23.6.16

TAIL TRACK.

Barring signal troubles, links to any posts of substance ought to work.

THERE ARE NO COACH SEATS ON THE ACELA EXPRESS.

That might symbolize the disconnect between the gentry liberals and the disaffected people they claim to be "fighting" for.  Perhaps that's not the smoothest way to introduce Book Review No. 16, which is Steve Fraser's The Limousine Liberal: How an Incendiary Image United the Right and Fractured America.  Well, that sounds like a lot of gentry special pleading, and to an extent that's what Mr Fraser offers.  And yet, after you work through the manifestations of Failed Governance by Wise Experts, for which there's plenty of evidence long before New York populist Mario Procaccino hung the tag on John Lindsay in the 1960s, and that evidence has only accumulated into the era of Hope and Change, there might be recognition that in the push-back against the gentry liberals there's more than enough evidence that good intentions neither imply nor are implied by good policy results.  As such, despite the provocative and polemical title, the book might reward careful study, particularly by people who might be less than impressed by conservative or libertarian arguments, or who might go so far as to hear dog whistles and all the "phobias" that the Anointed call out rather than deal with substance.

On one hand, Mr Fraser might be attempting too much, in attempting to find a common thread in the skepticisms of Huey Long or Father Coughlin or Barry Goldwater and Ronald Reagan and the Contract With America and the Tea Party.  The common thread might be Governance by Wise Experts Doesn't Work Well, but that's only part of, and sometimes a small part of, the skepticisms.  The book predates the Trumpening, although Mr Trump is part of the rogues gallery of illiberal plutocrats including the Koch brothers (which refers to the two who don't sail), the Walton family, the Bradley brothers, and a few of the other usual suspects.

On the other hand, he doesn't dismiss, out of hand, the arguments that the limousine liberals seem to keep winning elections despite not doing so well by the disaffected people they claim to be "fighting" for.   A sample, at pages 188-189, seems to propose an hypothesis.
Even as limousine liberals preached the gospel of social engineering, they seemed to behave like spoiled narcissists.  They appeared preoccupied with style, self-promotion, and in their own way just as obsessed with piling up material stuff as the working class Visigoths they looked down on for doing just that.  Yet at the same time, their opponents pointed out, they rationalized the family dysfunction and criminal proclivities of the "underclass."  Why wouldn't they, since these high-living liberals celebrated sensual release and had no more use for the moral supervision that had once placed constraints on excess than did their clients and political allies in the urban barrios of America.
Rationalized by elegant logic-chopping.  And yet, there's the Acela Express, where the cheapest seat is business class, and the high-living liberals send their spawn to the Ivies, not Massachusetts-Lowell or City University.

Thus comes a challenge to the gentry, from the left. Jake Johnson calls out the technocrats for missing what's going wrong.
The [Democrat] party apparatus has been resilient, however, and elite liberals have fervently resisted the suggestion that the Sanders agenda could be influential in shaping the party's platform in any meaningful way.

But as [Matt] Taibbi writes, "This inability to grasp that the problem is bigger than Bernie Sanders is a huge red flag."

Progressives are, in many ways, winning the war of ideas. Democrats have closed their eyes to this reality, seemingly content to believe that neoliberalism, with a view adjustments, is adequate to address the problems we face. It's not.

As Lily Geismer has written, "A party without a working-class core can’t be expected to improve the prospects of the working class."
There are limits to how much dysfunction you can enable on other people's money, but I digress.

The deeper problem is that the interests of the limousine liberal are not the same as the interests of what the Common Dreams essay calls the working class, and what might better be described as the Democrat constituency not yet socialized into the ways of the middle class. Here's W. R. Mead, who I'll quote at length, on the tension between the interests of the gentry and the interests of the "base."
If we are serious about raising wages at the low end of the job market—and that is a critical task—another approach is needed: Encouraging job creation in this sector. People who find ways for low-skilled workers to make a modest income while adding some value to society are public benefactors, not public enemies. If we stopped illegal immigration, moved to a points system for legal immigration, encouraged the development of industries and companies that hired low-skilled workers, wages for those workers would go up in line with the laws of supply and demand.

Of course, they won’t go up forever; ultimately, productivity matters and employers won’t pay workers more than the value that the workers can add. But unless we miraculously transform every person in America a super-competent symbolic analyst able to excel in the global marketplace, we are going to have tens of millions of Americans whose skill-level limit the kinds of work they can do. Is it really liberal and progressive to develop a set of policies that systematically sideline and warehouse whole classes of people, depriving them of dignity and respect?
No.

And in reading Limousine Liberal, something else occurred to me.  Mr Fraser is skeptical of the populist reactions to the failed technocracy being able to accomplish anything positive, and he characterizes "right-wing populism" (page 240) as "restorationist, not revolutionary," opening "no new roads into the future," and "profoundly nostalgic."

Here, though, is an opportunity for people to rebut the usual technocratic tropes about "arc of history" or "turning back the clock" or all the other ways the gentry would have us believe that opposing their plans is futile or foolish or dangerous.

Put simply: restoration is not a dirty word.  When your immune system fights off a new cold virus, that's restoring a state of good health.  The act of keeping a railroad in a state of good repair is restorative.

Thinking more deeply: some of those roads into the future might lead into swamps.  Now we're into the evolution of complex adaptive systems.  Consider this, dear reader.  Some mutations confer evolutionary advantage.  Some are cancer.  Too often, unbridled technocracy has been more like cancer.

(Cross-posted to Fifty Book Challenge.)

THE SPEECH REPUBLICANS WANTED TO HEAR.

Donald Trump opened up a can on Naggin' Crooked Hillary, and the rants and raves came in.  You'd expect a rave from Rush Limbaugh.
He's not with the Democrat Party.  He's not with the insiders. He's not with the elites. He's winning.  He went back to that, zeroed back to that or circled back to it countless times.  He spoke positive... You know, this is another thing.  I made the point yesterday that I've never seen pessimism so successfully sold as the Democrats and the progressives and the left of today are doing it.  Barack Obama and the Democrat Party convince people that America's best days are over.

They've convinced people that America's best days are in the past and we're a nation in decline, that we deserve to be in decline in some ways, and it's up to the right people now to manage that decline.  And so we have a president and a Democrat Party which seems obsessed with telling people that it's as good as it's gonna get. "And in order protect yours from 'as good as it's gonna get,' you need to vote for us. You need to let us run your affairs, and you need to let us handle the tough things in life while you go out and cruise and do whatever you do."

That's Hillary's message. "Yes, she tried to make it better. Only government can.  You can't.  You're not capable.  This country's greatness does not rest on your shoulders.  This country's greatness relies on government programs administered by experts in Washington, DC."  Trump said the exact opposite today.  "Everywhere I look," he said, "I see the possibilities of what our country could be, but we can't solve any of these problems by relying on the politicians who created them.  We will never be able to fix a rigged system by counting on the same people who rigged it in the first place."
Mr Trump is too much of a rent-seeker to make the strong case against Governance by Wise Experts, whether the experts are rigging things to their own advantage (that's why so many economists avoided poverty by studying poverty) or not, or whether the Wise Experts are Really Stupid People.

Mara Liasson concurs in part and dissents in part.
It's the speech Republicans have been itching to hear, in a crystallized way, since the 1990s. Trump gave them exactly what they wanted and likely quelled some fears about his candidacy. They might not be totally behind him, but Republicans are virulently opposed to her.
Yes, it's refreshing. Perhaps "I won't be politically correct" is a winning formula. But as a creature of the Beltway, Ms Liasson indulges the usual fretting.
Trump showed he is willing to act just enough like a general election candidate for GOP donors, political professionals and nervous members of Congress to heave a little sigh of relief.

Whether it makes a difference with anyone outside the base is a different question.
Mr Trump invited Senator Sanders voters to get on board. All the usual expectations about the Republican base have been overtaken by events. What surprises await in the general?

CALLING THE ROLL.

None (in authority) dare call it Islamist terrorism.
[Orlando] is the 22nd plot or attack since the start of 2015, and the sixth this year. The massacre in Orlando is also the 20th attack or plot aimed at large public gatherings, such as bars and restaurants, shopping malls, parks, and conventions.
That's based on a Heritage Foundation analysis of reported plots and attacks, which might not include all the plots the authorities broke up.

There's a bit of a religious argument going on in the comments.

21.6.16

HERDING CATS REQUIRES TECHNIQUE AND INCENTIVES.

After 35 years in higher education, I developed some proficiency.


Here's an expert at work.


The art of animal training is inducing the animals to do something they'll do anyway, such as rolling over, on your schedule, such as having four tigers rolling during a performance.

The highest form of teaching people, by contrast, is in equipping people with a larger set of activities they can do of their own volition, and withdrawing your inducements.

EMERGENCE IS MESSY.

Let's start with the latest fretting from New York's Times.  For U.S. Parents, a Troubling Happiness Gap.
The happiness gap between parents and nonparents in the United States is significantly larger than the gap found in other industrialized nations, including Great Britain and Australia. And in other Western countries, the happiness gap is nonexistent or even reversed. Parents in Norway, Sweden and Finland — and Russia and Hungary — report even greater levels of happiness than their childless peers.

The researchers, led by the University of Texas sociology professor Jennifer Glass, looked for factors that might explain the international differences in parental happiness, and specifically why parents in the United States suffer a greater happiness penalty than their peers around the world.

They discovered the gap could be explained by differences in family-friendly social policies such as subsidized child care and paid vacation and sick leave. In countries that gave parents what researchers called “the tools to combine work and family,” the negative impact of parenting on happiness disappeared.

“We comprehensively tested every other alternative,” said Dr. Glass, the lead author of the study, which will be published in the American Journal of Sociology in September. “The two things that came out most strongly in explaining the variation were the cost of care for the average 2-year-old as a percent of wages and the total extent of paid sick and vacation days.”
Plus, take your pick of too little freedom.
“There’s an incredible anxiety around parenting here that I just don’t feel in other countries,” said Christine Gross-Loh, the author of “Parenting Without Borders,” a comprehensive look at modern parent culture across the developed world, who is raising her children between the United States and Japan. She points to Americans’ anxiety around children’s college and future prospects, and also to our emphasis on keeping children physically safe, and the harsh judgment of parents who are perceived to be doing a poor job of it.

“In Japan, my 6-year-old and my 9-year-old can go out and take the 4-year-old neighbor, and that’s just normal,” she said, while in the United States that kind of freedom can draw criticism and even lead to interventions by Child Protective Services.
Or is it too much freedom?
In countries where there is a strong agreement about the norms around parenting, parents may worry less about their own choices. Without a single overarching parenting tradition, American parents may feel like they have “too many choices” as compared to parents in more homogeneous cultures, says W. Bradford Wilcox, an associate professor of sociology and the director of the National Marriage Project at the University of Virginia. “A clear and well-defined script can be psychologically comforting,” he said, and its lack can leave parents feeling “unmoored.”

Dr. Glass agrees that cultural differences add to the greater relative parent and nonparent happiness gap — but she notes that those cultural differences are also reflected in our family policies. Much of our anxiety around our children in the United States, she said, is very clearly a reflection of our policy choices.

“We have to compete for good child care. We compete to live where there’s a good elementary school,” she said. “We compete for activities because a child’s entire fate seems to depend on where he goes to college, because there’s no guarantee — if we don’t, our child might be left behind.”
For centuries, there was a clear and well-defined script.  Plus a well-defined division of labor, reflecting the reality that it was the women who went into labor.  Work-life balance?  What was that down on the farm?


That's my great-grandfather Ira Lincoln Hopkins at far right of the picture.  He raised dairy cattle the same way his father Francis Hopkins, with the beard, did, following a well-defined script that first appeared in Plymouth Colony in the seventeenth century.  But he was able to serve as county assessor and retire to a house in Sheboygan Falls with electric lighting (controlled by funky spring-loaded push-buttons that would cause apoplexy in a modern building instructor) and running city water (albeit with a cistern down cellar, imagine the funky stuff that might have come with saving rain water.)  Plus automobiles and aeroplanes.  And two of his daughters watched Moon landings.  On the farm, there was no such thing as work-life balance.  "Sunday might have been the Sabbath day, and the Lord might have rested, but those cows had to be milked -- by hand -- before and after church."

And, work norms or well-defined scripts, there's still the possibility of a person, whether on the farm, or in the manufactory or office or classroom, outworking others.  In the scheme of institutional evolution, we're still working off that centuries-long structure of responsibilities and obligations.  And confronting the choices.

Let me quote you a passage from R. M. Neal's High Green and the Bark Peelers.  "Sometimes I've felt that way about my world -- wondered why today's young instructors aren't as fiery eager to work themselves to death as were the men of my generation when we were just starting.  I'll guess that today's youngsters are quite as eager, but they don't admit it."  Mr Neal, a professor at the University of Missouri School of Journalism wrote that in the late 1940s, long before the place went nuts.  It's possible that the younger cohort of professors, who recognized the leisure-facilitating potential of electric lighting, typewriters, and household appliances, didn't have to be on duty all the time, the way their older colleagues did.

That's also before we get into female labor force participation.  For years, the division of labor into domestic and paid work was also a dispensation in which the male breadwinners could neglect their children.  And the cohort of working women that emerged in the 1970s and 1980s might have emulated that pattern, or figured they'd have to pass on the children or hire out the child care.  (Remember the padded-shoulder suits and the floppy ties?)  And professional work is time-consuming.  Here's a passage from the Wisconsin alumni magazine, noting a day-care crunch in Madison, in the summer of 2001.  "Without good childcare, it's difficult for faculty members to consider having children.  There's a feeling that if you're serious about your work, you can't have kids -- which is a completely miserable attitude."  By 2001, though, the old division of labor is overtaken by events, and the faculty wife who manages the domestic sphere while the male faculty member gets the grants and puts in the long hours likely has a therapist or a divorce lawyer on retainer.

But work is a prison, too, laments Judith Shulevitz.
What if the world was set up in such a way that we could really believe — not just pretend to — that having spent a period of time concentrating on raising children at the expense of future earnings would bring us respect? And what if that could be as true for men as it is for women?
Emergence is messy, and to say "world was set up" proposes more structure than any vanguard can properly organize. Particularly if that vanguard was occupied correcting what appeared to be the default settings that emerged over centuries.
Mrs. Clinton belongs to an earlier generation, one whose objective was to free women from the prison of domesticity — at least the middle-class women who didn’t already have jobs — and send them marching into the work force to demand equality there. But true equality will take more than equal pay and better working conditions. It will require something more radical, a “transvaluation of all values,” in Nietzsche’s phrase.
But "transvaluation" is not something that can be accomplished quickly, or by electing the right kind of politicians.
In an important new book, “Finding Time,” the economist Heather Boushey argues that the failure of government and businesses to replace the services provided by “America’s silent partner” — the stay-at-home wife — is dampening productivity and checking long-term economic growth. A company that withholds family leave may drive away a hard-to-replace executive. Overstressed parents lack the time and patience to help children develop the skills they need to succeed. “Today’s children are tomorrow’s work force,” Ms. Boushey writes. “What happens inside families is just as important to making the economy hum along as what happens inside firms.”

Knowing that motherhood can derail a career, women are waiting longer and longer to have children.
Yes, although the ambitious you will always have with you, and Carrie Lukas notes that the ambitious will still choose (or have chosen for them) to avoid the parent track, or outsource the childcare, no matter what public policy solutions might be available.
[S]uch a system may make it economically feasible to take more time off, but opting out of work would still be a sacrifice. Other people—particularly those without children—would continue to work more hours and therefore get further ahead. And this seems to be the root of what really frustrates Shulevitz.

The modern world gives us lots of opportunities to compare ourselves with others. This isn’t limited to the work world, where we can read about women and men earning eye-popping sums of money and attending swanky conferences around the globe. Parenting is increasingly its own competitive sport. Parents (but particularly moms) jockey to give their kids the most enriching, fulfilling, nurturing, healthy childhoods, which we assume will give those favored offspring a leg up in adulthood.

People who dedicate themselves fully to one arena, whether that’s work or parenting, are almost always going to achieve more in their chosen specialty than those of us who dabble in both.
The good news: compared to Francis Hopkins or Ira Lincoln Hopkins, we are seriously underemployed, and our choice sets are much larger.
The good news is that society has become more innovative and created many more options for how we allocate our time. However, that doesn’t change the basic fact of life that our time is finite, and that not everyone can win a gold medal in everything they do. Contra feminists, the answer to this isn’t more expensive government policies; it’s a reality check.
Add to that the nasty habit of complex adaptive systems doing what they d**n well please, and you can bet on any one-size-fits-all policy reform advocated by a vanguard leading to nasty unintended consequences and disappointments.

TRUTH WILL OUT.

Steven Hayward notes that there's more than one way to get the word out about trendy and stupid scholarship.
Over the last few weeks we’ve offered various academic absurdities, drawn from the fine work of the Twitter account of RealPeerReview. The anonymous person behind this Twitter account posted abstracts from publicly available academic journals. And that was precisely the problem: the mere exposure of the mediocre and politicized “scholarship” that emerges from the campus dens of identity politics is all that is necessary for the wider world to see how preposterous it is.

Apparently even the academic crusaders against the neo-liberal cis-patriarchy don’t actually want people reading their junk either, because, as the Daily Caller reports, the RealPeerReview Twitter feed has been shut down amidst threats to expose the identity of the person behind it (who is apparently an academic social scientist).
Back in the day, the Evil Empire could suppress samizdat by regulating the use of copy machines. Regulating the use of the internet is harder, and the current crop of social justice warriors isn't as competent as the old NKVD.  Thus there's a NewRealPeerReview providing the trendy and stupid scholars with eyeballs they'd probably just as soon not have.

FARES, PLEASE!

A useful guide to using the suburban trains, subways, trolleys, and buses of Germany.  But don't treat those open platforms as a chance to steal a ride.
You thus may be tempted to skip buying a ticket, but Germany’s “honor system” for public transport operates on the “trust but verify” principle. You never know when plain-clothes controllers will suddenly flash their badges and say the dreaded words: “Fahrkarten bitte!” (“Tickets please!”) If you get caught without a valid (stamped) ticket or pass, you’ll have to pay a fine on the spot – tourists included!
There are two devices to become familiar with, the ticket vending machine (these are not at all stations, and many require correct change) and the validating machine, which might be on the platform or on the car.
It is important to know that just having a ticket in your possession isn’t enough. Your ticket must be validated, either before you board the train (using machines at the station entrance or on the platform), or immediately after you board a bus or tram (using machines in the aisle). The “Entwerter” stamps your ticket with a code for the date and time. A ticket without a stamp from the Entwerter is not a valid ticket.

Practices in Europe vary, but in Germany you can usually buy a ticket from the bus driver when you board (cash only, exact change), or using the ticket machine on trams. (In some Swiss cities you must have a ticket before you board a bus or tram.) If you already have a valid ticket, show it to the bus driver when you get on. Buses have front and rear doors. You always board in the front (“Einstieg”) and exit in the back (“Ausstieg”). Trams often have two or more cars, and you can board any one of them.
The time stamp establishes the "good until" condition of carriage, which rules out the presentation of a blank ticket you purchased yesterday as valid transportation today. Works the same way as the time limit on a paper transfer (for those transit operators that still issue transfers.)

THE ANOINTED HECTORING THE UNWASHED.

I've long had fun with the process-worshippers and their sugar-coating of indoctrination as "conversation" and "dialogue."

Here's Jonah Goldberg.
Even when liberals call for an "honest conversation" about this, that or the other thing, what they really mean is they want everyone who disagrees with the prevailing progressive view to fall in line.

Almost invariably, when I hear calls for "frank talk," "honest dialogue" or a new "national conversation," I immediately translate it as, "Let the next chapter of indoctrination begin." It's a way of luring dissenters from political correctness out into the open so they can be smashed over the head with a rock.
It is the role of the Unwashed to be hectored, and the role of the Anointed to hector.

ANOTHER ATTEMPT TO REFLATE THE BUBBLE?

How best deal with the dominance of the Southeastern Conference and the embarrassing presence of weak teams in some of the other power conferences?  Create a hierarchy of teams, with footie-style promotion and relegation.
College football's heavyweights, distributed through five conferences, are in the process of separating themselves from the rest of the sport. They want as big a slice as possible, and they are enacting benefits for players (full-cost-of-attendance scholarships) and for themselves (waterfalls in facilities) other schools can't afford.

These conferences are littered with dead weight. All five -- the ACC, Big 12, Big Ten, Pac-12, and SEC -- have programs that are there because they chose the right friends 80 years ago, are located near large population bases, or were good right when a major conference was looking for one more team.

Meanwhile, well-run small programs languish because their timing was bad or they don't bring big TV markets.

In the last 10 seasons, since Dan Hawkins left Boise State for Colorado, BSU has gone 15-6 against current power-conference teams and finished in the AP's top 11 five times. CU has gone 19-77 against power teams and attended one minor bowl. Which belongs to a power conference?
There's a lot of intellectual energy going into these relegation schemes. It's summer session -- if I were still active in the classroom it's likely there'd be an if-you'd-spend-half-the-time-you-spend-parsing-relegation pep talk or two going on.  The SB Nation version attempts to assign all the college football programs either to one of the five power conferences or to feeder leagues for such a conference.  In principle, Presbyterian (one of last year's crash test dummies for Northern Illinois) could work its way up and get a shot at a January prime-time game, trading places with Rutgers along the way.

Garret Heinrich of CBS Sports tries something different.  "Blow it up."  And reapportion.
Four regions. North, South, East And West. We are all familiar with those I assume.  Each region has 32 teams in it. This isn’t the perfect set up because the South (everything South of Kentucky, East from Georgia to Texas) would be 44 FBS football teams in it. The West would have 25 teams, the East has 27 and the north has 31.  So the South had to share a bit.  Georgia to the east. Some of Tennessee to the East and North. Half of Texas to the West.
For example, in the Great Lakes, you get the B1G plus the Mid-American.
The North looks a lot like the Big Ten now. Add Missouri, Kansas State and Kentucky. Remove the teams that didn’t make sense like Rutgers. Kansas is horrible at football and they start in the second tier.
Northwestern also got relegated, which isn't going to sit so well... And there won't be any purposeless bowls.  I fear, though, that the promotion round bowl games (in order that a Northern Illinois or Kansas can take the spot of a relegatee among the upper sixteen) may draw the same kind of ratings the six-win power team playing a mid-major gets.
Nineteen total games, if you include the 2nd Tier championships, seems like a lot more fun than the current 734 (approx.) bowls games we have to suffer through at the end of the season.  You would keep the big bowls, just like you do with the current playoff system. Make the Semi-Finals and Championship game stick with the three classic bowls, Rose, Sugar & Orange. They rotate between those 3 every year. Biggest bowls, good weather areas, they work the best.
There's yet another version being mooted by Tom Fornelli of CBS Sports.  But in his proposal are the seeds of college football's destruction.
Don't teams that play for national titles already have that advantage? Recruiting has never been an even playing field, and this system won't change much. If you move up in conference, your recruiting will likely improve, and as you drop, it'll likely become more difficult. All of which is basically the same way it works now.
Yes, and the way it works now, there's Idaho self-relegating, and Eastern Michigan, which is a consensus relegation candidate in all three proposals, might take a long hard look at continuing to spend money for not much success.

Perhaps, though, such a conference structure might offer university administrators a face saving way to get out of the positional arms race.  Take a hard look at the expenses required to earn a promotion, and decide whether or not to field any kind of a team.

14.6.16

HIGHER EDUCATION CIRCLES THE DRAIN IN ILLINOIS.

The faculty union organizing at Northern Illinois University has been certified by the Illinois Labor Relations Board.  Overweening managements are the unions' best friends.

Western Illinois University's philosophy major will not go quietly.
Some faculty members worry the eliminations reflect a university more focused on meeting a metric favored by state officials and less about creating well-rounded students. Prominent among critics is Christopher Pynes, a professor of philosophy and chair of the Faculty Senate. The programs were reviewed because they were flagged under a state reporting requirement for programs with low enrollments, he said. But Western Illinois did not have to eliminate them.

“What’s happened is the administration sees this legal reporting requirement as a mandate for how we have to run the university,” he said. “It’s not a mandate. It’s a legal reporting standard. We just have to report.”

Departments spent months putting together proposals on how to reorganize and what to do to boost enrollment, Pynes said. Philosophy went from about 16 majors to 26 in two semesters this year, he said.
Years ago, a colleague quipped that after state government scaled back the compass direction universities, and augmented the vocational focus therein, truth in packaging would require new names, Northern Illinois Technical School and Western Illinois Technical School, or NITS-WITS, brought under one central administration.

DePaul's president Dennis Holtschneider, last seen going along with the campus snowflakes,  will be resigning the presidency.  College Insurrection's Aleister suggests "after protests from the campus left."  Reality is even worse.
Holtschneider, who has been at the helm for 12 years, said he initially planned to step down in 2019, at the end of his contract, but decided earlier this year that that wouldn’t fit well with DePaul’s “planning cycle.”

“I believe, therefore, it’s best for DePaul if I step aside in the summer of 2017 so that a new leader can assist the institution to name and ambitiously pursue its next set of strategic objectives,” Holtschneider wrote.
The article notes continued push-back from the snowflakes, but at universities run by stupid people, the deanlets, deanlings, and strategic planning consultants from outside must never lack for work, and the appearance of creativity to justify all the (unjustifiable) meeting and retreating must go on.  Never mind if the enrollments go away, and the football teams (basketball, in DePaul's case) are money sucks.

BOUTIQUE MULTICULTURALISM KILLS.

I've suggested that for years, but the recent shooting at the Orlando bar, where intersectionality appears to have taken a deadly turn, is provoking a number of commentators to question the oppression league tables, particularly where the possible oppression of Moslems collides with the possible oppression of homosexuals.  We'll start with the nuance, from John R. Schindler of the Observer.
For years, too many Americans – including the lion’s share of our elite media and most of our politicians — have been content to deny the obvious, namely that quite a few Muslims espouse beliefs that are deeply at odds with what the vast majority of Americans believe. Some of those Muslims openly advocate violence and, if they are otherwise maladjusted, the odds they may murder in the name of Islam increase commensurately. We need to have a robust national debate on this important issue. Donald Trump has opened the door to that discussion, in his customary brusque, ham-handed way. More tact is required, but we cannot put off talking about radical Islam and jihadism any longer.
Yes. And part of winning this war (and, unconventional though it is, it is war) is enlisting the help of people who practice Islam without wishing death to America, or praying for a restoration of the seventh century.

But the third-world-o-philes are in the way, and  an angry anonymous post at Pajamas Media calls them out as complicit in the terrorism.
Yes, there is a war between religious fundamentalism and the spirit of love and tolerance. But we progressives here in America still labor under the delusion that the religion we need to combat is Christianity. But that's a strawman opponent, and has been so for decades. Since the 1990s, Christian extremists have essentially lost all their power, and are now toothless nonplayers in the "culture wars." Meanwhile, Muslim extremists, with guns, murder us, and on the left our only response is to bleat about "Islamophobia" and jump through hoops trying to explain away the self-evident religious motivation for the killings.
Hoop jumping?  Yep, depend on the American Criminal, Civil Liberties Union to party like it's 1984.  Complete with useful idiots. "The Christian Right has introduced 200 anti-LGBT bills in the last six months and people blaming Islam for this. No."

Back to the Pajamas Media post, elaborating on the hoop jumping.
Every pundit and politician -- and that includes President Obama and Hillary Clinton and half the talking heads on TV -- who today have said "We don't know what the shooter's motivation could possibly be!" have revealed to me their true priorities: appeasing Muslims is more important than defending the lives of gay people. Every progressive who runs interference for Islamic murderers is complicit in those murders, and I can no longer be a part of that team.
He just boarded the Trump Train.  Mr Trump was campaigning in Florida, a swing state, earlier this weekend.  He might be picking up some of the Rainbow Coalition, lack of a nuanced foreign policy or not.

Milo Yiannapoulos,  who is already on the Trump Train, stands firm.
The Christian Right may not be totally down with homos, and Trump may say things that hurt our delicate feelings, but they aren’t going to kill us or put us in camps. Only Islam would do that — the same Islam that, bizarrely, now stands at the top of the left’s hierarchy of victimhood.
He's not ready to look for observant Moslems who are not crazies.
So, most Muslims think I’m unacceptable. Fine. I also think their religion is unacceptable. And not just “radicals” and “extremists” — their entire, barbaric, backwards ideology. 100 million people live in Muslim countries where homosexuality is punishable by death.

We can’t go on like this. We can’t live in an America where gays fear going to night clubs, where satirists fear execution for their speech, where cartoonists consider whether their next drawing might get them killed.

Today’s killings prove beyond a shadow of a doubt that we need to give particular scrutiny to certain faiths. Gays, apostates, and women are tired of being abused, harassed, and murdered by followers of the “religion of peace.”

And politicians have to stop lying about the link between Islam and these horrific acts.
The peroration.  "The political Left is part of the problem."

And the so-called progressives, and the boutique multiculturalists, and their enablers in the media, are brain-dead, argues Roger Simon.
[Our President] thinks he knows better than all of us—and the fruits of his moral narcissism are on the bloody floor of Pulse. (Gays should remember how Obama and Clinton "evolved" to favoring gay marriage, ten years or more after such Republicans as Arnold Schwarzenegger and, yes, Donald Trump. Knowing who your friends are is not always simple.)

No, Obama's refusal to name radical Islam stems from two closely entwined factors—an enduring distaste for American power and deep personal shame (not that buried, but buried enough) of his own profound childhood connection to Islam. Not to get too psychoanalytic, to Obama, if there is something wrong with Islam, there is something wrong with him. Better to think there is something wrong with us.
The details of the shooter's life, as they continue to come out, suggest there is something wrong, somewhere, but it's not with us.

Here's M. G. Oprea in The Federalist, calling for clarity.  Political correctness is killing us.  Everything else is commentary.
Our leaders don’t have the luxury of being politically correct. Their job is to be clear-eyed about national security and the things that threaten it. They don’t get to live in a fantasy world where no one gets their feelings hurt. That doesn’t mean they should make brash and simplistic statements about banning Muslims, like Donald Trump has done, and we certainly don’t want our leaders encouraging racist and xenophobic views. But they need to stop going out of their way to deny and ignore the problems lying at their feet—no matter how uncomfortable it makes them.
It's not phobic if there's evidence of a danger.  But I nitpick.  The problems are there, and a foolish identity politics isn't helping.

WHEN HISTORY HAS IRREGULAR CADENCES.

There's a passage in a Jonathan Cole article from The Atlantic Monthly, dealing with the social forces shaping the snowflake rebellion among the gentry's spawn. starting with the way the youngsters have been helicopter-parented and otherwise overscheduled into a positional arms race they might not have chosen.
Many of the young adults at highly selective colleges and universities have been forced to follow a straight and narrow path, never deviating from it because of a passion unrelated to school work, and have not been allowed, therefore, to live what many would consider a normal childhood—to play, to learn by doing, to challenge their teachers, to make mistakes. Their families and their network of friends and social peers have placed extreme pressure on them to achieve, or win in a zero-sum game with their own friends.
That passage echoes a canonical Strauss and Howe argument, whether in Fourth Turning or in Generations, in which children passing through adolescence in an era of saecular crisis become an "Adaptive" (Generations terminology) or "Artist" (Fourth Turning) generation.  Or perhaps cohort is more accurate, as the longer the current set of secular challenges goes on, the more ad-hoc the generational analysis appears to be.

Strauss and Howe summarize the life cycle of the Adaptive cohort in Generations, at page 74.  "A recessive ADAPTIVE GENERATION grows up as overprotected and suffocated youths during a secular crisis; matures into risk-averse, conformist rising adults; produces indecisive midlife arbitrator-leaders during a spiritual awakening; and maintains influence (but less respect) as sensitive elders."

That sentence summarizes the reasons I scorn the Silent Generation, the people who inherited the Pax Americana and squandered it in ways the resource curse manifests itself.  That cohort is old, and mostly out of positions of influence, which in the generational analysis, suggests it's time for a replacement cohort to be born.  That may be at work, or maybe not.  Back to Mr Cole.
Born in the mid-1990s, seniors in my Columbia University undergraduate seminars today likely have not experienced major national threats, except for their vague memories of the 9/11 terrorist attacks. Yet these “millennials” might better be labeled “children of war and fear.” During their politically conscious lifetime, they have known only a United States immersed in protracted wars against real and so-called terrorists, a place where fear itself influences their attitudes toward other civil liberties. Students are asked to pit freedom of expression or privacy against personal security. During times when elected officials have exploited the public’s fear of terrorism for political gain, students seem more willing to trade civil liberties for a sense of security.

Since the 9/11 tragedy, the use of fear is still pervasive in the United States.
We see in Mr Cole's use of "millennials" the difficulty of identifying the cycles of history. Strauss and Howe anticipated a new Hero (or Civic) generation in the Millennials.  That cohort was born during the secular unraveling, which they thought would run from the mid-1980s to the early 2000s, and they would be replacement cohort for the G.I. era "Greatest" generation.  Thus, if we're into the saecular crisis, it's now time for the new Artist (or Adaptive) cohort to be born.

But do we really have the objective conditions for a saecular crisis?  Strauss and Howe first raised the possibility that the hung presidential election of 2000 or the September 11 terror raids signalled the Fourth Turning.  A later exploration of the possibility sees the signal as the financial crash of 2007.  I was not impressed at the time.
The Silent Generation's Watergate Caucus, continuing that cohort's string of unearned triumphs in securing a Democratic majority for not being Richard Nixon, now calls the shots for a new Democratic majority secured for not being George W. Bush. Baby Boomers? Look at the latest crop of pension advertisements: redefining retirement, pensions for people who serve the greater good, pensions that the ex can't mess up. Thirteeners? Family? Millenials? Hookups, binge drinking, I-pods?
And now Snowflakes with their privilege-checking.  Yes, there are now rumbles of more "nativism" in the culture and less "globalism" in the commerce, but these come bundled with enhanced doses of celebrity culture.

Perhaps that's the one encouraging thing.  I have trouble envisioning either Donald Trump or Hillary Clinton as the Gray Champion, who, in the legend, is an aged member of an Idealist (or Prophet) generation.  Perhaps Barack Obama will be the warning from the Thirteenth Generation, and that will be the last of that cohort until the saecular crisis is behind us.

THE BURDEN OF BAD IDEAS.

In "Trump and Critical Theory," UCLA's (motto: On! Wisconsin!) Mark Bauerlein extends the identity-politics arguments structuring the presidential aspirant's attempts to disqualify a judge.
Anyone who has worked in academe for a measure of time has to wonder at the shock and ire of these critics. What's the big deal? We have heard the premise of Trump's gripe repeated so many times that it has become a standard part of the stagecraft of public and private debate. No concept has undergone more dismantling in the last half century than objectivity. And no criticism against objectivity has had greater popular impact than the one that says judgment is inevitably swayed by racial/ethnic/gender/sexual factors.

That line of thinking is the sole legal basis for affirmative action in college admissions, for instance.
Yes, although the course of affirmative action reflects a prior history in which the composition of a jury matters more in providing a black man than a white man with a fair trial.  And the identity politics enterprise might be a way of achieving objectivity, or it might be an argument that there is no objectivity.
College and universities may practice discrimination because of the reality of racially conditioned minds.

The grounds for that assumption reach back to the Marx and Freud, among others, especially to their critique of the liberal dream of cognitive freedom. The dream allowed that, with enough education and a cosmopolitan disposition, you could transcend your circumstances and reach an unbiased viewpoint. Familial, tribal and national interests would fade, identitarian limits (racial, etc.) would fall away, and a universal human eye would be achieved.

Readers of Inside Higher Ed don't need a rehearsal of how that objectivity collapsed. Hegel historicized it, Marx materialized it, Freud psychoanalyzed it. Forever after, the liberal mind was considered a pretense -- an effort to transcend history, class or psychic repression. Race/class/gender/sexuality critics of the 1980s and ’90s gave these grand undoings an identity twist, an easy step to take in the wake of civil rights, women's lib and the Gay Liberation Front.
Let's save for another day the challenges of uprooting emerged and entrenched norms of behavior, some codified legally, others less so, in the presence of objective conditions under which we might be able to live differently than our ancestors, who first adopted those norms.
For identity arguments are not equal opportunity. You can raise the objectivity problem when a white man is in power, but you may not do so when a woman or person of color is in power. In other words, Trump has crossed one of the prohibitions that sustain the identity regime. He dares to challenge a man of color on the grounds of his color; also, he reveals the double standards of those who routinely challenge white men on the grounds of their color (and sex).
No. Identity arguments arise as a way of dealing with previous absence of equal opportunity.  Whether granting privilege to some identity arguments as a way of expanding opportunities works, or whether they deteriorate into Oppression Olympics are also for other days.  But one feature of the Trump movement has been its willingness to take on the Kultursmog's default setting, under which the transgressiveness of a protected status individual is OK, but it's not for someone more sure of his status.
Group thinking and the bad-straight-white-male image have never enjoyed so much popularity. I believed in 1992 that nobody but a transient subset of humanities professors would pay attention to identity theory after the fashion went away, but I was wrong. The feminism and neopragmatism and critical race theory and queer theory that assailed objectivity and dominated the seminar room have settled into dogma in the press, the courtroom, the art world, the White House. The counterculture is now the hegemony.

Trump is an intervention in that spread. He breaks the rules, breaches decorum, says the unsayable. He is precisely the transgressive figure that critical theory in the ’90s exalted. If they were principled in their assumptions, academic theorists wouldn’t join the universal denunciation of Donald Trump by the elite and the establishment. They would situate him in a framework of taboo and totem, interdiction, madness and civilization, or the scapegoat. I’m pretty sure that if Foucault were alive today, he would have been fascinated and amused by the phenomenon of the Republican primary winner -- and utterly bored by the other side.
The ensuing bull session features the usual mix of "Seriously" and "Shut Up."

Five months to run.

13.6.16

COMPARE AND CONTRAST.

Here are the America's Cup practice boats (AC45 catamarans) waiting for the wind to build on Saturday.  For the first time ever, an America's Cup qualifying regatta took place on fresh water.  There's a State Line connection to the Heart of America challenge with Twelve Meters in 1986-1987,  and the AMERICA3 defenses in 1992 and 1995.


Keep this image in mind while you watch the Olympians sailing in the poop off Rio later this summer.  Story via Betsy Newmark, who notes,
The Olympic Committee put a lot of faith in Brazil's promises to clean up its polluted waterways. They regularly allow the waste from hospitals and households to flow into storm drains and rivers which have then spread the super bacteria throughout the beaches in the city. Sadly, the situation has just gotten worse since Brazil won the bid.
Chicago got the poop out of Lake Michigan (well, unless there are really heavy rains) over a century ago. Yes, the Sanitary and Ship Canal brings other problems. But Chicago's Democrat politicians are less incompetent than Rio's equivalents.

And the wind did come in, and there was spectacular sailing, particularly for the people who attended the Friday practice races, or the Sunday races.  The race committee did get one race in on the Saturday.

HEALING OF HIGHER EDUCATION BEGINS IN THE LAND-GRANTS AND THE MID-MAJORS.

Apparently Western Illinois have been doing their own form of program prioritization, and the cost-benefit ratio is unfavorable for a number of the boutique degrees.
Western Illinois University trustees on Friday voted to eliminate African-American studies, women's studies and two other degree programs due to poor enrollment and low graduation rates.

The university will allow students to minor in the eliminated program areas, which also include philosophy and religious studies.

The trustees' vote follows a recommendation by Provost and Academic Vice President Kathy Neumann and a study by a program elimination committee. Trustee board Chairwoman Cathy Early said the decision to eliminate the majors was not one the board took lightly.
Strictly speaking, much of the work being done in the "studies" disciplines might better be part of the mission of philosophy, perhaps sociology, and as part of political science courses.  But students, for whatever reason, are not flocking to these courses.
Western's registrar's office says no degrees in African-American studies, two degrees in philosophy, two degrees in women's studies and one degree in religious studies were conferred in May.
Aleister of College Insurrection notes, "Expect to see more of this as the higher ed bubble grows."

Perhaps, although, as is the case with any bubble, people have the opportunity to opt out, rather than keep hoping for some greater fool to pay even more for that beachfront house or victim studies degree.  Perhaps in the scaling back of the faddish disciplines we see the emergence of a proper "default major" even if nobody wants to admit that a restoration of a core curriculum is what's really going on.

A RAILROAD WORTHY OF THE VANDERBILTS.

Amtrak and New York restore the second main, Albany and Schenectady.  More details here.  It's still going to take the better part of a year to get it done.

It's encouraging, though.  The report also notes that the track layout at Albany, which I have complained about previously, will be rearranged to allow more passenger trains to occupy platforms at the same time.


Albany - Rensselaer, 22 July 2008.

I wonder, though, if the new Plasticville-inspired station at Schenectady will have two platform tracks.

Next on my Christmas list: extend the Free Rein to 110 beyond Schenectady.  Legend has a steam locomotive achieving 112.5 east of Buffalo; we should expect no less of today's diesel trains.

POVERTY IS WINNING.

Something has gone very wrong, notes Dean Dad.  "In America, having 'only' 38 percent of public school kids require financial aid for lunch is considered good."  Well, the objective conditions haven't been very good in the past seven years.  "In the wealthiest country in the world -- the one undisputed superpower, the global hegemon, the winner of the Cold War, coming off a seven-year economic expansion, a country so rich that it pays farmers not to grow food -- more children can’t afford lunch than can."  Yeah, there's lots of political hay to make there.  What seven year economic expansion?  Not once in the era of hope and change has the gross domestic product managed a three percent annual growth.  Very rarely have there been more than a quarter million new jobs in a month.  Wealthiest country in the world?  Depends how you measure it.  And brain-brothers of the people who thought Ronald Reagan's "evil empire" meme was helping Yuri Andropov still in charge?  No wonder the kids in government schools have it rough.

But the concentration of the poor in the government schools has been long in coming.  I was just clearing out more old magazines, and found "The Newest Minority," printed in The Atlantic Monthly in 1993.  It's about the women having no children, and the men losing reason and faith.  Starting in Belmont, Massachusetts.  (Yes, that Belmont.)  It's written by then Massachusetts state senator Michael Barrett.
The very community that was such a good place to raise a family in the 1960s is the most likely to have a large complement of empty-nesters in the 1990s, many of whom will be less interested in the schools than they once were.

The district I represent in the Massachusetts state senate includes Belmont, a middle-class and upper-middle-class suburb of 24,720. Belmont is a wonderful town, home to many people, once blue-collar, who have moved out over the years from the urban environs of Cambridge and Boston, and to others who hail from around the country and have been drawn to professional opportunities in the nearby cities or along the Route 128 technology belt.

Belmont takes great pride in both the reputation and the appearance of its gracefully landscaped high school, complete with duck pond, which lies near the town center. More than 90 percent of the school's juniors and seniors take the SATs, the average combined verbal and mathematics score is over a thousand, and 87 percent of the graduating class at least begin a four-year college education.

But the Belmont schools are caught in the demographic squeeze. In 1960, the postwar influx having supplied a stream of young settlers, 42.0 percent of the households had children under eighteen. Ten years later the figure had declined to 35.7 percent. It was down to 28.7 percent by 1980 and 26.4 percent by 1990. Outside observers would hardly call Belmont a retirement community, yet sometime around 1975 it reached a watershed for an American town: the proportion of its households containing people over sixty-five exceeded the proportion of its households with children under eighteen.
The electoral math, Mr Barrett argues, works against Belmont's government schools.
Belmont is a healthy, thriving place, and it may well be that the citizenry will rally behind its tradition of fine education. But the going will be tough, because the problem remains: in cities and towns across the country a demographic bulge once operated to keep the schools at the center of community life, and now it is gone. Today the presence of kids in every other house on the street is something out of the past, and the parents of schoolchildren, middle-class and poor alike, are the country's newest minority group. At a historic moment when the schools need to be better than ever, they are instead treading water, even slipping back a bit, and by world standards genuine excellence is a long way off.

One has to wonder, then: Will communities like Belmont, composed of growing proportions of nonparents and empty nesters--people more likely to insist on quality health care than on quality education--continue to support their schools? To put the matter simply, will the votes be there? And if they are not, what does American democracy do then?
Mr Barrett (yes, it's what you'd expect an elected official to do) suggests that the national government increase its contributions to local school funding.

I fear, though, that the intervening quarter century of ethnic balkanization, identity politics, trendy and failed educationist fads, residential self-segregation, and homeschooling are going to make any reversal of government schools as schools of last resort, with all the attendant challenges that accompany such a status, a long time in coming.

Start with a recent report from New York City, where there are more applicants for the charter schools than there are seats.
City charter school operators will open 16 new facilities in the coming school year, bringing the total number of city charter schools to 221.

Mayor de Blasio has brawled with some operators of the privately run, publicly funded charters over funding, oversight and classroom space for their schools.

City Education department spokeswoman Devora Kaye said all city kids deserve quality educations.

“Every student deserves access to a great school, whether district or charter,” Kaye said.
That may be, but people, whether they have enough votes to get the local schools funded properly or not, prefer a choice, notes Stephen Moore.
We know in Washington, D.C., where voucher programs already exist, voucher kids are more likely to graduate and go on to college than those stuck in the public schools.

The unions hate vouchers because it means fewer jobs and union dues for the labor bosses. But who are the schools for? The teachers or the kids?

Thanks to the Obama administration’s radicalism, millions of children will be now stuck in schools that the parents believe are unsafe and immoral. Millions more are stuck in failing schools that are racially segregated. Fifty years ago George Wallace wouldn’t let minority poor children into the public schools. Now the unions and others on the left won’t let minorities and poor children out. ‎It’s hard to know which is worse.
Via Craig Newmark.

How much longer can the Democrat nachalstvo claim to "fight" for the rainbow coalition and the teachers' unions and the boutique multiculturalists whilst actually rendering people helpless by Democrat policies, and sending their spawn to the likes of Sidwell Friends rather than have them associate with their constituents.  None of which will immediately help the kids getting their government issued crappy lunches to go with their government issued simulacrum of schooling.

HISTORY RHYMES.

Austin Bay comments on a planned Atlantic Alliance exercise to be conducted in the old Livonia.
Anaconda 2016 is the largest—though annual exercises by Polish military forces and Romanian military forces could conceivably be larger in absolute numbers. It is very probable that this is NATO’s largest field exercise in Europe east of the current German-Polish border since 1992. The Guardian seems to recognize that this is “the biggest movement of foreign allied troops in Poland.”

Anaconda is big: 31,000 soldiers from 24 countries are exercising for ten days, with 14,000 American troops participating.
Mr Bay focusses on the message the exercise sends to Tsar Vladimir.
The U.S. Army Europe map of Anaconda 2016 is very likely an act of information war that supports NATO political goals. Note phase three on the U.S. Army Europe exercise map. Phase three is scheduled for execution on June 10. Alliance troops and vehicles will cross the Vistula River and enter Lithuania. Come one, come all. Lithuania is a NATO member.

However, the maneuver explicitly cuts off Russia’s Kaliningrad Oblast. Kaliningrad was once the Prussian city of Konigsberg. Russia kept the city and its environs as a special Kremlin reward for winning World War Two.

Anaconda 2016’s conclusive fictional thrust isolates and surrounds Kaliningrad.

NATO officials may deny that the exercise is designed to send that message. Let them do so. However, the maneuver delivers a useful political warning. The Russian exclave can be taken by NATO military forces. So hey there, Vladimir Putin of the tight tee shirts, don’t miscalculate. Putin, you seized the port of Sevastopol in Crimea and then swallowed the entire Crimean peninsula. Would a Polish-controlled Kaliningrad on the Baltic Sea be a fair trade?
Early on in the history of Cold Spring Shops, I alluded to Anaconda in a brief reference to the proposed expansion of the Atlantic Alliance into southeastern Europe. Perhaps something similar is still at work.

The ongoing exercise might be a warning to Tsar Vladimir, or perhaps it reflects the permanent interests of Poles and Lithuanians, or is an opening gambit for a restoration of Prussia, or not, is for experts in international relations (two countries screwing each other) to parse.

Focus, dear reader, on the exercise name.  In United States military practice, it dates to Winfield Scott and Gideon Welles, and it was implemented by Farragut, Grant, and Sherman.

A SPIFFY FRONT PORCH ON A SHOTGUN SHACK.

Jeremy Harper of something called Underdog Dynasty talks sense about the deflating college football bubble. The Idaho Vandals did the right and brave thing, and Eastern Michigan should follow.

There are a number of connections (including the use of unconstitutional speech codes)between Northern Illinois and Idaho, with current president Doug Baker previously serving in administration there, and Idaho's football team, parlous reputation or not, sometimes playing the spoiler, and sometimes serving as a pre-conference crash test dummy (that is, to the extent we can speak of any Mid-American team scheduling crash test dummies.)

But when a writer at a sports weblog notes that professors might have a gripe when it comes to spiffing up that front porch, perhaps reality is dawning, even among the True Fans (who often have much to learn about generalizing from their own experience.)
First of all, the campus faculty is almost always the group opposed to unchecked athletics. After all, it's the professors working in 1970s-era science labs and moldy classrooms with wheezing AC. You can't blame professors for feeling marginalized at what is supposed to be an institution of higher learning.
The reality also dawns on Doug Baker's successor.
Which lead us to the University of Idaho, who recently announced its intentions to drop from FBS- to FCS-level athletics. "Our relevance will be complemented by our football program," said University President Chuck Staben, "not defined by it."

When the Sun Belt declined to bring Idaho into the conference early this March, it clamored the death gong for a program too small and too isolated to find another FBS conference or go it alone as an independent. The Vandals grabbed their football and returned to the Big Sky.

For 20 years, the football Vandals have averaged less than 4 wins per season and were left out in the cold (along with New Mexico State) when the WAC dissolved in 2012. The Vandals accepted a less-than-ideal "football only" invite to the Sun Belt, only to see the arrangement fold once conference officials fully absorbed the weight of the Vandal problem: Idaho was too damn far, didn't win enough, and it didn't spend enough money (about $19M annually).
The author suggests the weakest prop in the Mid-American, Eastern Michigan, observe and emulate.
Idaho did what many of us, for lack of fortitude or forethought, cannot: step back into a situation that fits. About 2,100 miles east of Moscow, Idaho, the Eastern Michigan Eagles are considering following Idaho's lead. The Eagles spend about $34M, which is roughly the standard in the MAC, but it is subsidized more than 80 percent.

For the past 19 years, the Eagles have enjoyed one winning season. One! In 2009, they were a perfect 0-12. Eastern Michigan joined the MAC in 1972, but it has just one conference championship (1987) to show for it. Last year, the Eagles reported the lowest attendance of any FBS program: 4,897 souls per game. The Eagles aren't winning, and there are no fans to care.
More on Mid-American subsidies, and Eastern Michigan serving as crash test dummy, in my archives.

Mr Harper suggests, however, that Eastern Michigan administrators clinging to their football (perhaps because they don't want to write off their indoor practice facility, which served as a reason for Northern Illinois to build one) are living in Wolkenkuckucksheim.
If you're an FBS program, you are, technically, a member of the same fraternity as Oregon and Michigan and Alabama and Texas. It would punch quite a dent in your ego to admit that you simply cannot afford to drink with these guys every night.

But consider the slope EMU must climb to be relevant even in its own city. Michigan, the Horrendous House of Harbaugh, is a 16-minute drive. The state of Michigan is home to five FBS football programs, two of which play in the mighty Big 10. Securing the second-best or third-best or even fourth-best talent in the state is a Herculean task. Even in football-rich Michigan, that has to suck. Why not drop down and enjoy the thrill of competing?

It's hard to give up that BMW. Take another look at EMU's statement in response to calls for dropping down: "(We) have the opportunity to compete at the highest levels with neighboring institutions in the Midwest."  The Eagles haven't competed since the 1980s! Real Sports just made your campus look like a soup kitchen!
No joke about the soup kitchen ... there's a food bank for students, which the article calls "unfunded."

I have to wonder how much the deanlets and deanlings spent on that "education first" tagline, which the administration's revealed preference for athletics gives the lie to.

Our universities are being run by stupid people.

8.6.16

STILL AT A DISTANCE FROM EQUAL JUSTICE UNDER LAW.

Until yesterday, putative Republican nominee Donald Trump appeared more interested in getting a judge disqualified than in, oh, making political hay about the continued non-recovery economic recovery, in which the unemployment rate decreases by subtracting discouraged workers from the work force.

There might be something else at work.  Here's Neil Steinberg, in Chicago's Sun-Times, calling out Mr Trump's error in suggesting there's a connection between a judge's ancestry and his ability to conduct a fair trial.
What Trump is too stupid to understand is this: if we begin to denounce our fellow citizens as being incapable of doing their jobs because their parents were Mexican immigrants, or because they’re Muslim, or Catholic, or whatever lineage or credo is disagreeing with Donald Trump at the moment, then the country unravels and we become just another balkanized hellhole.
Perhaps that ship has already sailed: see nominee Sonia Sotomayor, Wise Latina.

Or perhaps the ship has not yet docked: see Foster v. Chapman.  The prosecutor shalt not disqualify all potential black jurors when a black man is on trial (the case is out of Georgia; that might be material.)

And yes, there's a history of Most-Favored-Nationality legislation in the country's history.  But codifying hierarchies of Privilege, Oppression, and Protected Status cannot end well.

Jonah Goldberg notes, though, that demonstrating the absurdity of essentialist identity politics by using essentialist identity politics is an absurdity too far.
Trump is not battling identity politics here, or even undermining it. Trump is capitulating to it, and bringing the Republican party along with him. Sure, it’s interesting, even entertaining, to watch Trump use the logic of identity politics against its entrenched practitioners. But he’s not condemning this way of thinking, he’s embracing it.

By all means, conservatives should use this episode to point out the fallacies and contradiction of identity politics. But Trump is not a hero in that effort, he’s a cautionary tale.
He has links to commentators who suggest that the reductio is more serious, or more purposeful, than that, in case you're interested.

ECONOMIC RECOVERY, OR LESS IMMIGRATION?

Pick one, might be what Michael Barone is arguing.
Data from the Census Bureau’s American Community Survey has shown how the picture changed from the pre-recession years of 1998-2007 to the most recent two-year period, 2014-2015.

In the earlier period, immigration from Mexico averaged 429,000 a year, nearly one-third of total immigration. More recently, it averaged 170,000 a year, just 11 percent of the total. But immigration from the rest of Latin America has increased significantly, from 269,000 annually pre-recession to 439,000 most recently. That leaves total Latin migration down by some 90,000.

Immigration from East and South Asia has more than made up for this, rising from a pre-recession average of 337,000 to 566,000 in 2014-2015. Immigration from Africa and the Middle East is also up, from 101,000 to 205,000.

The ACS data does not categorize these immigrants by skill level. But past patterns suggests that current immigrants on average have higher levels of education and skills than was the case in the surge of immigration in the quarter-century from 1982 to 2007. In that respect it may resemble more closely the Ellis Island immigration of 1892-1914.
"Past patterns suggest" isn't the same thing as "Current research confirms."  But as I've suggested before, you can't be talking simultaneously about jobs going overseas and immigrants overwhelming the country, or limiting that to the social services.

But fine-tuning immigration so as to favor skilled workers, as Mr Barone suggests?  Not so easy.
There’s a strong argument for a revised immigration policy, like those of Canada and Australia, which would prioritize high-skill immigrants and reduce the number of low-skill people admitted under extended family unification provisions.

The reduced flow of migrants from Mexico and increased flow from South and East Asia is producing results closer to such a policy than what we saw during the 1982-2007 surge of immigration.

Trump’s incendiary statements don’t point directly toward that kind of immigration reform. But Clinton’s advocacy of what amounts to open borders for the unskilled points in the opposite direction — and it’s far from clear that’s what most voters want.
I'm not sure how to evaluate that policy proposal. On the one hand, job descriptions and pay packages that might not attract domestic skilled workers might look generous to immigrants.  That's why the presence of overseas graduate students gives the lie to claims university professors are underworked and overpaid.  On the other hand, the anecdotal evidence of companies firing skilled workers who are first compelled to train their replacements, brought in on H1-B visas has enough purchase to help the Trump campaign.

7.6.16

DESTROYING HOPE IN THE EMPIRE.

That's an awkward allusion to Anatole Shub's An Empire Loses Hope, a textbook study of life behind the Iron Curtain, or perhaps as much of a study as was possible in those days, in which the loss of hope is the 1968 Warsaw Pact invasion of Czechoslovakia.  Anne Applebaum's Iron Curtain: The Crushing of Eastern Europe 1944-1956 is able to make use of records that have come to light since liberation, in order to detail the ways in which Stalin and his lackeys imposed their own version of Soviet society in the conquered territories, many of which, thanks to Lebensraum and war, were devoid of civil society, sometimes of habitable communities, and accordingly, ripe for reconstruction along Stalinist lines, complete with ethnic cleansing, corrective labor camps, khrushchobas with a snitch on every floor, mandatory celebrations, mandatory work days, and windy speeches.

I could confine Book Review No. 15 to a single remark from page 55 by useful idiot Jean-Paul Sartre to useful idiot Albert Camus.  "Like you I find these camps intolerable.  But I find equally intolerable the use made of them every day in the bourgeois press."  Would that contemporary apparatchiks in student affairs be as candid.  That takes me to page 181.  "Russian cultural officers observed that the combination of ideology and culture didn't always work. ... They grew suspicious that attempts to lighten ideology would simply water it down."  Well, it didn't work, and logic and content, plus a smattering of backbone from the civilized world, carried the day.  That despite politically correct youngsters being able to take control of doctrine early in the establishment of the evil empire.  Per corollary, there is yet hope for the United States.

But the transition out of captivity was not easy, and the lesson the Warsaw Pact nations learned ought be understood by anyone who throws around "Wise Experts" or "social construction" willy-nilly.  Page 468 ought be required reading for any such person.
As a result of this civilizational damage, postcommunist countries required far more than the bare institutions of "democracy" -- elections, political campaigns, and political parties -- to become functioning liberal societies again.  They also had to create or re-create independent media, private enterprise and a legal system to support it, an educational system free of propaganda, and a civil service where promotions are given for talent, not for ideological correctness.  The most successful postcommunist states are those that managed to preserve some elements of civil society throughout the communist period.  This is not an accident.
Institutions are emergent.  Emergence is messy.  Deconstruct at your own risk.

(Cross-posted to Fifty Book Challenge.)