30.4.11

FORTY YEARS AGO.  The Milwaukee Bucks became the fastest expansion team to win a league title, sweeping the Baltimore Bullets, who conveniently eliminated Clyde Frazier and the New York Knicks, in four.  The title remains the Bucks' only title, although the same team took Boston to a game seven in 1974.  (And how long ago was it that the professional basketball season ended before May?)

The Chicago and North Western Railroad ended its intercity passenger service, linking Chicago with Clinton, Iowa (by way of DeKalb) and Green Bay, Wisconsin (by way of an easterly route through Sheboygan, at the end Sundays only; and a westerly route through Fond du Lac).  Northern Illinois University, the University of Wisconsin, and Boise State University were among the institutions of higher learning to lose their train service with the startup of Amtrak.

DeKalb briefly had an experimental extension of commuter train service in the early 1970s, and Boise had Amtrak service in the form of the Pioneer for much of the 1980s and early 1990s.  Madison has not seen scheduled passenger trains since, and the proposed extension of the Hiawatha service has been cancelled.
TO MEET EXCESS DEMAND, COMMIT RESOURCES.  Administrators at Historiann's university grasp, dimly, the connection between the promiscuous mailing of thin envelopes from the likes of Harvard and the value of offering academic programs more like Harvard and less like a sub-prime party school.
This year, apparently one administrator has decided that we need to be more like prestigious, well-funded Ivies and elite SLACs.  Of course, it would cost millions if not billions of dollars to accomplish this honestly, but that’s not on the table. 
Administrators there lack the imagination of Burlington's Ralph Budd, meeting the challenge of reliable private automobiles with the Zephyrs, or Bilty and Nystrom on the Milwaukee Road recognizing the limitations of a fixed formation train and responding with the Hiawatha.  They're not even as adaptive as the management of the Chicago and North Western, getting a faster train between Chicago and the Twin Cities using existing rolling stock before the streamliners are delivered.

Historiann has an apposite characterization of what headquarters is doing: excellence without money.  But it's not borrowing a page from the Chicago and North Western playbook and lifting the standards for the existing offerings.  No, the secret to making her university, which I understand to be just below mid-majordom in sports, competitive with the land grants and the Ivies is ... to change from a standard three-credit course format to a standard four-credit course format.

I don't have to make stuff up about academic administrators.  They act normally and I report it.
ACTING SURPRISED WHEN THE COW DROPS DEAD.  If you are an American corporation, and you have two cows, you sell one and force the other one to produce the milk of four cows.  Second graders understand what comes next.  Academic administrators think they're smarter than second graders.
One thing I have suspected for a while is that there is simply more work to do than there was twenty years ago, even putting aside raised expectations for scholarly production in the social sciences and the humanities.  Colleges and universities are accepting more students; many of the students we accept are more difficult to teach for a variety of reasons; the increased demand for measurable outcomes; and the drop in full-time teaching staff who can be expected to undertake and be responsible for these tasks makes them more time-consuming.
The physical and mental health of the faculty suffers, but the expanded production of credentials goes on.
DENY COHERENT BELIEFS, ENJOY THE INCOHERENCE.  Pierre Tristam finds little to like in the press coverage of Donald Trump's credential-baiting or of a very public wedding in Britain.
We’re living through something like a reverse Renaissance, a retro dark age where faith in manufactured fictions becomes more powerful than fact. That a sizable portion of Americans believe Obama was not born in this country is no different than the sizable portion of Americans who think he’s Muslim, or the equally sizable portion of Americans who to this day think Saddam Hussein plotted the 9/11 attacks or that those weapons of mass destruction will turn up one of these days and prove the Iraq invasion sham right after all, or the even more sizable portion of Americans who don’t know their socialism from their Medicare. If people want to believe in their prejudices, they’ll invent the stories to make those prejudices stick.
Limitations on the social construction of knowledge. Imagine that.  Imagine, also, that teachers and professors instill the skills to deconstruct arguments for their lack of logic and content, rather than to uncover hidden agendas.

29.4.11

OUCH.  Paul Krugman objects to increased reliance on markets in medical care, which prompts a columnist at The Economist to describe him in terms nastier than "dunce."
As many economists are glad to tell you, the astronomical American level of health-care spending is largely a function of "price insulation"—of the fact that, um, "care receivers" are, by dint of the nature of typical health plans, prevented from taking costs much into account. We have arrived at our present unsustainable situation because we have moved health care into a liminal zone away from the market discipline of the cash nexus, but not all the way toward the bureaucratic discipline of socialism, such as it is. The most curious thing about Mr Krugman's quasi-religious squeamishness about the "commercial transaction" is that it is normally the economist's lot to explain to the superstitious public the humanitarian benefits of bringing human life ever more within the cash nexus. Yet Mr Krugman has chosen to reinforce rather than fight taboos against trade as if he were a benighted, harrumphing scold, or a sociologist.
Both columns are instructive. Economists do sometimes squabble over ideas more profound than the latest trembling-hand refinement or the presence or absence of unit roots.
A DUNCE MUST BE CAPABLE OF SHAME TO BE SHAMED.  But that's just another social construction.



Californians are still 49ers, but not in a gold rush way.  But they will be properly attuned to the past evils committed, and the contributions of historically marginalized populations.
Sorry, guys, but a child who cannot read, and knows little math and science, is not going to get a lot out of such “social studies,” and is certainly never going to make history.

Does anyone really still believe that politicians will ever produce an education system that serves our children?
Politicians can, but it might take years of lives wasted before they catch on that the living standards of the middle class require self-discipline, and before they recognize that we call out dunces as a first step out of dunce-dom.

28.4.11

THE CHILDREN EXPLAIN IT TO THE ADULTS.  Each year I have the opportunity to help select student illustrations of economics concepts for use in a calendar created by Econ Illinois.  It has been my practice to make the regional winning and honorable mention entries available to the public on a web gallery.  In the past year, the University has reorganized the Center for Economic Education to bring in skills of more people, including website designers who recently put together this year's gallery.



Second graders frequently learn scarcity along with their environmental lessons, and a number of the entries associate scarcity with the abuse of natural resources.  This entry appealed to several of the judges as it illustrates the folly of doing more with less as a goal for its own sake and in spite of possible cost.
UNIVERSITIES ARE FAILING AT THEIR MISSION.  Cold Spring Shops's favorite administrator, Peter Wood, analyses "The Higher Education Bubble" in Society.  (At least for now, Founders Library has a subscription.)  Sometimes, he crosses the line between forceful and polemical.
Fat Studies is simply an application to corpulent women of the well-trod path of creating an academic interest group out of an identity forged in resentment. “Academic Impact” is an effort to make higher education an instrument for fostering a worldview congenial to those who see human welfare and the rule of law through the lens of post-national institutions. Higher education won’t topple because of these two developments, but they illustrate the ease with which the university these days treats itself as a universal utility, good for advancing almost any item on someone’s social and political agenda. On any given day of the week, it is easy to find at least one new way in which higher education sets out to divert itself from the task of teaching undergraduates the knowledge and skills they ought to learn.

The rationalizations for these diversions are significant. There is an important social scientific question lurking here. How does an institution that owes its existence and continued support to its ability to carry out one central purpose end up scanting that purpose in favor of a cloud of largely irrelevant concerns?
It's not simply the Culture Wars, or the proliferation of Grievance Studies, but it is a failure to carry out the mission.
As the radical left gained power on American campuses it came to see the continuing value of positioning higher education as a “training center” for those whose aspirations were to “get by” or even to prosper “in the big society beyond.” What developed was a hybrid institution that presents itself to the general public as concerned about national economic priorities and practical preparation of students for the marketplace, but presents itself to faculty members and students as pursuing goals such as social justice, diversity, and sustainability.
And in this compromise, the origins of the nonaggression pact?  I promise not to guilt-trip the pre-professional majors as long as you hold up a Marxist mirror in your essays?  Mr Wood doesn't say.  If the premise of Academically Adrift (a review will be forthcoming once finals are done) is valid, that hypothesis may not be testable for lack of a valid instrument.  But Mr Wood fears it might be too late.
Higher education has survived the debilities that come from too many Casaubons, too many spoiled rich kids, too much football, too many Beat poets, and too many Animal Houses. Surely there has always been some percentage of students who do enough work to get by but who learn little in college. But something has indeed changed. The “35% of students at four-year colleges [who] report that they spend five or fewer hours per week studying alone,” is not a historical norm. It is a change that cannot really be comprehended in terms of what colleges are supposed to do.
 
If it is not a crisis, we should make it so for we are wasting the lives of individuals in a pointless and pointlessly expensive pursuit. We are squandering national resources. And we are undermining the real purposes of higher education. The third of the students who graduate from college having learned next to nothing are not harmless ballast. They are rather the clientele that the university most caters to, because they are “at risk” of leaving. But this takes us back to the bubble. Ultimately the bubble and the forfeiting of mission are joined. Higher education may founder on the loss of public confidence in the market value of a college degree, but that foundering is the long-term consequence of colleges and universities simply losing their bearings.
Retention and Completion: destructive impulses indeed.
 
(Via Phi Beta Cons.)
HOW LEGENDS ARE DEBUNKED.  The register of visitors included at least one individual seeking enlightenment about President Roosevelt's train mysteriously abandoned and forgotten under Grand Central Terminal.  It's not yet a topic worthy of Snopes, but we can refer to that story as a myth.  With a correction.
A closer inspection of the picture suggests a New York Central baggage car that got pushed out of the way under the Waldorf-Astoria and subsequently proved to be too expensive to haul away for scrap.
It was a steam-era baggage car, but not New York Central.  This site, which makes reference to that "mysterious bulletproof freight car," has two pictures of it.  Look closely at the uppermost picture, and read down.
The baggage car ( "bulletproof freight car") was left by Penn Central for worktrain service and the MNCX reporting mark was painted on the car in 1984 in North White Plains shops (not by the Secret Service).
Left by Penn Central, and subsequently moved to North White Plains for painting.  But Penn Central didn't get it from the Roosevelt estate.  THE Magazine of Railroading has a forum all about the armored freight car that isn't.  It's a Pennsylvania Railroad car, and there's no way The New York Central System is going to be assigning a Pennsylvania Railroad baggage car to President Roosevelt's train.  But Altoona built 'em to last, and two of them cascaded to wire train service on the lines out of Grand Central Terminal.

As far as the other secret stuff supposedly under Grand Central, well, look carefully at the diagrams in this feature on abandoned stations in New York City.
A DECADE OF DOWNSIZING.  The Northern Star investigates dwindling enrollments at Northern Illinois University.
In fall 2006, 25,313 students were enrolled at NIU- the peak of the university's enrollment between fall 2001 and fall 2010. Four years later, enrollment at NIU would stand at 23,850, only 67 students more than the fall 2001 figure of 23,783.

The drop in enrollment from fall 2006 to fall 2010 accounts for a difference of 1,463 students.
In fall 2001, an economics department meeting included fourteen faculty members. A fully-attended meeting today includes eleven. Perhaps we have reason to be tired.
NIU's target enrollment for next fall is 23,768, said Brian Hemphill, vice president of Student Affairs and Enrollment
Management.
Headquarters would like to further build that enrollment, aiming at 25,400 by fall 2015.
"A part of that is just looking at the size and scope and growth of the institution," Hemphill said. "When you think about our facilities, when you think about our infrastructure, we have an optimal size, and the 25,000 mark is our optimal size for the institution."

The target enrollment was set through the Enrollment Management Strategic Planning process, Hemphill said. The strategic plan has yet to be unveiled. In the past, the Enrollment Management Council would set the enrollment target number and recommend it to the president each year.
The plan mentions facilities and infrastructure. I have not yet received the memo that promises the next department head an opportunity to recruit for five or six tenure-track lines.

24.4.11

GETTING AND SPENDING, WE LAY WASTE OUR POWERS.  William Wordsworth wrote his complaint about the masses despoiling the Lake District in 1807.  I leave to the reader's imagination what his reaction to day-trippers coming by the London and North Western Railway would have been, or what lament he might have written about roller coasters being built at Blackpool Pleasure Beach.  But with prosperity comes stuff for its own sake, and positional competition, and laments for what is lost, and fretting about What It All Means.  Thus Book Review No. 8 considers Dalton Conley's Elsewhere, U. S. A.: How We Got from the Company Man, Family Dinners, and the Affluent Society to the Home Office, Blackberry Moms, and Economic Anxiety.  Don't have to worry about any spoilers with that title.  The book has a publication date of 2009, although the work on it appears to have finished before the housing bubble popped, and thus readers get an attempt to use every shiny model of social behavior (positional arms races!  behavioral economics!  information cascades!) to understand -- albeit not to consider reforms -- a way of life that might have already become history.  Turn to page 84.
We all have to buy into this economic pyramid to keep it running.  And since many of us enjoy decent, long-run returns on our 401 (k)s and our home values -- while simultaneously afflicted by fraud anxiety -- we tend to go along with the program and hope it all works out in the end.
Oops.

Come the next economic recovery, the substitution effect of a pay increase dominating in labor supply decisions -- which Professor Conley commingles with the fraud anxiety he refers to, and reinforces by the ability of improved communication to blur boundaries between work and home -- might again be counteracted by the income effect, something that is unlikely to surprise regular readers of Cold Spring Shops.

(Cross-posted to 50 Book Challenge.)
THE BATTLE CRY OF FREEDOM.  Nation columnist Corey Robin urges readers to reconsider the reasons for conservative electoral successes.
Confident that no one short of a millionaire could endorse the right’s economic ideology, everyone from Clintonite centrists to radical populists has treated conservatism as essentially a politics of distraction and delusion. Conservatives, it’s said, are just good salespeople, wrapping their ugly wares in the pretty paper of the culture wars. The way to combat them is not to challenge their ideas or defend ours but to use prettier wrapping paper.
That's the Thomas Frank What's the Matter with Kansas? argument, one that has failed for some time to convince me.  Mr Robin recognizes, however, that there is substance to those winning arguments.
After the midterm elections in November, it seemed the most natural thing in the world—to the right, the media, Obama and parts of the Democratic Party—to freeze the pay of federal workers and extend the Bush tax cuts for two years. Incoherent as policy—the first presumes that the deficit is the greatest threat to the economy; the second, the lack of consumer spending—it makes sense as ideology. The best (and only) thing the government can do for you and the economy is to get out of your way.
There is coherence to the policy.  Resources have opportunity costs, and it's naive to suppose that there is a constant multiplier effect of government spending irrespective of what those federal workers do.  Perhaps there are middle managers in the Transportation Security Agency who see value in disrupting train service in Savannah or delaying Empire Corridor service who would not be missed.  Perhaps there are assistants to the director of compliance who even as I type are identifying college athletic programs with disproportionately many wrestling scholarships with a negative contribution to national product.  That deputy inspector identifying deficiencies in the provision of handicapped parking spaces at starveling strip malls in remote parts of the country is a luxury in more prosperous times.

The subtleties of cost-benefit analysis, however, are not the ground on which Mr Robin chooses to take his stand.
If there is to be a true realignment—not just of parties but of principles, not just of policy preferences or cognitive frames but of deep beliefs and ideas—we must confront conservatism’s political philosophy. That philosophy reflects more than a bloodless economics or narrow self-interest; it draws from and drives forward a distinctly moral vision of freedom, with deep roots in American political thought.
Not simply Grover Norquist and leave us alone; not Ayn Rand and the virtues of selfishness. It's going to be difficult turf for his "we" -- the self-styled progressives -- to contest.
The secret of conservatism’s success—as any reading of Reagan’s speeches and writings will attest—has been to locate this notion of freedom in the market. Conservative political economy envisions freedom as something more than a simple “don’t tread on me”; it celebrates the everyman entrepreneur, making his own destiny, imagining a world and then creating it. Speaking before Congress in April 1981, Reagan sold his package of tax and spending cuts with a line from Carl Sandburg, that emblematic voice of the Popular Front: “Nothing happens unless first a dream.” The entrepreneur is the scion of freedom, the reincarnation of Ben Franklin and Abe Lincoln; the welfare state, its most potent enemy, the successor to King George and the slaveholder.

We must confront this ideology head-on: not by temporizing about the riskiness or instability of the free market or by demonstrating that it (or its Republican stewards) cannot deliver growth but by mobilizing the most potent resource of the American vernacular against it. We must develop an argument that the market is a source of constraint and government an instrument of freedom. Without a strong government hand in the economy, men and women are at the mercy of their employer, who has the power to determine not only their wages, benefits and hours but also their lives and those of their families, on and off the job.

We must, in other words, change the argument from the abstractions of the free market to the very real power of the businessman. More than posing an impersonal threat to the deliberations of a democratic polity—as the progressive opposition to the Supreme Court’s Citizens United decision would have it, or as liberals like Paul Krugman and Hendrik Hertzberg have suggested about the unionbusting in Wisconsin—the businessman imposes concrete and personal constraints on the freedom of individual citizens. What conservatives fear above all else—more than higher taxes or lower profits—is any challenge to that power, any inversion of the obligations of deference and command, any extension of freedom that would curtail their own.
At best for Mr Robin's case, there is a split among what he thinks of as conservatives, with the country-club Republicans sympathetic to pro-business policies, and the more systematic thinkers among Tea Party Republicans sympathetic to pro-market policies, which are different.  (And those abstractions of the free market are often the worker's, or the consumer's, best protection against the desire of the capitalist to extract surplus value.)  The case he'd prefer to make, however, is one that might lead to new alliances between limited-government advocates in both major parties.
We must also change the argument about government. Government need not be a source of constraint, as conservatives claim. Nor is it designed to protect citizens from the vagaries of the market, as many liberals claim—a formulation that depicts citizens as needy and passive and opens liberals to the charge of paternalism and condescension. When government is aligned with democratic movements on the ground, as Walter Reuther and Martin Luther King Jr. understood, it becomes the individual’s instrument for liberating herself from her rulers in the private sphere, a way to break the back of private autocracy.
In so, arguing, however, he's contesting ground the late Milton Friedman occupied many years ago.
So the problem of social organization is how to set up an arrangement under which greed will do the least harm. It seems to me that the great virtue of capitalism is that it’s that kind of system. Because under capitalism, the power of any one individual over his fellow man is relatively small. You take the richest capitalist in the world; his power over you and me is trivial compared with the power that a Brezhnev or a Kosygin has in Russia. Or even compared in the United States with the power that an official of the Internal Revenue Service has over you. An official of the IRS can put you in jail. I doubt that there is a person in the United States who couldn’t be convicted of technical violation of some aspect of the personal income tax.

One of the great dangers I see in the American situation is that there is a strong temptation in government to use the income tax for other purposes. It’s been done. When gangsters couldn’t be convicted under the laws they had really violated, they were gotten on income-tax evasion. When John F. Kennedy threatened steel executives in 1962 to get them to drive down their prices, there was the implicit threat that all their taxes would be looked at. Now, that is a much more serious threat—the power an official has in the pursuit of his self-interest—than anything Howard Hughes is capable of. We want the kind of world in which greedy people can do the least harm to their fellow men. That’s the kind of world in which power is widely dispersed and each of us has as many alternatives as possible.
That's from Professor Friedman's 1973 Playboy interview, and a lot of it is prescient. Here's his closing comment.
The spirit of the times has gone against freedom and continues to go against it. There are still intellectuals who believe that concentrated power is a force for good as long as it’s in the hands of men of good will. I’m waiting for the day when they reject socialism, communism and all other varieties of collectivism; when they realize that a security blanket isn’t worth the surrender of our individual freedom even if it can be provided by government. There are faint stirrings and hopeful signs. Even some of the intellectuals who were most strongly drawn to the New Deal in the Thirties are rethinking their positions, dabbling just a little with free-market principles. They’re moving slowly and taking each step as though they were exploring a virgin continent. But it’s not dangerous. Some of us have lived here quite comfortably all along.
And here's Mr. Robin's closing comment.
During the Great Recession, much has been written about reviving the policies of the New Deal. Though well-intentioned, this focus on policy suggests that thirty years of conservative control has left us ill-equipped to counter the power of the businessman with first principles. It’s long past time for us to start talking and arguing about those first principles, especially the principle of freedom.
Further comparison and contrast is left to the reader as an exercise.
COSMIC CONVERGENCE.  The different astrologies employed to define Passover, Easter in the Julian calendar, and Easter in the Gregorian calendar sometimes place all three at the same time.  Thus today is Easter by both calendars.  We reprise a hymn that is as succinct a statement of the Christian faith as I have encountered.  Turn to entry 322.
DISTINGUISH MUTUAL GAIN FROM CO-DEPENDENCY.  Lynne Kiesling recommends that reporters on the energy beat learn to do so.
I am listening to an NPR story right now on the conflicts over the construction of the new pipeline to bring Canadian heavy crude oil from the tar sands to the US. Steve Inskeep introduced the story by observing that as Canadian tar sands production increases, US consumers will “become more dependent on Canada”.

This error is more than just a rhetorical one; it’s an error of logic and a failure of basic economic understanding, because it shows that Inskeep and his staff don’t grasp the reciprocity and the mutuality of trade and exchange. You could just as easily say that more oil transactions between US consumers and Canadian producers makes Canada “more dependent on the US”, because the revenue they earn from selling us oil is income that they use to do what they want to do in their lives, in much the same way that the oil we buy from them is a product that we use to do what we want to do in our lives.

Failing to incorporate the reciprocity and mutuality of exchange into your analysis is an all-too-common logical flaw, particularly in the increasingly breathy and Chicken Little media. They should know better.
Perhaps politicians and policy wonks who like to speak of oil addictions are part of the problem, thinking of an oil abuser as somehow like an abusive and addicted significant other.
Co-dependency is a learned behavior that can be passed down from one generation to another. It is an emotional and behavioral condition that affects an individual’s ability to have a healthy, mutually satisfying relationship. It is also known as “relationship addiction” because people with codependency often form or maintain relationships that are one-sided, emotionally destructive and/or abusive.
It's abusive, for example, for Latin American farmers to take our cash and keep us wired.
We may constitute only 5 percent of the world's population, but we consume fully a third of the planet's coffee. This nation runs off coffee, most all of it from a sketchy continent. Should we be cut off by one of these sources, for our caffeine fix we'd be forced to drink Coca-Cola for breakfast as well as 10 other times a day.

Our most recent census figures reveal that Detroit lost 25 percent of its population from 2000 to 2010, including those who moved from the city as a result of continuing dismal performances by the Lions and Pistons. And the great state of Michigan as a whole lost population and faces one of the highest unemployment rates in the country.

Thus my administration will propose that we begin immediately to invest in this city and state and turn them into the coffee capital of North America. It will create jobs, jobs, jobs; stimulate economic development; and put Michigan back on the map. After all, it was a beer that made Milwaukee famous, and cows that turned Wisconsin into America's Dairyland. Why not think of Michigan when you think of mocha?
Co-dependency as a pejorative in economics? More likely, a "dependence" claim is "absurd and illogical."
NOTHING IS FUN UNTIL YOU ARE GOOD AT IT.  Thus does Stanford's basketball coach Tara VanDerveer channel Vince Lombardi.
After Stanford dispatched U.C. Davis in the first round of the N.C.A.A. tournament, the Aggies’ coach, Sandy Simpson, noted that the Cardinal players made up for their one clear shortcoming — team speed — “by knowing the angles and getting to places sooner.”

“It’s like they see the game a second or two ahead as opposed to seeing it in real time,” he said.

Because the team collectively carries well above a B grade-point average, there is a tendency to ascribe the crispness of Stanford’s execution to the sharpness of the players’ minds. La Rocque suggested as much when she described one of the team’s assets: “We’re all students of the game; we’re all intelligent.”

VanDerveer let La Rocque have her say, then gave an impassioned rebuttal. She rejected the notion that her team’s path to the Final Four was somehow a velvet rope line because the players were book smart. The Cardinal’s success is a product of endless instruction, she said, not natural instincts.

“To say that we’re like these basketball brainiacs, they’re not,” VanDerveer said, adding: “In fact, I think we are less basketball-intelligent than a lot of teams. So we go over stuff constantly. I really believe that for me personally and for us, we have to outwork people.”
It helps if your players have the mindset that your world will fall apart if you don't beat the Bears, which in Stanford's case live in Berkeley or Waco, not Chicago.

But when it comes to getting your spawn into the proper preschool in order to subsequently get into the right basketball camp, or into Harvard, is it worth it?
There's not much difference in the outcomes of my friends who went to an Ivy League versus those that went to elite public schools or the not-quite Ivies, like Colgate or Oberlin or Kenyon. Everyone ended up in roughly the same upper middle class suburbs with professional jobs and Subarus in the driveway. Everybody is waiting on the same long lines at Disney and complaining about their long commutes to their ten hour jobs in the city.

So, if we all end up in the same place, why torture the kids like that? By nature, my kid is a slacker. He is perfectly capable of getting a 100% on every test, but he will work just hard enough to get a 93%. In the end, it's an A, so he'll knock off the studying when he gets to the 93% point and then pick up his DSI. I could get him to care about the difference between an 100% and 93%, but it would involve doing such violence to his personality that it isn't worth it.

We do set rules about the time spent playing video games and bedtime and all those good things that keep him from slipping from 93%'s down to 80%'s. We've started a Sunday afternoon writing club to plug the gaps in his education at his middle school, but I'm not running out and hiring a $100 per hour tutor. Trade-offs have been made.
That's the perspective from North Jersey. Suing preschool for undermining a four-year-old's shot at the Ivies is apparently the Manhattan thing to do. Egad

23.4.11

EXCESSIVE SELF-REINFORCEMENT AND INTELLECTUAL INBREEDING.  And thus Our Jurassic President.
Jurassic President starts with the soft-lighted comparisons between Obama and FDR leading up to the 2009 swearing-in. People who weren’t on board with the ethos of Obama’s campaign rolled their eyes and mumbled things like depression chic and there they go again, but I submit to you that Obama believed it. He not only thought he was the new FDR, he thought the world wanted and needed a new FDR. He knew FDR was the change we’d all been waiting for.

Other reports followed, such as that he had decided to run for president to undo Reagan’s presidency and get us back to where we’d have been if Carter had been elected a second time.

I know right about this time, you’re scratching your heads and wondering how he could mean this nonsense. I think the sheer absurdity has kept us from seeing Jurassic President for what he is. Because here, in the early 21st century, we have our doubts about how good FDR was for the country after all and, frankly, we’ve been making jokes about Jimmy Carter since — well, since Jimmy Carter was president.

But Obama is not in the early 21st century, or not in the same 21st century the rest of us inhabit. Instead, he’s preserved in the amber of an echo chamber where the romanticized version of the thirties seen through the new-agey 1970s is paradise. In his circles, denying this vision is akin to insisting the sky is made of cheese.

I don’t share his view, but I can understand it because we do move in intellectually similar circles.

As an author and, further, a science fiction author, and as someone who has moved in and out of academic circles over the years, I know that artists, academics, and self-described intellectuals have self-selected themselves into an almost parallel universe of leftist chic and wishful thinking.

In that universe, if only Carter had served a second term, we’d have all-green-energy, caring, helpful, gentle, earth-loving communities, no competition, and a mandated minimum wage of $100 per hour that somehow works perfectly and doesn’t bankrupt any businesses.
Unlike the Jurassic Park dinosaurs, reconstituted out of preserved DNA and planted in a new habitat (in which the implications of a very different chemical composition of the atmosphere than that of the Jurassic go incompletely evaluated), Our President and his brain-trusters continue in a habitat that remains hospitable.
It's an odd time for liberals to feel smug. But even with Democratic fortunes on the wane, leading liberals insist that they have almost nothing to learn from conservatives. Many Democrats describe their troubles simply as a PR challenge, a combination of conservative misinformation -- as when Obama charges that critics of health-care reform are peddling fake fears of a "Bolshevik plot" -- and the country's failure to grasp great liberal accomplishments. "We were so busy just getting stuff done . . . that I think we lost some of that sense of speaking directly to the American people about what their core values are," the president told ABC's George Stephanopoulos in a recent interview. The benighted public is either uncomprehending or deliberately misinformed (by conservatives). 
This condescension is part of a liberal tradition that for generations has impoverished American debates over the economy, society and the functions of government -- and threatens to do so again today, when dialogue would be more valuable than ever.
(Via Professor Munger, who suggests readers go to the full column, where the continuation is instructive.)
This sense of liberal intellectual superiority dropped off during the economic woes of the 1970s and the Reagan boom of the 1980s. (Jimmy Carter's presidency, buffeted by economic and national security challenges, generated perhaps the clearest episode of liberal self-doubt.) But these days, liberal confidence and its companion disdain for conservative thinking are back with a vengeance, finding energetic expression in politicians' speeches, top-selling books, historical works and the blogosphere. This attitude comes in the form of four major narratives about who conservatives are and how they think and function.
Indeed, the Carter administration is the reason for Carter jokes.  The narratives distract from serious engagement of the failures of technocracy, failures the columnist notes in his concluding arguments.
Starting in the 1960s, the original neoconservative critics such as Daniel Patrick Moynihan expressed distress about the breakdown of inner-city families, only to be maligned as racist and ignored for decades -- until appalling statistics forced critics to recognize their views as relevant. Long-standing conservative concerns over the perils of long-term welfare dependency were similarly villainized as insincere and mean-spirited -- until public opinion insisted they be addressed by a Democratic president and a Republican Congress in the 1996 welfare reform law. But in the meantime, welfare policies that discouraged work, marriage and the development of skills remained in place, with devastating effects.


Ignoring conservative cautions and insights is no less costly today. Some observers have decried an anti-intellectual strain in contemporary conservatism, detected in George W. Bush's aw-shucks style, Sarah Palin's college-hopping and the occasional conservative campaigns against egghead intellectuals. But alongside that, the fact is that conservative-leaning scholars, economists, jurists and legal theorists have never produced as much detailed analysis and commentary on American life and policy as they do today.


Perhaps the most important conservative insight being depreciated is the durable warning from free-marketeers that government programs often fail to yield what their architects intend. Democrats have been busy expanding, enacting or proposing major state interventions in financial markets, energy and health care. Supporters of such efforts want to ensure that key decisions will be made in the public interest and be informed, for example, by sound science, the best new medical research or prudent standards of private-sector competition. But public-choice economists have long warned that when decisions are made in large, centralized government programs, political priorities almost always trump other goals.


Even liberals should think twice about the prospect of decisions on innovative surgeries, light bulbs and carbon quotas being directed by legislators grandstanding for the cameras. Of course, thinking twice would be easier if more of them were listening to conservatives at all.
But raising spurious questions about Our President's nativity does nothing to change minds, or provoke second thoughts.

On the other hand, contesting the core criticisms of technocracy, resting as they do on the impossibility of expertise and the sheer cussedness of complex adaptive systems, is a losing proposition for technocrats, and for the politicians who hope to fund them.
ALL INTERESTED AND QUALIFIED STUDENTS ARE ALREADY ENROLLED.  Thus, Jenna Robinson of the Pope Center suggests, there is a college bubble.  Her colleague Jane Shaw accordingly questions any push for further expansion of enrollments. "[Seventy] percent of all high-school graduates enter college. Many of these students are probably not suited to university-level work; how many additional students will be college-ready?"
PRESERVING THE TRADITIONS.  Rome's station churches become part of the curriculum for the Pontifical North American College.
Starting in the mid-1970s, they began reviving the tradition and making a daily pilgrimage to each church on the Lenten circuit, paying tribute to early Christians who risked their lives to worship.

The tradition caught on with a wider group. And today, the Masses are often standing room only events.

“You think: ‘on this day for 1,300 years Christians have been going to this church on this day,’” said Deacon Riley Williams, of Cape Cod, Mass., who is in his fourth year at the North American College. “Going to this place where the saints died, it joins us to Christ.”

Poland’s ambassador to the Holy See, Hanna Suchocka, has been a regular for years, a dean of sorts of the lay crowd who flock to the Masses and attend the de rigueur cappuccino and cornetti run afterward at a nearby cafe. The breakfast – the Roman equivalent of coffee and doughnuts in the church hall after Mass – has in recent years become almost as much of a tradition as the service itself.
The new tradition began with some independent study by the former Archbishop of Milwaukee.
Faith aside, the 40-day itinerary is a great way to see Rome, with daily pre-dawn walks through the Eternal City’s silent streets to visit some of the world’s oldest and most beautiful places of Christian worship, some of which aren’t open except on their station days.

Ash Wednesday, the first day of Lent, brings the faithful to Santa Sabina, where according to tradition, the widow Sabina was converted to Christianity by her slave in the 2nd century and both were later killed for it.

Pope Benedict XVI celebrated Ash Wednesday there just as popes from earliest Christianity visited station churches to unify the faithful.

Archbishop Timothy Dolan of New York is often credited with having helped revive the tradition while a student at the North American College in the 1970s, when he said he and a friend used to research the station church of the day and walk there for a visit.

Dolan returned to the college in 1994 as rector and found that the ritual had stuck, albeit informally.

“I said ‘Bravo, let’s put this on steroids. Let’s make this part of our college Lenten spiritual regimen,’” Dolan said last week from New York. “It’s an act of penance. Is there anything colder, damper than taking off on a dark Roman morning ... to walk a half hour to a church? That’s what Lent is all about.”

On April 14, the seminarians gathered at the college’s front gate at dawn and hiked down the Janiculum hill, crossed the bridge over the Tiber and snaked their way through back cobblestone streets to Sant’Apollinare, once a Jesuit church that now belongs to the conservative Opus Dei movement.
Walking in a chilly rain is a less painful form of mortification of the flesh than Dan Brown would have you believe is an obligation of Opus Dei.  But perhaps those North American pilgrims will inspire a more recent tradition: a Friday fish fry at the cafe adjacent to the station churches whose turn it is to open on Friday.

22.4.11

LIFE'S ILLUSIONS.  It's college admission season, and The Boston Herald's Michael Graham claims the bad news comes in the thick envelope.
Higher education is one of those topics — like the current state of Islam, illegitimacy rates in the black community or Bill Belichick’s overrated reputation — that people in polite society are not allowed to discuss honestly. And the obvious, glaring truth is that too many parents are sending kids to college, kids who don’t have the academic firepower to make it through a round of “Jeopardy,” much less four years of university study.

You’re not sending Junior off to school so he can pursue his dream of becoming a doctor, lawyer or engineer. You’re sending him so you can brag to your friends. Meanwhile what Junior actually ends up pursuing is cheap beer and sorority girls.
He notes that Mummy and Daddy are unlikely any time soon to be opting out of the positional arms race.

Perhaps there are other options, but Frank J. Fleming's modest proposal shows its Swiftian roots.
Here’s an idea: You notice how everything is made in China? It’s illegal in the U.S. to pay kids ten cents an hour to manufacture goods, so we just do that overseas instead. That’s idiotic. Why not have our own kids work during the day building plastic trinkets and whatnot? They’d learn useful working skills, come home nice and tired, and they’d actually appreciate earning ten cents an hour, because kids are stupid.
So there’s our solution to the education problem: Instead of trying to make a lot of bad education for everyone when most aren’t even going to use it, let’s focus on making the absolute best education to give to the few who will. Everyone else gets to learn useful skills, and as a bonus we bring manufacturing jobs back to our country. 
At Future of Capitalism, Ira Stoll has the same suggestion, in a more serious form, in such a way as to anticipate the Chicago Tribune's discovery of mal-employment.
If producing a high proportion of college graduates were the secret to economic success, Belgium would be the world's economic powerhouse. Making college completion rates a priority does funnel taxpayer money to college professors, a reliable Democratic constituency. But as economic policy, it strikes me as at best questionable.
Mal-employment is a symptom. The root cause of mal-employment is a confusion of possession of a credential with possession of the capability.
When you believe, simplistically, that college somehow equals success, then vacuuming more people into college just makes sense. Yet you’re vacuuming in real people, not stimulus-response lab rats. And many of these real people are quite unprepared for traditional workloads, unused to academic discipline, and — worst of all — almost completely uninterested in the pursuit of knowledge.
But think of the work created for the hustlers in Student Affairs.

On the other hand, onetime regional economics great Paul Krugman and Cold Spring Shops's favorite former administrator Peter Wood find a reality check in common:
What does it mean when someone like Krugman jumps ship from the ideological consensus that usually rules in these matters? It means essentially that the jig is up. Even stalwarts of the left can no longer pretend with a straight face that “college for everyone” is a practical answer to our economic difficulties, or even a constructive step in that direction. Higher education as we know it currently produces a large surplus of “credentialed” graduates who cannot find work in fields for which a college degree is needed. Doubling the number of graduates is not going to change that. Rather, the very effort to jam through college a huge increase in the number of students will mean a lowering of the already derisory standards at many colleges and universities, and will make the college credential even less useful than it already is.
Read on:
What’s missing from this picture, however, is a crowd of factors that bear on how young men and women approach and make use of the opportunities at hand. Why is it that so many students enroll in college only to treat it as a four (or more) year vacation from responsibility? A college degree in the right subject pursued with the right level of intensity can still open the door to a good and prosperous career. But a very large number—an actual preponderance—of college graduates de-select that approach to undergraduate education. Some do so because they lack the motivation to begin with, and it is a fair question to put to social scientists, “Why?” Patterns of motivation (or its lack) are not arbitrary. They have something to do with the family, and a great deal to do with matters like religion, culture, and emotional maturity.

No one is “in charge” of factors like these and they are difficult if not impossible to reach by policy prescription. We can’t simply undo high divorce rates and single-parent families—although these are major risk factors for academic under-performance and social anomie. The trend of our culture towards mass banality is likewise something can’t be ameliorated by mere policy. Yet it isn’t entirely beyond reach. Higher education did its part in creating it and may have some capacity, if it chose, to push past it.
Or, to end its complicity in the social harm by recognizing the opportunity to undo that harm:
One of the favorite old saws on Wall Street is that the business was changed forever — and not for the better — by the influx of MBAs that flooded the place in waves, beginning in the 1970s. What once was a relatively benign business of raising capital for clients or providing them with helpful mergers and acquisition advice has been transformed forever by calculating MBAs, who first cleverly contrived the idea that Wall Street firms themselves could go public — thus providing firms access to vast amounts of other people’s money to replace the finite amount of partners’ capital — and then, with the unlimited capital, began designing all sorts of crazy products that ratcheted up exponentially the complexity of, as well as the risk in, the global financial markets. We all know the consequences of those decisions.
To repeat a frequent Cold Spring Shops theme: higher education is complicit in breaking the social compact its senior management accuses the politicians of having broken, in part by rushing to implement every new fad in such a way as to decouple the higher from the education.

And George Will gets to suggest to readers that the admissions frenzy, as is the case with any positional arms race, is college craziness
Still, the college-admission process occasions too much angst. America is thickly planted with 1,400 four-year institutions. Motivated, selective students can get a fine education at any of them -- unmotivated, undiscerning students at none. Most students love the schools they attend.


The admissions quest can have splendid moments. Last year, Wake Forest University asked applicants what they would title their autobiographies. One, obviously a golfer, answered: "Mulligan." Wouldn't we all?
The responsibility rests with faculties and administrations at the institutions less affected by the ratings frenzy to recognize that they are in the same business as the more visible universities, and owe their applicants the same opportunities to interact with other motivated people.
A POST-MODERN PREDICAMENT.  Deconstruct the social construction of Our President's Kenyan nativity without privileging linear logic or any other technology of power hiding behind a masquerade of intelligence.

21.4.11

WHY PUBLIC POLICY IS DIFFICULT, AND PHILOSOPHICALLY CONSISTENT PUBLIC POLICY IS IMPOSSIBLE.  Megan McArdle offers the Trenchant Observation of the Day.
All the activity of a modern human takes place in the context of society.  That requires balancing of individual rights and the common good.  But this is not a blank check for the government to trample rights as it pleases . . . nor a blanket answer when people complain that the government has gotten too intrusive.
And the tension between decentralization and coordination persists.
ALL THE STARS THAT NEVER WERE ARE PARKING CARS AND PUMPING GAS.  We previously noted the failure of China's expansion of university degrees to provide those tickets to high-paying jobs.

The tickets are going missing closer to home.
Nationwide, about 1.94 million graduates under age 30 were mal-employed between September and January, according data compiled by Andrew Sum, director of the Center for Labor Market Studies at Northeastern University.

Sum said mal-employment has significantly increased in the past decade, making it the biggest challenge facing college graduates today. In 2000, Sum said, about 75 percent of college graduates held a job that required a college degree. Today that's closer to 60 percent.

Though the economy is growing and new jobs are being created, Sum said, those graduating in June are not likely to see major improvements. About 1.7 million students are projected to graduate this spring with a bachelor's degree and 687,000 with a master's, according to the U.S. Department of Education.

"We are doing a great disservice by not admitting how bad it is for young people (to get a job)," Sum said.
Mal-employed does not refer to an engineer doing tech support or an accountant dispatching trucks.  Worse, from a resource allocation perspective, the mal-employed are returning to university for additional investment in low-return human capital.
When everything else fails, graduates are more likely to go back for more education. Those with a bachelor's sign up for a master's, and so on. Some take a step back, either to look for new opportunities or retool their fields of interest.

Bill White, for example, is pursuing a second bachelor's degree. He looked for a job for about six months before graduating in December with a master's in public relations and advertising. Unable to land one, the 28-year-old has shifted his focus to mechanical engineering.

While college graduates are still more likely to land a job than those without a degree, the fact that so many are not finding a job in their fields has raised questions about the payoff of a college education.

Since he got his bachelor's degree last May, Kirk Devezin II has worked full-time a little more than six months and has freelanced. He has never made more than the $10.36 an hour he earned as a barista atStarbucks when he was a student at Eastern Connecticut State University.

"I apply to jobs constantly, constantly, constantly," he said.

He has interviewed for positions related to his communications degree, but lately, all the interviews have been for barista and cook jobs, and one at a carwash. Sensing that employers in low-wage industries might think he is overqualified, he has left his college degree off the applications.
I leave to the reader to determine whether the mal-employment of new lawyers or advertising executives is a social benefit or not. But it exists. That's something different.  We're not talking about aspiring actors waiting on tables in Los Angeles or Manhattan any more.
On a small plaza near the DePaul University College of Law, a group of students about to graduate were socializing when a reporter approached. Most said they didn't expect to land a law-related job. One student said he was told by a potential employer that there was no reason to hire him when the firm could hire an experienced lawyer for the same salary.

That situation is becoming more commonplace.

Anna Holcombe, who has a master's degree in public relations and advertising, said she's often competing for jobs against people who only have bachelor's degrees or are willing to work for free just to get their foot in the door.

"It's a struggle," she said, adding that at age 31 she doesn't have the luxury of being able to work for free. She has responsibilities, including bills due at the end of the month.

Until she gets a position in her field, Holcombe is holding on to her job as a sales associate at a retail store. She got the job to pay bills while at school, never thinking it would be so difficult to let it go.
The bubble is deflating, and the human toll is real.
FLATLANDERS ARE NOT NEW ENGLANDERS.  The Midwest's worst drivers resist the rotary.
"I've never been on one in America," said Alice Zator, whose business sits at the planned roundabout site on Oak Park Avenue and 183rd Street. "My concern is, are there other options? Why would we do something that's not familiar to the Midwest?"

Her reaction is a common one as Illinois joins neighboring states such as Wisconsin, Michigan, Ohio and Indiana in embracing roundabouts for their increased safety.

At least 10 roundabouts have recently been considered or launched in the Chicago area. The intersections consist of a center island surrounded by a one-way lane of traffic where drivers yield to circling cars without the instruction of stop signs or traffic signals.
If I understand Ms. Zator's statement, she has encountered such things overseas, but she's never been to Massachusetts, or to New York, two states with a common border but different right-of-way rules for use of the rotary.

Rotaries are effective at taming traffic and expediting traffic flow, particularly compared to streets with badly timed traffic lights and left-turn reservations at each signalled crossing.  But Midwestern traffic engineers have a tendency to overdesign them.  In Wisconsin, a driver must often choose which lane to use to enter the rotary, and the simple YIELD sign that suffices to enforce right-of-way is overshadowed with an expressway-style gantry designating the lanes to choose.  Worst of both possible worlds.
A MODEST PROFIT.  Economic forecasting is hard.  Northern Illinois University's football program, contrary to the Superintendent's pessimistic expectations, returned about $50K above avoidable costs to the athletic department from their Humanitarian Bowl win.

Avoidable costs are lower for an early bowl game, as the cost of keeping the lights on in the stadium for practice until the New Year are avoided.  Humanitarian Bowl promoters also encourage Boise residents to attend the game for the entertainment value.

There is no such promotion for the Motor City Bowl, the game the Mid-American title game winner automatically qualifies to play in.  The Mid-American title game also takes place in Detroit, and it's very much a case of second place, two weeks in Detroit, first place, a week in Detroit.

On the one hand, Motor City Bowl promoters might encourage Detroiters to attend the game.  There's probably more play value in that game than there is in watching the Lions.  On the other hand, Detroiters don't have a lot of disposable income, attempts to promote car exports notwithstanding.

18.4.11

HERE ONCE THE EMBATTLED FARMERS STOOD,
AND FIRED THE SHOT HEARD ROUND THE WORLD
.
(Reprinted from the April 2008 archive.)

Please visit Forward Movement's chronology of the events of April 18 and 19, 1775, with excerpts from primary sources, and the Right Wing Nut House exegesis of "Paul Revere's Ride."


"Concord Hymn" by Ralph Waldo Emerson.
Photo courtesy S. Ells in Thoreau Country.
Let [petty] tyrants shake their iron rods,
And Slav'ry clank her galling chains.
We fear them not, we trust in God.
New England's God forever reigns.
William Billings, Chester. (The version I learned included the "petty.")
HERE I STAND.  Let us not issue meaningless degrees and pretend that we are educated.
We too would be interested to know what President Obama thinks truly educated people should know, and how colleges should teach them. One thing is certain; sending more students to college won’t make the United States the best-educated nation. It may not even make us more competitive globally. As Peter Wood wrote
It could, however, accelerate the decline of many ordinary colleges and universities. That’s because the flood of new students would mean drastically lowered academic standards, a further erosion of the quality of campus life, and an over-abundance of people holding college degrees.
Why sacrifice quality for quantity? Higher education should be marked by rigor, thoughtfulness, hard work, an earnest search for true knowledge, and a certain gravity. Pumping up the size of enrollments to meet the 2020 goal will spread these qualities thin like too little butter on a giant slice of toast.
The article refers to numerous elaborations on the argument.
THE CASE FOR PRIVATIZING INFRASTRUCTURE.  Destination: Freedom notes a request from the trucking business to relax the load limits on highways.
Continuing its decades-long assault on the taxpayer-financed public highway system, the trucking lobby this week engineered the introduction of a Senate bill that if approved would allow states to decide whether to allow 97,000-pound trucks on highways, “breaking a 20-year federal freeze on truck sizes and weights” as reported by the Journal of Commerce. The bill is named “The Senate Safe and Efficient Transportation Act,” although many would disagree with the title’s allusion to “safety.”
That last sentence is clearly editorializing. The distorting effect of road taxes is in the details of the act.
JOC Reporter William B. Cassidy writes: “It’s the latest action in a long-running battle over the freeze on federal truck size and weight limits Congress imposed in the surface transportation law of 1991. The bill would give states the authority to lift the 80,000 pound gross vehicle weight limit, but only for tractor-trailers with six axles instead of the usual five.

The additional axle does not affect truck size, but it does allow shippers to utilize extra cargo space in the trailer, effectively adding capacity without adding trucks. The Coalition for Transportation Productivity, a group of more than 180 shippers and trucking companies, supports lifting the truck weight limit.
One additional axle assembly to beat up the road, no net change in axle loading to beat up the bridges. Would the trucking companies make the same decision if they had the responsibility for maintaining their rights-of-way?
FOLLOW THE EXCESS DEMAND.  Sherman Dorn is not impressed with a local newspaper hyping college-acceptance anxiety.
The truth about college-admission anxieties is that wealthy parents and school officials in wealthy communities have done far more to perpetuate such anxieties than anything George W. Bush did either as governor or president. Quick question: did commercial test-prep books flood your nearest bookstore before or after former President Bush signed NCLB in January 2002? As David Labaree points out, plenty of parents push for public schools to serve their private interests, in this case by helping their children gain admission into nominally elite colleges and universities. As Maryland teacher Ken Bernstein told me when I suggested that Race to Nowhere ignored the fact that most colleges were non-competitive: "parents of my AP kids don't want to hear about non-competitive colleges."
Rightly or wrongly, parents of AP kids might perceive the non-competitive colleges as subprime party schools, or as purveyors of degrees etiolated by the imperatives of Retention and Completion.

He goes on with some suggestions for anxious parents, and for high schoolers contemplating college.
You can control your own academic work; you cannot control idiosyncratic decisions that try to split admissions from rejections for large groups of students who have very similar academic records. The second stage is the part of college admissions that's a crapshoot, and our advice to our daughter was that instead of trying to "look good" by guessing and then gaming what presumably colleges are looking for, it made much better sense just to be herself and not worry about the part of decision-making that was much more random than the "would graduate if admitted" filter. This advice was pretty easy parenting because that was how she was treating the admissions process, and so what we said was more a matter of inoculating her against later anxieties when we thought her friends might be talking about their own admissions anxieties. 


As it turned out, my daughter had a reasonable choice of institutions that admitted her, and of her close friends in high school, I think there was only one case of a rejection by a first-choice school. The limits on where her friends could attend college was not who admitted them but what they and their parents could afford. I can assure you all that the Rutgers and Georgia Tech financial aid offices have missed huge opportunities with two incredibly hardworking young women, but faculty at the University of Florida will gain the benefit.
His favorable mention of Florida contrasts with the attitude of one of the students interviewed by St. Petersburg Times reporter Rebecca Catalanello.
But now, a little more than a week after colleges finished notifying students of their admissions decisions, [St. Petersburg High senior Marcus] Carter isn't feeling like the star pupil people tell him he is. He applied to five schools, then found himself wait-listed at his top two choices and denied at a third. Though accepted at his two safety schools — the University of Florida and the University of Central Florida — he's holding out hope that when things shake out at Duke University, he will rise off the wait list.
In Professor Dorn's view, Mr Carter and many of the anxious students and parents, advanced placement or not, are crying with their mouths full.
I'm not worried about my daughter's friends, nor would I be if they had expressed concerns about all the "problems" of students Catalanello followed. I am far more worried about students I teach (or students like them) who have problems affording books, or being able to study more each week than working, or who make poor choices about how to spend weekends. I worry about students who think a 10-12 page term paper is too long. I worry about students who are in violent relationships. I worry about students for all sorts of real problems, but not whether they got some notional prize for being admitted to all the competitive colleges they applied to.
And his daughter applying to Florida apparently without reference to its Big Time Sports prowess, and Mr Carter treating Gainesville as a safety school, suggest that the Popular Perspective of Big Time Sports as front porch is misplaced.
The latest must-have item for a big-time college football program is a statue, or statues, The Orlando Sentinel reported. The University of Florida, the University of Alabama at Tuscaloosa and Auburn University have all recently unveiled statues of football greats (coaches and players). The article noted that these honors are not just coming at the end of careers, as might have been the case in the past.
Sports statues: the new marker of a safety school?