19.11.19

TAIL TRACK.

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

YOU CAN'T WALK OUT UNHAPPY.

The fall semester steel pan concert was a tribute to Alan O'Connor, who brought the pan program to Northern Illinois, and it concluded with a calypso by the recently departed Ken "Professor" Philmore, and the ensemble still remembers Cliff Alexis.

Northern Star columnist Chris Plumery notes all these things, and yet he concludes, "The audience got out of its seats and danced along with the band. The night ended with the audience members having big smiles on their faces as they walked out of the hall."

The next performances will be on two Sundays in April.

THE INCLUSIVE SYMBOLISM CROWDS OUT THE INTELLECTUAL SUBSTANCE.

Inside Higher Ed's Elin Johnson shares the bad news.  "Percentage of students who have met English and math benchmarks lowest in 15 years."  The proximate cause appears to be a lack of preparation.
Almost 1.8 million students, or 52 percent of the 2019 graduating class, took the ACT.

Of the Class of 2019 who took the test, 37 percent met three of the four College Readiness Benchmarks, and 36 percent did not meet any. The latter number has grown over the past few years, reports ACT. Students who took the recommended high school core curriculum stayed steady in their readiness in English and math.

“As we’ve been pointing out for many years, taking the right courses in high school dramatically increases a student’s likelihood to be ready for success when they graduate,” said Marten Roorda, ACT CEO, in a press release. “Students who don’t take challenging courses -- particularly those from underserved populations -- may lack the self-confidence and ambition to do so, and social and emotional learning instruction can help them improve in those areas.”
I'd like to think that, oh, inculcating bourgeois habits and teaching the substance would work, but that's not how the people whose salaries depend on them not seeing it respond.
Test results are still divided along lines of race and wealth. The majority of minority, low-income or first-generation students met one or zero of the College Readiness Benchmarks.

Hispanic, and more so, African American students continue to lag behind their white and Asian American counterparts. Just over half of the 2019 graduates who took the test were white.

Over the past five years, Asian American students have improved their college readiness, with 62 percent meeting three of the four benchmarks this year.

Asian American students had the highest average composites, with a 25.6 for core scores and a 22.9 for noncore. White students scored an average core composite of 23.3, American Indian and Alaska Native students scored an average of 18.3 in the core requirements, Hispanic students' average core composite was 19.9, and African American students on average scored 17.9.

The ACT board said that its research suggests that college preparedness begins in elementary school, and that by middle school students who are not on track are at risk.
Matt "Dean Dad" Reed, who is in the second chances business at Brookdale Community College in New Jersey, gets to the heart of the matter, at least where matriculants on the traditional high-school-to-college path are concerned.
If that’s correct, then the point of the story is access to curriculum, rather than student performance. But that’s an aside.

“College ready” as a designation carries a lot of baggage. It assumes that every college has the same expectations. It also assumes, as Michelle Asha Cooper has noted, that the burden of readiness falls on the student, rather than the college (or, I would add, some of each). Cooper refers to “student-ready colleges,” to remind us that fit works at least two ways.

I’ve known enough successful college graduates who describe high school careers that ranged from indifferent to disastrous, followed by dramatic turnarounds in college, that I wonder about the category of “college ready.” How do we know?
Perhaps we do something about the high schools that offer students that disastrous experience, or perhaps we focus on the absence of challenging courses.  In Minding the Campus, George Leef suggests the displacement of challenging courses with indoctrination is deliberate.  "[P]ublic schools are doing more and more to condition students to accept a wide array of leftist notions — notions that make them highly receptive to further leftist teaching and calls for them to act against perceived enemies of the social justice agenda."  In Mr Leef's view, it's a destructive symbiosis.
The alliance between the public education establishment and the march of “progressivism” is as natural as anything could be. Public education depends on the power of government: to tax, to build schools and hire teachers and administrators, to compel student attendance, to minimize or even prohibit competition. As the poor quality of many public schools has become increasingly evident over the last several decades, the education establishment has become an utterly slavish ally of the political left. It depends on the coercive fist of government.

At the same time, the political left has become ever more reliant on the education system (K-12 through college and beyond) to inculcate statist ideas in people. If voters were inclined and able to think through the harmful consequences of “progressive” policies such as minimum wage laws, welfare payments, the Green New Deal, government-run health care, wealth taxes, and so on, they would toss the leftists out of office. It’s far better for those politicians if as many voters as possible are conditioned to support candidates who mouth clichés about the evils of capitalism, the need for compassionate government, the imperative of transforming America, so it will be a just society, and many others.

Therefore, it’s no surprise that public schools are ratcheting up their efforts at turning students into adults who will automatically vote to keep their political allies in power. And that calls for constant adjustments to the curriculum.
It's not that the education establishments are offering a Maoist catechism so much as that, as I allege in my title, the symbolism crowds out the substance. Consider social justice mathematics.  That's been with us for some time, but in it's most recent incarnation, in Seattle, well, this Tyler O'Neil post suggests that where the New Math of sixty years ago brought in set theory without any context, well, Postmodern Math brings in postmodern philosophy devoid of context.
In other words, this "educational" document emphasizes getting minority students to "identify" with math over teaching them mathematical truths. Not only does the framework prioritize teaching students the "value in making mistakes" but it also presents as an essential question "What does it mean to do math?" and the related questions, "How important is it to be Right? What is Right? Says Who?"

There is indeed value in making mistakes — but in order to take a key lesson from mistakes, students must understand that they are mistakes. The postmodern approach of this curriculum — getting students to deconstruct what it means to be right and getting them to emphasize ethnic identity over the basic truths of math — is detrimental to that effort.

As for the claim that math is "rooted in the ancient histories of people and empires of color," that is partially true. Mathematics has developed to a limited degree in all human cultures, and both Indian and Arabic contributions to mathematics are important to understand. But Western thinkers like the Ancient Greek pioneer Pythagoras were also fundamental to math. The point of math is not to parse which ethnic group made which discovery but to incorporate the accumulated knowledge and apply it.
The full Seattle plan is titled, "K-12 Math Ethnic Studies Framework."  It's not clear whether this is the full mathematics curriculum, or simply an add-on with more rubrics and more objectives and more of the educational impedimenta that burden teachers, and more elements of the test to teach to.  I note, though, that if students will have the opportunity to understand "Access to mathematical knowledge itself is an act of liberation" that liberation is of little use if they can't, oh, estimate some volumes or recognize that you can't put a six-foot-radius circle of track in a ten foot square bedroom.

Mr O'Neil notes,
Let students study math, and don't let math history become dominated by social justice attempts to erase the efforts of the West. It matters far more whether or not students can do basic arithmetic than whether or not they can spout social justice slogans about Western "oppression."
That's long been a complaint of mine. Thirty years ago, it read like this.
As an economist, I view language as useful if it is accurate. If women operate trains or win national sailing championships alongside men, an accurate language reflects those facts. In my experience, students are aware of those facts. They avoid using "him" or "his" as generic pronouns, but many have trouble spelling or arranging sentences coherently.
It may take a few bridges falling down first. Here's Rod Dreher.
The young people who are going to learn real math are those whose parents can afford to put them in private schools. The public school kids of all races are going to get dumber and dumber … and this is going to compel the wokesters in charge of Human Resources at institutions along life’s way to demand changing standards to fit political goals. Eventually, bridges are going to start falling down. That too will be the fault of Whiteness.
The problem, dear reader, is that competence is hard-won, and competence in designing and building bridges that don't fall down is valuable.  Maybe even the wokesters should recognize that.  Jarrett Stepman teases, "[I]t may be a challenge to build a green socialist utopia of high-speed rail without basic math or engineering skills, but those are mere details."

It might be that I'm overthinking this.  For years, self-styled educational theorists have struggled to make mathematics less scary to youngsters.  It might be that Reason's Robby Soave is on to that aspect of the curriculum.  He notes that the Seattle curriculum is not required in its common schools, and suggests that Mr Dreher is being hyperbolic (since hyperbolas have asymptotes, how has that term come to mean "wild exaggeration" in common usage?) suggests that as a way of making mathematics "accessible" finding the missing Africans or South American aborigines isn't likely to be successful.  So we make the problem go away a different way.
If math is too daunting for students, a better option would be for schools to stop making it mandatory. Giving parents—and even students themselves—more choice and control over their own educational experience is always a plus, and few people actually need to understand higher mathematics to function in society. Infusing the existing math curriculum with a bunch of unfounded progressive assumptions about cultural appropriation is a silly approach.
Perhaps instead of saying it's OK not to know algebra, or instead of looking for ancient oppressors, perhaps the people who style themselves educational theorists ought consider strategies to develop mathematical intuition in young people.  Without that intuition, those students will be the victims of people who are talking rot.

It's not just math, though, as Power Line's John Hinderaker has observed.
There is not much more to say, except to note that the attack on competence can’t stop with mathematics. If math is oppressive, so are physics, chemistry, biology and every other subject that requires hard study to master objective reality. God help us when our structural engineers are products of an educational system that considers knowledge of mathematics to be a symptom of “oppression.”
Well, yeah, the humanities have been self-destructing in the name of Wokeness for years.  Thus it's no surprise that Proper Grammar is oppressive.
“Freeing Our Minds and Innovating Our Pedagogy from White Language Supremacy” was the title of the 75-minute guest lecture given on October 14 by Asao Inoue, a professor and the associate dean of the College of Integrative Sciences and Arts at Arizona State University.

“We are all implicated in white supremacy,” Inoue said during his presentation, co-hosted by Ball State’s English department, university writing program, and Office of Inclusive Excellence.

“This is because white supremacist systems like all systems reproduce themselves as a matter of course,” he said. “This includes reproduction of dominant, white, middle-class, monolingual standards for literacy and communication.”

White language supremacy, according to Inoue, is “the condition in classrooms, schools, and society where rewards are given in determined ways to people who can most easily reach them, because those people have more access to the preferred and embodied white language practices, and part of that access is a structural assumption that what is reachable at a given moment for the normative, white, monolingual English user is reachable for all.”

“Your school can be racist and produce racist outcomes,” Inoue said. “Even with expressed values and commitments to anti-racism and social justice.”

In one of his slides, Inoue states that “grading is a great way to protect the white property of literacy in schools and maintain the white supremacist status quo without ever being white supremacist or mentioning race.”
I note that his presentation was in English, no point in re-enacting the Parable of the Tower of Babel in 75 minutes, and the proper question to be asking might be what evolutionary advantage the standard of standard English conferred.  Then follow up with what might happen to a higher education that deconstructs that status quo without a new standard emerging.

I'm going to get to that, but first, another illustration of the symbolism crowding out the substance. “Whiteness then works and then appropriates science and technology to say ‘This is true while this is not true because it’s not verifiable.’…It’s a hyperfocus on the experiential for those who does not capitulate with whiteness.”  That defies parody, but apparently it happened.  Thus "maybe the black astronauts are participating in whiteness." I'm not making this up, follow the link, but that's in a long-established tradition of identity politics types trashing normal science as a tool of oppression when it's convenient.

Meanwhile, the propaganda arm for higher education (public radio stations often having university affiliations) laments over those lost dollars.
Most Americans believe state spending for public universities and colleges has, in fact, increased or at least held steady over the last 10 years, according to a new survey by American Public Media.

They’re wrong. States have collectively scaled back their annual higher education funding by $9 billion during that time, when adjusted for inflation, the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, or CBPP, reports.
That's something to be Viewed With Alarm, if the Regular Contributors are going to continue to call in during pledge week to get the latest tote-bag.
The impact of this extends beyond tuition costs. University enrollment was down by 2 million from the fall of 2010 to the most recently completed fall semester, according to the National Student Clearinghouse Research Center, which tracks this. The nation is far behind its goal of increasing to 60 percent the proportion of the population with degrees.

A separate survey by Manpower Group found that 46 percent of American employers can’t find the workers they need. The U.S. Chamber of Commerce says this is keeping 40 percent of businesses from taking on more work.

And the United States remains 13th in the world in the number of 25- to 34-year-olds who have some kind of college or university credential, the Organization of Economic Cooperation and Development says.
I'm not sure what good it does to expand the proportion of the population with degrees, if the degrees are remedial credentials based on woke mathematics and all the other accommodations the higher education establishment is favoring.  A fortiori, the absence of workers with the skills the employers seek might be better understood as a consequence of what the investment in higher education is getting you, rather than as a call for throwing more money down the same sinks. Leningraders had great self-esteem to go with giardia and no sausage.

Perhaps the mandarins of higher education will do the right thing, after they have tried everything else.  Here's Grant Cornwell, president of Rollins College, questioning business as usual.
[O]ur current cultural moment has raised an urgent question: What is the role of higher education at a time when the very ideas of truth, facts and core principles of justice seem up for grabs? In response, I would argue that liberal arts education is more valuable and more urgently needed than ever before.

In the anti-intellectualism of our current political culture, I see a smug, perhaps even sinister, disregard for the value of truth and its pursuit with integrity. Maybe worse, I see a dismissive attitude toward the knowing of facts -- or worse still, a cavalier disposition toward facts, as though they are things that can be selected or even created according to one’s preference and politics.

What is true has been displaced by what reinforces one’s ideology and politics -- and ideology trumps facts. I see this as a threat to democracy.

This is where the university -- with its core principles of freedom of inquiry and expression, and its capacity to educate graduates with the independent and critical acumen to deliberate about all manner of issues -- plays a vital role.
That's a lament about all things Trumpian, and yet, it stands as a rebuke to the denial of coherent beliefs and transgressiveness for its own sake that infects higher education.
All that said, we academics have become shy about teaching facts. Because we are all so schooled in the tools of critique, there is hardly a truth claim that we cannot interrogate, deconstruct or criticize. Consequently, we have often substituted the teaching of intellectual skills and critical thinking for teaching with any confidence what is the case in the world.

At Rollins College, I want our students to know not only how to exercise intellectual skills but also that certain things are true. Again, the intellectual skills we embrace as learning goals -- information literacy, critical thinking, ethical reasoning, mathematical thinking and scientific literacy -- are exactly the tools we would select to combat the abuses of a post-truth era. As educators, our job is to encourage students to understand how widely they should be applying those skills in the classroom and as citizens to evaluate information and sources, to reckon with credibility of evidence, and to consider both one’s own assumptions and the claims of others.

Yet students need to graduate with more than knowing how; they also need to know that. We academics are quite good at being able to talk about the architecture of the liberally educated mind, but we are too shy in talking about the content knowledge, the furniture, of a liberally educated mind. What does a global citizen and responsible leader know?
The post is close to a year old, in Inside Higher Ed, and yet he didn't get lit up in the comments. That might be encouraging.  It's also instructive that the house organ for business as usual in higher education recently ran "How Ed Schools Became a Bastion of Bad Ideas." It's behind the paywall, and yet, the subtitle, "A tale of assessment, learning styles, and other notorious concepts."  Detailed rubrics take away from student creativity, and if we can banish SWBAT from higher education (apparently the canonical learning objective must include "students will be able to" so they acronym it; try to think of a piggyback train from Springfield to Baltimore instead) it will be for the better.

IT'S WINTER. EXPECT TO BE STRANDED ON THE ROADS, OR AT AIRPORTS.

To be honest, why should winter be any different from any other season?  A thunderstorm over Chicago, or a coastal hurricane, or perhaps a power outage, and the news organizations will report on how many hundreds of flights are cancelled, and the human interest stories about people inconvenienced and yet bearing up will follow.

The weekend before Armistice Day, it was the Northern Illinois women's basketball team that became the human interest story.  I'm not able to embed the clip, which lasts about two minutes, or the full dance routine the story alludes to.

Let me direct your attention to the end of the story.  "The group is now on a bus to Eau Claire, Wisconsin, where a Northern Illinois University bus will take them the rest of the way home."

Their game went to overtime, where the Northern team prevailed, with radio announcer Andy Garcia worried about being able to make their 6 pm flight from Fargo.  It appears that North Dakota State made a bus available to the team, and arranged a logical place for the buses to meet.

But think about that old Great Northern corridor.  As late as the winter, 1966, schedule, there was a 5 pm departure of the Red River, connecting to the overnight Black Hawk and a 5.52 am stop at Rochelle, much closer to DeKalb, or a midnight ride on the Winnipeg Limited or Empire Builder, changing to the Morning Zephyr, with a mid-morning stop at Aurora.

Yes, people chose to risk Interstate 94 or the airways, which is why the trains came off, and yet, part of risking Interstate 94 or the airways is the risk of a weather-related delay.

The team played, and won, another overtime game on the road Sunday, but the weather was more cooperative for flying out of Denver.

"COMMON GOOD" IS NOT A SINGULAR NOUN.

National Review's Kevin Williamson summarizes it thus.  "[S]ecurity in one’s own property and in the right to work and to trade, is the common good that governments exist to secure."  Exactly.  Thinking humans are not obedient sheep.  "In order that the Wise Experts have the authority to identify the common good, it must be the case that anyone not a Wise Expert is unqualified to so identify."

But the Wise Experts often get it wrong, and perhaps the best thing for them to do is to leave well enough alone.  Mr Williamson, again.
The U.S. government exists to see to the liberty of the American people. That is it. That is its only reason for being. It is an instrument and a convenience, the purpose of which is to ensure that Americans are able to enjoy their liberty and property — liberty and property being overlapping concepts.
Political economy is difficult, and yet, Adam Smith's observation about not much good being done by those who affected to trade for the public good is as valid with information technologies he is unlikely to have dreamed of as it was when he wrote it.  Perhaps more so, as information technologies, backed up by instruments of state action, are much more destructive.

15.11.19

TRANSPORTATION PROPHET WITHOUT HONOR.

Back in April of 2012, before I had installed even a single strip of spline subroadbed in the basement, I had this suggestion for backers of California's bullet train.  "Electrify the Peninsula commute zone and the high-speed lines with the same voltage and frequency, then equip the diesel with sufficient fuel capacity to cover the non-electrified parts, and offer a single seat service, with a mode change during a station stop."  They didn't pay attention, and they went ahead with building an elevated high-speed line through the steppes of the Central Valley, rather than building either a permanent fast line from San Jose to the steppes, or a Japanese style tunnelled line from Bakersfield to the northern end of the Los Angeles Commuter Rail network, and institute hourly Intercity 140 trains to build ridership, then start building the fast tracks between Silicon Valley and the Los Angeles basin.

Seven-plus years later, there are trains running around the basement, and switching a number of industries.

They're still wrangling in California.
Even after a decade of abrupt U-turns for California’s high-speed rail project, state leaders are now split like never before.

Gov. Gavin Newsom insists the state stick with his plan to use all of the remaining funds to build an operating segment in the San Joaquin Valley between Merced and Bakersfield.
That's a little bit more useful than seventeen miles of perfectly straight track between somewhere near Chesterton and the south side of La Porte, but only a little bit.

Meanwhile, the sensible fix is, well, too sensible.
Opponents say the state should instead run modern 125-mph diesel trains through the San Joaquin Valley until the system is ready to connect with Los Angeles and San Francisco. Their plan to divert funding would also defer building a link from Wasco at the south end to Bakersfield and possibly from Madera to Merced at the north end.

The changes would save about $5 billion that could help build a tunnel under downtown San Francisco and track improvements on the future bullet train alignment from Burbank to Anaheim.
Sigh. Bring riders into San Francisco on a single seat ride. Los Angeles also. But that's too logical.
Under Newsom’s plan, the bullet train would terminate in Merced, where passengers could transfer to San Francisco on the Alamont Corridor Express, a diesel-powered commuter train.

[Rail authority board member Danny] Curtain argued that running 125-mph diesel trains in the Central Valley on the high-speed track would not require a change of train in Merced to continue onto the Bay Area, resulting in a bigger passenger draw and a faster trip than having a somewhat faster electric train at 170 mph that would require a transfer. And until the line in the Central Valley is ready to hook up with electric trains traveling through mountain tunnels from San Francisco to Los Angles the investment does not make sense, he said.

But [rail authority chief executive Brian] Kelly rejects that as a worst outcome: “What I think would be a tragedy is if you diverted the money to different places and you were left with incremental speed improvement on diesel service.”
At least you'd have a service, and an opportunity to build ridership.

It might be moot, as California's government has no money for the project.

PRICES FUNCTION TO ALLOCATE RESOURCES.

That becomes easier when shoppers know what the relevant prices are, and a proposed rule change will help patients.
The Trump administration on Friday unveiled new rules to require increased disclosure of health care prices, in a move officials said would drive down costs by increasing competition.

One regulation would require hospitals to provide a consumer-friendly online page where prices are listed for 300 common procedures like X-rays and lab tests. A second regulation would require insurers to provide an online tool where people could compare their out-of-pocket costs at different medical providers before receiving treatment.
That gets messier once third parties are involved, as all the administrative impedimenta means nobody knows what the price of a colonoscopy is.  To a first approximation, though, the squawking from the rent-seekers suggests the Executive is on the right track.
Indeed, hours after the announcement, the American Hospital Association, along with other provider groups, announced it would sue to stop the rule.

"Instead of helping patients know their out-of-pocket costs, this rule will introduce widespread confusion, accelerate anticompetitive behavior among health insurers, and stymie innovations in value-based care delivery," the groups said.

Insurers have argued that price transparency could actually drive prices higher if low-cost hospitals can see that competitors are getting higher prices, and seek to raise them. Azar called that argument a “canard” and said in every other industry, price competition drives prices lower, not higher.

Larry Levitt, a health policy expert at the Kaiser Family Foundation, said there could be a problem with enforcement of the new rule.

"While the Trump administration's new hospital price transparency requirement is quite sweeping, the enforcement of it is quite weak — a maximum fine of $300 per day," he wrote on Twitter. "The technical term for that is 'chump change.' I wonder how many hospitals will just pay the fine."
That's why we have public comment periods for proposed regulations. Perhaps a higher fine or some analyses of price leadership before the rule takes effect will be in order.  Somehow motorists make do with prices posted at gasoline stations, even if on occasion everybody on the corner raises at the same time.

As part of the public comment, perhaps patients, providers, and intervenors will have opportunities to deconstruct the insurance cartel that traffics under the rubric of "in network."

DENY COHERENT BELIEFS, GET (FOR BETTER OR WORSE) PRESIDENT TRUMP.

That's riffing off a post from two years ago, where I noted, "Truly, truly, I say unto you, institutions are civilization. They've been deconstructed, and to what end?"  At the time, writers of a more traditionalist bent noted that the use of the trendy new rules by les deplorables was probably not what the self-styled intelligentsia anticipated, and it was going to bite them.
[T]he Charlie Sykes of Prof Scam and Fail U properly could characterize much of what came out of the pro-Trump commentariat as the fallout of postmodern deconstructionism of coherent beliefs. Thus, we might add to the sins of the political class "weaponizing the Executive only to turn it over to Donald Trump" and to the sins cultural class "weaponizing identity politics only to see it picked up by White America" the sins of the academic class "treating truth as a malleable social construction only to see the sledge-hammer wielded by Breitbart and Alex Jones."

But the election did come down to Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton, and principled conservatives could make a case for Mr Trump, crudity and all. For instance, Victor Hanson saw it this way, to Mr Sykes's dismay. "One does not need lectures about conservatism from Edmund Burke when, at the neighborhood school, English becomes a second language, or when one is rammed by a hit-and-run driver illegally in the United States who flees the scene of the accident."
Now comes the impeachment inquiry, and Conor Friedersdorf is going on record as recognizing that deconstruction strays into the incoherent.
The coequal branch of Congress would check the presidency. The House would be lawfully empowered to impeach, and the Senate to conduct a trial. If two-thirds of senators voted to convict, the president would be removed.

That lawful and inherently political process is one of the reasons the United States has an unbroken record of peaceful transitions of power between presidents.

But that civic inheritance is being undermined by allies of President Donald Trump who are making constitutionally illiterate and otherwise wrongheaded arguments in an effort to cast plainly lawful impeachment proceedings as illegitimate.
So far, so standard. But read on.
The Constitution matters. So does the English language. To conserve the integrity of both––a project avowedly conservative writers ought to care about––requires choosing words with more intellectual honesty and care than [classical historian Victor] Hanson shows. Alas, he is not an outlier among Trumpists. Even the House Republican leader Kevin McCarthy has called the impeachment inquiry “a calculated coup.”
Mr Friedersdorf concludes, though, by recognizing that you can't deconstruct institutions when it's convenient to do so.
If efforts to oust Trump ever trigger political violence by people who don’t understand the constitutional legitimacy of impeachment and removal, blame for the bloodshed will reside in part with Hanson, [representative Kevin] McCarthy, and all the other pro-Trump commentators who cast a tool the Framers gave us as illegitimate.
Deconstruct institutions at your peril.  Where there are no coherent ideas, there may as well be strongmen, and revolutionary mobs.

STILL IN THE SAME BUSINESS AS THE IVIES.

That's not always easy.


Harvard's squad brought in some new three-point shooters, and established an early lead and got stops whenever Northern Illinois got close.
First-year guard Lola Mullaney, who scored 14 points in the first quarter, led Harvard through the game. Mullaney hit four of her six shots from deep range while grabbing four rebounds. Her performance helped Harvard obtain a 20-16 lead after the first.
Ms Mullaney is Twenty up on the scoreboard; Courtney Woods, back in uniform, is Four for Northern Illinois.

It was the annual mid-day field trip for elementary and middle schoolers, which meant the place was loud, and the commercial break entertainment a little different.


It's probably more difficult for the players to stick around for the class pictures and sign posters after a loss, and yet they did so.  The little kids probably enjoyed the extra time away from the classroom.

Thus, in the past year or so, three Ivy squads have played in DeKalb, with Northern Illinois winning two of the three games.  Again, I want to generalize the argument to other aspects of the academic enterprise.  Furthermore, "Don't we owe our best students the same intellectual challenges the alleged name-brand universities are supposed to present?" generalizes.  Consider the power conferences and the so-called revenue sports.  Why shouldn't an academically inclined, which is to say, unlikely to receive a men's basketball or football scholarship, choose to attend Alabama for aerospace engineering, or Louisiana State for economics, or Kentucky for literature, or Gonzaga for mathematics?

THERE'S A TREE IN THE GRAND HOTEL, ONE IN THE PARK AS WELL.

But the one in the Wisconsin Capitol rotunda is NOT a Christmas tree.  The governor says as much.  Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel columnist Jim Stingl can't stand the snow job.
The Capitol Christmas tree is another story. See what I did there? I came right out and called it a Christmas tree. That's because I'm not the government, which is supposed to represent everyone without picking a favorite religion, even though we all know what that religion is.

Democratic Gov. Tony Evers understands that, so he jettisoned the Christmas tree label used by his predecessor, Scott Walker, and renamed the rotunda beauty the Holiday Tree, capitalized like that so you know he's serious.

For a moment, our salty-talking governor considered calling it the bastards tree but decided to save that word for Senate Republicans who fired his agriculture secretary.

Then Evers dropped a tannenbomb [c.q.] on his opponents by asking schoolchildren across Wisconsin to send in, gasp, science-related ornaments to hang on the tree. These Republican foes stopped believing in science and Santa years ago.
Gosh, do bubble lights qualify as science related? Snowflakes? Or are those a microaggression against Democrat legislators?
This week, proving the pettiness of politics once again, Republican Assembly reps and a few Democrats stepped away for a moment from getting nothing done and quickly passed a resolution calling the holiday tree a Christmas tree instead. At least we all agree for now that it's actually a tree.

Feel free to ignore the resolution and call it whatever you like. At least I think you can. There are probably lawmakers who favor ticketing people in the rotunda using the H-word to describe the tree. It disrespects their church, the one that's supposed to be separated from their state.

Passing a resolution saying something is a Christmas tree does not make it true or binding. Any more than most students at Menomonee Falls High School are actually Indians.

This is so much fuss over nothing, as both sides play to their bases. We're fighting about a tree that's not even standing yet. If you feel like you want to be even more cynical about politics, yule want to stay tuned.

The $75 murdered evergreen that lights up our living rooms is absolutely a Christmas tree. Just like a menorah is a menorah and a Festivus pole is a Festivus pole. In the privacy of your own home and your own brain, no one objects to those names.

Evers is not asking us to ban the term from general use. Christmas tree. Christmas tree. Christmas tree. See? That's what I call a fir tree decorated with lights, ornaments and tinsel. You can, too. But it won't kill us to say holiday tree for this particular one that is there to give comfort and joy to everyone.

No, it's not a war on Christmas. If there is such a war, the opposition is losing badly. Christmas takes up the last two months of the year. One-sixth of the calendar is Christmas.
The problem is that, a decorated fir tree having pagan origins, and the Christmas season getting under way in the stores around Labor Day, even that sort of symbolism won't Please Everybody.
Houses are already decorated. TV ads are already trying to turn us into zombies soon to be roaming the stores in search of passable presents. Christmas, at least the dominant secular version, remains the king of holidays.

We're so politically divided these days over real issues. Fir heaven's sake, let's not fight over the prettiest thing at the Capitol.
It's probably too late already, the professional atheists will object to the idea of a decorated tree, even if By Order of H.E. The Governor, it is a Holiday Tree.  It gets particularly funny in Chicago, where hard by the Nativity in the Christkindlmarkt is a display put up by the local chapter of professional atheists, honoring the solstice as the original reason for the season.  That is to say, a survival of the worship of the sun gods.  (Maybe the most effective way to trigger an atheist is to wish him "have a nice day.")

But Government is the name for those things We Chufe to Do Together.

14.11.19

MODEL RAILROADING IS FUN.

Frank Sinatra had some serious trains.  Rocker Rod Stewart does too, and he built many of the structures whilst on the road.  (If you're famous enough, you can book a suite of rooms and have the hotel move the furniture out of one of them and set up a work table.)



The urban scenery puts me in mind of George Selios's Franklin and South Manchester.  The rolling stock is North American, although that station throat has a British look about it, and the mixing of upper- and lower-quadrant semaphores and target signals on the signal gantry is idiosyncratic.

Perhaps in another ten years, which is the difference in Sir Rod's age and mine, I will have some similarly detailed scenes for your entertainment.  Plus I will have wired all of mine myself.

WHY THE BRITISH INVENTED THE ANGLED FLIGHT DECK.

Given the attention I've paid to books about the 1942 Battle of Midway over the years, it's likely I'll have something to say about the recent movie based on that event.

First, though, a primer on the events of the battle.  It runs about 42 minutes, but it will clarify all the events of the 1976 movie, or the one that just hit theaters.


Yes, the U.S. Navy got better at combined carrier operations during the war: perhaps the first successful coordinated strike from a carrier wing was Yorktown's arriving over Soryu almost exactly as fragments of Enterprise's strike arrived over Kaga and Akagi.  What the animation will reveal is that the uncoordinated attacks coming from Midway and Hornet's and Enterprise's torpedo planes precluded the Japanese from flying anything other than combat air patrols.  That's why the British came up with the angled flight deck.  An aircraft carrier carries planes to keep other planes from attacking it, their Combat Air Patrol, and the angled deck provides space to service those planes (which, in the Japanese navy, sometimes lacked range and lots of ammunition) whilst a strike to service some other target can be set up forward.  Even if the Japanese had been able to get a strike together, by that time the planes that were going to sink the carriers were well in the air.

What about the movie itself?  Variety's Owen Gleiberman says, OK.
The film’s drama is B-movie basic, but the destructive colliding metal-on-metal inferno of what war is makes “Midway” a picture worth seeing.

As storytelling, however, it’s just okay (though it’s more streamlined than the cluttered, cliché-strewn 1976 version of “Midway”). It begins with the run-up to the attack on Pearl Harbor (and the attack itself), cutting back and forth between the Japanese military commanders and the Americans, including the one U.S. official who senses, from the late ’30s on, that the Japanese are plotting something — Edwin Layton (Patrick Wilson), a Naval attaché who becomes a U.S. intelligence officer, leading a team that assembles bits and pieces of intercepted Japanese radio messages. The film’s ardently objective portrayal of the Japanese may remind you, at times, of “Tora! Tora! Tora!,” the 1970 Hollywood version of the Pearl Harbor story that was made, in co-operation with the Japanese, almost as an act of diplomacy. “Midway” captures the essential hubris of Pearl Harbor: how Japan, in the dream of empire, sowed the seeds of its own destruction.
I'm not a fan of computer graphics taken to excess, the ships are bunched too closely, and in the final dive on Hiryu, it's either x-wing fighters from Tattooine or the combined combat air patrols of Hiryu, Soryu, Kaga, Akagi, Shokaku, Zuikaku, and Hosho filling the screen with blaster fire.  IGN's Kristy Puchko elaborates. "Green screen is used too much throughout Midway, from creating backdrops of Washington, D.C., and Pearl Harbor, to filling out the seas and skies with ships and planes. The flagrant flatness of this imagery scratches at our suspension of disbelief, even though we know these are real places and real events."

Moreover, the movie perpetuates the myth that Yamamoto Isoroku made that "sleeping giant" remark, a bit of diplomacy first introduced by Tora! Tora! Tora!; it leaves out Admiral Halsey's very real remark about the Japanese language only being spoken in hell, in a film financed by the Chinese no less, is likely going to create errors in future history books.  Indie Wire's David Ehrlich concurs.
It’s a shame, because this movie sometimes evinces a genuine respect for men on both sides of the fight, and for the courage required to die for a country whose faraway leaders will never make that sacrifice; “Midway” is nothing if not an aggressively basic reminder that America is only as strong as the people who are willing to protect it with their lives. Alas, those people deserve a far better tribute than what Emmerich has scraped together for them here.
Den of Geek's Don Kaye calls the picture "[director] Roland Emmerich's Latest Kamikaze Run;" and I stumbled across (but did not bookmark) another review that griped about premature introduction of kamikaze attacks in the War.  That's a complaint more properly directed at the 1976 movie, where much of the Coral Sea action that's in the full-length picture and generally edited out of television these days is actually Navy footage from later in the war, including kamikazes.  The two near-crashes on ships (a Japanese land bomber onto Enterprise off the Marshall Islands in February 1942, a torpedo-equipped Midway-based Army B-26 onto Akagi) shown in the current movie actually happened.

The reviews tend to concur on the actors who play the principals not capturing their roles well.  Henry Fonda or Woody Harrelson as Chester Nimitz?  Ill-fitting hairpiece or not, Mr Fonda was of the G.I. generation, complete to overindulged Baby Boomer daughter.  Robert Mitchum or Dennis Quaid as William Halsey?  Another G.I. actor, with plenty of other war picture credits, is going to carry the part off better, no matter how talented the current cast is.  Perhaps, though, that's part of the legacy of Total Victory, there are no contemporary thespians with any understanding of truly hard times.

One footnote to the story that's probably of interest only to econ geeks: Richard Best was chief of security at California's RAND Corporation after the War, where he might have been the first person in authority to twig to John Nash's schizophrenia.

MAYBE AFTER THEY'VE TRIED EVERYTHING ELSE.

Trendy tech-heavy Washington State can't find enough tax money.
At the Cascadia Rail Summit, enthusiasm to build a bullet train capable of going from Seattle to Portland — or to Vancouver — in one hour rubbed against an anti-tax message from the passage of Washington Initiative 976.

After bemoaning that the state’s highways, bridges, ferries and rail cars “are on a glide path to failure,” Washington Department of Transportation Secretary Roger Millar laid out the case for building an ultra-high-speed railway on dedicated track.

“As we regroup here in Washington state and think about investing $50 billion in ultra-high-speed rail,” Millar said, “do you think we’ll ever get to a place where highway expansion keeps up with economic expansion and population? It will not happen. It cannot happen.”

Millar estimated a cost of about $108 billion to add one additional lane to Interstate 5 in each direction from the Oregon border to the Canadian border.

“One hundred and eight billion dollars and we’ve got another lane of pavement in each direction and it still takes you all day to get from Portland to Vancouver,” he told the audience. “Half of that invested in ultra-high speed rail and it’s two hours. That’s game-changing stuff.”
I suppose it's subversive of me to suggest that the state obtain the money to widen the highways from the highway users, although that strikes me as a two-fer, providing motorists at the margin to consider riding the rails.

THIS PACKER QUARTERBACK WORE NUMBER TWELVE AND WON THREE RINGS.

One of those rings was as the emergency replacement for Bart Starr in the 1965 overtime game.


Edmund "Zeke" Bratkowski, onetime Air Force pilot and quarterback with the Rams, Bears, and Packers, has answered the final whistle.  RIP.

TRADE UNITES, POLITICS DIVIDES.

Regular readers will recognize that theme, particularly where the noxious Cult of the Presidency is concerned.  The good news is, columnist S. E. Cupp, who has a way bigger platform than I do, is sounding a similar theme.  "It seems like politics has surpassed sports and organized religion as the most defining part of our identity. Our politics has become synonymous with our values and our organizing life principle. Instead, politics really should merely be a mechanism to govern."  That's a pardonable lapse in a pundit: in real life, "What line of work are you in?" is generally a conversation-extender rather than "do you go to church?" or "Are you a Democrat?" or even "Are you a Badger fan?"

Read on, though.  It's the Cult, heretic!
Partly to blame is our increasing obsession with the American presidency as an embodiment of hope and change, to borrow a phrase.

Long before former President Barack Obama was supposed to save the country from its many suffering ills, so too were Presidents Franklin D. Roosevelt, John F. Kennedy, Lyndon B. Johnson and George W. Bush. These were merely men — politicians, at that — but onto each of them was foisted a heavy mantle of expectation that was never going to be fully realized.
Yes, and it's always the same few "transformational presidents," and yes, William Clinton is on record lamenting the absence of a saecular challenge of the magnitude of slavery or depression or Communism, thereby diminishing his shot at greatness.

Maybe it's time to lower expectations.
The American president, it is believed, must solve all our problems, both complex and mundane. He or she must reflect to us our idealized best selves and represent all we hope to become as a nation over the next four years. Whether we seek a Republican or a Democrat, a strong man or a caretaker, a traditionalist or a progressive, we truly believe we can find and deserve the Aaron Sorkin version of a president — a leader who is omnipresent in our lives and reflective of our values.
The problem with any kind of omnipresence is it kills initiative. Sometimes, whether you're making executive decisions, or simply managing a freight yard, you have to tell people who are asking irrelevant questions, "I can't manage my position and yours."  (In extremis, asking "why do I have to do all the thinking around here?" is over the top but justifiable.)
In reality, the president has very little to do with our day-to-day challenges. The most influential people in our daily lives likely run our schools, our municipalities, our health, safety and sanitation boards. Most of us couldn't name any one of those people.
Indeed, and those obscure people are often doing their jobs, so you can hit the loo without having to think about it.  "The problem isn't that we're too tribal — it's that we've let politics replace community."  Community can be emergent in a way that formal politics, particularly at the national level, cannot be.  Bet on emergence.

F.A.O. SCHWARTZ WOULD LET ANYONE BROWSE.

A week or two ago, the WMAQ Sunday morning news show had a reporter broadcasting from a new "Toys R Us" theme park. "Toys R Us Adventure will have more than a dozen interactive play rooms that include installations featuring the Toys R Us mascot, Geoffrey the Giraffe."  Bring money.
Like Candytopia, it will charge admission: $28 for adults, $20 for kids 4 through 12 and free for children under 4.

The experience will also feature toys from Melissa & Doug, Spin Master’s PAW Patrol brand and figurine company Schleich, the company said Thursday.
Back in the day, Mom or Dad would have to pony up for that portrait of their kid on Santa's lap, but otherwise they'd only pay for what they schlepped home.

In the Cold Spring Shops kitchen is a copy of Gene Leone's Leone's Italian Cookbook, which includes some advice on dining out.  He did not approve of the idea of tipping the steward.  "You are doing them a favor by spending your money for dinner in their place, you should not have to buy a table, too."   In the case of a toy store, with customer reviews of toys just a mouse click away, charging admission to test the merchandise sounds like a loser.

WHY IT MATTERS.

Sunday into Monday, we received three more inches of, er, climate chaos, most of which is still on the ground.  That prompted the university to implement Plan B, moving Monday's Veterans' Day observation from the flagpole where it usually occurs to the trustees' meeting room.  The schedule offered fewer speeches than is often the case, and the honor guard and rifle salute marked off, although a bugler played Taps.

The one speech was by senior Air Force veteran Brandon Smith, who set aside his prepared remarks to extemporize, thanking the Air Force and the university for helping "a kid from Chicago's south side" find structure in his life.  Apparently, although the various combat operations around the world aren't as much in the news, the blank check recruits write to Uncle Sam still include reservists subject to recall after their hitch is over.  Mr Smith noted that faculty were always supportive and helpful to him when his recalls, which always come at a bad time, like exam week, arrived.

That's long been a tradition at Northern Illinois, and it's the community colleges, regional comprehensives, and mid-majors that honor it.  Here's Inside Higher Ed's Wick Sloane.  "Bunker Hill Community College, where I first met veterans struggling toward a college education, has more than 300 veterans this fall."  That's from his annual survey of veteran enrollment in higher education.  The places you might have heard us, the places that fill the ranks of The Best and The Brightest, which is to say, the people who will send the next generation off to war, not so much.  "Yale, 15; Harvard, 17; Princeton, 18; Amherst, 13; Williams, fewer than 10."  That's from the development offices that responded to his survey.  It's easier to learn the name of a Washington whistleblower than to find out how many veterans matriculate at Cal Tech, apparently.

The veterans who enroll at the Ivies?  Perhaps it's OK to micro-aggress against them. ‘But don’t you ever feel like a sucker for serving?”  There's a longer excerpt at Insta Pundit; The Wall Street Journal left it outside the paywall on 11 November.

7.11.19

THIRTY YEARS SINCE THE BERLIN WALL CAME DOWN.

We can observe the non-observance of the Great October Socialist Revolution.

A SHORT CIRCUIT AT THE HOUSE OF WEINSTEIN.

Apparently the starlet-abuse scandal that sidelined movie mogul Harvey Weinstein also delayed the release of The Current War, a semi-truthful biographical movie in the spirit of Showman, the embellished story of P. T. Barnum (complete with computer generated elephants, so sad.)
When it comes to Benedict Cumberbatch portrayals of mercurial geniuses, the Alan Turing of “The Imitation Game” and the Doctor Strange of the MCU are a whole lot more interesting and compelling than the Thomas Edison of “The Current War.”

This Edison guy is SUCH a petulant, narcissistic, anti-social jerk. He seems to take little joy in pioneering everything from the electric light bulb to the phonograph to the motion picture camera, while expending a TON of energy belittling his underling Nikolai Tesla, engaging in dirty tricks against his rival George Westinghouse and preening like a peacock for the media.
Think of Mr Edison as a high-functioning sociopath, and Mr Cumberbatch simply has to channel his latter-day Sherlock Holmes.
Westinghouse is a smart and decent fellow with a firm grasp of science, and he’s brilliant businessman — but he’d be the first to admit he’s no genius on the level of Edison. Still, after Edison blows off a meeting between the two, Westinghouse becomes obsessed with besting Edison on the business field of play.

Edison, on the other hand, will resort to any means necessary to defeat Westinghouse, including mounting a public campaign to denounce AC as so dangerous it will surely kill people. He demonstrates his concerns by electrocuting a horse in front of invited press — the first of more than a dozen stunts. What a fun guy.
If George Westinghouse hadn't recognized the advantages of alternating current in transmitting power long distances, somebody else would have: the pioneer Pearl Street generating station could not power any lights in Greenwich Village. And Mr Edison's prejudices simply gave Team Westinghouse the human capital they were looking for.
Nicholas Hoult shines in a supporting role as the Serbian immigrant Nikolai Tesla, whose own world-shattering inventions are shrugged off by Edison and the world in general, until his brilliance cannot be ignored. Tom Holland has a nothing role as Edison’s loyal assistant. Katherine Waterston is terrific as Westinghouse’s loyal wife and partner, who encourages him to take off the gloves and get tough as Westinghouse and Edison compete for the exclusive rights to provide power for the 1893 World’s Fair in Chicago (which looks spectacular in the CGI renderings late in the film).
It's a shame the movie neither showed some of Mr Tesla's demonstrations at the Columbian Exposition, which would look even more spectacular using real Tesla Coils, nor acknowledged that "loyal assistant," Briton Samuel Insull, who understood the mass merchandising of power and managed the establishment of the Chicago-area power and rapid transit infrastructure, some of which is still productive today. That could have been easily added to the "what happened after?" trailer.

Those weren't the worst oversights, though.  "Capturing Edison and Tesla's creative genius poses a formidable challenge, but the bare-knuckled corporate brawling should be a lot more fun than it is. Instead, the story detours too heavily into the use of electricity as a means of execution, a strand with lingering relevance that nevertheless plays here like a distraction."  There is a snuff film of Topsy the rogue elephant being "Westinghoused" that did not make it into the movie.  Neither did the moviemakers recognize that some of Mr Tesla's demonstrations were making the case that high voltages at high frequencies were not dangerous.  As you read this post, dear reader, radio waves at the 500 Hertz and higher frequencies are passing through you and around you.  The Tesla coil attached to an oscillator produces electrical waves at much higher voltages, but with insufficient current to cause injury.  How hard would it be to make that point in a movie?

JUST THINK OF IT AS WRESTLING.

Dave "Voluntary Xchange" Tufte asks the right question.  "Have you noticed that most of the people saying that politics has gotten more partisan, seem to be media types who might make more money if it was??" Yes, and there's evidently scholarly work, in Public Opinion Quarterly, making my impressions formal.

It's even possible to make the partisan nature of punditry into a virtue, at least if you're novelist John Atcheson.
Social media gets clicks galore and the nation descends into rabid screaming matches as each side squares off in preparation for the now dreaded Thanksgiving Dinner where Uncle Al holds forth on the latest conspiracy theories and threatens civil war if Trump is impeached.

If discourse in the US has descended into the level of the insane, it’s because the media doesn’t treat idiotic red herrings and bald-faced lies as what they are – attempts to distract, deceive, and destroy.  And it’s not just Rush Limbaugh and Fox News. Their misinformation campaigns couldn’t withstand a concerted effort to actually inform Americans by the rest of the media.  But that’s not what they do.
That's rich, when he continues by saying good things about the Federal Constitution, an unusual stance to see on Common Dreams.
The Constitution was written on fragile parchment.  It has no power other than the history of respect, reverence and custom supporting the principles written upon it since it was ratified 231 years ago.

The real story in journalism today is that one party has abandoned that respect and reverence.  It is a party that hates government, yet wants to govern.
There's a false claim for you: perhaps it is important for some aspirants to public office to understand that governing better might mean governing less, and not believing in unicorns.  You likely get more clicks and more book sales by coming out more obviously in the Republicans Suck camp.  But that's just another day of writing fiction for Mr Atcheson.  "Now, we seek to operate by revealed truths, not reality. Decrees from on high – often issued by an unholy alliance of religious fundamentalists, self-interested corporations, and greedy fat cats – are offered up as reality by rightwing politicians."  Meanwhile, the Limbaughs and Fox News are trotting out their own denunciations of decrees issued by a different unholy alliance.

And, unlike pro wrestling, it doesn't end with two out of three falls.

THEY DIDN'T LISTEN, THEY'RE NOT LISTENING STILL.

At Inside Higher Ed, media theorist Michael Johnson lays on the jargon to decry administrative usurpations.
Research shows that the main culprit [in higher ed's "slow extinction"] has been the incremental and imperceptible increase over time of higher education administrators. In other words, the budget that could have been allocated to reducing student-to-teacher ratios by hiring tenure-track faculty members has been consumed by the salaries such bureaucrats command. Other researchers have also concluded that this incremental process has often occurred without much input from the faculty.

Admittedly, the erosion of faculty governance has a lengthy history that began well before I was born. Administrators have been hired without the faculty even knowing (typically during summers, when we’re technically supposed to be off work), while in other cases, they’ve been appointed despite outright rejection of any faculty input whatsoever. This incremental decline of faculty influence has diminished our ability as faculty members to spend time on priorities of our own making. And the imposition of a business-like model onto nonprofit educational institutions has created the time-consuming need for faculty members to perpetually attend to “performance indicators” and unending “assessment rubrics.”

Such “accountability measures” demonstrate a fetishistic need to quantify everything in keeping with a capitalist model of profitability that reduces people and their work to numerical values represented by credit hours, FTEs, K-factors and WTUs relative to cost-benefit analyses. That has resulted in the systematic undermining of our collective power as faculty members who know best not only what to teach but also how to teach it, in what numbers it can be taught and under what conditions to do so.

Unfortunately, the growing managerial class is often represented by administrative positions that focus on cost-effectiveness and vague and changing metrics of student learning. One predictable consequence of the imposition of this kind of neoliberal ideology is the decline in the arts and other creative disciplines. Faculty teaching small classes or one on one, as is commonly the case in art or music or other teaching-intensive disciplines, is a best practice that should be encouraged and supported. But when faculty are forced to teach increasingly larger class sizes, despite research that says such actions produce poor student performance, it shouldn’t be surprising that declining morale among the faculty becomes an issue. Though that may well not be a concern for administrative officials pathologically dedicated to cost-effectiveness, it should matter to faculty members, who have a professional obligation to uphold the principles with which all academicians should be preoccupied: the education of future members of society.

Another unfortunate, but entirely avoidable, by-product of the rise of managerialism and neoliberal policies is the recharacterization of the student (or sometimes parent) as a consumer, ripe with an unearned sense of entitlement to an education that should be delivered to them as quickly and cheaply as possible -- complete with the righteous need to justify why our intellectual demands upon their time shouldn’t be equivalent to reading Wikipedia.
It's probably too late to push back, and where were the brain-brothers of Professor Johnson when the administrative usurpations were to override faculty hiring committees in the name of Diversity, and the rubrics and all the other impedimenta heaved up by the colleges of education were in the service of Access and Retention?  "It came to this, dear reader, when the faculty first acquiesced to administrative usurpations, because the usurpers appeared to be on the side of the angels."

That's the bed the woke scholars of today will have to lie in.  Sorry, not sorry.

ALL I WANT FOR CHRISTMAS IS A LOT OF LINKS.

Perhaps Snopes engages in link-whoring?

First, Babylon Bee has some fun with the Christmas-creep (noted here.)  "Playing Christmas Music Before Thanksgiving Now A Federal Crime."

Then comes the fact-checking.
The article went on to note that the legislation had unanimously passed both the House and Senate, with all members voting and not a single vote against, and quoted an unnamed member of Congress waxing enthusiastic about uniting “around our hatred for being forced to listen to sappy Christmas standards.”

As should be obvious, not a word of this was true. No such vote occurred; no such legislation was passed.
So far, Pajamas Media have not been led into temptation delivering readers from Snopesian machinations.

1.11.19

FIFTEEN PERCENT OF THE LOCAL CORN CROP HAS BEEN HARVESTED.

There's some of that crop still in the field across the mile road.  Here's yesterday's snow coming down.


The two snowiest Hallowe'ens in the neighborhood have occured in the instant decade, with Rockford recording 0.1" of snow in 2014 and over four inches yesterday.

There were still maybe twenty to forty kids braving the elements, as the snow quit after 4 pm and the sun came out for the early kids until sunset.  My impression was that a lot of the kids had immigrant parents, if that's giving the kids an opportunity to experience one of our traditions, it's a good thing.

Reason's Nick Gillespie has a point.  Neither rain nor snow nor gloom of night nor process-worshipping bureaucrats should deprive kids of their opportunity to scoop up all sorts of sweet treats and trade them (for mutual gain) with their neighbors.
It's an object lesson that traditional, compulsory K-12 education persists mostly to remind kids that authority is brutal, stupid, and arbitrary, and to provide source material for the next iteration of Pink Floyd's The Wall, To Sir, With Love, Alice Cooper's "School's Out," Heathers, Mean Girls, or the next great youth-in-revolt statement. Indeed, the only good reason I can think of to oppose choice and letting parents and kids sort themselves into schools they really like is the negative effect it would have on future music, movies, novels, TV shows, and other forms of popular culture.
Meanwhile, the seasonal Music Choice channel went from it's Hallowe'en programming to its Christmas programming overnight, and one of the local groceries was replacing the remaing snack and fun size candy packages with their Christmas treats.  Here's your opportunity to dream of a white Christmas.


The chances are most of this will melt away or be washed away over the next few days.  Enjoy.

TEMPERING PRINCIPLE WITH PRACTICALITY.

Harvard's N. Gregory Mankiw gets a cheap opportunity to send a virtue signal to his colleagues and the Never Trumpers among his associates.
I just came back from city hall, where I switched my voter registration from Republican to unenrolled (aka independent). Two reasons:

First, the Republican Party has largely become the Party of Trump. Too many Republicans in Congress are willing, in the interest of protecting their jobs, to overlook Trump's misdeeds (just as too many Democrats were for Clinton during his impeachment). I have no interest in associating myself with that behavior. Maybe someday, the party will return to having honorable leaders like Bush, McCain, and Romney. Until then, count me out.
I'll let the people who pay more attention to things like party loyalty and preferring losing honorably to winning parse all that.

The money quote is in his second reason.
Second, in Massachusetts, unenrolled voters can vote in either primary. The Democratic Party is at a crossroads, where it has to choose either a center-left candidate (Biden, Buttigieg, Klobuchar, Yang) or a far-left populist (Warren, Sanders) as their nominee for president. I intend to help them choose the former. The latter propose to move the country too far in the direction of heavy-handed state control. And in doing so, they tempt those in the center and center-right to hold their noses and vote for Trump's reelection.
There are states, including Illinois, in which there is no such thing as a "registered Democrat" or "registered Republican." A voter simply requests a ballot for the party primary of his choice.  In DeKalb County, sometimes the only party action is in local ballots on the Republican side; then there are elections, such as the 2016 primary, where crossing over to frustrate a Democrat might be more profitable than crossing over to frustrate Donald Trump, or perhaps one of the Bush boys.

For that reason, making a lot of noise about college faculty being overwhelmingly "registered Democrat" might overstate things.  You have people disposed to argue with, and get involved in, choosing Democrats and perhaps they'll default to the Democrats for lack of a proper Leninist.

As a side note, I suspect that people outside the news media and the party organization sometimes look at the crossover votes.  To this day, I can't be sure whether I get occasional mailings from the American Criminal Civil Liberties Union because some unpaid intern goes through the ballot request records, or because I have on occasion purchased videos from public radio.

Not surprisingly, Party apparatchiki don't like crossover voting, as in New Hampshire voters disaffiliating in order to cross over and help maverick Hawaiian Member of Congress Tulsi Gabbard.
But why, you might be wondering, should voters from a different party get to play a role in determining who Democrats nominate for president? That might seem unfair, and the Democratic Party certainly would be right to exclude whomever they want from the party's private business. But primaries aren't private affairs; they are paid for by taxpayers and run by state-level election officials. By allowing everyone to participate, New Hampshire is actually doing the right thing—and all those other states with closed primaries should change their rules, or stop asking non-party members to foot the bill.
The primary election is another of the reforms from the so-called Progressive Era. It came into being in order to allow voters to have a little more say in choosing a candidate than the party bosses in the legendary smoke filled rooms gave them. (That story is still emerging, consider how the McGovern era reforms of the Democrats' presidential conventions gave way to the super-delegates, and a hectoring harridan who didn't like some voters becoming the national standard bearer.)

The tension between the party establishments and the state governments, which manage the primary elections, is of long standing.  There's a passage in Theodore White's 1960 Making of the President about how crossover voting "verges on anarchy."  Maybe that's not so good for the party establishments, but if they had their way, wouldn't they prefer to be rid of primaries and caucuses?

RAY BRADBURY'S MECHANICAL HOUND WAS SUPPOSED TO BE DYSTOPIAN FICTION.

The device made its appearance in Fahrenheit 451.
The Mechanical Hound is a robotic assassin in the novel "Fahrenheit 451" by Ray Bradbury.This robot is described as being made out of copper wire and storage batteries. Its purpose is to enforce the laws set by the government.

The Mechanical Hound was inspired by the use of dogs by firefighters in rescue operations. Whereas the purpose of rescue hounds is to locate those in need and help them, the purpose of the Mechanical Hound is to locate those who do not adhere to the rules and punish them.

The character has been likened to the Furies in ancient Greek mythology, symbolizing the government's appropriation of technological advances for its own agenda of oppression.
What the description does not tell you, dear reader, is the way in which the Hound sometimes assists in the Maintenance of the Rulers' Narrative, such as, at the end of the book, where the state-sponsored coverage of their version of a White Bronco chase ends with a guy, probably a deviant of some sort for the crime of going out for a morning walk, being put down by the Hound while the real bad guy gets away.

Then I watched last Wednesday's Chicago P.D.
The biggest mistake Intelligence made was trusting a facial recognition software that was still in its beta stages.

The interim Mayor Crawford felt optimistic about the software and convinced Voight's team to use it to find their suspect but ultimately, it was their poor decision-making that created this mess.
Nowhere during the show did any of the supposedly best detectives in all of Chicago consider the possibility that the gang-banger's lieutenant who didn't want the capo di bangers working with the police to identify who blew away two kids playing video games had more than a passing resemblance to the patsy who turned up on a surveillance camera being more likely to be the prime suspect than Ivory Soap was pure.
Technology fails often. It should serve as an aid, but it should never replace a case built from the ground up by detectives that are supposed to be the "best in the city."

When [the patsy] denied any responsibility for the death of two nine-year-old boys, Intelligence attempted to pull a guilty confession from him at all costs by throwing him into County to break him.
One of the deputy banger's associates got himself booked into County and disposed of the patsy; only then did the investigators identify the real killer. Who they turned over to the capo di bangers for a little street justice. Then the Powers That Be announced the case was closed, as the now dead patsy had been properly identified by an experimental face recognition program.  The warning being to all and sundry, whether participants in the ongoing gang wars, disgruntled Bear fans cutting up after another loss, or people requesting Republican ballots in the primary voting, that they might run but they just can't hide.