Showing posts with label education. Show all posts
Showing posts with label education. Show all posts

Thursday, June 26, 2014

Vanderbilt takes title, yes, I am gloating

By Donald Sensing

Even though I earned my master degree at Vanderbilt, and even though both my brothers have degrees from Vanderbilt as do both my parents and two grandparents, and even though there is flipping building on the campus named after one of my relatives, and even though Vandy's baseball field, Hawkins Field, is named after one of my relatives, I refuse to gloat about last night's stunning win of its baseball team over UVA to claim the NCAA championship.

Oh, who am I kidding? Of course I am going to gloat.

The Tennessean (no link, sorry):
"Vanderbilt center fielder John Norwood forever etched himself into Commodores lore with the game-winning home run in the top of the eighth inning, turning a 97 mph fastball from first-round pick Nick Howard around and planting it into the bullpen behind left field to break a tie ballgame."
This was the reaction of UVA fans watching.

Bookmark and Share

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

How to retire at 25

By Donald Sensing

Just be a typical college graduate in the Obama economy: Where Did All The Young Workers Go? -

Economists are scratching their heads trying to figure out a puzzle in this recovery: Why are young people not working? People retiring at age 60 or even 55 in a weak economy is easy to understand. But at 25? The percentage of adult Americans who are working or looking for work now stands at 62.8%, a 36-year low and down more than 3 percentage points since late 2007, according to the Labor Department's May employment report. This is fairly well-known. What isn't so well-known is that a major reason for the decline is that fewer and fewer young people are holding jobs. This exit from the workforce by the young is counter to the conventional wisdom or the Obama administration's official line.
So it is no surprise that an "Exclusive Survey Shows How Hard It Is For Millennials To Find Good Jobs."
According to a new survey by Business Insider and News To Live By, a Gen Y career advice destination, millennials continue to struggle to secure good-paying full-time jobs in line with their education levels.

The survey of 548 millennials in the U.S., conducted by Survey Monkey in May, finds that 16% of millennials remained unemployed after six months in the job market. ...

Furthermore, millennials may be forced to take jobs below their education levels. While the majority of the survey respondents had attended some college, a whopping 44% said their first full-time job did not require a college degree. Of those respondents with a bachelor's degree, more than one third (35%) said their first job did not require a degree.
And the load on these young men and women is heavier than ever.
"These students are graduating with more student debt on average than any previous generation," says Holtom. "While there is abundant talk of work-life balance concerns for this generation, the hard realities of debt and low expectations for salary growth emphasize the importance of starting with the best pay possible at the first job."
Which makes it no wonder that "Cash-Strapped Millennials Rank Pay As The Most Important Part Of A Job."
recent survey from Business Insider and News To Live By, a Gen Y career destination, found millennials are more interested in salary than "meaningful work" and a flexible lifestyle that allows for more free time.
It's not even close:
Feel that the work I do is meaningful
Positive relationship with co-workers

These facts are not new. As I wrote two years ago, "Want a janitor's job? Get a degree," when the U.S. had 115,000 janitors with college degrees, along with 83,000 bartenders, 80,000 heavy-duty truck drivers, and 323,000 waiters and waitresses. And 5,100 working janitors were known to have a Ph.D.

Saturday, July 6, 2013

Please, please let this be a joke

By Donald Sensing

But I fear it is not.

Bookmark and Share

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

The Soviets beat us after all

By Donald Sensing

Two links with some explanatory notes but no analytical commentary. Draw your own conclusions about who won the Cold War.

MailOnline (UK): "EXCLUSIVE: New book reveals how KGB operation seeded Muslim countries with anti-American, anti-Jewish propaganda during the 1970s, laying the groundwork for Islamist terrorism against U.S. and Israel"

The highest-ranking Soviet-bloc intelligence officer ever to defect to the West claims in a new book that anti-American Islamic terrorism had its roots in a secret 1970s-era KGB plot to harm but the United States and Israel by seeding Muslim countries with carefully targeted propaganda. 
Yuri Andropov, the KGB chief for 15 years before he became the Soviet premier, sent hundreds of agents and thousands of copies of propaganda literature to Muslim countries.
'By 1972,' according to the book, 'Andropov's disinformation machinery was working around the clock to persuade the Islamic world that Israel and the United States intended to transform the rest of the world into a Zionist fiefdom.' 
'According to Andropov, the Islamic world was a petri dish in which the KGB community could nurture a virulent strain of America-hatred, grown from the bacterium of Marxist-Leninist thought.' 
Those claims come from former Romanian Lt. Gen Ion Mihail Pacepa and University of Mississippi law professor Ronald Rychlak.
Yuri Andropov was the USSR's second-longest-serving KGB chief. The KGB, acronym for the  Russian title, "Committee for State Security," was the USSR's main arm for fomenting disinformation and Soviet propaganda in the rest of the world, with particular emphasis on the United States and western Europe.

Andopov served as a member of the central committee of Communist Party of the Soviet Union (CPSU) beginning in 1961. He was selected to be general secretary of the CPSU in 1982, the country's position of supreme governing authority, previously held by such communist worthies as Leonid Brezhnev, Nikita Khrushchev and Josef Stalin. Andropov died of total renal failure after only 15 months as general secretary, making his tenure from 12 November 1982 until 9 February 1984.

Bear that brief window of time in mind as you watch this video of Soviet defector Yuri Bezmenov, who was a KGB propagandist. Bezmenov defected to the Canadians in 1970 after having served under Andropov. The video below was converted from a film interview with him done just before Andropov's death.

Read all the first article and watch all the video, then draw your own conclusions.

A transcript of the video is here.

Bookmark and Share

Monday, July 1, 2013

Reporting Day to Commissioned Officer Training

By Donald Sensing

I posted last September of the day I flew to Florida to administer the oath of commissioning to my son, Thomas, as an Air Force Reserve officer.

As a medical student, he completed his first academic year and is reporting today to Maxwell AFB, near Montgomery, Ala., for the Air Force's Commissioned Officer Training course.

COT is how the USAF "blues" officers being commissioned into what we called in the Army the special branches - chaplains, doctors and like specialties. The COT FAQ explains,
What is COT? US Air Force Commissioned Officer Training (COT) is military basic training for medical students / doctors, nurses, dentists, chaplains, lawyers, and veterinarians, all of whom are commissioned officers. Training is split between physical fitness, leadership development, and academic course work. The training program is 5 weeks in length, although you will get paid for 45 days. The excess time on orders will be spent at home or school, and you’re not allowed to leave the country during that time. Additionally, you usually do not have required activities on weekends, meaning that it is usually a 23 training day experience. 
Air Force officers of the line do not attend COT. They attend Basic Officer Training that is twice as long. Understand that these courses are not MOS schools. For COT students, their MOS training is the graduate education they receive during the academic year. BOT students go on to specialty training at other installations, for example, engineer, supply, personnel, or many others.

COT students are already commissioned officers when they attend. Ranks of students will range from second lieutenant (such as Thomas) to lieutenant colonel, which may be awarded to someone with a rare skill. Further, the services (not just the Air Force) tries to commission special-branch officers in a rank that is about the same as their age peers in the same specialty. I knew a doctor in the Army who was commissioned directly as a full colonel because not only was he already in his mid-40s, he practiced medicine in a rare specialty.

When Thomas completes the coming academic year, he will begin two years of "rotations," as do all med students at that time. That means they rotate from one hospital to another to get on-the-job training in many different medical specialties, being tested on each one. Rotations typically last three weeks each, but some specialties require more than one rotation. As well, several rotations in a row can often be done among different wards of the same hospital.

Thomas will begin his rotations in June 2014. IIRC, at least one rotation per year will be in an Air Force hospital. Upon graduation, he will be commissioned a captain in the regular Air Force and enter a residency program. Only after his residency is completed will he start to pay back the Air Force for sending him through medical school. So he's looking at potentially up to 12 years of active duty service before his obligation is completed - four years of residency (less for some specialties) followed by two years' active duty for each year of medical school.

Bookmark and Share

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Ohio State president gets the boot

By Donald Sensing

The Associated press just tweeted:

His name is Gordon Gee (last name pronounced hard G, not "Jee"), previously chancellor of Vanderbilt University, where he was paid more than $1 million. Gee's "retirement" comes on the heels of public dissemination of his December speech in which he spoke harshly about Catholics and attacked the Southeast Conference of the NCAA (of which Vandy is a member, hmm).

Understand that the main and only important role of a large university president is fund raising. Gee, being "an equal-opportunity idiot," was not going to be very successful doing that if he kept speaking coarsely of actual and potential donor classes.

But at least Gee did have the decency to cancel giving a commencement address to St. Francis DeSales High School in Columbus, which is, you guessed it, a Catholic school. 

See ya, Gordie. No one will be able to take your place -- except your replacement, whomever that turns out to be.

Bookmark and Share

Monday, May 13, 2013

The South has the best professors

By Donald Sensing

25 Universities with the Worst Professors

No university in the American South is listed here. Most of the schools with the worst-ranked professors are technical schools. Leading the pack is the US Merchant Marine Academy, with the Coast Guard Academy third. All the worst-six are technological schools.

I don't read a lot into the rankings for that reason. Having been a humanities major, the prospect of majoring in one of the hard sciences or engineering garners my admiration. My daughter, for example, just finished her first year at Tennessee Tech, where she is already listed as a junior because of all the AP-course credits she earned (almost all fives on the AP exams), mainly the humanities courses.

She is majoring in chemical engineering, and these were her courses for the just-completed semester, all in the honors college:

  • Calculus 2
  • Calculus-based physics
  • Chemistry 2
  • Chemical engineering 2
  • and lab or two thrown in
It was daunting - and my daughter is extremely smart (no brag, just fact, a 34 on her ACT). I think that a lot of students drop out of technical courses because unlike the liberal arts courses, the STEMs get harder and harder every term. I mean, a senior course in Kantian philosophy is not more difficult than a sophomore course in Aristotelian philosophy. But you better believe that fourth year chemical engineering is magnitudes harder than in the second year.

Do some students blame the professors rather than recognize their own inability or lack of academic preparation? Probably.

But the South still has the best professors.

And once again, engineering grads lead the way in salary, with graduates averaging more than $62,000 out the gate (for all engineering degrees). Once again, petroleum engineers start out making  more money than any other major, $93,500. Chemical engineers are third at $67,600. None of the top 10 are humanities.

Saturday, May 11, 2013

Al Capone's Campus Speech Codes

By Donald Sensing

There's an old joke about Al Capone interviewing accountants. He asks each one, "How much is two plus two?" The first accountant says, "Four," and is shown the door. The second accountant winks and slyly says, "Five!" He is shown out the door. The third accountant shrugs and says, "Well, it depends on what you want it to be." He is of course hired on the spot.

We have now solidly landed in the post-Constitution age, the age of Caponian interpretation of law generally and of free speech specifically: "What do you want it to be?"

In December 2003, I posted,
When my children are my age, they will not be free in any recognizably traditional American meaning of the word. I’d tell them to emigrate, but there’s nowhere left to go. I am left with nauseating near-conviction that I am a member of the last generation in the history of the world that is minimally truly free.
I did not then imagine that it would take less than 10 years, but here we are. Prof. Jacobson posts that the Dept. of Justice and the Dept. of Re-Education have teamed up to inform universities across our land that they are now the final arbiters of what may be uttered, written or communicated by any persons on those campuses.

In a letter sent yesterday to the University of Montana that explicitly states that it is intended as “a blueprint for colleges and universities throughout the country,” the Departments of Justice and Education have mandated a breathtakingly broad definition of sexual harassment that makes virtually every student in the United States a harasser while ignoring the First Amendment. The mandate applies to every college receiving federal funding—virtually every American institution of higher education nationwide, public or private.

The letter states that “sexual harassment should be more broadly defined as ‘any unwelcome conduct of a sexual nature’” including “verbal conduct” (that is, speech). It then explicitly states that allegedly harassing expression need not even be offensive to an “objectively reasonable person of the same gender in the same situation”—if the listener takes offense to sexually related speech for any reason, no matter how irrationally or unreasonably, the speaker may be punished.

This puts a federal bureaucrat - or a school staff bureaucrat approved by the feds - as the final arbiter of what constitutes an offense. And as the letter points out explicitly, the standard of proof is not prof at all, but the "preponderance of evidence." That means that anything that the Dean of Politically Correct Speech Enforcement says was illegal, was illegal.

There is no longer an objective, uniform, predictable standard of what is illegal and what is not. As Prof. J. explains, there are exactly zero First Amendment protections of free speech on American colleges any more. When you start your first class you have already surrendered your rights.

As go our universities, so will go the country because the schools are where the next generation of bureaucrats and their subjects are formed. Just as the NFL has long used colleges as its farm teams, so does the Left use universities. In less than a generation, no graduate will imagine that free expression was once a cherished, protected right. Instead, they will think it normative that speech must be controlled, regulated and subjected to entirely arbitrary review and sanction. That's who will inherit the offices and powers of government and who will be the objects upon which they act.

America has ended. By design and with the full endorsement of its voters.

Update: The Competitive Enterprise Institute shows why this is even worse than I thought.


Bookmark and Share

Saturday, February 23, 2013

Patriarchy and sexual oppression at Colorado Springs

By Donald Sensing

In my post, "Lie back and think of Colorado," I posted the 10 rules the University of Colorado at Colorado Springs posted on its web site on how to handle being raped. I said they amounted to the post's title. The list got a lot of controversy around the internet, so before I get to UCCS's new defense of it, I'll post the 10 rules again here:
  1. Be realistic about your ability to protect yourself.
  2. Your instinct may be to scream, go ahead! It may startle your attacker and give you an opportunity to run away.
  3. Kick off your shoes if you have time and can't run in them.
  4. Don't take time to look back; just get away.
  5. If your life is in danger, passive resistance may be your best defense.
  6. Tell your attacker that you have a disease or are menstruating.
  7. Vomiting or urinating may also convince the attacker to leave you alone.
  8. Yelling, hitting or biting may give you a chance to escape, do it!
  9. Understand that some actions on your part might lead to more harm.
  10. Remember, every emergency situation is different. Only you can decide which action is most appropriate.
My protest against these tips is not that they are of no merit at all, but that UCCS believes that just these things obviate the need to any more effective measures. But first to UCCS's new defense thereof: Web page causes controversy | UCCS Communique in it entirety:
February 19, 2013
Posted by guest author
To the Campus Community:

I am writing to advise you of a recent controversy surrounding a Department of Public Safety web page.

A page containing information about rape prevention at UCCS was taken out of context on popular social media sites and has drawn the attention of local news media as well.

We apologize for the miscommunication and any confusion that this page may have caused.

No policy was changed by the University and no advisories about crime prevention were sent to faculty, staff and students, as has been reported. Additionally, the web page in question is not related to the gun control discussions now taking place in the Colorado General Assembly.

The page in question was created in 2006 as supplemental material for women who had completed an internationally recognized Rape Aggression Defense course offered free of charge to UCCS students. The 10 tips are considered last resort options when all other defense methods have been exhausted.

This page was intended as a reminder for graduates of the RAD program, an intensive self defense program, and part of a larger discussion of last-resort tactics.

As a response to recent interest in the page, the Department of Public Safety will update it to provide additional context and information about crime prevention and the opportunity to enroll in the RAD class.

I encourage you to share this information and thank you for your continued efforts to keep UCCS safe.

Jim Spice, executive director, Department of Public Safety
The key sentence is third from the end: the 10 tips comprise "an intensive self defense program, and part of a larger discussion of last-resort tactics."

Which is exactly the problem. There is no sane reason to claim any of the actions recommended here actually are the "last resort" unless the university deliberately wants women to have no other, effective resorts.

And who do you think immediately realized that very point? The first commenter at the "Communique" page:
February 19, 2013 at 4:00 pm
last resort or not, 2006 or 2013, as a woman and a rape victim, this is the most insulting, stupid and ineffective “advice” I’ve ever read. the post-backlash back pedaling doesn’t excuse the insult in any way.

taking responsibility for your own self defense is the best rape prevention possible and firearms are the most powerful way to do that. uccs would better serve the safety of its female students by allowing them to protect themselves instead of ineffective “safe zones.”
Where are the feminists in all this? You know, the ones who preach about women's empowerment and denounce male patriarchy and sexual oppression? If they had integrity, they would surely point out that all these "last resorts against rape" are being promulgated and enforced by  . . . (drum roll) . . . men. And who, might a feminist ask, is more invested than men in making sure that women remain defenseless and are not really empowered at all, especially against the most dreadful act an woman can endure short of murder?

That UCCS's rape-prevention policies are controlled by men such as Mr. Jim Spice is all the evidence we need that UCCS is heavily under male patriarchy and sexual oppression. The resistance in the male hierarchy to women being effectively armed is enforcing gender roles, oppressing women and reinforcing male aggression.

I defy you to rebut this on feminist grounds. And yet feminists are nowhere to be found in this issue. They are silent because Leftist Ideology is more important than feminist sisterhood. Feminists always suborn themselves to Leftism.

Rape and Campus Carry

By Donald Sensing

In 2003, there was one university in Colorado that decided that women threatened with sexual assault would not have to lie back and think of Colorado instead of defending themselves. So the school changed policy to permit anyone who could legally carry a weapon off campus to do so on the campus.

And this is what happened to the incidence of sex offenses afterward:

For the definitions of "forcible" and "non-forcible," see here.

Despite this empirical data from his own state, Democrat Colo. state Rep. Joe Salazar said that a woman should not be allowed to be armed on a campus because even if she thinks she is about to be raped, "you may actually not be,"  and besides, “It’s why we have call boxes, it’s why we have safe zones, it’s why we have the whistles."

Ladies, if you think a "rape whistle" is going to save you, just think about how many people rush to the scene of a car alarm going off. And the next time you hear a car alarm going off, wait to see how long it takes for the police to get there. You'll still be waiting at this time next year.

If you must have a "rape whistle," make sure you accessorize it properly.

As for the rest of Salazar's stupidity, consider the case of Amanda Collins, who was brutally raped on the campus of the University of Nevada, a "gun free zone" (link).
“For one, all of these are just sentiments that give a false sense of security. In my experience, I know that. The university that I attended, the University of Nevada, Reno, they didn’t have any call boxes the night that I was attacked, they afterwards they installed them. I can tell you that a call box above my head while I was straddled on the parking garage floor being brutally raped wouldn’t have helped me one bit. The safe zones? Well I was in a safe zone and my attacker didn’t care,” said Collins.

Edwards asks, “What do you mean you were in a safe zone?”

“The campuses are designated as a safe zone, or as I take it, a gun free zone. All it does is ensure the perpetrator that they are going to be unmatched when they pick a victim”, Collins responds.

“You were attacked in what would be considered a safe zone, I’m assuming. You were within sight of the campus police department.”

“Right. I’m going to share something this afternoon that I haven’t shared before, and that is that knowing that I could see the police cruisers less than 50 feet away from me where from where I was being attacked- the moment I saw those cruisers I knew no one was coming for me”, she replied.
Here's the 14-plus minute video of the interview:

Endnote: there seems to be some confusion among reports of just which campus the data refer to. Some reports say it is Colorado Springs University. However, there is no such school. There is a school named University of Colorado at Colorado Springs (UCCS). The school abbreviated CSU is Colorado State University. This according to UCCS faculty member Erik Hanson. The correct identification is Colorado State.

As for carry status on Colorado public-university campuses generally, the situation is, um, "normal." The Colorado Supreme Court last March struck down the University of Colorado's gun ban for otherwise legally-qualified persons. But,

The University of Colorado regents on Wednesday dodged taking a stance on whether concealed-carry permit holders should be able to bring their weapons to campus.
The Republican-controlled Board of Regents voted 6-2 to "postpone indefinitely" a measure that sought support for concealed-carry on CU's campuses.

So the court said that the university system may not prohibit the carry rights of permit holders but a year later the board of regents is still debating whether to allow it.

It is worth noting that the County Sheriffs of Colorado filed a brief with the court supporting lifting the ban on concealed carry on campuses.

... the Regents‟ prohibition policy is highly dangerous because it ensures
that, unlike almost everywhere else in Colorado, there is no possibility that victims
would have the tools necessary to save lives.
See my follow-up post, "Patriarchy and Sexual Oppression and Colorado Springs."

Bookmark and Share

Sunday, February 17, 2013

What makes them think it's Jesus?

By Donald Sensing

This portrait is of . . . whom?

The Associated Press: Ohio school board votes to keep Jesus portrait up:
JACKSON, Ohio (AP) — An Ohio school district decided Tuesday night to keep a portrait of Jesus hanging in the school where it's been 65 years, denying a federal lawsuit's claim the portrait's display unconstitutionally promotes religion in a public school.

The Jackson City Schools board offered a constitutional justification of its own in voting 4-0 to keep the portrait up in its middle school, saying it must protect students' free speech rights. The vote drew cheers and applause from the dozens of people gathered in the elementary school gymnasium.

After huddling with attorneys in closed session for more than an hour, the school board said the portrait belongs to the student group that put it up, the Hi-Y club. The portrait's frame is inscribed with the club's name and the Christian-based service group is the portrait's owner, not the school, the board said.
So there is a portrait of a man hanging in the school that the ACLU and presumably some others have challenged in court as a violation of the Establishment Clause because, they say, it is a portrait of Jesus.

Why do they think that? To say that it or any other representation of a man's face is a portrait of Jesus is as valid as saying that someone has a photograph of Charlemagne.

There is no such thing as a portrait of Jesus. No one knows what Jesus looks like. No one who knew him in person has been alive for more than 1,900 years. There survived no contemporary description of his appearance, if indeed there ever was one.

A few years ago, Time magazine ran a cover story on what Jesus probably looked like, based on ethnic lineages of first-century Judeans. The cover featured this portrait:

The image was made by forensic anthropologists in Britain. Popular Mechanics reported on the same image making thus:
Using methods similar to those police have developed to solve crimes, British scientists, assisted by Israeli archeologists, have re-created what they believe is the most accurate image of the most famous face in human history. 
But the anthropologists never said that Jesus actually looked like this. These features are best understood as generalized features of the majority of Judean men during Jesus' day. The image is presented as one of Jesus' general though not specific appearance.

So the ACLU goes to court to have a federal order to take down a portrait of Jesus in a school. I say again: on what basis can the ACLU claim that the identity of the subject of the portrait is Jesus?

After all, the most common modern representation of Jesus (the first picture of this post) bears little resemblance to the only (disputed) historical (but nonbiblical) description of Jesus:
The only physical description of Jesus that does exist is from a copy of a letter from the Roman consul Lentulus to the Roman Emperor Tiberius.  This document was discovered in a Monastery with copies of other ancient documents.  According to the copy of the letter, the original letter from the consul was dated to the 12 year of the reign of the Emperor Tiberius.  Scholars have historical verification that a certain Roman consul named Lentulus was in Judea at the time of Jesus' trial and crucifixion. His influential family is mentioned by the Jewish historian Josephus in his book Antiquities of the Jews. Scholars are divided, however, as to the authenticity of the letter.  Lentulus' letter is presented an official report to the Emperor Tiberius.  In his letter Lentulus describes the condemned man named Jesus of Nazareth as having: a noble and lively face, with fair and slightly wavy hair; black and strongly curving eyebrows, intense penetrating blue eyes and an expression of wondrous grace.  His nose is rather long.  His beard is almost blonde, although not very long.  His hair is quite long, and has never seen a pair of scissors.....His neck is slightly inclined, so that he never appears to be bitter or arrogant.  His tanned face is the color of ripe corn and well proportioned.  It gives the impression of gravity and wisdom, sweetness and good, and is completely lacking in any sign of anger.  (Holy Land Magazine, Franciscan Holy Land Press, Spring 1998). Whatever information Tiberius received concerning the strange progress of events concerning the death of this Jew, he was shaken enough to present a shocking suggestion to the Roman Senate.  There is some historical evidence to support the claim that Tiberius was so convinced of Jesus' resurrection from the dead that he attempted to have Him declared a "god", but the Roman Senate refused to approve this provincial Jew's admission to the Roman pantheon of gods.
(Italics original) But the historicity of this description is disputed.

Update: The thought occurs to me that the school's Hi-Y club should just get an art student to draw or paint a representation of a first-century Judean man and hang it on the wall with no claim of a particular identity of the man represented. Then let the ACLU try to prove that it is of Jesus. Of course, the ACLU would first have to prove that it knows what Jesus looked like to begin with. Or maybe the club and school could just use that defense now.

Bookmark and Share

Sunday, January 6, 2013

Move to arm teachers picks up steam in Tenn.

By Donald Sensing

Move to arm teachers picks up steam in TN | The Tennessean |

Measures that would bring more police officers into schools and allow teachers to be armed appear to be gaining momentum among Tennessee lawmakers in the wake of last month’s shooting in Newtown, Conn. 
Several Tennessee lawmakers say they have drafted legislation that would encourage school districts to place at least one armed police officer in every school and would allow teachers who have undergone special training to bring their personal handguns into schools. 
And at least one city in Middle Tennessee is considering paying for teachers to take a gun training course."
This is a serious, sober look at this issue and is an excellent example of what issue journalism should be like. 

One excerpt:
“A teacher’s responsibility is to educate,” said John Hittle, a parent of children at West Wilson Middle and Lebanon High in Wilson County. “(Potentially shooting an intruder) is not what they are there for.”
Of course, quite so. We do not hire teachers to get into gun fights. But neither do we hire them to do this:
[Victoria] Soto, 27, used herself as a human shield when the crazed gunman began spraying the school with an assault rifle. The selfless teacher’s body was found in a closet where she brought her students to hide.
Teachers do "what they are there for" when the school day is proceeding normally. When a madman comes in shooting, nothing they will do then is what they are there for -- especially hiding from an executioner without even a fighting chance. 

School shootings are blessedly very rare. I do not think we taxpayers should compel, as a condition of employment, a teacher's utter defenselessness in case one occurs. Put a cop in every school and permit (though not require) qualified teachers who want to pack heat to do so.

Also on the paper's web site, an online poll:

As I have already posted, many (maybe most) Tennessee middle and high schools already have armed school resource officers on site

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

The Texas KGB

By Donald Sensing

In the old Soviet Union, Soviet subjects had to possess an internal passport to travel lawfully between certain places of the country to another - a special pass even to enter Moscow if they didn't live there.

Now in the state of the supposedly conservative Gov. Rick Perry, harsh measures of population coercion that  not even the KGB dared to imagine are being ruthlessly enforced: Texas schools punish students who refuse to be tracked with microchips.

Since October 1, students at John Jay High School and Anson Jones Middle School in San Antonio, Texas, have been asked to attend class with photo ID cards equipped with radio-frequency identification (RFID) chips to track every pupil’s location. Educators insist that the endeavor is being rolled out in Texas to stem the rampant truancy devastating the school's funding. If the program is judged successful, the RFID chips could soon come to 112 schools in all and affect nearly 100,000 students. 
Students who refuse to walk the school halls with the card in their pocket or around their neck claim they are being tormented by instructors, and are barred from participating in certain school functions. Some also said they were turned away from common areas like cafeterias and libraries. 
Andrea Hernandez, a sophomore at John Jay, said educators have ignored her pleas to respect her privacy and told her she cannot participate in school elections if she refuses to comply with the tracking program.

Bookmark and Share

Monday, August 27, 2012

UVA Declines Obama Campaign Request - NBC29 WVIR Charlottesville, VA News, Sports and Weather

By Donald Sensing

UVA Declines Obama Campaign Request

A University of Virginia spokeswoman says President Barack Obama will not be at the university when he comes to Charlottesville on Wednesday.  In a statement released Friday, it was confirmed that the university declined the president's request to speak at UVA.

UVA says the Obama campaign requested the use of one of two outdoor venues - the Amphitheater or the Harrison-Small Library plaza.  The university declined the request for a number of reasons including class cancellations, which UVA estimates could be more than 186 classes on the second day of school.  The other main reason is they would have to take on the full cost of security, and because of university policy and their federal and state tax exempt status, they would have to offer the same opportunity to the other candidate so as not to show favor for either candidate.

Virginia's top Democrat is playing down the snub.
The ol' magick just ain't there any more, Barry. And it doesn't help that your campaign has a lengthy track record of not reimbursing campaign-visit sites for their direct, increased security costs.

Bookmark and Share

Friday, August 24, 2012

Major transition

By Donald Sensing

Yesterday was a landmark day in the Sensing manse - Cathy and I took our last child, Elizabeth, to college to begin her freshman year. We are now officially empty nesters beginning our golden years. I do not consider this an improvement.

Liz is attending Tennessee Tech. She was a semi-finalist for one of Georgia Tech's president's scholarships, but as I said in my post, "Is College Worth the Price?" that's as far as financial aid went from Ga Tech, since, "When I called the financial-aid office to plead, the nice lady I talked to said that they do not give financial aid to non-Georgia applicants (though she did not put it quite so baldly)."

Having achieved a 34 on the ACT and graduating high school with a 4.5 (or so), and because Liz understands certain realities of today's job market, such as those I explained in, "Want a janitor's job? Get a degree",  Liz declared an entering major of chemical engineering.

Which is good, because this morning I found this:

Top-earning degrees / college majors

Source: "Graduate students with non-STEM degrees increasingly dependent on welfare programs"

Melissa Bruninga-Matteau, a medieval-history Ph.D. and adjunct professor who gets food stamps: “I’ve been able to make enough to live on. Until now.”
“I am not a welfare queen,” says Melissa Bruninga-Matteau.
That’s how she feels compelled to start a conversation about how she, a white woman with a Ph.D. in medieval history and an adjunct professor, came to rely on food stamps and Medicaid. Ms. Bruninga-Matteau, a 43-year-old single mother who teaches two humanities courses at Yavapai College, in Prescott, Ariz., says the stereotype of the people receiving such aid does not reflect reality. Recipients include growing numbers of people like her, the highly educated, whose advanced degrees have not insulated them from financial hardship.
I personally am a history buff and think that medieval history is a fascinating topic. But why Prof. Bruninga-Matteau thinks that a small community college should pay top dollar to her escapes me. Why should higher education be exempted from the same market forces that affect everyone else? The post's writer is pretty blunt:
She’s irresponsible, because she expects the people who choose to study rather difficult and unpleasant subjects like nursing and computer science and economics to pay for her lifestyle through taxation and “higher education funding”. I do think it’s important to point out that the main driver of higher tuition is increasing government funding of education, and that this increasing funding of higher education is nothing but corporate welfare.
Someday, and I think it will be near term, this bubble is going pop.

Meanwhile, for college students majoring is "soft" subjects, this could be you in the Obama economy:

BTW, you can tell Elizabeth is an artillery officer's daughter with this quote from her "About" page on her FB site:
"If we can confirm its existence, then it interacts with the physical world. If it interacts with the physical world, we can, theoretically, blow it up."
And . . .
"The more you sweat in peace, the less you bleed in war."
Well, yeah!

Bookmark and Share

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Want a janitor's job? Get a degree.

By Donald Sensing

Janitorial work is increasingly becoming the domain of the college degreed - and if you apply, you'd better have a degree in a technical field.
Bureau of Labor Statistics data show that as many as one out of three college graduates today are in jobs that previously or historically have been filled by people with lesser educations or none. The U.S. now has 115,000 janitors with college degrees, along with 83,000 bartenders, 80,000 heavy-duty truck drivers, and 323,000 waiters and waitresses.

Employers, because they realize that many college graduates aren’t really educated, now routinely quiz job seekers on what they majored in and what courses they took, a practice virtually unknown a generation ago. Good luck if you majored in gender studies, communications, art history, pop culture, or (really) the history of dancing in Montana in the 1850s.
The problem is that high school grads - as many as three-fourths! -are increasingly unprepared for even the ever-lowering standards of undergraduate work. Most college graduates are similarly unprepared for "the real world" and so half of college grads are unemployed or underemployed, a figure no doubt amplified by the very bad economy.

So anyone attending college today needs to understand some crucial things that will form the new normal for some time to come and why they should directly determine what you major in:

1. It will matter to employers what you studied, even if the job has not historically required a degree.
Work habits and self discipline are the key virtues employers seek. A graduate with an accounting degree might not find an accounting job, but rare is the student who can successfully complete the degree without both those virtues. So with the job market being an employer's market, hiring managers for non-technical jobs will likely use the technical difficulty of an earned degree as an indicator of whether you are a good prospect.

Absolutely any degree whatsoever that ends with the word "studies" is utterly useless for demonstrating focus and self discipline.

2. The "degree required" bar has been greatly lowered and will stay there for many years.
Is a college degree really needed for janitorial work? Of course not. But as more and more new janitorial hires possess a bachelor degree, it will become normative for their employers to expect. Even after the economy improves - which it won't do quickly even if Romney wins in November and won't do at all if Obama wins - it will be a long time before actual degree-required jobs are plentiful enough to return the mass ranks of janitorial hires to high school education only.

This being so, you must face a crucial question with all the compassion of a Swiss banker; "Is college worth the price?"

3. No matter your dream of employment, computational competency, clarity of expression and computer literacy will be dominant virtues of value to employers.
Forget the crap that colleges like to tell you about "finding out who you are" there. You can spend a lot less than four years doing that and get paid for it to boot. You are going to college to learn skill sets that will enable you to make a living. No matter what courses you take, when you graduate you must be:
  • literate, able to understand and communicate clearly in English, especially in writing,
  • numerate, able to perform arithmetic calculations accurately and reasonably quickly. This ties directly into being literate because in the working world very few occupations use mathematics in its pure form. The rest of us have to solve calculations described as word problems. For that matter, we have to be able to put the word problem together first.
  • computer competent. This does not mean gaming. Technology is part of almost every job now.

If you cannot do these things to a seriously competent level, you will justly be thought of as literally stupid, regardless of your natural IQ. And what will be the employment prospects for you then?

So remember the famous admonition by The Duke and study the hard stuff:

Update: Linked by Glenn Reynolds, who remarks, "Hey, if Obama gets another term, we’ll probably have PhD’s pushing brooms... ." Actually, 5,100 working janitors are known to have Ph.D.s now!

Update, 7/26: Well, this is not good news for young adults: "Why Kids Today Have It Worse Than Their Parents" The comments left below the piece are telling:
Our company has been searching to find a decent graphic/web designer who can actually spell (so interacting with clients won’t embarrass us) and learn coding but these colleges spit kids out with $200k degrees in art and a useless portfolio that doesn’t translate to the business world.

We’re a growing company, constantly hiring. We’ve found millennials are complete idiots. We try to hire older workers when we can. Millennials want to set their own hours, work from a literal to-do list that never needs to be completed. They can’t hit a deadline or fathom independent action. Utterly incapable of coming up with a strategy or a plan to complete a task that isn’t spelled out — plus you need to hold their hand or they’ll wait for more instructions while fiddling on facebook or SMS.
But there's this, too:
I think it is harder because in addition to the tough job market, many of the them have debt from student loans. Also, it is harder if they want to start a small business, because there is more red tape than ever before. I have a 30 something daughter who wants to do daycare in her home to bring in a little extra income, but has abandoned the idea because of all the hoops she has to jump through and the expense. I could list everything she has to do to comply, but it would take too long. Some of the requirements seem to be written just to give work to compliance officers.
Well, duh. Once upon a time, this country had "government by the people, for the people." Now we have government by the political class for the benefit of the political class.

Bookmark and Share

Saturday, June 9, 2012

The Speech

By Donald Sensing

Actual high school graduation address by David McCullough, Jr., at Wellesley High School's 2012 commencement. Full text is here, then page down.

How universities screwed up America, and next the world

By Donald Sensing

The main thing universities have done since the end of World War II is concentrate brains and money into a single class as never before. The result is today's insufferable class of "Overeducated Elitist Snobs." A new global elite is on the march – Telegraph Blogs

OES syndrome is an American term, coined by the US political scientist Charles Murray to describe the clustering of wealth, power and – crucially – intelligence at one end of the social spectrum. Murray’s new book Coming Apart: The State of White America is not as controversial as The Bell Curve, the 1994 volume in which he and Richard Herrnstein compared race and IQ. But its conclusions are every bit as alarming. 
A hundred years ago, says Murray, most Americans in the top five per cent of cognitive ability had ordinary occupations. They were very clever shopkeepers, farmers, housewives and factory workers. But they didn’t somersault over their peers. 
One reason is that they couldn’t marry very smart people. High intelligence was scattered evenly across America, so a gifted farm worker might have to travel 100 miles before he met a woman as bright as he was. Instead, he married an ordinary local girl, and their children, regressing to the mean, were only slightly cleverer than their schoolfriends.
The explosion of college education changed that. Universities plucked bright kids out of their home towns like a tornado and suddenly they found that they weren’t in Kansas any more. Young people hooked up with equally intelligent partners and passed on two sets of smart genes. 
This mobility opened up Ivy League universities to competition from ultra-bright candidates. The old-money aristocracy at Harvard, Yale and Princeton shrank, but the average IQ at those universities soared – and with it the earning potential of alumni. The newly elite students married each other and the result, says Murray, is a hard core of Overeducated Elitist Snobs. 
Members of this supercharged class don’t just separate themselves from the poor: they’re quarantined from “everybody who isn’t as rich and well educated as they are”. They also produce clever, rich children by marrying brains and money (which go together these days).

Bookmark and Share

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Is college worth the price?

By Donald Sensing

Not worth the debt -

For students, piece of advice No. 1 is: Don’t go into debt. When I went to law school, back in the ’80s, I turned down free rides at a couple of excellent schools to go to Yale Law School, even though it meant taking on a lot of student-loan debt. I’m not sure I’d advise anyone to do the same thing today, even to go to Yale Law, the undisputed king of the law-school rankings — and I’m positive I wouldn’t make a similar tradeoff for many other places, even Harvard Law.
True for undergrad schools, too. As anyone who has helped son or daughter with a college search recently, as I have in the last year (daughter graduated from high school last Friday), sticker shock is endemic. Georgia Tech runs more than $40,000 for non-Georgia residents; their idea of financial aid was for me to borrow $37,400 of it. When I called the financial-aid office to plead, the nice lady I talked to said that they do not give financial aid to non-Georgia applicants (though she did not put it quite so baldly).

Wake Forest offered us $46,000 per year in scholarships and grants. Sound like a lot? It is a lot - but it still would have left us with almost $13,000 to come up with. Sorry, I am too old to take on that kind of debt times four years.

Wake Forest (my alma mater, btw) underscores the real reason there is a higher-education bubble: I cannot see how a baccalaureate degree from the school could possibly be worth almost a quarter-million dollars. Not all bachelor degrees are created equal. Wake is very much a liberal-arts school, probably one of the best such schools in the world.

And good luck getting a job to pay off the commensurate student debt with that degree in medieval German literature.

Wake's law school and business school have proven excellent investments for later return - but as even law professor Glenn Reynolds points out in the Post piece, law schools have been fudging their criteria for post-graduation success for some time and a JD degree pretty much guarantees nothing any more. As one partner-track attorney told me recently, a job-seeking, newly-minted attorney needs to have a diploma from one of the top ten (not ten percent, ten) law schools in the country, and have graduated in the top fourth of his/her class, to even be considered for interview by most law firms. Don't have that? So sorry.

College payments have to be evaluated the same way as any other spending, by present value and eventual worth. Fewer and fewer top-tier schools can pass that test, another example of the death throes of Blue Model organizations.

Bookmark and Share