morning who are these people making $200,000 who John Kerry wants to tax?  "They are certainly comfortable," he said, "but you wouldn't call them wealthy."  Rocketman concurs: "That isn't wealthy, that's hard-working."  One of the most important things to remember in any discussion like this is that the people making $200,000 this year aren't the same as the ones who did so five years ago, and probably not the same as those that do so five years from now.  I'm a professor with tenure, and my family income has fluctuated +/-25% over the last six years.  For many others, the fluctuations are much greater.

Thus the point of what Rocketman is saying: people in the lower parts of the income distribution don't seem themselves staying there, and probably they will not.  There aren't many good studies of income mobility since you need many years of longitudinal data to do them, but here's a good synopsis of the last two I know of.  And here's a graph from a 1992 Treasury study showing who moved up (rust colored bar segments), who stayed in the same (green) and who moved down (red).

People do not believe they will stay in place.  People believe they will benefit from hard work, and they are smart enough to understand that tax increases will inhibit them from meeting their goals.  When I hear Bush discuss entrepreneurship initiatives like this or this, I sense he gets that.

Mixed economic news probably no blessing 

When I'm wrong, I'm really wrong, but I am not having a full serving of crow this time.  Here's why.

The GDP numbers are not as bad as the headline 3.0% number will make it seem.  The first quarter numbers, which were revised to down to 3.9% from 4.4% last month, have now been revised back up to 4.5%.  As I have said, predictions about the economy are usually done using models of the level of GDP -- you report the growth rate as an after-the-fact calculation.  A revision up of 0.6% for the first quarter removes 0.6% from the second quarter forecast, so 30% of my crow is taken from my plate.

Another factor in the lower number -- which in retrospect I should eat crow for -- was the decline in business inventories.  The final number for inventory growth for the first quarter was much sharper than I had been led to believe.  These trends typically reverse, so I really should have shaved some points from the mechanical forecast.  Inventory growth in the second quarter was roughly flat, which took about 1% off the GDP figure that I should have realized.  Half a crow stays.

Many people are going to make a big deal of declining consumption, but I don't think it's as bad as it will be portrayed.  Final sales of goods and services have been growing at the 3-3.5% range for three quarters now, and the new figure is only slightly below that at 2.8%.  Disposable personal income is still rising around 3%.  There's a little less consumption here than I expected, but not too much.  What you do with the last 20% of the crow depends on how much you want to punish your local forecaster.

And as I mentioned a couple of days ago, the consumer confidence figures are looking much better.  Today both the University of Michigan consumer confidence index and the Chicago purchasing managers index moved up smartly.  There's enough new income in the economy and enough investment in the private sector -- which held up very well in the second quarter, on that at least I was correct! -- that we could rebound strongly in the third quarter.  I had thought there would be at some point rotation of the expansion from consumers to businesses, and it appears we're now having (or just had) the quarter where that rotation occurs.  Of course, those numbers will be reported just before the election, and perhaps not do much to persuade the electorate.  That's why this number was so important.  No matter what happens from here, the Kerry campaign is going to play this 3.0 as evidence the economy is slowing so that they can replay the "help is on the way" line that the press picked up from the acceptance speech last night. 

But the optimism expressed in those two polls and from some work I'm doing locally would suggest that nobody feels they need that help.  I'm in the middle of writing a new issue of our St. Cloud Quarterly Business Report and have been looking at data for Central Minnesota for the last couple of weeks.  The data I have looked at suggest to me that in this area, the economy has gone pretty much sideways after a robust first quarter.  We have not lost any ground but neither have we gained more steam.  Businesspeople I talk to up here seem to remain very optimistic about business activity for the second half of the year, be it people in construction or in services.  The only place that seems to be troubled are the manufacturing sectors of the local economy.

As I mentioned back in that first post on the 9th, the diffusion data seem to be saying many areas of manufacturing are up.  But that doesn't seem to be happening in St. Cloud.  In the state of Minnesota, over the last ten years manufacturing employment growth has been 0.2% per year versus 1.9% in services.  Those numbers for St. Cloud are 2.7% and 2.3%, however.  (We collect this data from DEED, if you're interested in rooting around for this stuff.)  So while the economy in general should be growing, we have much of our growth in a declining part of the economy.  That sideways movement occured in the second quarter shouldn't really surprise us at all.  


(source: MN Dept. of Employment and Economic Development)

GDP growth of 3% is likely to mean, if the number stays in place, that the unemployment rate will not improve much over the next month or two.  As the graph above show, the movement in jobs is still taking us back statewide to about where we were for growth at the beginning of the Bush administration.  Therefore, I am still fairly optimistic that the weakness in the current GDP numbers are simply a pause before the next step up.
Whether that will help Bush or not?  Sorry, enough crow for one day.

Another school gets religion 

The University of Oklahoma has decided to quickly settle a lawsuit in which it was charged with religious discrimination against a Christian student newspaper. The newspaper had requested $2,300 from student government but received on $150, while another student newspaper had received $4,750. According to The Chronicle of Higher Education (link for subscribers only)
The chairman of the student-run committee told the editors that they had received little money because university policy prohibited the use of student-activity fees for "religious services of any nature."
This is of course contrary to Rosenberger, and the university's legal counsel, Joseph Harroz Jr., realized that the original student code was in error.
As soon as we saw the lawsuit, there was no question what the appropriate decision was. It was one of those one-phone-call, very amicable deals -- it was not adversarial at all.
The two students, now graduated, gave money net of lawyer fees to the newspaper.

Thursday, July 29, 2004

Can't get there from here 

In the paper copy of the USA Today:

22 U.S. airports have lost all airlines

Most are in low-demand markets.
Imagine that.

Sounds familiar 

K.C. Johnson reports on a new hiring practice at Brooklyn College.

An unintended side effect of working at Brooklyn College, an institution run by a provost who believes that, as "teaching is a political act," our job should be to train "global citizens" (figures the provost has described as "sensitized to issues of race, class, and gender"): I've been exposed, over the last few years, to a variety of bizarre schemes, regarding both personnel and curricular matters.

The latest, on which I wrote an op-ed last week, concerned the college's institution of what some on campus have termed "diversity commissars"--a requirement that all search committees include minority faculty, and when departmental minorities are unwilling or unavailable to serve, minorities from outside the department be brought in, regardless of academic expertise. At a school where a quarter of the hires over the last eight years have been minorities, the reason for this new procedure was never articulated.

Looked at practically, the policy is downright absurd. A committee evaluating applicants for a professorship in particle physics, for instance, could conceivably be ordered to include an Inuit who specializes in Eskimo environmentalism instead of a non-minority faculty member with a physics Ph.D. from MIT. Moreover, given the increasing reluctance of today�s Americans to identify themselves exclusively with any ethnic group, would even the most qualified minority faculty member necessarily be ready to sit as a �diversity commissar�? And would there be a generational cutoff for official status as an African-American or Latino?

We've been doing it that way for years at SCSU.  The department when I entered into it had eight faculty, all of whom were men.  Therefore, when searches occured we had to bring in one female from outside the department.  (She did a fine job, btw, but did not contribute with respect to ranking research or some such.)  When we hired a woman on the next hire, who is still with us, that poor person had to serve on nearly all our searches, even outside our field.


The peripatetic potty planter 

Shawn from The American Mind seems to be shadowblogging me.  (Probably in preparation for rejoining our Weblogger Fantasy Football battles.)  Remember the potty planter?  Shawn asked about it and I gave him directions to the site.  He reports that it has been moved to a different part of the yard.  We had noticed this this morning, moved for the first time.  He was able to get this picture.

The tank idea behind the bowl (which had impatiens I think) appears to have been abandoned and the thing now has a forlorn look rather than the defiant look it had before.

These are trained professionals, do not try this at home 

My colleague Brooks pointed out an article by David Morris in last Sunday's StarTribune about the Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis' economic literacy program.  This year they had a contest of students answering the question "What role, if any, should the government play in addressing income inequality? "  Mr. Morris, who is affiliated with a leftist group in Minneapolis, is unhappy with the essays of the winner and first runner-up (in the standard category:  here are the first and second place essays in the advanced category -- note that the second essay quotes a paper by our friends at PowerLine -- I had no idea they did economics!)

Mr. Morris states:
This is economic literacy? What's going on here?

The bank's introductory essay on economic literacy, "Why Johnny Can't Choose," offers a clue. The title was consciously purloined from, "Why Johnny Can't Read," an essay that arguably launched a thousand reading literacy efforts. But even the casual observer recognizes the fundamental difference between reading and economic literacy. Johnny needs to learn to read because he can't read. He already knows how to choose. What the Fed wants is to ensure that he chooses correctly.

This is rubbish.  The concept of consumer sovereignty implies that no economist can define what choosing correctly means.  What economic literacy teaches in part is what it means to choose rationally.  Rationality simply means consistent preferences and acting towards meeting those preferences.  Economic literacy also teaches people to view all costs of making a choice, those which are seen and those which are unseen.

Choice is the essence of human action.  But people choose with a purpose.  Economic literacy is about understanding what purposeful choice means for your own actions and the actions of others around you.  If you have ever watched your teenager with money, you appreciate what this means.

What does "correctly" mean? Part of the answer can be gleaned from a 1998 bank-sponsored questionnaire titled, "Are You Economically Literate?" Here are some of the questions:
� "Which of the following occurs when one country trades wheat to another country in exchange for oil?"
The correct answer? "Both countries gain." Why? Because, the Fed tells us, "all other answers are ruled out, for if one country did not benefit, there would be no incentive for it to participate in additional exchanges."

What part of this is difficult to understand?  All trade is voluntary, and nobody knowingly engages in a trade that worsens them.  If you think trades are involuntary, you need to spell that out.
� "In a market economy, individuals pursue their own self-interest. Does this serve the public interest because of the ... ?" The Fed offers four answers. All presume individual greed serves the public interest.
Adam Smith: "It is not from the benevolence of the butcher, the brewer, or the baker, that we expect our dinner, but from their regard to their own interest. We address ourselves, not to their humanity but to their self-love, and never talk to them of our necessities but of their advantages. "  That is what economics teaches, Mr. Morris.  If you don't like economics, that's fine, but do not presume to tell the Fed that they have not done their job.
� "What would happen to employment if the government mandated a minimum wage above what employers currently pay?" The economically literate answer? "Employment would go down."
That is a matter of some debate, true, but teaching that markets with prices above equilibrium tend to produce surpluses of the good being sold -- in this case, labor -- is again part of what any literacy course would teach.  What is your problem here, if not simple hostility towards markets?

And then later he comes to the absolute laugher (or Laffer, if you wish):

The Fed might inform students that even conventional economic thinking supports fairness. The theory of marginal utility tells us that the more of something you have, the less satisfaction you get out of having a bit more. Thus a dollar taken away from a very rich person and given to a very poor person makes society as a whole better off because the loss of satisfaction from the very rich person is far outweighed by the gain in satisfaction by the poor person.

This is simply wrong, because the utility of two people cannot be compared.  If you take my fifth beer away from me and give it to someone who has no beer, society isn't necessarily better off, since you have no idea how much I like beer versus the person to whom you gave the beer.  If this is the level of economic literacy you have, Mr. Morris, I suggest you leave teaching economics to someone else.

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Posted by King : 12:29 AM

Wednesday, July 28, 2004


In a million years I would not have guessed we'd be the Minnesota Blog of the Day from the City Pages' Babelogue blog. Welcome; I'm off to take my daughter to her favorite restaurant but back tomorrow. Thanks for coming by.

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Posted by King : 12:16 PM

Target Minnesota 

One last thought for the day, and then off to deal with the Littlest Scholar's tenth birthday:

I have been posing questions about the election in terms of the national economy, as we continue to use models that view presidential elections with incumbents running for re-election as referenda on the previous four years.  I thought it might be interesting to do this differently, since the election is really fifty elections.  So I built myself a little table to look at the following information:
Bush won thirty states in 2000, Gore twenty plus DC.  Between 2000 and 2003 PDI rose at a rate of 3.5% per year.  What I was looking for were states where the election was close in 2000 and how income grew in the state since then.  The list below has all the states with a margin of less than five percent in 2000 (positive numbers for states won by Bush, negative for Gore) and then PDI growth per year between 2000 and 2003.

AR 5.6 4.5%
TN 3.92 4.0%
NV 3.72 2.3%
OH 3.54 3.2%
MO 3.42 3.6%
NH 1.34 3.0%
FL 0 3.6%
WI -0.24 3.9%
IA -0.32 4.1%
OR -0.48 3.0%
NM -0.96 6.0%
MN -2.58 4.0%
PA -4.3 3.7%
MI -5.26 2.4%
ME -5.5 4.8%
WA -5.88 3.5%

You can see that there are a few states that have done worse than the national average that went to Bush in 2000, most noticeably New Hampshire.  The battleground poll from the Zogby shows Kerry up 4.6% in NH right now, while another poll has Kerry up 2.  Nevada's numbers look worse, but not so bad that anyone really expects that to tip to Kerry right now, just as the fact that Maine has grown much more than the national average probably won't move that state to Bush (but it might be closer than you think, given the large in-migration to the state over the last decade.) 

One might hope that New Mexico and Minnesota could more than offset that.  Using the Real Clear Politics state by state information, though, it looks like New Mexico is trending strongly against Bush.  This is why Minnesota appears to be such a target, and why the Republicans will need to put a bullseye on this state.  It needs perhaps to give its Republican legislators like Mark Kennedy and Gil Gutkenecht (and perhaps Norm Coleman, though he's not on the ballot) some victories to take home to the electorate if they want to win this state.  With NH going and Missouri perhaps more in play than it should by the numbers alone, you need this state.  And there will be spillover from here to Wisconsin and Iowa, two states that were closely contested but went to Gore in 2000, and where PDI was higher than the national average under Bush.

Come fall, don't be surprised to see many trips up here by both candidates, but Bush has access to the purse strings.  Some new money for roads may be just the ticket, a trick that dates back at least to FDR.

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Posted by King : 11:24 AM

Framing questions 

This post from Eduwonk, on an anti-NCLB ad, has the line of the day, in the form of a question and then an update with the answer:
Who paid for this ad anyway? ... Turns out, according to a reliable source, that the ad only cost about $11K, which is, almost, chump change.  In fact, by Eduwonk's rough estimate it's only about $733 per falsehood -- a real bargain in today's economy!

Eduwonk also notes that the education question in opinion polls on Kerry and Bush seems to be tracking the general preferences of the electorate overall, unlike 2000.  It would not appear that NCLB is giving much traction to either campaign.

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Posted by King : 11:19 AM

She's not dead, she's just pining 

J.V.C. comments on the phenomenon among academic bloggers of lighting a candle by the old Invisible Adjunct site.
The faithful are still murmuring: Will she return? Who will be the next IA? How can we live without her? The woman has gone, but her site now highlights another aspect of the academic mindset, one that's not very becoming. You don't need the validation of your brethren; you don't need the validation of anyone. Stop lingering by the tomb. Take a risk. Ponder your options--but do it quickly--and go.

I live a different life than these people, since I am not only tenured but as a chair involved in hiring adjuncts like those lingering around the old blog.  But JVC's comments are quite right.  Even in the heydays of the 1980s there were those who took temporary jobs, or jobs in foreign countries, or simply hung around the graduate school another year, waiting for their t-track ship to come in.  Twas ever thus.  So choices need to be made, and made again, and again.

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Posted by King : 11:04 AM


I was not surprised to see that our own Patty Wetterling visited the Democratic National Convention.  I was surprised to see that she was given time at the podium.  She surely understands the need to expand her views beyond her well-known child advocacy work, but this speech didn't do it.
Children and families need more voices of hope.
And my work is filled with Hope.

The capitalization of Hope is a reference to the Jacob's Hope, the orignal motto of her foundation

Meanwhile, her opponent is traveling to Iraq and elsewhere in the Middle East, while she took $61,000 from people who want her to Move On from Iraq.

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Posted by King : 10:59 AM

Oh, that $2.5 million? 

After 18 months of debate, Harvard is returning a $2.5 million endowment for a chair of Islamic studies that was funded by the president of the United Arab Emirates.  This unelected president, Sheik Zayed, had been reported as making anti-Semitic statements, which led a group of students and faculty in the School of Theology there to petition Harvard to return the gift.  According to the Boston Globe, an email from the dean of the school indicated that
In light of the Zayed Center's having promoted activities in evident conflict with the purposes of the gift, Harvard indicated to representatives of the donor that the University was seriously considering returning the gift funds.
The effort was led by Rachel Fish.  It is amazing that it took this long to get the money finally out of Harvard, but better late than never.  Congratulations to Fish and others for seeing this through.

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Posted by King : 10:24 AM

Tuesday, July 27, 2004

Captain needs your quarters 

Fellow NARNer Captain Ed is off the RNC in the NYC next month. Fools go...

Anyway, please help defray some of his costs by hitting his tip jar. Thankee.

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Posted by King : 3:22 PM

Comments on book suggestions so far 

I am gratified with the list of books offered to me so far for my trip to Armenia.  There are some excellent suggestions.  Some I've already read, such as Landes Wealth and Poverty of Nations and Bernstein's You Can't Say That!  (Both, btw, are highly recommended.)  The Wacky Hermit suggests Peter Balakian's latest book The Burning Tigris, which is an excellent choice.  I've read a good bit of Balakian already, but not that one yet.  That at least reminds me to discuss a little of the Armenian genocide during my trip.  Her argument is the most persuasive so far, though a book that captures the experience of diaspora in Armenia might be Michael Arlen's Passage to Ararat or watch either Ararat or perhaps Calendar by Atom Egoyan.

Michael Lopez sent me a list of 25 atop the one in the comments he left, the Meditations of Marcus Aurelius.  Penraker offers Colossus by Niall Ferguson.  I confess to being underversed on Ferguson and that sounds like a decent choice, but is that the best book to read first by him? I had planned some day to read Empire.  Scholar Dave thinks I should read more baseball, and another reader suggests the Long Gray Line

I'm taking suggestions for another couple of days.  Let me be clear that the final arbiter is me; there will be no  traffic-inducing polling.  Persuasive argumentation please in comments or email. 

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Posted by King : 12:31 PM

Want to bet what English faculty are watching tonight? 

One of the people I met at the blogger gathering was Jim Styczynski, a frequent reader and contributor to the Fraters, who offered to show me some research he did on Ivy League English departments.  Keegans being what it is with much tasty beer, I wasn't sure he'd remember.  Boy was I wrong!  I received an email with three attachments, the first being a summary that begins thus:
I went through the web-site of each Ivy League English department and compiled the academic interests of the faculty as listed on the web-site.  I considered only full, associate and assistant professors; I did not include visiting professors, adjunct professors, or lecturers.  The interests tended to be quite varied, so I attempted to put them into broader categories, thirteen that I judged to be more or less traditional, and five that struck me as, well, non-traditional.  I broke down the information by school, by professorial rank (when available), and year of Ph.D. (when available).  While I was at it, I ran each professors name through to see how they donated money politically.   Most did not contribute any money at all, but 7.7% donated to John Kerry, another Democratic candidate, the DNC, or Emily�s list.  None showed up as having donated any money to Bush/Cheney or any other Republican or conservative group.

I have been wondering with another frequent reader whether perhaps liberals are more likely to give generally to political causes than conservatives.  I'm trying to figure out why this pattern keeps happening.  Here's a summary of what he came up with:

Number who contributed to Kerry, a Democrat, and or Democratic Party Related Group 25 (7.7%)

Kerry for president $16,500
Howard Dean $1,650
Wesley Clark$3,000
Dennis Kucinich $500
Joe Lieberman $2,000

DNC $4,713
Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee $250
Cohen of New Hampshire (Democrat U.S. Senate) $500
Patty Murray (Washington, Democrat, U.S. Senate)  $750
Barbara Boxer (California, Democrat, U.S. Senate) $800
Betty Castor  (Florida Democtrat, U.S. Senate) $300
Allyson Schwartz (Pennsylvania 13th, Democrat U.S. Congress)  $300
Emily�s List $3,850
Bush/Cheney or any other Republican candidate or organization 0

Over on my personal site I've posted his excel file with his results, along with a summary of his findings and a list of faculty publications.  The most interesting comment he had:
I had no idea that there was so much academic interest in Mary Shelley�s �Frankenstein�.  I didn�t make a count, but there were quite a few papers.
Common Sense and Wonder thinks this pattern applies to all Ivy faculty.  Maybe Jack can contribute some observations as well.

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Posted by King : 11:07 AM

Stick to your knitting 

The Elder alerted me to an article on how the war effort weakens the U.S. economy by someone at nearby St. John's University. I believe a few of the Fraters are Johnnies, but they seem better versed in economics than this.
The war on terror continues to maintain a hold on our national psyche as we seem to be caught in a holding pattern -- not sure how, when or whether we should feel safe enough to return to the business of developing new markets and sustaining our role as the world's most dynamic economy.
Not sure consumers are reading the same newspapers as Prof. Bosrock.
"Consumer confidence has now increased for four consecutive months, and is at its highest level since June 2002 when it registered 106.3," says Lynn Franco, Director of The Conference Board's Consumer Research Center. "The spring turnaround has been fueled by gains in employment, and unless the job market sours, consumer confidence should continue to post solid numbers."
Oh well. Maybe he means business rather than consumers? I don't think so. Prof. Bosrock continues.
Meanwhile, the rest of the world is going about establishing new markets and new economic alliances that will provide the competitive edge for the future.
Yes, so much so that workers in Europe are being compelled to give up longer vacations and short workweeks. That's because they were already competitive, sir? We are a bigger share of a larger amount of world trade; we compete famously.
Can the United States go on conducting these multiple wars at the expense of the most important part of our power base -- namely, our economy?
We produce over $10 trillion of goods and services in a year. Congress appropriated $87 billion for Afghanistan and Iraq last year; an additional $25 billion this coming year is requested. That's coming in at 0.5% of GDP per year on average. Exactly how little would you prefer we spend? And how would reallocating that 0.5% make our economy stronger?
As our deficit continues to grow and our preoccupation with the war on terror dissipates our time, talent and treasure, we risk seeing our competitive advantage slip away.

A recent article in the New York Times discussed how China is gaining power and influence in Asia while the United States rapidly is losing its influence after more than 60 years in a dominant leadership role. Japan now imports more from China than is does from the United States. At its current rate of growth, China's economy will be more than double that of Germany by 2010, and China's economy is expected to surpass Japan as the second-largest economy in the world by 2020.
Three points: First, we always have a comparative advantage in something. China may gain market share in manufacturing steel, but we simply move workers into other more productive areas. Compared to Europe or Japan, we have a relatively easy time doing that. Second, growth rates don't continue ad infinitum. We extrapolated the Asian Tiger economies in the early 90s and predicting great things ... and then came 1997. I won't get into a big debate on Chinese currency policies (yet) but I would be willing to defend the point that the current growth rate of China is unsustainable. Professor might wish to read Ethan Guttmann's Losing the New China, who we had on NARN a few months ago. It's not necessarily the "next big thing".
Add to this challenge the surging economy of India, which is working feverishly to close the gap between itself and the rest of the Asia.
But it is doing so by finally (!) doing away with its dirigiste policies, something that hopefully will be improved under its new prime minister Manmohan Singh. (Though the current government structure gives one pause.) And yet that growth will not be immediate. The results of removing regulatory barriers take almost a generation to fully appreciate.
Meanwhile, consider the growing European Union -- which constitutes the biggest consumer market in the world. Our traditional economic partners are quite willing to create new alliances with our challengers. Add it all up and you can start to appreciate the loss of influence and leadership our war efforts have cost us.
So it seems that Prof. Bosrock wants us to engage in building trading blocs rather than free trade, and that to do so means we have to make concessions in foreign policy. I won't sing Bush's praises as a free trader -- because he isn't, not by a whit! -- but neither would I support the idea of subsuming foreign policy to economic policy. Countries that embrace democracies and capitalism are the countries that will most likely trade with us -- and create fewer trade barriers. If the Indians and Chinese want to buy more expensive EU goods to spite us for our foreign policy, that is a sign that these economies are not free and are not likely to grow, undermining Prof. Bosrock's argument.
The United States cannot continue its economic expansion and at the same time spend on military ventures that threaten to suck up its financial resources.
Defending one's own property and people, to the contrary, is exactly the one thing for which government can and should legitimately tax and spend. Who chooses to invest in an economy that is threatened by terrorism or invasion?

The rest of his opinion is the usual laundry list of what we should and should not concentrate on, building ties. I ask, what kind of ties are built when you need to ask the permission of your neighbors to defend yourself?

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Posted by King : 11:04 AM

Cultural competence not a substitute 

A fad in teaching these days is the workshop teaching "cultural competence" in teaching inner city children. What is that?
The idea is that until such teachers "get" their students -- their distinct cultures, their languages, their home lives, their perceptions of the world and their place in it -- urban teachers will never effectively reach these students, whom much of national education reform is aimed at helping.
The Washington Post reports on one such workshop at the University of Maryland.
In a week of seminars, presentations and heartfelt discussions, perhaps the secret to "cultural competence" was really quite simple: to get to know the students and where they come from, and to care.

"Many teachers, especially at the higher levels, are scared of their students," said Jacob Mann, who helps run Community Teachers Institute, the advocacy group that sponsored the seminar. "All they know about their students' culture is what they see on TV, and they're intimidated."

In the end, Thomas, who now teaches government at Forestville Military Academy, a public school in Prince George's, doesn't have to like the rap music his students listen to, but he does need to know about it. And he does need to make sure that the way his classroom looks and the materials that he chooses include people and stories that his students can relate to.
The article dismisses someone who think this is simply coddling students.
Ishmail Conway, a former professor at the University of Virginia who is working with the summer institute, put it this way: "It doesn't change 1+1=2. It doesn't change H 2 O being water. It just possibly changes how you get that message across on a day-to-day basis," he said. "Show me the evidence that we don't need this. There's more evidence that says we need to understand each other better. Because something's not working."
Yes, but just because something isn't working doesn't mean the solution is cultural competence. You can't replace good parents with culturally competent teachers.

UPDATE: (7/31): Just found Michael's comments on this post. Good stuff. Go read.

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Posted by King : 10:58 AM

Is Harvard abusing the law? 

It appears that Harvard Management Company, a separate non-profit arm of the university that manages a $19 billion endowment, may be stretching the tax laws to gain more revenues. Harvard Management has spun off other endowment management firms and in return received a flow of income from those other firms. Not a problem at all, except
[f]or one thing, the arrangement appears to allow the management of outside money, something Harvard Management's board rejected in 1998. For another, it may expose Harvard to a big tax bill - including interest and penalties - on the fee income it receives from these money managers.
Harvard Management is treating income it receives from the money management companies as a partner in those firms as tax-exempt, which is at least a stretch of the law. Harvard says it's gotten a private opinion to support the practice.

The real issue here, as my friend and accountant Chris points out to me in an email, is that Harvard Management is engaged in a business practice that is unrelated to the reason it is tax-exempt and therefore should be taxed. But it happens all the time, be it the use of a gym by middle-class adults at the YMCA (whose tax-exempt status is to minister to poor children) or by a theater that sells advertising in its program. What's likely to happen, he and I agree, is that Congress will tighten the law to prevent Harvard from continuing this practice, and in the crossfire all these other "unrelated income streams" will become taxable, lowering the amount of social services provided by private charities.

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Posted by King : 10:54 AM

Monday, July 26, 2004

Quick! Read this! 

Reader Doc P. calls my attention to Alex Taborrok wondering about a lawsuit by medical students who want more time to take their entrance exams because they have learning disabilities.
Do you remember the episode on ER where a patient was rushed into the hospital with severe head trauma and Doctor Green had to go to a quiet room to think about what to do? No, me neither.

...About the only saving grace in these stories is that the underlying assumption is usually wrong. Fact is, there just aren't that many slow geniuses. Speed and quality of thought are correlated.

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Posted by King : 3:48 PM

Are there any pilots on this plane? 

Reader Pat M. points out that the SCSU job site is still advertising 23 teaching positions on campus as of Friday afternoon, including three tenure-track spots.  That's a little less than four percent of our faculty.  I should note that there's at least one position listed which has been filled for six weeks, so I don't know that all 23 vacancies really are there.  But it does appear that there are courses on campus that have students but as of yet no faculty to teach them.

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Posted by King : 3:31 PM

Torn between two lovers, my team still will lose 

I can't decide which is worse, seeing George Snuffleupagus and John Kerry interrupting my Red Sox game or the thought that he'd host the Champion Sox at the White House, as Chris Sciabarra notes
But one must wonder if this week's Kerry Party and last night's Sox Party are just part of the Summer Wind. There's only 99 days to the November election, and I still have that feeling that Kerry and his Sox (in contrast to Sandy Berger's socks and Bill Clinton's Socks) are headed for the same Fall Fate.

It leads me to wonder -- if I was given the choice between the Sox winning the World Series but Kerry winning the election or Kerry and the Sox both losing, which would I prefer?  Ask me at the next blogger fest.  That's a hard one.

I do know that if I'm in a fight with a metrosexual or told to shove it, there's nobody I want to have my back more than Jason Varitek.


Captain Ed notes that we've finally found an Arroyo who will fight, while Michelle Malkin calls THK Howard Dean in a dress.  I think Dean roots for the Sox, too.

And don't you even think about asking me to change allegiances.

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Posted by King : 3:19 PM

Outlawing brain drain 

I've been long interested in the idea of brain drain, a rather perjorative metaphor for smart people in other countries taking their smarts to countries that offer them greater opportunities to turn them into a good life and produce good things for others. Precinct 333 notes that Former Malaysian PM Mahathir Mohamad wants to claim that intellect.
�It costs the Government a lot of money to send our students overseas. The foreign countries choose the best among our overseas graduates to work in their land.

"They should pay us for having taken away our graduates to work, since by right, their training and knowledge should be called intellectual property and we had paid for it.�
I had a few friends in graduate school who had been sent by their governments to the States to study and who were obligated by their home countries to return; the visas are usually created such that there is no way to get another one without coming home first.

Now it would seem only right that if the graduates were financed by the government and wanted now to escape the contract that they should repay the money used in their studies. But that option is actually very seldom provided. Perhaps countries like Mahathir's should investigate why they don't have incentives enough for their talented citizens to remain in their home countries and produce?

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Posted by King : 2:15 PM

Book assignment 

One of the ideas that came from bloggerbash was the notion of reading books.  DC is working on the Bible -- I profess to have read it but not to having insights I believe are worth sharing.  I am leaving for Armenia for a couple of weeks a few days after our big Diamond Bluff remote for NARN (details forthcoming), and I was thinking about what to do with the blog while away.  I think the idea of posting about a book would be kind of fun.  I read a good deal of spy fiction but that won't be interesting.  I would love to do a book either on economics or education over the next few weeks. 

So here's my plan:  In the comments box, please tell me a book you would like me to read.  I will post about the book between 8/4 and 8/17, one per day.  That and posts about Armenia will be what you get over that period, along with any of the usual tidbits that find their way out to Yerevan. 

Don't feel limited to economics or education, and don't worry about whether it's a book I've read, or even a book I'd like.  Just drop a line in the comments or email me at scsu-scholars-at-{removeme}yahoogroups to make a suggestion.  I'll take them up to Thursday and I'll get the book on Friday.

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Posted by King : 11:44 AM

Overwhelmed by support 

I was so surprised by the outpouring of bloggers and blog-friends at the get-together at Keegans on Saturday.   Saint Paul at Fraters Libertas has a list of the attendees, and Mitch and Captain Ed have other post mortems.  Cathy in the Wright asked to have her picture taken with me, which helps her blog relative to her picture with Mitch (how many Guinness does it take to get that smile, senor?) and Bob Davis of KSTP.  Very nice to see DC and hear that she will be blogging more regularly again, caught up a bit with Doug, and finally met Shawn not Sean from TAM.  (Beer at GC offer still open, buddy!).  

Spitbull continued the mystery of how they ever got into the NA by eschewing us for the symphony.  This will not stand. 

I met plenty of others as well.  Undoubtedly finally meeting James Lileks was the highlight.  (Unlike Cathy, I had no problem muscling into the inner circle -- and I understand that basset hound thing, Doug!)  What is great about James is that a conversation with him feels like a conversation with someone you've known for years.  He told the duvet story and your reaction to this isn't "James is telling me about his duvet -- this is so cool!!!" but "yeah I understand, my wife sends me on these stupid errands all the time."  Or at least she used to until I broke her in to two truths of my husbanding skills:
In other words, talking to James feels like continuing a conversation you've had with an old friend you haven't seen for awhile.  For anyone that remembers The Diner, it should come as no surprise.

(Come to think of it, the end of my running errands returning things and the end of The Diner coincide.  Coincidence?  I think not.)

What was most welcome, however, was the reaction of people after I introduced myself, the "hey yeah, you" look that greeted me at almost every turn.  I've gotten some email from people already which I will post here over the next few days with ideas for stories.  I'm always surprised by how many people tell me they read this blog (compared to my GoStats numbers, which indicate readership even lower than the PiPress).  Kevin for example, or PinkMonkeyBird.  I remembered it a little from my radio days at Pomona, but not quite this way.  Thanks to everyone for coming out and thanks for the support you've shown.

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Posted by King : 11:30 AM

Friday, July 23, 2004

Don'tcha wanna go? 

Just in case you've forgotten, be at Keegan's Irish Pub and Restaurant in NE Minneapolis tomorrow at 5pm for a gathering of bloggers, blog-readers and anyone else that is interested.  Mapquest here.  Party invitations are available at party-at-northernallianceradio-dot-com.  I'll be there with most of the NARN.  If that won't get you there, look at the beer menu. 

And earlier in the day, on the NARN show we'll have James Taranto to discuss his book Presidential Leadership.  That's 12-3 tomorrow afternoon (Taranto on just after 1pm) at AM1280 the Patriot

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Posted by King : 1:02 PM

And special guest star... 

The story about the two school buildings I reported yesterday got more interesting last night when the school board couldn't decide who to sell them to.  The best part of this is who came to the gun fight.  The picture with the article shows a very large group of Somali Muslims who are bidding on one of the properties to be an Islamic center.  But the biggest news was this:
A lawyer for St. Cloud Christian School, which made the highest offer for Jefferson at $815,000, sent a letter to St. Cloud school district arguing that it is legally required to take the highest offer. The letter from Minneapolis lawyer David Lillehaug, a former U.S. attorney, wrote that if the board sold to a lower bidder the school would be forced to consider "whether the board discriminated against a religious school."

That's right, Mitch Berg's favorite lawyer, who also happens to be planning a run for Senate against Norm Coleman, has decided to represent the Christian school.  I should quickly point out that SCCS and the Islamic Center proposals are for different buildings -- they are not competing against each other.  According to someone I spoke with today, Lillehaug was in the audience last night and waited until near the end of the session to ask questions, and that the board was not prepared at that time to answer.


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Posted by King : 12:28 PM

Imaginations need lots of ingredients 

The Littlest Scholar and Mrs. B (who btw liked the idea of gaining queenhood) are quarreling over books.  LS has been induced (money) to read Anne of Green Gables, while she would prefer to read the LOTR trilogy, as did her father when I was her age.  Not uplifting enough, Missus says.  Joanne Jacobs agrees.

My daughter read a lot of social issues books -- she must have read a dozen about dyslexia -- in her youth, but they were lighter than this: The homeless girl would be a friend, not the main character. The crazy mother would be offstage after the first chapter, replaced by the difficult but basically decent grandmother.
She also read Anne of Green Gables, The Secret Garden and the like. Anne is an orphan sent to live with strangers who want a boy to work on their farm. Mary is a neglected child who's orphaned; her cousin is a neglected invalid. In Little Women, the father is away fighting the Civil War. Beth dies. Yet these books aren't grim.

Joanne links to this article by Rachel Johnson (free registration required) that makes the point of the difference between 'dark' and 'grim'.
Philip Pullman and Lemony Snicket are dark in the way that C.S. Lewis or Roald Dahl are dark, in an inventive, fantastical, even anarchical way that takes root and sprouts in the child�s imagination. Whereas Doing It and the forthcoming Julie Burchill book, Sugar Rush, which I am told is a joyful exploration of the sunlit teenage world of drugs and lezzies, sound unquestionably grim and narrowly grotty.

Kids running around the house pretending to be Frodo or Harry Potter is something I'm likely to approve of.  The question Johnson raises -- do you teach kids about drugs and divorce early on through "reality" kid-lit -- are ageless.  What strikes her as depressing, with which I agree, is the preponderance of these grim titles in the children's literature award finalists. 

Tolkein never meant LOTR to be a kid's story; my parents were none too thrilled by my choice either.  They couldn't see the appeal to imagination (and to an ethical system) in Star Trek either.  They probably didn't like me reading Ball Four when I was 12 as well.  At least those books were understood to be adult books, however, which a child could use for exploration.  Using children's literature for explanation of the vicissitudes of life is entirely different though, something on which the Missus and I agree.

Lately the LS has taken to debating the qualities of the Iron Chefs.  (She's a Morimoto fan.  Fan, you say?  You've no idea.)  You never know what the ingredients are to a child's imagination.  But I don't think books about kids smearing feces on walls is going to help that.

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Posted by King : 12:14 PM

Can't win for losing 

I thought we had fought to end segregation.  Guess not.
Artists and Activists United for Peace, a black and Latino public-action group, plans to express its displeasure with the First Daughter [Jenna Bush] at a rally on Sept. 2, during the Republican National Convention.
"We don't think she is of a high enough moral character to teach school, considering her past adventures," said group organizer John Penley. "Her taking this job is keeping a black person from getting the job. We think she and her sister should enlist in the military."

Any time someone gets a job, someone else doesn't, Mr. Penley.  Welcome to opportunity costs.  And if having a margarita before you're 21 deprives you the chance to teach high school, I think some education colleges could close tomorrow.  Not that that would be a bad thing.

Hat tip:  Return of the Primitive.

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Posted by King : 10:49 AM

Thursday, July 22, 2004

Tribute to teachers high and low 

Minnesota Education Reform News has a new front page, which looks pretty sharp.  Scholar the Owl reports today that two of the education establishment's point men in the standards wars have been elevated to leadership roles.  His blog is still in the same place, wherein he notes the lovefest for the new commissioner.

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Posted by King : 12:32 PM

So which is stupider? 

The nanny state trying to ban consumer fireworks or local officials busting a Texas hold'em game for "token" prizes because it's "not a game of skill"? Particularly when I play it.

So now we'll need a law to define it as a game of skill.

UPDATE:  Reader Chris S. submitted a letter after hearing the bowling alley's owner on the air:

I heard your interview yesterday with Dave Bischoff and just had to write to inform you of another dangerous game of chance being played at an entertainment facility that helps increase food and drink sales, with nominal prizes awarded and at no cost to enter:  Twingo sponsored by Papa Murphy's Pizza at the Twins game.  Instead of bingo numbers, the card has various plays based on how to keep score.  If a Twin flies out to left and your card has     "F-7", you fill in that square.

Really, this is just ludicrous.  Poker may be a game of chance for us rubes in the midwest, but in California, poker is officially considered a game of skill.

So please have the authorities conduct an armed raid at the Metrodome and apply the lack of real law equally.

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Posted by King : 12:14 PM

Government property isn't yours 

The local school board recently combined schools, leaving it with two buildings to sell. It has received bids; the highest bid on one of them is from a Christian school looking to expand; the highest on the other is a day-care center that would include a center for children with autism. But they might not get it.
Some board members are concerned about selling the schools to an organization that might compete with the district for students. St. Cloud school district is expected to lose students for an eighth straight year. ...

Board member Carol Lewis said the board has to decide if the decision should be purely financial or whether it makes more sense to take a lower bid that serves a greater community purpose and won't make it easier for someone to compete with public schools.

"I think we have to look at all of those," Lewis said.
Carol is a friend of mine, but: I don't think her job includes deciding to trade money for "community purposes". (The second-ranked alternatives are an assisted-living facility for veterans on one building, and an Islamic center for the other.) Her job is to act as a steward of monies she receives, including that from a contentious levy, and using it solely to prevent competition is simply not good stewardship. While the money from the sale cannot be used for programs or salaries, only other capital expenditures, that money could be used (by reducing the need for unencumbered funds to devote to capital expenditures) to actually improve public school programs to persuade parents to keep kids in the district.

As well, if you have school buildings for sale, wouldn't you expect that your bidders would be people wanting to run schools?

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Posted by King : 11:51 AM

Another reason to love St. Cloud 

At least we now know our daughter has inherited the good Banaian sense of humor.  When I came home a couple of days ago, young one comes bounding down the stairs to my office.  "Mom and I think you have to see this."

"Just drive around the corner and down towards the school.  You'll see." 

"Honey, I'm not good at this sort of thing."  [Bite tongue, refuse to discuss braindeadness of academics.]  "Will you point this out to me?"

"Sure!"  She runs to the car.  I get in and drive towards the school.  Just before it she says "Now just look to the right."

And there it was:



A toilet, out of which came a sunflower.  The tank behind was a planter with what looked like impatiens.  (What, you don't know what flowers were there? --ed.  Hey ed., it's not like I'm Our House or something!)  I did not dare get closer to this thing, so I took this shot from the car with the cameraphone.  But if there is a chance for a better picture, I think it has to go on the template.

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Posted by King : 11:03 AM

Wednesday, July 21, 2004

Time to block my referrer 

This post is just spooky.
Desperately busy and working at a different site, so don�t expect much today unless I get a review or two written tonight after work.

Not that anyone expects anything out of this site, or even checks it� (except you, King, thanks!)
Way to make me feel like a stalker...  I mean, between you and Stephen...

And of course, Steve posts twice the next day.  Just as I expected.

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Posted by King : 4:23 PM

Hello my name is Zzyzx and I'll be your valedictorian today 

I thought this was fascinating from Joanne Jacobs:
Every year, the San Jose Mercury News runs photos and a profile of the valedictorians of local high schools. I'd guess the majority come from immigrant families, mostly Chinese, Vietnamese, Indian, Iranian and Russian. It's rare to see a Spanish name. Here's the most recent "best and brightest" page. (It takes all summer to do all the schools, many of which have multiple valedictorians.) The names are: Hsu, Bhople, May, Lin, Lai, Tran, Allen and Doan. Maybe not representative. Let's try another one: Slagle, Lee, Zhang, Gottipatti, Harper, Avila, Claus, Dao, Jebens, Koval, Johnson, Kapulkin, Sato, Jhatakia, Decena, Ashe, Tran, Nguyen, Pham, Dick.

Theorem:  Immigration is hard and requires gumption.  Children of gumptious parents (yes, gumptious is the adjective) will also display that trait and devote themselves to their studies.  So more of them will become valedictorians.

See Thomas Sowell FMI.

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Posted by King : 3:59 PM

Mrs. Scholar: anti-war, voting for Bush 

I received this morning a link to Rich Lowry's column yesterday on NRO.  No surprise there, except for the sender:  my wife.  She never sends these things, and dislikes arguing with me.  She is in many ways the old isolationist Republican: She voted Bush in 2000 because in part she abhorred the foreign excursions of the Clinton/Gore administration, just as she had for Bush 41 in the Gulf.  Her support for our war in Afghanistan was at best tepid.  And she has argued consistently with me that invading Iraq was a mistake (though not often, as she doesn't think arguing politics makes for better marital relations.)

However, over the weekend I took the day off from NARN and instead went to a nice party with three friends with whom I always discuss politics.  Two are staunch Democrats, one is a Rush Limbaugh frequent listener (I've got him turned onto Hewitt now), and me.  Talk turned to politics, and to my surprise my wife argues vociferously against Kerry and Edwards.  Particularly Edwards, as her family has had bad experiences with personal injury lawyers.  "But you oppose Iraq still, right?  Are you voting for Nader?" I ask.  "No.  I'll still vote for Bush, even though I think the war was a bad strategy.  I'm certainly not voting for that Edwards."  She then roared with laughter when the Rush listener referred to the Democratic tickets as "the ambulance chaser and the gigolo."  I don't believe I'm allowed to use the word "gigolo" in my house.

Reflecting on this, I am wondering how unusual she is.  (Well she is unusual, as she is a positive outlier to Beckhap's Law.)  We assume, I think too readily, that anyone who opposes the invasion of Iraq will automatically not vote for Bush.  How true can that really be?  Are preferences really that lexicographic, that there are issues over which one cannot trade off?  At least in the case of Mrs. Scholar, the answer is no. 

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Posted by King : 11:26 AM

Your office door of the week #2 

So you're a new student at SCSU, and you've taken an introductory class in a social science.  You have some political views, perhaps, and perhaps you are raised to not use bad words in public.  You have a question of your professor and you ask if you can come to office hours.  "Sure, I'll be there at 2pm.  If the door's closed, just knock."  So at the appointed hours you come to the door, and it's closed.  As you begin to knock you see there's only one sign on the door.

The first thought through your head is:
a.  "Ah, here's a place for reasoned discussion, just why I came to SCSU."
b.  "I guess I don't have to watch what I say in here."
c.  "So that's how you spell that!  I thought it was two words."
d.  "Better hide my Bush/Cheney button."

UPDATE:  Shawn says it's the same at UMD, which did not prepare him for these kinds of tests.

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Posted by King : 10:57 AM


An article in today's Chronicle of Higher Education (link for subscribers only) the House Committee on Education and the Workforce yesterday heard testimony on the excessive cost of college textbooks to students.  (Here's a press release from the committee concerning the hearings.) 
Textbooks are expensive because publishers inflate prices by adding "bells and whistles" that professors don't want and students don't use, an official of a student-advocacy group told the U.S. House of Representatives' principal subcommittee on higher education on Tuesday.

"The high cost of textbooks has perplexed and frustrated students, parents, and faculty for many years," said Merriah Fairchild, higher-education director of the California Student Public Interest Research Group. She also argued that publishers too often needlessly issue new editions of textbooks to prevent students from buying cheaper, used copies.

..."I believe that the costs of textbooks are too high and are one of the many factors jeopardizing our efforts to keep college affordable," said Rep. Howard P. (Buck) McKeon, the California Republican who heads the panel, a subcommittee of the Committee on Education and the Workforce.
The committee Republicans have set out some principles for reform of higher education that include this plank:
Holding colleges accountable for cost increases without over-burdensome federal intrusion: The primary federal investment in higher education, ringing in at more than $70 billion in FY2003 alone, is direct financial assistance to students - and the cornerstone of increasing access for low-income students is the Pell Grant. However, despite the ever-increasing federal financial commitment and record spending for Pell Grants under President Bush, rapidly increasing college costs are depleting the purchasing power of the Pell Grant and putting college out of reach for many needy students. Republicans will seek to make information about cost increases more available to parents and students, and to hold colleges accountable for their cost increases without imposing an inappropriate federal role.
They are trying really hard not to call it price controls, but the implication of these statements are unavoidable. This is a really bad idea, made worse by the fact that creative market solutions are already appearing.  For instance, the Chronicle article refers to a program at Wisconsin-River Falls which rents textbooks for a term to students rather than making them buy.  The cost is $59, which is far less than the net cost of books after one sells them back to the bookstores.  (My sample of size = 1, from my son:  Net cost per term >$200.  Unless he's hiding money from me.)  According to the Chronicle article,

The program even makes a profit, according to Virgil Monroe, the university's manager of textbook services.
"The textbook-rental system also has the effect of bringing total college costs down to a more manageable level," he told the committee, "and this makes college more accessible, especially for poorer students."

Other schools, in the Wisconsin system and outside, are emulating River Falls.   This appears to have been spearheaded by students, who look for creative solutions from the market rather than crying for help from government.

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Posted by King : 10:55 AM

Tuesday, July 20, 2004

Where do you begin 

...when you're asked to teach a book outside of your field that is poorly done?  Winston needs some help with his freshman seminar.
One book really bothers me, though, and that is Barbara Ehrenreich's Nickel and Dimed. First, I am bothered because of Ehrenreich's blantant socialism and the fact that having students read this book--particularly since there is nothing else on the reading list to balance it out--may constitute an endorsement of Ehrenreich's position.

Well, that's why they get 'em as freshmen.  The students are not yet prepared to respond.  As well, using non-economists means that you'll probably hew closely to the text.
Second I am bothered because she is really no kinder to the working class than their employers are, and has indeed profited from them to an even greater extent than their employers; she is, in all respects, a limousine liberal, and as someone who comes from a working class family, I find the attitude of the limousine liberal extremely abhorrent.

As I mentioned in my comment on Winston's blog, it's far worse than that, because Ehrenreich never looks at the choices made by those working in these jobs, including the value to lower-income familes that comes from having cheap goods at WalMart.  I have several local businesspeople for friends who say they shop at locally owned businesses because they don't want to support WalMart.  I've asked why they think they should support higher prices for their friends vis-a-vis the poor. 
Finally, I am bothered by the fact that her book contains glaring inaccuracies as well as simply solutions that do not take into account the complexity of the problem she wishes to solve; the institution at which I am employed and other institutions which use this book as part of their initial indoctrination efforts generally fail to address these concerns in their lesson plans.

And that's the hard part.  The problem is that to answer those concerns requires some thinking about economics, which isn't Winston's field.  I suggested Sowell's Basic Economics and Hazlitt's Economics in One Lesson on his blog.  I think, on further reflection, he might want a couple other pieces as well.  First, Tyler Cowen mentioned the Anti-Capitalist Mentality, by Mises, last month.  The link goes to the full text.  It's relatively short and requires no previous knowledge.  What makes for a limousine liberal among the university types that admire Ehrenreich? 
American authors or scientists are prone to consider the wealthy businessman as a barbarian, as a man exclusively intent upon making money.  The professor despises the alumni who are more interested in the university�s football team than in its scholastic achievements.  He feels insulted if he learns that the coach gets a higher salary than an eminent profes­sor of philosophy.  The men whose research has given rise to new methods of production hate the businessmen who are merely interested in the cash value of their research work.  It is very significant that such a large number of American research physicists sympathize with socialism or communism.  As they are ignorant of economics and realize that the university teachers of economics are also opposed to what they disparagingly call the profit system, no other attitude can be expected from them.

Second, how bad are things?  Not bad at all, if you read the annual reports of the Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas written by Michael Cox and Richard Alm.  Here's the introduction to the 2003, for example:
Compare America today with earlier times or other nations, and one fact stands out: We live better.
Give most of the credit to productivity. Through it, we get more goods and services from each bit of work effort. Through it, we secure economic progress and earn bigger paychecks. The power of productivity has made the United States the world�s richest nation.
America has prospered by doing things a better way.
We�ve become more productive by building our capital stock�adding more machinery, factories, offices and research facilities.
We�ve become more productive by upgrading workers� skills, whether through formal schooling, on-the-job experience or retraining. We�ve become more productive by introducing new technologies that increase output, improve efficiency and lower costs.

What a refreshing difference from the "arch bullshittiness" (in Harm's delicious phrase) of Ehrenreich.  When it comes to the multicultural cant of the left we are to embrace change, yet the same leftists think work should never change, jobs should never change, the only thing that should change should be the cut of the revenue between risk takers and risk avoiders.  And since academics are probably the biggest risk avoiders out there -- I am pointing at myself as much as anyone -- is it any wonder they hold those who take risks and win in contempt? 

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Posted by King : 5:49 PM

No, silly, you're not stuck 

This was me five years ago:
Another summer, and I'm in the same spot. I earned my Ph.D. at 25, got a tenure-track job, published two books, made full professor. I teach at Very Respectable U. with excellent research grants and teaching opportunities, and I've won fellowships and awards. But there's not much intellectual stimulation here.

My dream is to teach at a first-rate, liberal-arts college, though I'd settle for decent grad students. I'm also, right now, socially isolated. I have no partner, am older than the interesting new hires, and have a rather pathetic tendency to answer simple questions with, "Let me explain why it works that way ... in the early 1990s ... then at the end of the decade ... and the latest innovation ...." I make people's eyes glaze over.

Most jobs advertised at my level are for administrators, but I'm somewhat disorganized, less socially adept than many, and don't have a mentor. Things aren't awful, but I've been here 15 years and I'm afraid if I stay, I'll feel more and more trapped. Is there any way to improve my job mobility?
I'm not Agatha, but I can make people's eyes glaze over, and I refer to our young hires now as kids. I became a department chair three years ago, just starting my second term, and frankly it's not going to change much of my life after all. I could be the administrator which means only that the problems she cites -- lack of organization, social ineptitude, lack of mentoiring -- would be my problems too. (OK, I don't think I'm really that inept socially, but neither do I find schmoozing to be something done without a nearby shower.) Click the link at the beginning to see Ms. Mentor's answers to Agatha. If you want, Aggie, take a spin on the department chair-mobile. Then, if you're like me, you'll go back to research, your students, and at last time to read books you don't have to read. Which is how you got here anyway, isn't it?

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Posted by King : 3:47 PM

Putting the iPod before the horse 

Bad enough students are getting Napster subscriptions at reduced rates from their college. Now, according to The Chronicle of Higher Education, they are also getting iPods at Duke. Ah, but Mom, it's for education!
Students might use their iPods, for instance, to listen to assigned songs or audio clips in music or foreign-language courses. And students in some courses will be given microphones so they can record lectures or field interviews with the devices.

Lynne M. O'Brien, director of the Duke Center for Instructional Technology, said that she has spoken with an instructor in Spanish who plans to use the iPods to record and distribute assignments. A professor of environmental studies is interested in using iPods to record interviews in the field.

The university plans to hire a consultant who will help faculty members use the iPods, although most faculty members do not yet know about the iPod project.
And of course they can snag iTunes at 99 cents a pop and spare the university the threat of lawsuits for illegal downloading. At least there's a patina of legitimate educational potential here, but just that.

I wonder if this is the least-cost means for universities to avoid lawsuits from downloading. If someone developed software that prevented people from downloading mp3s without some special code, wouldn't that be more cost-effective? I'm just speculating here, but it just seems that paying tribute to the recording companies is something that can be avoided.

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Posted by King : 3:36 PM

Monday, July 19, 2004

Killer Garrison 

Looks like the rest of the world is figuring out what we already knew about Garrison Keillor: He has joined the Franken/Moore Invective League.
[O]n Page 14 of Homegrown Democrat: a Few Plain Thoughts from the Heart of America ... Keillor makes reference to "a gang of pirates." On the very next page he lambastes the Republican Party's "hairy-backed swamp developers and corporate shills, faith-based economists, see-through fundamentalist bullies with Bibles, Christians of convenience, freelance racists, hobby cops, misanthropic frat boys, lizardskin cigar monkeys, jerktown romeos, ninja dittoheads, the shrieking midgets of AM radio, tax cheats, cheese merchants, cat stranglers, taxi dancers, grab-ass executives, gun fetishists, genteel pornographers, pill pushers, chronic nappers, nihilists in golf pants, backed-up Baptists, Crips and Bloods of the boardroom" and so on, including "their Etch-a-Sketch president with a voice like a dial tone, who for almost four years has looked as if he were about to say something smart ..."

And the man's just getting started.

As a rallying cry to the troops, Homegrown Democrat is an Above Average tub-thumper, but as a carrot of sweet reason to entice reluctant horses into the barn, it just will not do. And that is a pity. For there is much to commend in this book, much that might have won the admiration of even rock-ribbed conservatives had its author not buried them in so much wet dirt.

Those of us with longer memories will have no trouble believing that. John Ray notes that Keillor spent six months at a campus station broadcasting to no one because someone forgot to check whether the transmitter worked. 

Definitely a man of good judgment and realism, wouldn't you say? Sounds like typical Leftist lack of reality-checking to me.

Fraters say, buy a better book.  I say, turn off MPR.

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Posted by King : 1:52 PM

She gets incentives 

Kimberly Swygert makes a great point about cheating. and math courses are cumulative in a way that journalism and education course are not. What's the point of cheating on a math exam when the next exam will require you to have mastered all the previous concepts? What's the point in copying down your roommate's chemistry homework when your inability to balance equations will quickly become evident in other areas?

In classes where the grades are based on papers or oral reports on non-cumulative topics, downloading an essay from the Internet would be a useful way of cheating. But in science courses, you learn the equations or you get the heck out. Anyone who tries bending these rules won't last long.

I think senior exams for majors in economics would work wonders, too.

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Posted by King : 1:37 PM

Not dialing for dinars 

More than a few times driving into the Cities I will hear my master's commissioner's voice plugging a company selling Iraqi dinars.  Since I'm a monetary economist by trade, that sort of thing perks up my ears.  Fellow NARNer Mitch Berg posts about Paul Demko's observation that he cannot find any information about the company that is advertising selling these dinars.   Nor can I.  But even if I could find the company I wouldn't bother, because I think it's a bad deal.
Most of the reason the new notes were printed was because 1. the high inflation of Iraq in the mid-1990s (when total dinar circulation rose from 22 to 584 billion old dinars) made doing business in the predominantly small denomination notes unwieldy, 2. to get rid of currency with Saddam's portrait, and 3. to prevent counterfeiting.  (10,000 dinar notes were widely suspected of being counterfeit, so they traded at a discount.)  There does not appear to have been any attempt to rein in the total number of dinars printed. 
Hal Varian pointed out last January that there was an interesting phenomenon in trading between the "print" dinar (Saddam) and the Swiss dinar that circulated in the Kurdish north.  (It's called "Swiss" because that's where the printing plates were engraved.)  The Swiss dinar was exchanged for the new dinars at a rate of 150-to-1 to the print dinars.  He points to this paper by Mervyn King of the Bank of England which includes a quite detailed discussion.  The exchange rate is at a premium to what one might call the "purchasing power parity" rate between the two currencies (King cites a Central Bank of Iraq study that "128 Saddam dinars to the Swiss would equalise the wages of an engineer in the two parts of Iraq, 100 would equate the price of the shoes he wore to work, and 133 the price of his suit"), but that this was just probably justified since in the currency exchange many holders of the 10,000-print-dinar notes would find out their bills were fakes.  But that exchange process is now over, and as this graph below shows (from King's paper) the value stabilized above 150. 

But not for long.  Soone after the conclusion of the the currency exchange, the dinar appreciated, most likely because there were no longer any of the counterfeit print dinars in circulation.  The Central Bank of Iraq's data (here for 2003, here for 2004) has auction rates since the new currency was announced:

Now that we're done with the lesson, let's come back to Mitch's and Dembo's question: why would you buy these dinars at 1050-1100 when their market rate is at 1460?  It seems quite unlikely.  Between the Swiss dinar information and the removal of the war/counterfeiting discount that was present in October, I think a fall below 1000 is not in the cards.  The best case one can make is the revival of the new Afghani when they unified currencies in 2002, when the currency rallied from 60,000 old afghanis to 46,000, but that would be comparable to the move from 2000 to 1400 drawn above.  Bosnia isn't a comparable case since their currency is freely convertible to euros; I do not believe there to be a plan for Iraqi dinars to be convertible (though see Steve Hanke and Matt Serkerke fmi.)  Unless the government can somehow free the economy quickly and secure the value of the currency --perhaps by tying the value of the dinar to a barrel of oil -- I would expect a drift towards depreciation.  Hanke believes, under current conditions, "the only thing the Iraqi dinar is likely to hit is a wall."

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Posted by King : 12:50 PM

Open searches 

The Minnesota Supreme Court ruled last week that the University of Minnesota had to reveal the names of finalists for its presidency.  It hired its interim Robert Bruininks in November 2002 after saying he was the only finalist.  News organizations locally had sued under Minnesota's "sunshine laws".  UofM's defense was that constitutionally the university is not part of state government and not obliged to reveal names.
The Chronicle of Higher Education (subscribers only) documents the lengths universities have gone to skirt sunshine laws. 
The problem most people see is that a sitting president seeking another post may possibly be fired.  A president here at SCSU was found many times to be on finalist lists elsewhere, something he tried very hard to hide before finally taking a position elsewhere.  Current President Roy Saigo said in a convocation speech that he had been approached about a position in California but turned it down.  He is in the last year of his contract with MnSCU, and of course we know nothing (nothing!) about his future.

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Posted by King : 11:06 AM

Bribe unpaid = failure in ST's world 

Using the headline "Pawlenty education agenda fades", the StarTribune's education writer Norman Draper spins the do-nothing state Senate into a victory. It takes the next-to-last paragraph for the truth to come out.
DFLers' education proposals weren't successful either.
The DFL-controlled Senate "dismissed" anything that didn't give the "schools ... a lot more money than Republicans wanted to give them." That's what passes for leadership in the DFL.

While the Taxpayers League is running ads against Dean Johnson, I'd suggest a couple of whacks on Steve Kelley as well.

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Posted by King : 10:07 AM

Friday, July 16, 2004

Media hack of the week -- guest edition 

I won't be on NARN this week, so I'm posting here for a shout-out during the third hour "Media Hack Columnist of the Week" to cite and credit Steve Gigl for savaging (as opposed to Savage-ing, a fate not even hack columnists deserve) today's Nick Coleman knee-jerkery.  Pinata...
�Tiger Jack makes the white community comfortable,� says Mahmoud El-Kati, a longtime professor of African-American history on leave from Macalester College in St. Paul. Although Tiger Jack was a �wonderful guy,� says El-Kati, the image he left �is not a complex image; he�s not stirring up anything or agitating or anything like that. He�s not raising hell, as you could say about just about anyone else in those days. The Twin Cities has a very rich civil rights history, but if you�re talking about the struggle, his name doesn�t come up.� stick...
So everybody out there with dark skin, if you make people comfortable, aren�t stirring up or agitating or raising hell, you aren�t part of �the struggle,� and therefore� what? You�re not �complex� enough? You�re a traitor to your �race?� What?

�The white community is very good at celebrating black individuals,� says El-Kati, 67. �Especially if they are an athlete or an entertainer. The individual becomes bigger than the life of the community itself, but the individual is one-dimensional. The community is complex, but it�s almost like it�s not even there to many whites.�

Well there�s where we differ, Mr. El-Kati: I don�t give a rat�s furry, diseased hindquarters about any �community.� Communities are defined by individuals, not the other way around. Someone who identifies him/herself as part of a �community� ahead of being a human being like everyone around them has their priorities way out of whack.
All this to attack a man that been dead for three years.  Lovely, Nick.  Just lovely.  How about if you just tell us if the rumor is true about them undies?
I'm sure that will be on in the 2:00 hour.  Be sure also to catch Robert Gallucci talking about North Korea at 1, preceded by the Week in Review, where Mr. (No) Yellowcake will no doubt have his turn being the candy-filled objet de batonSee you Monday.

UPDATE (7/17):  Saint Paul found him.
If self-appointed racial consciences like Coleman would stop writing about him, he wouldn't have any fame at all. Then Coleman, Finney, and El-Kati could get back to being the Defiance Triplets without being tormented by the specter of a good natured, dignified, 94-year-old business man ...


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Posted by King : 2:16 PM

Light rail light on economic logic 

The Elder -- who hid under my academic robes when debating trade policy with the Commish last night -- talks about light rail in the Twin Cities after reading the Economist
Trying to justify the existence of the light rail line by bragging up the "economic impact" in the areas surrounding the stations reminds me suspiciously of the efforts to claim that building sports stadiums will have a positive impact on the local economy. That hogwash has been thoroughly debunked by some of the best minds in the economics field.
He's of course talking about me, though I'd point through to my good friends Brad Humphries and Dennis Coates in this regard.  Tim Chapin at Florida State summarizes the costs and benefits thus:

[I] investigated the development impact of two sports projects (Cleveland�s Gateway and Baltimore�s Camden Yards) on their surrounding districts. Only in the case of Cleveland did the surrounding district experience substantial physical edevelopment. From this [I] concluded that sports facilities offer opportunities for development but that this outcome is by no means guaranteed by investments in sports facilities.

A related, but largely unexplored issue is that of the development costs of these projects. New facilities often require the relocation of existing businesses and/or government offices to provide enough land for a stadium or arena. Similarly, concurrent infrastructure improvements (interchanges, for example) may also require the relocation of existing firms from the district. While these development costs are sometimes identified as following from a project, they remain largely overlooked in the rush to get a project completed.  

The problem I observe with the Metrodome has always been what happens around the stadium when a sports event is not occuring.  Likewise, since light rail is meant to be commuter rail and therefore unlikely to run much on weekends, mid-day or evenings, will the spaces around the stations be black holes of inactivity much of the time?  I mean, what happens around this thing at 1pm?
The Elder also notes: conclude that "the return of rail has given the Twin Cities something of a boost" is ridiculously pre-mature. The line opened this month for farg's sake. If there's been a "boost", I'd like someone to please point it out to me.
It's similar to the stories splashed across the local media crowing about how many people used the light rail line in the first week, as if that was enough to call it a success and silence the critics. Keep an eye out for the stories in January about light rail ridership after six months. You'll have to look hard, as me thinks they won't be on the front pages anymore.
There is also a mention in The Economist story of the Taxpayers League of Minnesota, an organization led by our AM-1280 The Patriot radio colleague, David Strom:
Supporters of the project enthused, in the usual way, about reordering the urban landscape and cherishing the environment. To its opponents, however, light rail epitomised an outdated urban liberal penchant for social control, dense living and an irrational Europhilia--all the sort of things that left-leaning Minnesota used to be proud of. The conservative Taxpayers League of Minnesota, which carries much weight with conservative Republicans (including the state's governor, Tim Pawlenty) pointed out that light rail cost far more than roads.

It should be pointed out that the League has already had the estimable Randal O'Toole -- whose work I've followed for sometime in Liberty magazine (and they are finally getting it online, hurrah!) with a full study of light rail.  For a shorter read, consider David's sound bite:

Randal O�Toole and Wendell Cox published a study for the Heritage Foundation that asked and answered that question. Assuming an amazing 50% increase in transit�s market share (percentage of people using transit as a percentage of all travel) they calculated that the total time savings for peak period commuters would be 22 seconds.

Alternatively, O'Toole's study computes that the cost of removing one driver from the road system in Minneapolis for one day by use of light rail to be at least $18 and perhaps as much as $26.  All told, the estimate is for 9,000 cars taken off the roads -- if the planners are right. 


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Posted by King : 1:52 PM

I guess I won't be taking my radio gig to SCSU 

If we ever syndicate NARN, we won't be on this college radio station
Showing profound contempt for free speech, Occidental College in Los Angeles has fired the student host of a popular student radio program and found him guilty of sexual harassment due to satirical jokes made on the air. Occidental also used this controversy as a pretext for the unprecedented decision to dissolve its entire student government and assume control of nearly half a million dollars in funds from student fees.
...Antebi had hosted a popular radio show on Occidental's student radio station for three years. The show, "Rant and Rave," was a forum for political parody and provocative humor. The program frequently mocked Occidental's administration, its student government, and various political and social causes. Antebi was also a vice president in Occidental's student government, where he was highly critical of various administrative decisions.

In response to Antebi's biting on-air satire, three students filed sexual harassment complaints against him in March 2004. Two of his accusers were student government rivals who had unsuccessfully tried to have him recalled from office on different grounds earlier in the year. In their complaints, the offended students claimed that Antebi's show promoted "disrespect and slander" against "women, diversity, and Occidental College" and thus constituted a form of punishable "hostile environment" harassment. Occidental administrators then fired Antebi from his radio show despite objections by the radio station's student management. Antebi contacted FIRE, which quickly wrote a letter on his behalf, pointing out that "none of [the accusers] state a single claim that would transform Mr. Antebi's speech from fully protected provocative speech to unprotected harassment."
...On March 30, amidst the controversy over Antebi's show, Occidental College President Ted Mitchell announced his decision to dissolve the student government. While Mitchell did not refer to Jason Antebi by name, virtually all of the reasons he gave for closing down the student government were directly related to the Antebi controversy. Then, on April 12, Occidental found Antebi guilty of "sexual and gender hostile environment harassment," ignoring both the college's promises to defend free speech and California's "Leonard Law," which guarantees free speech to students at private colleges and universities in California.

I may have mentioned that my own forays into radio began with college radio at St. Anselm College and the Claremont Colleges.  This included playing the Rolling Stones' "Star, Star" at WSAC (punished by a week's suspension -- luckily the station was on a carrier signal, meaning you had to plug your radio into one of St. A's electrical outlets to hear it) and more than a few unedited Dead Kennedys tunes. 
The school accuses Antebi of far worse than that.  The letter sent to FIRE by the school's attorney explaining their reasons for suspending him include words I no longer use in public fora.  FIRE demonstrates many errors in that letter.  The ACLU is siding with FIRE and Antebi that Occidental has wrongly relied on the ACLU's interepretation of harrassment law.
It may well be that Antebi uses a number of "potty words", and this probably should be corrected in him.  I am pretty sure that if I had used the language he was accused of using I'd have been bounced from any radio station, anywhere.  However, the student director of KOXY
did not see there to be a problem.
Every week the newspaper publishes articles that cause backlash and at times, even outrage.  However, it is understood that everyone is entitled to their opinion and that has to be respected. Additionally, if an individual is really dissatisfied with a perspective presented in the paper, they have the opportunity to publish their own opinion in various sections of the paper.  The same opportunity is available at KOXY.  If students disagree with the content of a show, they are more than welcome to come down to the station and present their own point of view.  It is not appropriate, however, to shut down someone's program because a small minority of individuals are made uncomfortable.  Again, this is a chance to create dialogue and debate. I assure you, that these issues will not die because Antebi's show is cancelled.  On the contrary, they will begin to fester�
The beauty of radio is that when you don't like what you're listening to, you can turn the dial. For Antebi's show, people keep the dial on 104.7. We do not censor, and I'm not endorsing or enforcing your decision against Antebi because I feel something of a personal nature may be involved with this complaint that, for some reason, never went through KOXY.

I doubt students as wise as Ms. Clasen work many other places.  But she was overruled by her dean of students.

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Posted by King : 1:05 PM

Political correctness in Australia 

The term is American, and in Australia, suggestsJohn Quiggin, it's used in boorish ways. His comments section is quite interesting. One comment:
I believe civility and manners are a matter of leadership rather than law.
But in the States, civility codes are not the province of the political Right.

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Posted by King : 11:54 AM

The antidote for senioritis 

Remember Mark Edmondson, the kid whose acceptance to UNC was revoked because he decided to ditch his senior year of high school?  It appears other schools got the message.
In the admissions offices of schools across the country, officials are poring over second-semester senior transcripts in what University of Pennsylvania admissions dean Lee Stetson calls the "D scholar search" -- the hunt for students who slacked off so much that their grades dropped like a stone, or who dropped tough courses for easy ones.

Thousands will receive a stern letter warning them to shape up for college. Many more will be required to explain the slip in their academic performance. Some could be bounced from an honors program or have their admissions postponed.

And some, who felt secure in their place at a selective college, could be booted for good before they begin. That message -- "We wanted you once, but we don't anymore" -- usually comes in a phone call.

"We do look at the final transcripts," said Shannon Gundy, associate admissions director at the University of Maryland at College Park, where officials are beginning to review the records of every one of the 4,125 freshmen the school expects to enroll.
"Our assumption when we offer admission is that they will have the same level of accomplishment throughout the year. . . . It has been necessary in some cases to take action regarding the application," she said.

Colleges and universities inform students on the application or the acceptance letter that admission is contingent on their performance throughout their senior year, though some seniors admit to glossing over that part, or don't believe it when they do read it. 

The debate last summer was whether the letters of acceptance spelled out the requirements to maintain good grades in the last semester.  It appears that the standards are being tightened up.
UPDATE:  Forgot to link the WaPo article, dang it!

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Posted by King : 11:12 AM

Too funny 

Why I would like another child.
I was cuddling in bed with the girl child last night when she turned to me and said, "Pappa, can I tell you something?" And I said, "of course". So, she said:
Luke. I am your father.

His child is 3.5 years.  My younger one is about to turn ten.  She had spacers put in for some braces yesterday, and I spent most of the day worried about it.  After inquiring about her health for the third time in the evening while watching Iron Chef, she says "Quit worrying, Dad. I'm fine."  "Sorry, it's in my job description." 
Which it is, but there's less you can do to relieve your worry.  Which is why I think we always want another...

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Posted by King : 11:02 AM


Shawn went to my BN too -- I had no idea he lived in the area!  A few more copies of The Book were found, as well as an IPA.  I owe Shawn a debt and a beer.  And I appeal to the Commish for linkage for the American Mind post, even if he didn't bring his camera.

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Posted by King : 9:55 AM

Thursday, July 15, 2004

Spelunking for Hewitt 

Shawn from The American Mind (not to be confused with Sean from the American Mind, with whom I want to play fantasy football again!) suggested in a comment to my post on bookstores and Hugh Hewitt's use of the net that Barnes and Noble is cool about balancing their bookcases.  Armed with Trixie the Treo, I sallied forth.  The Moore display has been replaced by a wad of "My Life."  I eyeballed it at about 60 copies -- the table was straining under the weight, as it were.  I tried to take a picture of it but was getting the look from an employee.   Looking around, I saw a table of other current event books, but no Hugh.  I went back into the shelves.
The St. Cloud BN is quite spacious, and the current event books not on the displays are past the information center in the middle of the store (which has the appearance of a pillbox and would make a good recon point.)  So it's probably 75 feet from the storefront to this aisle.  Books are in alphabetical order, so I go to 'H'.  Here's what I found.


There are a few books I can't identify, and since I suffer from advanced CRS syndrome I won't be able to tell you what they are, but I'm sure my intelligent readers will.  From left to right you have

So they cover all the titles, but look at what they carry more of.  The decision to hold multiple copies of the Left books; the positioning of them.  Sorry, Shawn and Sean, but I think this BN didn't get the memo.

UPDATE:  Shoot, forget my tag line.  Amazon rank:  Hewitt 16, "Why I Hate..." 75,392.  Markets work.

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Posted by King : 5:28 PM

I'm betting it won't be long 

I sympathize with Stephen -- this is my vacation time and I'm here. He's saying he'll stay away. Due to NARN, I'm probably not going away from blogging. But I will stay out of my office more the next month or so. Or so I keep promising my office manager, who gets this cross look every time I show up, which so far has been EVERY DAMNED DAY.

Being on (semi)vacation does permit me, however, to read some real funny stuff. JVC Comments has today's, on Gogol Bordello. Had they had this at the Arizona or the Cowboy Bar or any of the others in Kyiv, I might never have come home!

Man, I need to get back there!

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Posted by King : 12:48 PM

White male bites dog 

According to the Wall Street Journal yesterday "everyone's a victim".(Subscribers only.)
In Phoenix this month, a federal judge ruled that raises handed out in 1993 by Northern Arizona University to its female and minority professors -- averaging $2,400 and $3,000 respectively -- discriminated against white male professors.

In late 2002 a three-judge panel for the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that the raise hadn't unnecessarily restricted the rights of the white professors but that a jury should decide whether the university had gone overboard. The plaintiffs then agreed to allow U.S. District Judge Robert Broomfield to serve as a fact finder in lieu of a jury. Last week he ruled that the university "clearly went beyond attaining a balance."
It's not clear whether these professors will win much in damages, as the university argues a later president undid the damage of the 1993 pay raises. The judge's ruling isn't available online, but some parts are in this cached story from the Arizona Sun.
[Judge Robert] Broomfield, in his 21-page ruling, said Hughes was trying to resolve problems of pay inequity. That, the judge said, was necessary because NAU, as the recipient of federal funds, is subject to federal anti-discrimination laws.

But Broomfield said that the study was flawed because it did not take into account many of the reasons that white male professors were paid more, including things like tenure, experience and doctoral degrees.

The judge said that, once these variables are factored out, males made an average of $751 more than females. But the pay of female professors was hiked by $2,400.

Similarly, the judge said, non-minorities were earning an average of $87 more than minorities, far more than the $3,000 pay hike ordered by Hughes.

"To the extent pay inequities exist, (federal law) requires that it be cured," the judge wrote. "This court cannot, however, simply rubber stamp a pay equity plan which, in seeking to cure inequity, actually creates a new inequity through its purported remedy."
There have been a few such gender equity distributions here at SCSU and perhaps one upcoming. Hopfully they will notice, as should our administration. In the 2002 appeal, while the case was sent back to trial against the university it was dismissed against the president (who was overly generous) on a split ruling. The dissenter wrote:
Any competent university president would know that he can�t pay people more or less than others based on their sex and race. The scheme here was straightforward: minorities are gold, women are silver, white men are bronze. It�s been a long time in America since anyone thought the Constitution allowed governmental discrimination based on sex and race. The law has been clearly established on this point for many years.

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Posted by King : 11:49 AM

Another Checks-For-Degrees Scandal 

The horror!
"We have strong evidence that the University of Michigan granted academic degrees to students in exchange for hefty payments, often totaling tens of thousands of dollars," Deputy Attorney General James B. Comey said. "In the process, thousands of graduates have emerged with degrees, but few or no skills applicable to everyday life. And many are as unprepared to enter the job market as they were when they first enrolled."

...Besides attending classes, students read materials relating to their lectures, write the occasional paper, and participate in testing, Comey said. Although the content of many courses was often thought-provoking, what alarmed investigators was the subject matter's "intractably abstract nature."

"A course in Chaucer can be a fascinating examination of medieval mores and the evolution of the English language," Comey said. "Such knowledge, however, has little application in larger society. Students can graduate with majors in creative writing, Latin, women's studies, and history, yet still not know how to fix a sink, sew on a button, or even properly feed themselves. Virtually the only opportunity graduates have to apply their arcane knowledge takes place during discussions over coffee with their peers, or attempts to impress members of the opposite sex at parties."

And the only way out is, or course, post-graduate work.

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Posted by King : 11:19 AM

Office door anthropology 

Remember a while back when I was talking about what goes on office doors of academics? It's dawned on me to use the camera on my cell phone to grab some images of the types of things we're talking about. I carry a Treo 600 and have been enjoying using it for "those moments" when you always say to yourself "I wish I had a camera". One day I'm walking past an office festooned with all manner of horsepuckey and thought "People need to see this." So, here's this week's "Door of Intellectual Darkness."

I am editing photos so that you will not see whose door it is. I'd like to think that the people who do this would fix their offices forthwith, but I don't expect they will, and I don't want there to be some folks gawking in front of other doors. Liberals tend to think this is offensive and threatening. When done to my door, I believe I'm engaged in education.

Without further ado...

Kind of looks like a transom, but it's not. These are interior offices, and these are their "windows". The door of this person's office is, well, worrying.

I don't believe the owner of this office has dental experience, so I assume the missing tooth on Bush is supposed to mean something? The cartoon below the caricature is of course Boondocks, which is a necessary ingredient for "demonstrating" one can be funny and PC simultaneously. (Basically, it's a rewrite of Doonesbury to correct Trudeau's Eurocentricism.)

You can expect one of these each week -- summer is a great time to visit a few target-rich environments.

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Posted by King : 10:58 AM

Presenting your Iron Chefs of Course Management! 

A group of universities is trying to do to course management what Linux did for operating systems.
A cooperative venture by several major universities to build free course-management software is expected to release the first version of its product today, together with the complete source code, so that any college or individual can customize and enhance the program.

The effort, called the Sakai Project, named for a chef on a popular cable-television cooking show, could draw business away from commercial vendors -- mainly Blackboard Inc., which went public this year, and WebCT Inc. -- that sell similar software to thousands of colleges worldwide.
The consortium is lead by Michigan, Stanford, Indiana and MIT. It unfortunately sounds a bit slapdash at present.
Sakai is a Frankensteinian creation, stitched together from the computer code of existing course-management software developed at the four lead universities, as well as from uPortal software, a Web-based application made up of open-source-software parts created by several hundred universities. Drawing on existing software allowed the developers to craft a complex program in just six months.
I admit to not knowing the history of Linux or Unix as well as many other bloggers or readers, so I don't know if perhaps this is how other open-code software has been built. WebCT has been the standard here at SCSU, but we are changing this year to Desire2Learn. I can't imagine that these are cheap; if the university has the option of using some freer software that we could code to do, for example, better assessment, that sounds like something to investigate.

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Posted by King : 10:57 AM

Wednesday, July 14, 2004

Maybe we're taking this thing a little too far? 

First Freedom Fries, now W Ketchup. At least some of the proceeds go to scholarships for children of the fallen servicemen and women. But I prefer my fries with hot sauce at any rate. W Salsa? I'm there, baby. Link courtesy of Chumley Wonderbar.

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Posted by King : 4:29 PM

Textbooks on Amazon 

Courtesy Lew Rockwell, the New York Times is reporting that the selling of used books by places like eBay and Amazon is threatening the publishing industry.
"We think it's not good for the industry and it has an effect, but we can't measure it," said Paul Aiken, executive director of the Authors Guild, a trade group. "There has always been used-book sales, but it's always been a background noise sort of thing. Now it's right there next to the new book on Amazon."

Lorraine Shanley, a principal at Market Partners International, a publishing consultant, said that the industry was just starting to appreciate the dimensions of the problem.

"Used books are to consumer books as Napster was to the music industry," she said. "The question becomes, 'How does the book industry address its used-book problem?' There aren't any easy answers, especially as no one is breaking any laws here."
You can see where this could lead on college campuses. Many professors will tell students that Amazon or BN are options to get their books, though the university here has an exclusive contract for an on-campus bookstore that supposedly has exclusive rights to sell on campus. If a student goes to the bookstore it finds the new textbook for, say, Greg Mankiw's Principles of Macroeconomics for $93.25 retail price. The bookstore has used books for sale as well, books bought largely from students in the previous term for less than twenty cents on the dollar. The bookstore then sells these at a profit likely higher than that earned on the new book (which is marked up at a rate set by agreement with the publisher, likely around 25%). Now suppose a student can go to Amazon, see the retail price for Mankiw (and the discounted price from Amazon), and experience a range of other sellers with new and used books? Would the university be in violation of its contract with the bookstore if students were doing this from computers on campus? If shipped to their dorm rooms?

Textbook publishers have fought this both by publishing new editions quickly with sufficient changes to obsolesce the old books, and then by creating a set of ISBNs for each book each with a slightly different set of ancilliaries to strap to the book (for Mankiw's book that could be anything from a study guide to a subscription to WSJ or Business Week.) Question: Is it the requirement to buy the book for a course that protects the textbook publishers profit in a way that can't be done with trade books? Or is it something else?

And, dependably, Democrats want to control these prices as well.

UPDATE: Which reminds me: I am stuck in West Nowhere, so I only listen to Hugh Hewitt online via his streaming service. He did something interesting the other day -- flogging his new book to listeners to purchase via Amazon. He wanted it there because he could drive up its ranking on the site. I thought it a bit unseemly at first but he explained it thus: If the book is high on Amazon, the brick-and-mortar storefronts will have to give him space alongside all the other election books (which are largely anti-Bush.) Sure enough, it's sitting at #12 as I type this. That leads to an interesting hypothesis: Do online book sales lead to greater orders from "off-line" bookstores? If I had data to test this, one of my senior seminar students could have the thesis of the year.

BTW, buy Hugh's book. I did, and I had his "In But Not Of" thrown in as well. I'm going to have him autograph these next time he's in town. And I bought new!

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Posted by King : 3:41 PM

You had me at "stultiloquence" 

James Otteson has joined the stable of writers at Liberty and Power and written a description of how he's been told to dumb down a college textbook.
I�m currently writing a book outlining and defending the �classical liberal� moral and political tradition and applying that tradition�s principles to moral and political conflicts occupying our attention today. The book is pitched at undergraduates ... [O]ne of the criticisms the manuscript has received from reviewers is that it uses too many �big� words that undergraduates cannot be reasonably expected to know.

Here are some of the words singled out as being unreasonable to expect undergraduates to know: vapid, ineluctable, stultiloquence, oafish, fustian, salubrious, and inscrutable. Some of these words are obviously less common, thus harder, than others; and perhaps some of them count as �big.� But each of the words was used in a context that gave strong clues about its meaning. And we are talking about university students here, all of whom are supposed to have had several years of English classes. Is it really unreasonable to expect them to know these words? What is it reasonable to expect them to know, then?
[sigh] Poor Prof. Otteson is not accustomed to students here at SCSU, who not only don't think they have to know these words but don't even have to go to class (last letter)
in one of my classes this semester, I had received an 'A' on all aspects of the coursework cited in the syllabus, but recently I was threatened with receiving no credit for the course because the professor had tallied five absences on my part, two more than allowed for in the syllabus.

This is ridiculous. I have obviously shown through knowledge and comprehension of the subject, so how should it be possible for me to be stripped of all the effort and hard work I put forth?

Being a professor at this university requires and enormous educational background, so where along the line did some of these professors forget what it is like to be a college student? Life does not consist solely of school. Students, like everyone else, have jobs, family concerns, health problems and sometimes are just too exhausted to make it to class. What right does a professor have to pass judgment on the pressing issues surrounding a student's life outside the classroom? And what is more is that the student's tuition is allocated by the university to pay the salaries of the professors, so I think it is only just for those professors to show some courtesy and flexibility with their attendance policies and not be so dictatorial when administering those guidelines.
This is an example of at least one of the words that Prof. Otteson has been told to remove. If you can't figure out which one, you should read a different blog.

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Posted by King : 2:49 PM

Legislating graduation gap closure and more money for universities 

There's a move afoot in the new Higher Education Act bill to try to improve graduation rates among different racial groups. According to The Chronicle of Higher Education (subscribers only, though it looks like it's largely drawn from this press release by Education committee chair John Boehner) the problem with the data may be that students are more often transferring schools -- the school the student went to first must count the student as a drop-out or non-completion, even if the student went to another school and earned a degree. This infroms some of the discussion we had about the Education Trust study on graduation rates. Calls for better tracking of students between schools would create data privacy concerns.

Boehner's press release also indicates that there may be a bill by the Democrats that would force states to increase funding for state universities and colleges lest they lose their No Child Left Behind funds (hey! I thought that was an unfunded mandate!).

H.R. 3519, authored by Rep. John Tierney (D-MA) and co-sponsored by House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) and other top House Democrats, directs the U.S. Secretary of Education to punish states that reduce state spending on colleges and universities below the average annual amount spent in the last five years by withholding �any amount that would otherwise be available to the state for administrative expenses and costs under any federal education program.� (Sec. 4) State legislatures and governors that reduce state spending on higher education would be barred under H.R. 3519 from receiving administrative funds for NCLB, IDEA and other federal programs until they agreed to increase their funding for higher education. (Link to bill summary added)
It smells like price controls, it quacks like price controls.

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Posted by King : 2:46 PM

Another government you shouldn't trust... 

... is student government. As one might expect, they've morphed into the same form of busybodies, tax collectors and ne'er-do-wells that their post-graduate brethren are. Daniel D'Amico writes:
Performing the role of a student government representative is similar to that of performing the role of an actual government representative. While making decisions on matters he has no expertise in, he appears knowledgeable and benevolent. Mastering this technique makes him the perfect candidate for political office by achieving the most needed characteristic of governmental office: the ability to shirk responsibility.

...Most student organizations recognize a left-liberal bias that exists in the SGA budget allocation process. The same liberal bias exists throughout the entire spectrum of university function, thanks to the dependent relationship that has grown to exist between the profession of education and government subsidy. The process of student budget allocation pitches students against students to bid for the attention and support of SGA in an interest group fashion. If this demeaning process wasn't ridiculous enough, look back at the mere logistics of these allocations. Maybe the reader didn't notice what was intended by the figures listed above.

D'Amico describes how one leftist student thought it wrong for a company that runs prisons for profit to advertise for guards on campus (the student government passed a resolution) and how a GLBT-LSMFT group got a $10,000 grant from the student government to hold a fundraiser to raise ... $3,000.

You can find examples of this here. A few years ago the student government rallied to get 13% of the student body to vote on a referendum to raise "student activity fees" (the euphemism applied to student government taxes) for building a new football stadium and a recreation center, and such vital student needs as a skyway. Students are now paying those taxes, but many of those who voted have (we hope!) graduated. They are also happy to use tax dollars to hand out free bus passes, which of course are useless to the many students who commute to SCSU from out of town.

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Posted by King : 12:41 PM

Tuesday, July 13, 2004

Another part of the problem 

Thanks to Joanne Jacobs for linking to the article on Harry Potter. I think Mitch has put his finger on part of the problem as well, in discussing the uproar over planning on postponement of the election in case of terrorist attack.
On the one hand, "if you fail to prepare, you prepare to fail". If the nation doesn't consider what to do in the event of a rending national catastrophe, then if it happens we will have no idea what to do - guaranteeing an election dispute that'll make this last four years look like trying to figure out which movie to rent at Blockbuster.

On the other hand - as we saw during last year's Terror Market controversy or the "Duct Tape" advisories last year, if a government institution even considers a point that is emotionally loaded enough to torque a significant minority, then that point will go unconsidered. Every time.
Readers of the Volokh Conspiracy will have already found several examples of how the law is already elastic enough to handle the possibility of voting interruption, just as markets can handle predictions such as whether Osama will be caught by Christmas. (About 3-1 against; look under Current Events->Intl Events. Zarqawi is about 50/50 to be neutralized by year-end.) And if you go to US Presidential Election, you can see the bet that the election is certified on December 13th, the current date set for meeting the Electoral College (a little less than 5-1 in favor.)

There are always plans. There are always obstacles. There is always creativity, if only it is allowed to work.

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Posted by King : 5:52 PM

We are not raising adults 

Another example of how leftist teachers really are.
John Sirvaitis had lost his chemistry textbook and needed the money before class to pay for a new one. He didn't have cash, but breathed a sigh of relief when he remembered his school had recently installed an automatic teller machine (ATM).

His high school in West Linn, Ore., joins a growing number of high schools with ATMs. The Illinois-based Teen Research Unlimited surveyed 2,000 youths across the country and found that one in 200 of those ages 12 to 15 had access to a cash machine at school. The number increased to one in 50 among those ages 16 to 17. The survey also found that 17 percent of teens had a debit card, up from 12 percent in 2000.

Not all students, parents, and school district personnel, however, approve of the ATMs. Some kids feel that it encourages rampant consumerism. Molly Doyle, an editorial writer at Oregon City High criticized her school's decision to install the machine. "I don't think it belongs in a school setting," wrote Molly, saying that the machine is next to an area where snacks and lattes are purchased. "We're here for an education, not for buying things."

In West Linn, the city with the highest median household income in Oregon, many students at West Linn High School are concerned that they are expected to grow up too fast. "We're only in high school, so why do we need an ATM right now in school?" asks Jane Lyons, a junior. "I feel that too much responsibility is being pushed on us."

Some kids feel that the machines - where transactions cost $1.50 each - are divisive. "There are so many kids that aren't as rich as other kids and the ATM puts barriers between us," says Rebecca Immel, a junior. "It separates us into two groups: the people that get to use the ATM because they have enough money from their parents, or a job, to open an account, and the kids whose mom gives them just enough money for lunch."

Providing students with convenience, choices, and a means of developing their sense of responsibility over their own lives: These are not desirable things in the modern American high school?

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Posted by King : 11:33 AM

Le Monde: French for 'wrong' 

Something in Eloise's post got me to thinking.
An instructor from a French teachers training institute (doesn't that image give you the shudders) has read the tea leaves (a.k.a. the blockbuster Harry Potter series):
Capitalism is now trying to shape, after its own taste, not only the real world, but the imaginary world of its consumer-citizens.

The world of Harry Potter, he is reported to opine, "glorifies individualism, excessive competition and a cult of violence."

But fear not, Le Monde printed a rebuttal; instead Harry Potter can actually be read as a "ferocious critique of consumer society and the world of free enterprise." Harry is "the first hero of the anti-global Seattle generation."

Leave it to Le Monde (Merde in France sometimes calls it Al Jazeera on the Seine) to have a debate and have neither side correct. Those of us who support capitalism have long thought well of Harry Potter, as has Diane Durante.
By means of the theme, plot and characterization--particularly as they involve the hero--every children's story implicitly addresses such broad questions as: Is the world fundamentally a benevolent or a malevolent place? Can one rely on one's own mind or not? Is life to be eagerly embraced or fearfully skirted? Can the good succeed or does evil ultimately win?

The Harry Potter series appeals to so many children (and, incidentally, adults) because the answers it gives to these questions are overwhelmingly positive. It shows a world in which happiness can be achieved, villains can be defeated, and the means of success can be learned. When my seven-year-old races around the dining room table swathed in an old bathrobe, with a broomstick made of a mini-blind wand and cardboard, she is not expressing an interest in witches or the supernatural. Rather, she is trying on the personality of an independent, courageous, intelligent individual who conquers evil. She is enthusiastically endorsing a positive philosophic perspective on herself and on the world.

It is a story's abstract meaning, not its physical setting, that influences the reader. The Wizard of Oz, for example, is set in a land inhabited by witches, Munchkins and talking trees--but it really is about the determination of Dorothy and her friends to attain difficult goals. Little Lord Fauntleroy is not a manual for how to inherit an earldom, but a portrayal of a child whose honesty and integrity see him through adversity.
It strikes me as perfectly clear why the French dislike this. Expressing optimism and hope is not the liberal way. I am not Limbaugh's biggest fan by a damn sight, but when he says that liberalism is a coward's choice, I could not possibly agree more. Liberalism says you cannot defeat your demons by yourself, that you need the help of Society or Community or a Village to do this. In contrast, Harry develops his own confidence in his own powers. (My wife and I disagree on whether God is present to provide Harry's powers, but that's another argument.) Fear is overwhelmed, cynicism is set aside -- exactly the things France cannot do.

I recall an email exchange here once in which I discussed the defeat of communism: I received in return a letter attacking me for excessive "triumphalism". So we shouldn't celebrate the ending of a system that killed 100 million in a century, I asked? More sneering ensued. Durantyism is alive and well on America's campuses. They will say that communism hasn't failed because it hasn't been tried, but they know this is wrong. They know without understanding, and so cynicism is all that's left to the Left. If their dream of the Village is gone, they will raze all the others. This is why they hate Reagan, who told them before it happened that it's "the march of freedom and democracy which will leave Marxism-Leninism on the ash heap of history as it has left other tyrannies which stifle the freedom and muzzle the self-expression of the people." Denial isn't just a river that runs through Egypt. It passes through Paris, through SCSU, through academia.

Don't believe me? Click on the Fraters' Deserve Victory bumper sticker (I still want one guys!) and ask yourself -- what would happen to the Peugeot in Paris or the SUV at SCSU that has this on the bumper? Incroyable!

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Posted by King : 11:30 AM

Randon Pensees has moved 

One of my favorite new blogs, Random Pensees, has moved to the domain. Update the blogrolls, everyone, so you can read stuff like this.
The NY Times and I have a special relationship. I think of it as a love/hate/couldn't care less kind of a thing. Sometimes I love certain sections, sometimes a hate most of the politically correct and biased tone and reporting, and it couldn't care less about what I think about it. By the way, I am no longer allowed to read the Times around my children. I have language issues.
It could be worse: You could read Doug Grow.

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Posted by King : 10:28 AM

Monday, July 12, 2004

And I'd like to thank the members of the Academy... 

I received an award in the Captain's Caption Contest! It was inspired mostly by jealousy, of course -- what would I have given to be on stage with Fogarty! Except, if he's going to endorse Ol' Tree Stump...

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Posted by King : 3:42 PM

What comes after you roll up your sleeves 

Via Reformk12, this story comes from Camille Cosby (Bill's wife) about what it took to get her younger brother to read.
Camille Cosby remembers when her brother, three years younger than she, entered St. Cyprian's unable to read in the third grade.

"You'll forgive the exaggeration," she said, "if I say he was ready for Shakespeare by the end of his first week after our sisters began shaping him up."

Yes, it was an exaggeration, but an instructive one about the work the Oblate Sisters continue to do to this day at St. Frances Academy in one of the roughest, toughest parts of East Baltimore. Contrary to the notion of those who apologize for failing public schools by saying private schools get to cream the top echelon of students, St. Frances has taken public school kids who were flunking and turned them into the 92 percent of the academy's students who go on to college.

"We always try to help those who are in the greatest need," Sister Mary Alice said. "However, [the students] have to work themselves up into some kind of academic performance or they can't stay."
Chett Breiling at ReformK12 makes an excellent point:
Just because a student has been poorly taught (or not taught) in the past is no excuse to condemn him to future failure. Just roll up your sleeves, as the nuns did with Ms. Cosby's brother, and teach.
There's no doubting that parents who don't get involved in their children's education put them behind. The question really is whether or not teaching methods exist to converge these students onto high-performance paths. Those nuns at St. Cyprians seem to have something there. Can it be duplicated? Not, Chett says, unless you give them responsibility, lest they end up like this. And maybe a little accountability as well.

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Posted by King : 2:52 PM

Political Correctness: Not dead yet 

Cathy Young notes that PC never did die, it's just morphed into other, insidious forms.
In April, for instance, the faculty council of Oklahoma State University approved a "racial and sexual harassment policy" that amounts to a far-reaching speech code. According to a report in The Daily O�Collegian, the policy�s definition of harassment includes "a hostile environment that unreasonably interferes with the work or academic performance of those of a particular race, color, ethnicity or national origin," even if such "interference" is "unintentional." It covers "verbal and nonverbal harassment, as well as print and electronic harassment."

The policy does purport to exempt any "presentation or inquiry falling within justifiable academic standards covering course contents and pedagogy." But justifiable is a nebulous term, and the policy as a whole is so broad and so vague that it would surely chill the legitimate exchange of ideas, particularly outside the classroom -- in student papers, for instance.
Critical Mass nails it:
Campus speech codes exist for the cases when individuals or groups refuse to be shamed into submission. They are institutionally ratified shaming devices that not only make it acceptable to punish students for saying things that offend others, but that use shame as the punitive weapon of choice. Sensitivity training, a common "sentence" meted out to those found guilt of violating campus speech codes, is a shaming device, a mechanism meant to make people repudiate their own consciences and accept instead an externally imposed set of rules about what kinds of beliefs and behaviors regarding race, sex, and sexuality are acceptable (Jane Elliot's Blue Eyed workshops on racial sensitivity are classics in this genre). Forced apology, another signal feature of the punishments meted out under campus speech codes, is entirely about shame, about compelling an individual who is by definition unrepentant, unwilling to apologize, to do so anyway, and to do so in a manner that is convincing to administrators and the offended parties. That such a punishment makes a mockery of the principles it is intended to uphold--sensitivity to difference, tolerance of that which is not like oneself--seems to be lost on those who so piously dole the punishments out.
Think that's wrong? Read Jack again.
But the most awful part for me as the session ground on was that most of our faculty seemed to be actually trying to participate in the degrading nonsense. I decided that this wasn't even their limit: if, for instance, the leader had told everyone to jump on their left leg, flap their arms, and cluck like chickens the vast majority of the people in the room would have done it.

Then I began to wonder what they WOULDN'T do in the name of political correctness. The people who carried out Stalin's horrors started as pretty decent folks who wanted to be politically correct. Read Dostoyevsky. Then see what they became. I really don't know if the majority of my chicken-clucking colleagues would stop short if they had to be politically incorrect to do it.

It could be worse, if you live in Australia. (Hat tip: John Ray.)

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Posted by King : 2:40 PM

Shortage of liberal journalists at Fox? 

While we were on the show Saturday, Mitch discussed the news documentary scheduled for tonight that purports to show that Fox News is biased. I mentioned last month that there was an article about media bias last year by Groseclose and Milyo which argued that Fox is about as right-wing as Charles Stenholm (D-TX). I was watching one of their Sunday news programs and I observe Mara Eliason and Juan Williams on a panel with Paul Gigot and Bill Sammon. I don't know, that doesn't look like the usual Token Will we see on other shows, does it? Let alone the fact that the list of panelists -- identified as "whistleblowers" and "former Fox employees" -- includes Eric Alterman. Let alone that this event is sponsored by the MoveOnToSocialism.kills crowd. It's not even a good film, says Howard Kurtz.
Greenwald says he culled the Fox clips from more than eight hours of tapes submitted by 10 volunteers recruited by MoveOn, who found patterns in the network's coverage.

"It's not that they never present the other point of view," Greenwald says of Fox. "It's that they present, a percentage of the time, one point of view." While he considered including some of the non-conservative voices on Fox, he says, "it's a film. At times you make the decision -- that's not so interesting."

Greenwald does highlight instances in which anchors put plenty of topspin on the ball. David Asman, teasing an upcoming segment with the headline "Jobs Killer?," said: "John Kerry's plan to bring millions of jobs back to America, well, someone here says, watch out! Kerry's plan will end up killing more jobs instead."

Still, some of the editing in the movie is questionable. In a montage involving criticism of Kerry's tax policies, political correspondent Carl Cameron is shown saying: "If you want to destroy jobs in this country, you raise taxes." Left on the cutting-room floor is that Cameron was quoting Commerce Secretary Don Evans.

There's more in there. RTWT.

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Posted by King : 1:43 PM

Attention all Midwestern bloggers 

A group of us have decided to put together a confab. Here are the details:

If you're a blogger in Minnesota (or anywhere within driving distance of the Twin Cities), we really should get together sometime.

There are a lot of cool people writing blogs - or even just reading them - in the Upper Midwest, and we should definitely try to meet sometime. So the Northern Alliance is throwing a shindig - a non-political, ecumenical one - for bloggers in the area, and we'd like all you bloggers to be there!

Here's the deal: We'd like to meet at Keegan's Irish Pub in Northeast Minneapolis, on Saturday, July 24, at 5PM. We'd like to spend a few hours hanging out, meeting other bloggers, and just having some fun. Cash bar? The whole place IS a cash bar!

By the way - this is not a "Northern Alliance" event, just a random social thang.

Interested in being there? We'd love to get a headcount. Please drop us a line at

party *at* northernallianceradio *dot* com

Tell us who you are and what blog you write, if any. We'll send the details right back.

Hope to see you all there! Oh - and spread the word among any other bloggers you know!

The Whole Northern Alliance
I will be there, and I will try to get the rest of the Scholars into Keegans as well.

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Posted by King : 9:50 AM

Friday, July 09, 2004

On NARN tomorrow... 

On NARN tomorrow I will get to talk to Bryan Henderson, the high school student from West Virginia who took on his PC teachers. (We'll have to ask him if he knows the other ProtestWarriors that crashed the Today Show.) He'll be on about 1:30pm. Week in Review at noon, the Fraters-less third hour and more. Please listen in at AM1280 the Patriot!

UPDATE (7/12): I knew he was from West Virginia! Anyway, we couldn't reach him on Saturday, so look for Bryan to be with us in a week or two instead.

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Posted by King : 5:37 PM

Channeling Rosy 

A couple of times recently during our first hour Week in Review on the Northern Alliance Radio Network, I've had troubled looks from some of the other hosts over my optimism that the economy is going to carry George Bush. Hindrocket at PowerLine is usually the one with eyebrows most arched, yet after the jobs report and an AP columnist claimed the economy was poised for a great year, he said "no further questions". I'm not sure if he's talking to me or the inexecrable Paul Krugman, who like some others used one less-glamourous number to call off the boom. Being the modest guy that I am...

There was an old joke at the beginning of the Reagan Administration that the only woman in the Reagan cabinet was Miss Rosy Scenario. Some folks seem to be channelling David Stockman that we're going off a cliff soon (fools! don't you see it!?!) but I have to confess to being one bearing glad tidings for the economy, and a belief that it will redound to Bush's credit by November. Here are some reasons:
  1. Professional forecasters focus too much on each wiggle in the data. I'm fortunate in that I forecast from a university rather than a bank or consulting firm, because I don't get myself on reporters' Palm Pilots to offer quick quotes to every jobs or GDP report. You can certainly cherry-pick numbers to make things look good or bad. Data never go all in the same direction. Even when things go well, note how the press reports, like "U.S. Consumers Feeling Better Despite Disappointing Economic News". (Damn them!) Which leads me to...
  2. Aggregate data can conceal much. Last week I quoted some diffusion index figures for employment. I tend to look at 6-12 month figures for the share of industries that are gaining or losing workers. It's never going to be 100%, as I just said, but the recent data look pretty good here. Even in manufacturing, 53 of 84 industries have expanded employment in the last six months. We use these diffusion indices in the St. Cloud Quarterly Business Report, which I co-author. There too, firms are reporting solid gains. Again, not all. You can easily find a firm or two to tell a negative story, if that's what you want to find.
  3. Not all bad economic news is blamed on the incumbent. One of the stories running around right now is that if you aren't working, you're stuck in unemployment. That might be true. Here's a graph of unemployment duration since 1968 (the first year I could get this data from BLS):

    This measures the number of weeks that an unemployed person stays unemployed. Peaks in this number occurred in 1976 -- Ford lost -- and 1984 -- Reagan won. There doesn't appear to be a clear pattern. And from research I've done, there doesn't appear to be any reason why longer unemployment causes blame for the incumbent. It is much more likely that those experiencing long-tern unemployment blame themselves.
  4. People watch the change, not the level. I mentioned that my dissertation looked at the rate of change in unemployment and inflation rather than their levels as being important to describe voting. The graph below shows the 12 month change in the unemployment rate since 1960 (data from BLS).

    Notice that the two times incumbents have lost elections (Ford 1976, Bush 41 1992), the rate had no time to turn positive in the run-up to the elections. Bush's numbers have already turned positive, and given that the next four months to replace (July-October 2003) had employment changes of -111, +11, -47, and 83, the number is likely to turn even more positive as the election approaches, unless we really go off a cliff.
  5. Which we're not.The National Association of Business Economists has an industry survey of 104 firm and industry economists this week in which they note employment is performing very, very well.
    Employment is booming. The net rising index (NRI, percent reporting rising demand minus percent reporting falling demand) rose to 22 percent from seven percent last quarter. This compares with a historical average of minus 2.5 percent; an NRI of 22 percent is in the top ten percent of historical responses. Hiring plans also improved, with those expecting to increase employment rising to 41 percent from 34 percent last quarter.
    Their May Outlook (which is a survey of professional forecasters) had only 2 forecasters predicting GDP below 4%. That's before the latest revisions to first quarter GDP, taking the number from 4.4% to 3.9%, and before the June employment report. But that's not necessarily going to mean much. My own forecast uses levels data rather than rates of change, and the impact of the changes were quite minimal. I will go out on a limb right now and say second quarter GDP comes in over 5%. And that money is filtering over into real disposable income as well.
Next economics post will be on looking at 50 state races rather than one national. Want to get started? Look at this graph.

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Posted by King : 3:20 PM

Thursday, July 08, 2004

Metaphor alert 

Robert Campbell has a long follow-up post on the uses and abuses of campus email surveillance as reflected in the University of Southern Missisippi case.
Although the policy is more starkly worded than most, it doesn't differ in essentials from those presently in force at other universities, or in the corporate world. It appears that under current law, a company-owned computer has the same status as a company-owner meat slicer or drill press. The same managers and administrators who would be prohibited from opening snail-mail sent or received by employees, or from listening to their telephone conversations without their permission, can legally read any employee's email whenever they feel like it.
And the president of USM has been happily reading all kinds of stuff, as Campbell explains. And he makes an excellent point here that it requires a faculty to stand up to Campbell.
The USM Faculty Senate has a choice. If it moves swiftly to put forward a strict email privacy policy, it will do groundbreaking work and ensure loads of favorable publicity for its cause, while hastening the end of [President Shelby] Thames regime. If it falls back on reacting to administrative initiatives, or seeking to smooth things over with Thames and his administrators, it will have done its part to keep Shelby Thames in office for another two years, while insuring that one of his very worst policies remains in force after he is finally fired or his contract runs out.
Likewise, here at St. Cloud State, this president is getting puff pieces to help keep his job. His biggest dream?
Roy Saigo loves St. Cloud State University and its hockey team.
The president of Minnesota's largest state university attends almost every game. So, when asked about his dream for the coming school year, his face lights up with a grin.

"We'll win the Frozen Four," he said.
What happens if we have to play North Dakota?

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Posted by King : 3:45 PM

Another round of drinks for the counselors 

A story picked up at the Captain's Quarters on the wooing of high school academic counselors by colleges.
Though the image of the admissions process is often one of high school guidance counselors sidling up to colleges in hopes of gaining an advantage for their students, the reality is sometimes the other way around.

Colleges are so intent on getting not just enough applicants, but the best ones, that some are lavishing perks on guidance counselors, raising questions about the difference between merely promoting a university and currying favor with those who speak directly into the ear of students and parents trying to evaluate it.

The colleges themselves seem uncertain as to what is, or is not, appropriate. Some say theater tickets are all right, but professional sporting events are questionable. Others say massages are obviously out of bounds, but fancy dinners and waterfront cruises that feature a city's skyline are fine.
The Captain worries:
With federal aid comprising a much-bigger slice of incoming tuition, one has to wonder whether these colleges see graduating high-school students as the key to big paydays, making the extra effort profitable in the long run. But as these schmoozefests escalate, as they surely will (sort of like the academia equivalent of gas wars), the cost will make themselves felt in the pocketbooks of American parents and taxpayers.

Parents now have to ask their students' counselors whether or not they've accepted junkets to the schools towards which they push their students. Wasn't it bad enough when this type of kickback scheme only emanated from the Atheletics departments?
The question we ask is, where's the profit in all this to the universities? The answer, of course, is price discrimination. You want to offer slots to those most likely to take them who meet your criteria, and you want to extract the highest price. Who better to have that information than high school admissions counselors?

I'm not convinced that's a bad thing. Admissions people are in the sales business; read this article in today's university paper about our "enrollment management" guy, and tell me what you see. And sales people woo those who can bring them business. My brother has tickets to all kinds of Boston sporting events to woo shipping managers to give business to his trucking firm. The manager doesn't own the business usually; should they eschew seats to the Red Sox?

If we're worried about costs, a new book by Richard Vedder from AEI explains the problem well:

Escalating tuition reflects two other developments of modern times. The first is a rise in price discrimination, which occurs when different customers pay different prices for the same service. Tuition is discounted by scholarship aid. Over time, that aid has grown substantially, so the actual average price to the consumer has risen somewhat less rapidly than stated tuition suggests. Price discrimination has allowed many universities to take advantage of the fact that affluent students are usually less sensitive to costs than poorer ones. By charging the wealthier students more, total revenues are enhanced. Also, at many selective-admissions universities, parents will often gladly pay high tuition if their child�s only other option is to attend less prestigious schools. Universities have increased �sticker prices� aggressively to charge some students whatever the market will bear.

The second factor boosting tuition is an increasing cross-subsidization within universities, with institutions diverting resources away from undergraduate instruction. Professors who two generations ago would have taught twelve hours a week now teach six or possibly nine hours. The reduced teaching load is supposed to allow professors to do more research. Traditionally, undergraduate education has been heavily subsidized by third parties (through scholarships and loans); now, undergraduates are increasingly subsidizing other university expenses such as research, student activities, bigger administrative structures, and more costly intercollegiate athletic programs.

Third-party payment of tuition leading to insensitivity to price changes and cross-subsidization. Vedder makes the apt comparison to the health care industry. The online introduction has convinced me to buy this book; I suspect you'll hear more about it here later.

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Posted by King : 10:47 AM

Bicycle races are coming your way so forget all your duties oh yeah! 

The Elder reports he will not be on the NARN this weekend as he and the Atomizer are lacing up for the MS75 on the Munger Trail.
The MS75 is a two day seventy five mile inline skate from Hinckley to Duluth, Minnesota to raise funds for the Minnesota Chapter of the National Multiple Sclerosis Society. It's a good event for a great cause.
Follow the link to donate, please. And tune in Saturday as we experience addition by subtraction.

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Posted by King : 10:47 AM

I might have to try this 

Via Newmark's Door, I found this site of a professor who is having his principles of economics students blog. The quality of the writing should give outsiders some feel for the difficulties we have with student writing, but I think this is a great idea for getting students to look at alternative news sources and to think about economics.

I have a group of seniors writing senior research papers this fall (here's the old syllabus). I might have to add blogging to their workload.

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Posted by King : 10:36 AM

Wednesday, July 07, 2004

Toughen up, Buttercup! 

Eloise thinks I should discuss the post by Daniel Drezner on comment civility. I agree with him. Longtime readers of the Scholars (we call them "the Gang of Four") are aware of the debate on civility on the email discussion list at St. Cloud State (Jack wrote about this more generally, too), which I found very weird because the list had become more civil in recent years. (Consider the use of the list in this incident where a graduate student used a faculty email list to accuse his department of "attempted murder", for example.) So when Drezner says "compared to academia, comments are a tea party", he's quite right. Most comments that are flames are not well written. If you write well, you will benefit from the comparison. And if you can't toughen yourself to criticism after graduate school and the tenure process, I frankly have no idea why you're blogging.

I have had one incident where I decided to ban a commenter, and within a week I regretted it, felt I had displayed weakness (though my motive was to cease letting him promote his blog which had grown quite tendentious) and a few weeks later I removed the ban. I still consider the comment area to be my personal space and I will police it as I see fit because I consider myself responsible for what's there (which led Lt. Smash to turn off his for awhile). Since the volume of comments here has been rather low, the policing costs are acceptable. If I had a place like Instapundit, however, I probably wouldn't have comments.

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Posted by King : 4:35 PM

Tenure and security 

Hugo Schwyzer at Cliopatria waxes eloquent on tenure.
I hear constantly how "tenure protects bad teachers." I hear constantly how "the union protects incompetence." Well, in my experience, for every bad teacher tenure protects, it enables several bright and brave teachers to teach fearlessly. If it weren't for tenure, I would never dare teach Lesbian and Gay American history on what is still a relatively conservative college campus. I would never dare teach a course on Men and Masculinity. From what I've seen, fear leads to timidity -- job security leads to daring and innovation. (Emphasis in original)
It's a common theme among tenured faculty that tenure emboldened them. I would interpret that differently: Tenure changes incentives and creates a loosening of the principal-agent relationship between administrator and faculty member, a worsening of the agency problem. Tenure also means not having to do research any more, as long as you're satisfied with your current rank. Tenure means you never need change your notes again. Tenure means little redress available to get faculty to serve on committees.

It certainly helps create space for faculty to teach difficult courses or engage in controversial research, but the "for every one ... there are several" argumentation is specious. Its impact is inframarginal to most decisions to engage in those acticities.

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Posted by King : 10:28 AM

No supermarkets grow there 

Courtesy of Jeffrey Tucker from the Mises Institute, this story jas jad me laughing all night long: Residents do without in America's 'food deserts'. Dateline: Pittsburgh NH, which is up on the Canadian border. My friends and I used to go up there in the summer in high school so that we could go over to Canada in search of cheap Molson (more often returning with Old Vienna, actually.)
William Laste thinks nothing of driving more than 400 miles roundtrip to buy groceries, or of supplementing his shopping with fiddlehead ferns and dandelion greens gathered in fields near his home.

In this mountainous outpost of 870 people along the Canadian border, good food at fair prices is hard to find. There are no supermarkets, and the community�s two convenience stores offer little fresh produce and plenty of high prices.

Laste�s fixed income can�t accommodate $2.99 for his favorite cheesy crackers. He gets around it by combining shopping with monthly visits to friends in cities to the south, where the same crackers cost half the price.

�Up here, you�re so far out they�ve got you over a barrel,� the 69-year-old retired plumber said recently. �I couldn�t afford to shop up here.�

Such is life in �food deserts,� increasingly common rural � and sometimes urban � areas where supermarkets with healthy and affordable food are many miles away.
Oh the inhumanity! And wouldn't you know it, at the end of this sob story comes the inevitable:
[Andy] Fisher
[executive director, Community Food Security Coalition, Venice, Calif.] thinks the blame � and responsibility for fixing the problem � goes to local and state governments, few of which have recognized supermarket access as a basic need.

�They haven�t really focused on food as being a public issue,� he said. �Planning departments aren�t out there drawing maps of where there are food deserts.�
Somehow all I could think of is Sam Kinison.
Stop sending these people food. Send them U-Hauls! Nah! Send me. Everybody on board! We'll make one trip. See this stuff! (he is scooping up imaginary SAND) Nothing grows in this S---! Nothing's gonna grow in this S---! Get your kids, get everyone aboard! I'll take you where the FOOD IS!!!! You live in a f(ood) Desert!
Oops, edited just a bit.

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Posted by King : 10:19 AM

When I was twelve... 

...I read mostly war stories -- WW2 and the Civil War, mostly. Erin O'Connor is asking for a list, suggesting that the way to deal with the inclusion of Tupac Shakur's poetry on summer reading lists is to remind teachers and administrators of what worked in a younger time. My parents had taken two subscriptions for us kids growing up (I'm the oldest of three): Funk & Wagnalls encyclopedia (1963 edition, purchased as I went to first grade, arrived one volume a month), and the Readers Digest Condensed Books. As I recall there was also a junior version of that. But Tom Sawyer, My Friend Flicka, all of those, were in those books, which were placed in the bedroom I shared with my brother. I just read them. The only other readings were anything to do with World War II or the Civil War and The Outsiders by S.E. Hinton.

I believe this was also the summer Dad started bring Classics Illustrated home. He'd keep one copy in mint condition and let me read the other. I probably owe more literary knowledge to comics and to Readers Digest than to anything else.

This was lastly the summer of my first wargaming. Gettysburg, Kriegspiel (great for beginners) and Blitzkrieg. The following summer delivered Panzerblitz (which is still my favorite.) I remember reading the first Albert Speer memoir that year and seeing Patton only about a dozen times.

Ah, good times, good times...

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Posted by King : 9:52 AM

Tuesday, July 06, 2004

Thanks for your patience. 

From the Blogger folks:
An update to yesteday's note about unresponsiveness: The application servers are overloading because of an I/O problem. We will be pushing new code as soon as possible to address this. In the meantime, there will be some slowness and incidents of pages simply not loading. I apologize for the poor performance of the app today - we hope to have the problem corrected soon.
So if you're reading this today or even Wednesday, you'll know why there isn't much here. Posting has been a little problematic, the archives are foo, and page loads are "intermittent". More tomorrow.

UPDATE: And of course, GoStats says this is a banner day for visits, because The Elder and Stephen gave us a link on the outsourcing post. Thanks, hope you were able to come by.

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Posted by King : 4:14 PM

How to teach in the Department of the 3.7 GPA 

Hey, kids, here's your chance!
Responsibilities: Human Relations and Multicultural Education is an interdisciplinary department that emphasizes student-centered pedagogy and examines the impact of power, resources, cultural standards, and institutional policies and practices on various groups in our society. Responsibilities include:
  1. The position's primary responsibility is to teach a dynamic introductory course addressing the complexity of race and racism using an oppression framework which analyzes institutional and personal racism and race relations in the United States.
  2. May teach other appropriate courses in human relations and multicultural education when needed, as determined by department. The theoretical base of the department includes a global critical framework of structural oppression, social and environmental justice and the interrelationship of race, gender, class, sexual orientation, disability, xenophobia, imperialism, environmental issues, etc.
  3. An interest in the use of technology is desirable.
  4. Serve on college or university committees seeking to promote educational equity and social justice.
  5. Continue study on race and racism.

Qualifications and Experience:
  1. Doctorate completed by August, 2004 in any field related to the job description preferred. Will consider applicants who are ABD who show evidence of active work on dissertation.
  2. Demonstrated knowledge of: theories of racism and other forms of oppression and the interrelationships between them; theories related to social and environmental justice; non-dominant, non-western "ways of knowing"; connections between global and personal issues.
  3. Demonstrated record of teaching excellence.
  4. Demonstrated experience in social action to challenge oppression effectively.
  5. Additional expertise preferred on one or more of the following: disability rights, oppression based on class and gender, LGBT issues, ageism or environmental justice.
And don't forget how to write the letter 'A'.

If any reader does apply for this job, please let the Scholars know of your experience, preferably in a non-dominant, non-western way.

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Posted by King : 4:00 PM

Hang ten credits 

This is taking physical education to a whole new level.
When Ryan Bouton starts his studies at Evergreen State College in Washington this fall, he'll arrive on campus with several credits already in hand. He earned them while surfing the waves off the golden beaches of Costa Rica.

Becky Slattery plans to spend half of July hurtling down the slopes on British Columbia's Blackcomb Glacier. Her snowboard team membership will earn her credit for her senior year at Gould Academy, a Maine prep school.

And last month, Hawaii's State Board of Education allowed the state's 44 public high schools to create official surfing teams for the first time. This followed years of debate with the state attorney general's office, which had opposed the move due to safety issues.

These developments illustrate a growing trend: Schools are using board sports like surfing, skateboarding, snowboarding, and freeride skiing as educational tools. ...

When it comes to board sports, young enthusiasts share a universal language, says Kim Hellman, director of the Grom Project, a San Diego-based nonprofit that uses board sports to involve teenagers in beach cleanups, fundraising initiatives, career planning, and environmental projects.

"This language, and the common culture around it, has created an international framework of discourse and values that differ from other sports," says Ms. Hellman. "Teenagers and preteens relate to it strongly. Educators now know it can motivate young people about activities that might otherwise bore them." ...

Board sports represent "a lifestyle choice and a particular kind of intelligence," says Dave Bean, who teaches English and history at the 168-year-old Gould Academy and coaches its skateboard team. Board sportspeople are often independent thinkers, he says, with unique learning styles.

One of the programs is part of an Outward Bound program, which one of my great-uncles taught at Keene State in NH many years ago. What caught my eye is the use of these projects to "involve teenagers". It appears to trade college credits for activism in environmental causes.

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Posted by King : 3:40 PM

Monday, July 05, 2004

Blogspot difficulties 

Those having trouble with archives the last couple of days (or even getting to the index page): I'm not sure what it is, though Blogger noted they had this problem last week, they say it is now fixed. Don't think so. Anyway, if you keep trying to reload the page, you eventually get it. Our days on Blogspot are numbered at any rate...

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Posted by King : 11:25 AM

An export or an ex-employee? 

As part of my continuing to inject more economics into this blog while keeping its SCSU and higher-ed missions in place, I would like you to consider this bit of flotsam.*
When John Kerry calls offshoring a practice of "Benedict Arnold CEOs" he hits the nail on the head. The neo-conservative ideal of a global free marketplace overlooks the basic fact that offshoring unfairly marginalizes the citizens of the exporting country.
Unfairly? Well, we see this further below.
In most cases it merely lowers business costs and is unnecessary to maintain commercial success.
So already we have someone who thinks costs and profits are unrelated, or at least that the majority of American firms have excess profits. Bruce Bartlett pointed out in Investor's Business Daily yesterday this report at the Small Business Administration that shows a majority of jobs lost as well as gained come from small businesses. Does the author wish to keep costs high for these firms?
Kerry correctly sees offshoring (offshore outsourcing) as a business-ethical issue. That's why his economic plan stops short of protectionism. But unless business leaders quickly come to see this as the moral issue it clearly is - and exercise restraint accordingly - they will give Americans no other choice but to demand that the U.S. government intervene to resurrect regressive barriers to trade.
No other choice meaning that they have to have exactly the jobs they have now, at the wage rate they currently have. Who gives them this right, or teacher of business ethics (yes, he is, as we shall see)?
Imagine if I were to decide for example, as upper-level manager of my local community hospital, to fire my neighbor, a father and radiologist whose job can now be outsourced electronically to India.

As a neo-liberal, I would not see how being American grants any greater moral claim to gainful employment than does being Indian. And since offshoring the job costs a lot less than keeping it local, I might very well see the ends as justifying the means, especially if it can be shown that, by extension, doing so also increases the value of both the U.S. and Indian economies, thereby creating more jobs at home and abroad.

But consider the difficulty of my middle-aged neighbor and parent forced to return to college for another graduate degree while living on a diminished income, then searching for a job years later, still having to pay off the college loan. These are real stresses, indeed struggles, to be incurred broadly across the middle class.
Or consider the difficulty of my middle-aged neighbor and parent whose firm is closed because he can no longer acquire that vital input to his production of new goods and services. Or consider the fifteen employees he has to lay off. Or consider the people who don't get the goods that firm used to produce. Or don't. After all, you are a business ethicist, you have already chosen which little people will be protected and which shall be enslaved.
What the pro-offshoring argument seems to forget is that our rights and obligations are rooted in a collective social contract by, for and of a community of citizens.
Gee, have you been talking to Hillary? This fellow is thoroughly wedded to statism.
The taxes we pay to fund education, infrastructure, private enterprise, etc., are provided exclusively for us - not for any other people.
And a tad nativist.
It would thus be absurd to turn any and every offshorable job - which, according to the McKinsey Global Institute, represents roughly 30 percent of our GDP - over to the citizens of another country which have not participated in the slightest in the establishment of the network of social institutions necessary for the creation of those jobs.
It is equally absurd to think that some elistist prig like you could decide where the creation of jobs should happen, either. We all receive our income through persuasion, through voluntary exchange. I do not recognize your right to impose your decisions on who deserves the fruits of trade. Those fruits belong to those who create them, the buyer and the seller, the employer and the employee.
Essentially, it would be asking Americans to sacrifice the hard-earned privileges of our productive industrialized society in order to benefit citizens of pastoral countries such as India that only recently chose to industrialize.
No, if you could possibly understand comparative advantage, you would know that trade benefits us as well as India.
If we think seriously about the economic hardships, the instability and the insecurities suffered from lives of constant retraining, it's clear no rational person would accept that proposition.
And if you disagree with him, then you're not "thinking seriously" and are "not rational". What a lovely bit of argumentation.
Capitalism is a particularly demanding social contract that implies a high degree of trust.
At last, a sentence I agree with.
When that trust is broken on a grand scale, in the corporate accounting scandals or in the current offshoring race, it compromises the people's faith in capitalism itself.
Who are "the people"? Are they the ones creating new firms and contracting with other firms? Are they the 671 thousand workers that have found jobs in the last three months? Who are you talking about?? (New rule: People who use the definite article before the word "people" to mean "millions of individuals who all think like one uneducated blob of boobs" are to be shunned. Starting with you, Maher.)
Thus, the continuing legitimacy of that system rests to a great extent on business leaders taking ethics seriously.
Well this is a small wonder, given that you are a business ethics philosopher. Not just that, but you're unemployed.
Julian Friedland just finished a visiting professor contract in philosophy at St. Cloud State University in Minnesota where he taught global business ethics. He previously lived in Boulder and taught at the University of Colorado and Metro State. He's returning to the Denver area this month.
It should be noted that the course he taught for us is required of every business student. The history of faculty teaching this course hss been one of substantial hostility towards capitalism. I can understand why AACSB accreditation would induce schools to place this course in every program, but it's not required; regrettably, its function in some cases is increasingly to shame students.

*I double-blinked on "flotsam" too! It seems like Lileks OWNS that word, don't you think?

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Posted by King : 10:56 AM

Friends of influence 

I was delighted to meet David Strom and his wife Margaret Martin at the radio station over the weekend, who report they have joined the land of RSS feeds and news aggregators. (Yeah, she misspelled my name. A tip -- every other letter's an 'a', and if you use the 'y' rather than the 'i' you're closer to the Armenian way of spelling it.) We'll put them in the blogroll and in the aggregator. David had on his show a Hennepin County commissioner, I believe it was Penny Steele, who extolled the virtues of Thomas Sowell's Basic Economics. They will be happy to know some of us here at SCSU teach democratic citizenship from that book. Sowell has some other recommendations for deprogramming your child from the clutches of your local public university college. Joanne Jacobs has more.

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Posted by King : 10:23 AM

The name game 

I hate it when colleges try to call themselves universities to indicate some greater mission. My graduate degrees are from Claremont Graduate School, which became Claremont Graduate University after I left there in 1986 without really changing anything in program mission. There is at least a little more acceptale for state schools that have histories as undergraduate institutions (like St. Cloud Normal School, now my employer SCSU) that become much more than a teachers college. For about ten years now there has been campus debate over our name, with the option of becoming Minnesota State University -St. Cloud. Moorhead and Mankato have already done so. One of my problems is simply pronouncing it without slipping. It's pretty damned long. And I would still have to explain where St. Cloud is.

So I read with interest that a small, formerly all-female state school in Virginia has changed its name from Mary Washington College to The University of Mary Washington. The level of banality is jawdropping:
But the name triggered yet another debate -- this time about syntax. Some faculty insisted that the construction "University of . . ." should precede only a geographic location, not a person. State Sen. R. Edward Houck (D-Spotsylvania) argued against the name change on syntactical grounds before the Virginia legislature. (It ultimately passed.)

"I think the name is awkward," Houck said last week. "And it certainly diminishes Mary. . . . I haven't found anyone other than those who were paid to say it who felt that this was the most appropriate name."

Wilder, though, said he did not believe there is anything "technically incorrect" about the name. "It is unusual," he said. "One of the reasons I preferred it is because it was unusual."

In fact, Wilder said Mary Washington could see a rise in the number of applications this year because of the attention drawn by the name change and the luster of its new status as a university.
If anyone, anyone, is now thinking of applying to Mary Washington because it's a university now and not a college, I'll sing the Wellstone song on the air next weekend. Puh-leeze. And the university's college's website breathlessly proclaims:
Mary Washington College officially became the University of Mary Washington today. To celebrate the new name, the institution held a flag-raising ceremony, complete with punch and cake for campus employees.

�This is a grand day, not only for our institution, but for the entire greater Fredericksburg region and the Commonwealth of Virginia ,� said President William M. Anderson, Jr. �I'd like to thank everybody for working so hard to make this day possible. We enter this era with great confidence, knowing that our past has brought us to this point, where we can become not just another university but a great university.�
Nothing celebrates quite like punch and cake, eh? No word on ice cream.

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Posted by King : 9:54 AM

Open access and cross-subsidization 

Craig Newmark points to a blog just devoted to open access fora for academic research. Craig also points out an article in which scientific publisher Reed Elsevier is worrying about the decline of its business model.
Writing in the company's in-house Review newsletter, Sir Crispin Davis warned that asking researchers to pay for their work to be published but then making it freely available on the internet "could jeopardise the stable, scalable and affordable system of publishing that currently exists".

Sir Crispin, who received a knighthood in the Queen's birthday honours list for services to information and publishing, added that traditional academic publishers "safeguard the publication process and ensure that every research [sic] can submit their work for free, including authors from underfunded fields or developing countries".

The defence of Reed's business model, which relies on academic institutions paying hefty subscriptions for publications, comes as a committee of MPs prepares to report on the state of scientific publishing in the UK after an extensive review.
Most cross-subsidization stories strike me as simply justifying an inelastic demand curve to a regulator in return for being allowed to charge a high price. But that demand curve is getting more and more elastic...

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Posted by King : 9:44 AM

Friday, July 02, 2004

On NARN tomorrow... 

...will be Robert Leuci, author of All the Centurions and inspiration for Prince of the City. He tells the story of his life -- a good cop who succumbs to temptation and then redeems himself by testifying against a corrupt criminal justice system -- in quite fascinating detail. I've read part of it already and I'm going to watch the movie tonight. Hope you can stop by the Northern Alliance show tomorrow, 12-3pm CT on AM1280 the Patriot.

SIDENOTE: I was up at our local BN/Starbucks for coffee and a read of Leuci (Trunk gets all the free copies, damn him) and I see a table full of Dude Where's My Lunch. On one corner of the table is Michael Moore is a Big Fat Stupid White Man. 44 copies of Moore's book, five copies of Hardy & Clarke's. Tim Blair reports that's better than some places.

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Posted by King : 4:38 PM

While I'm on SAF 

As I mentioned, Pitzer College (where I taught for three years) invited Weather Undergrounder Bernardine Dohrn to give thier graduation address. Shawn Macomber reports she really cheered up the crowd:
Dohrn kicked off her speech by deriding Pitzer�s students as having been �raised in, soaked in and shaped by an era of American triumphalism, empire, privilege and apparent peace.� But their �myopic world view,� she assured them, lay �in ashes.� She proceeded to give students the following perspective on the last four years:

�During your student years here, the cruelly brutal, criminal attacks of September 11, 2001, the shredded economy and loss of jobs, the consequences of deregulation and devolution that bankrupted state and local governments, the relentless punishment and imprisoning of over two million people in America, flagrant corporate plunder and criminality, rolling blackouts, the apparently permanent war on terrorism, the shock and awe occupation of Iraq, systematic and degrading detention without trial, torture and extra-judicial assassinations, and the establishment of a crescent of new U.S. military bases across the Middle East and South Asia � all have transformed whatever blissful illusions were harbored as you entered college.�
Macomber discusses other party poopers. RTWT.

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Posted by King : 12:58 PM

When to stop reading 

Our usual rule is to stop at the point where somebody starts comparing a politician or writer to Hitler. In the process of trying to skewering David Horowitz, Donald Lazere goes for the Hitler analogy in the Chronicle of Higher Education (subscribers only -- don't worry, I'm sure this will appear in full somewhere soon.)
Conservative intellectuals, of course, insist that they are the true defenders of liberal humanism against its abuses by tenured radical and Democratic Party demagogues; Horowitz publishes a magazine titled Heterodoxy. But they are caught in a contradiction between this claim and their complicity with both corporate philistinism, which dumbs down culture to maximize profits, and the Republican Party's time-tested policy of reducing political rhetoric to Manichean sound bites, epitomized by Richard Nixon's advice to his speechwriter William Safire, "We sophisticates can listen to a speech for a half hour, but after 10 minutes, the average guy wants a beer."

Horowitz himself, in The Art of Political War (2000), offers advice to conservative politicians that could have come out of Mein Kampf: "When you speak, do not forget that a sound bite is all you have. Whatever you have to say, make sure to say it loud and clear. Keep it simple and keep it short -- a slogan is always better. ... With these audiences, you will never have time for real arguments or proper analyses. Images -- symbols and sound bites -- will always prevail. Therefore, it is absolutely essential to focus your message and repeat it over and over again."

"Could have come out of." Clever. It has been also noted:
The people you�re trying to reach have been raised in the sound-bite culture. They�re used to professional politicians, admakers and entertainers getting to the point in a matter of seconds. You need to do the same. You can�t expect people who only listen to their president for a few seconds to listen to you for an hour and a half.
That would be, like, Hitler? Oh, sorry, that's not Horowitz. That's Carville and Begala.

K.C. Johnson (archives bloggered, go to 6/30 post) didn't stop reading, and observes this about the end of the Lazere article:

Then, however, comes Lazere's major claim: that, in the end, students who complain about classroom bias are, to put it bluntly, dumb. "Perhaps," he notes, "the major source of cognitive dissonance is not liberal ideas versus conservative ones but complex ideas versus simplistic ones." For most students, Lazere contends, "their conservatism is in direct proportion to their self-admitted, near-total ignorance of politics, history, geography, economics, and academic modes of reasoning." Once they have been "educated," no doubt, they will abandon their conservative beliefs and embrace the need for revolution.

This contempt for the academic abilities of the students that they teach is common among critics of the academic freedom movement. It appears consistently, for example, in the publications of the most powerful organization devoted to curricular indoctrination, the Association of American Colleges and Universities.

Lazere concludes his essay with the tale of a student named Richard, for whom Rush Limbaugh served as the sole source for the history of the American Revolution. When Lazere asked the student to consider other interpretations, Richard responded that "his last English professor taught that there is no objective truth and that texts have whatever meaning readers want to find in them. So he's entitled to believe Rush and his parents if he wants, and I'm not entitled to force any contrary evidence on him."

Essays like this one provide some of the most powerful commentary on why groups like Students for Academic Freedom are needed -- and why they should keep up the good work.
So far, no response from SAF.

Hat tip: Dave Huber.

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Posted by King : 12:52 PM

Cage match of the literati 

Mitch Berg vs. Doug Grow. Try reading the last Berg sentence in one breath.
Grow begins:

Where's the outrage? Where are the political leaders? Where are the Minnesotans who used to believe so passionately in public education?

The Minneapolis school board went about the business of again cutting the budget of the state's largest school district and laying off ever more teachers at its Tuesday afternoon meeting/wake.

These awful actions were greeted by apathy, mixed only with a little despair.
Maybe Minnesotans got tired of the Minneapolis Schools' endless Arromediojeering; the institutional arrogance of the teachers' unions and the educational-industrial complex which resulted in ever-less learning for ever-more money, the enforced, one-size-fits-all mediocrity that public education has come to represent, the hijacked agenda that has the schools teaching values that many parents find repellent, and the social engineering that underlay the decline of the cities as well as the schools - simultaneously using the cities as a warehouse for the poor and using the schools to promote a culture of victimhood that makes the poor regard poverty as a virtue and victim status as an asset.
Now try making that one sentence your thought of the day. Advantage: Berg!

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Posted by King : 11:56 AM

Who you talkin' to, Cos? 

Captain Ed has discovered Bill Cosby.
Cosby, who has dropped his normally humorous approach of late and has taken to scolding and shaming audiences, told people that their problems were primarily of their own making, and to quit spouting excuses -- lessons that apply far more broadly than most analysts give Cosby credit. Like most outlets, the AP repeatedly emphasized the ethnicity of the attendees.
Ed's point is that this is more than just a problem for blacks,
I heard more of that part of his speech on the radio, and while I can't quite quote Cosby verbatim, he railed about the popularity of a word created by racists who spent decades stringing black Americans up in trees and burning them out of their homes. But beyond this specific point, Cosby could well have been addressing Nob Hill parents, or the PTA meeting at Beverly Hills High School, and on two levels.

The specific cultural degradations to which Cosby referred -- a lack of emphasis on child-rearing, the abdication of parental responsibilities, and the failure to hold children and teenagers accountable for their education, dress, speech, and behavior apply to all social and ethnic strata in American life today. Go to the mall and see how our sons and daughters dress in public today. The boys look like hoods, dressed in gangsta chic, where beltless pants droop sometimes below the buttocks and ludicrously large shirts overwhelm narrow shoulders. But the boys are only the secondary issue. Our daughters go to the mall dressed in the same outfits streetwalkers wore ten or fifteen years ago, covered in makeup and showing almost as much skin as at the beach. At the rehearsal for my goddaughter's confirmation, many of the girls showed up in that mode of dress -- in church. I'm not talking about 18- or 19-year olds; these were girls as young as 14, and the ones at the mall get younger than that.

Since when did American parents get so comfortable pimping their daughters out to society?
They're not comfortable, at least not the parents I talk to, but they have as much difficulty telling their teens what to do as our parents had with us. And certainly to that extent, Cosby is right to tell parents to grab the reins. He fits in with the work the late Steve Allen did in getting parents to reclaim their TVs. But Cosby has been specific about speaking to people of color.
"Ladies and gentlemen, the lower economic people are not holding up their end in this deal," he declared. "These people are not parenting. They are buying things for kids -- $500 sneakers for what? And won't spend $200 for 'Hooked on Phonics.' . . .

"They're standing on the corner and they can't speak English," he exclaimed. "I can't even talk the way these people talk: 'Why you ain't,' 'Where you is' . . . And I blamed the kid until I heard the mother talk. And then I heard the father talk. . . . Everybody knows it's important to speak English except these knuckleheads. . . . You can't be a doctor with that kind of crap coming out of your mouth!"
The phenomenon Ed is discussing is different than that which Cosby originally addressed in May (see also my graduation address post for another Cosby lecture.) One is rejection of parental values, something I seem to recall has happened before. The other is nihilism. Suburban white kids impersonating ghetto culture is different than commenters to this story about a cop's funeral justifying their death. Suburban idiots make Jackass or Eight Mile, not Menace II Society.

UPDATE: Joanne Jacobs:

Cosby's invitation to speak at the Rainbow/PUSH event is significant. Jackson knew what Cosby would say, more or less, and gave him a forum. An awful lot of blacks must be fed up with the old rhetoric.

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Posted by King : 10:47 AM

Revealed preference 

SCSU, under orders from the agreement to settle its anti-Semitism lawsuit, has published a second issue of its diversity newsletter. This includes a description of the Respect and Responsibility indoctrination class that all our students are forced to take. Winston, you should live in this hour!
�The Women�s Center has done an excellent job,� said SCSU Vice President Nathan Church, �but we want to expand Respect and Responsibility beyond a one-shot educational enterprise to help students retain more of the important messages.�

While some students complain about having to take the course, most report that they gained some important insights from it. �It reinforced your belief that we are more similar than different from other people,� one woman wrote. �I learned what anti-Semitism was,� wrote a male
student. �It was good to get an idea of what has happened on campuses before and how we can help to stop sexual assaults in the future,� another wrote.

But while many participants find the two hours enlightening, Church said the collaborative group working with course goals is pursuing ways to reinforce what he refers to as �an understanding of how to become culturally competent.� Ideas being discussed include development of a Respect and Responsibility logo, a series of educational events that could follow the successful model of the Women�s Center�s �Women on Wednesday� program, and a poster campaign and other reinforcement efforts in the residence halls.

Where do you begin? The insipid list of ideas to increase "cultural competency"? What does "cultural competency" mean? The vacuity of cherrypicking three written comments from the more than 4000 students being subjected to this PC hell? Or wondering what "important messages" it is that VP Church wants students to retain more of?

The whole enterprise is revealing. The university suffers from lawsuit after lawsuit, and so it creates more and more programs to address the perception of embracing diversity (you'll note on page three of the newsletter that there are two more diversity positions to be filled by facutly on campus -- cheer up, adjuncts! Soon you will be the only ones left actually teaching courses here!). It uses the homepage of the university to tout a faculty member with a Ph.D in multicultural education. (No, RP, I've no idea what that means, either.) It's not even the first time they've advertised her -- here's the same page, dated May 5.) And it even creates an extra course in "racial issues" within its general education curriculum, when nine distribution hours for "diversity" courses were already in place. (This will teach them about those icky mascots.) But it has bought them no relief from threats of legal action while perverting the curriculum to the point where a requirement to come to SCSU is an academic activity like R&R that has never been subject to the curriculum process. So why do they do it?

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Posted by King : 10:41 AM

Thursday, July 01, 2004

A list of rejections 

Blogchild John Bruce has a nice list of reasons why manuscripts are turned down by editors. A study of economists showed that many had tales of woe of their rejections. Paul Krugman reported in the study that his rejection rate was 60%.
I assume that my rejection rate is unusually high for a generally successful economist. I've tried to figure out why. The self-serving answer is that my stuff is so incredibly innovative that people don't get the point. More likely, I somehow rub referees and editors the wrong way, maybe by claiming more originality than I really have. Whatever the cause, I still open return letters from journals with fear and trembling, and more often than not get bad news.
This was said long before he joined the editorialists of the New York Times; perhaps the Times could re-impose that 60% rule?

John's list reminds me of the "Keys to the Reading of Research Literature" (scroll to bottom), that I had always ascribed to George Stigler but perhaps not? I have had those on my bulletin board for at least a decade, but I can't tell who the source was. Leads welcome.

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Posted by King : 5:41 PM

Mommy can I go to econ camp? 

You might think I must have said that once; you'd be wrong. Music, church and Scouts, yes. No econ, because I had never heard of such a thing and doubt I would have been interested as a lad if I had. So imagine my surprise when Stephen mentioned he was working with one. Partly in response to my request for more information, he's blogged it.
Also in town this week are a cheerleader camp, a wrestling camp, and the next generation of Mia Hamms have arrived for soccer camp. I'm not sure whether it was intentional or not that the economics students and teachers were housed in a different building.
Well, we all know the cheerleaders go out with the econ guys. Yes, it's true!

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Posted by King : 3:45 PM

It's still not me 

Just look at the university homepage today. Now go inside.
What is your favorite course to teach and why? �I enjoy all my classes, but especially global issues courses. It�s so important to understand the exploitation of less developed countries by the corporate elite of the North.�
This is the face they want to advertise to the world. Your tax dollars at work.

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Posted by King : 11:22 AM

Somebody check my math 

I am teaching money and banking this term, and as you would guess we've been keenly tuned to the happenings at the Federal Reserve this week. Jeffrey Tucker at Mises blog points to this morning's New York Times article that suggests the Fed has been (again) too slow to respond to market conditions, this time allowing inflation to get ahead of it. came as a surprise to some economists and portfolio managers that Fed policy makers thumbed their nose at inflation worries in the statement accompanying the rate increase. "Although incoming inflation data are somewhat elevated, a portion of the increase in recent months appears to have been due to transitory factors," the policy makers said.

That is not the opinion of Alan W. Kral, portfolio manager at Trevor Stewart Burton & Jacobsen in New York. "We believe that inflation has returned," Mr. Kral said. "And the cause of it has been an overexpansive monetary policy for almost 10 years."

..."I believe the Fed is behind the curve because the economy continues to be strong and the inflation rate is creeping up and will continue to creep up," said Henry Kaufman, an economist in New York. Its plan to raise interest rates gradually may be good for the economy, he said, "but is not designed to put the system back into balance in terms of constraining inflation itself."

The Mises Institute people recently put up this article by Frank Shostak discussing the troubles of the Taylor Rule, which is used as a forecasting tool for what Federal Reserve policy regarding the federal funds rate target will be. That's important to emphasize: Nobody should believe that the Fed is actually using this formula, only that the formula seems to mimic what rates they tend to set. I have created macro models for some ministries of finance in developing countries, and we sometimes have used a Taylor-esque rule in the model simply so the ministry can guess at what the central bank will do. The central bankers would tell us they don't use the Taylor rule. We would reply that it didn't matter what they used, the equation was a fair approximation of whatever the heck it was they were doing.

The formula for the rule is

target FF rate = 2% + current inflation + 1/2*(deviation of inflation from 2%) + 1/2*(percentage gap of GDP from its potential level)
So let's check the current 1.25% target set by the Fed. Now one can argue that raising the Fed Funds rate that fast is going to be too disruptive and a more gradual approach is needed. Fine. But that does not obviate the fact that you would have arrived at something around 2% last winter (see the chart in Shostak's article FMI.) The FOMC meets every five weeks. The question of why they waited until now, and why they are being so gradualist, is a very good question.

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Posted by King : 9:55 AM