The MSM has embarrassed itself to a near-fatal degree

Quote of the Day for Friday, August 31st, 2012: Who better than J. E. Dyer to inspire me to rekindle my moribund blog, in a blog post entitled Are the American voters idiots?, which ultimately tackles several of my favorite hobby horses: There were so many reasons to know in advance that Obama would be a poor president.  Yet many of the voters were taken in by the media hype surrounding Obama.  The president’s associations and recorded statements were played down.  The record was there for a number of investigative authors to find, from M...

Mathematics is used as a hoop, a badge, a totem

Quote of the Day for Sunday, July 29th, 2012: Andrew Hacker, in today’s New York Times, asks: Is Algebra Necessary? Peter Braunfeld of the University of Illinois tells his students, “Our civilization would collapse without mathematics.” He’s absolutely right. Algebraic algorithms underpin animated movies, investment strategies and airline ticket prices. And we need people to understand how those things work and to advance our frontiers. Quantitative literacy clearly is useful in weighing all manner of public policies, from the Affordable Care Act, to th...

My biggest regret isn’t that I didn’t learn Fortran, but that I didn’t study Dante

Quote of the Day for Saturday, January 7th, 2012. Virginia Postrel, posting at Bloomberg yesterday in a piece called How Art History Majors Power the U.S. Economy, on the misguided but largely unexamined tendency of many critics of higher education to apply a supposed realpolitik of utility to the evaluation of programs and curricula, becoming in the process shadows of the smug, short-sighted central planners they typically scorn: The students who come out of school without jobs aren’t, for the most part, starry-eyed liberal arts majors but rather peopl...

College as a way to babysit 18-year-olds is not very efficient for anyone involved

Quote of the Day for Sunday, June 5th, 2011: Naomi Schaefer Riley, writing in the June 3rd Washington Post, on the value of a modern college education, and the disconnect exposed by PayPal’s Peter Thiel when he recently thumbed his nose at the university system: Executives at U.S. companies routinely complain about the lack of reading, writing and math skills in the recent graduates they hire. Maybe they too will get tired of using higher education as a credentialing system. Maybe it will be easier to recruit if they don’t have to be concerned about the ...

The mind is dulled, not fed, by inordinate reading

Quote of the Day for Tuesday, March 8th, 2011: More from A. G. Sertillanges’ The Intellectual Life, from the section “Reading” in the chapter “Preparation for Work,” on “not reading much” as a prerequisite to intellectual vitality: What we are proscribing is the passion for reading, the uncontrolled habit, the poisoning of the mind by excess of mental food, the laziness in disguise which prefers easy familiarity with others’ thought to personal effort. The passion for reading which many pride themselves on as a precious intellectual quality, is in reali...

A Masters in Ob-La-Di, Ob-La-Da?

So, a Canadian woman, Mary-Lu Zahalan-Kennedy, has earned the world’s first graduate degree in Beatles music. Is there any possibility left that the worldwide university system retains so much as a shred of its former dignity and gravitas – or relevance? Mike Brocken, founder and leader of the Beatles MA at Liverpool Hope University, said the postgraduate degree makes Zahalan-Kennedy a member of a select group of popular music experts. "Mary-Lu now joins an internationally recognized group of scholars of Popular Music Studies who are able to offer...

Revitalizing Catholic Education?

On this feast day of Saint John Neuman, the great champion of Catholic education in America, I want to give a shout-out to St. Jerome’s Catholic Classical School in Hyattsville, Maryland. This school, like so many other modern Catholic parochial schools, was facing almost certain closing not long ago. A recent article from insidecatholic.com tells the story of what happened after the archdiocesan consultation at the parish in consideration of the school’s future: Multiple parishioners approached [school principal] Donoghue and [pastor] Father Stack, arg...

Mandating Two More Years of Vapid Futility?

Quote of the Day for Sunday, December 12th, 2010: Boston Globe staff writer James Vaznis reporting on the latest round of hand-wringing concerning the performance of urban public school districts in the state: Within Boston, the state identified 40 percent of eighth-graders at risk of not earning a high school diploma with their classmates in 2014. But that estimate may be low, Boston public school officials said. The district’s graduation-tracking system, which, unlike the state’s, examines several years of data and grades, indicated that just 19 perce...

A Vicious Conception of the Whole Purpose of Education

Quote of the Day for Tuesday, Nov 23, 2010: An encore: J. Gresham Machen, this time writing in The Presbyterian, February 7, 1918, on the waning of Greek & Hebrew knowledge within the (protestant) ministry of his day (quoted from Dr. Rod Decker’s NT Resources Blog): “The real trouble with the modern exaltation of practical studies at the expense of the humanities is that it is based upon a vicious conception of the whole purpose of education. The modern conception of the purpose of education is that education is merely intended to enable a ma...

One of the Deadliest Enemies to Liberty that Has Ever Been Devised

Quote of the Day for Monday, Nov. 22nd, 2010: A double-quote day. First, in honor of John F. Kennedy on the 47th anniversary of his assassination: A nation that is afraid to let its people judge the truth and falsehood in an open market is a nation that is afraid of its people. Second, J. Gresham Machen (1881-1937) testifying before the joint Senate Committee on Education and Labor, and House Committee on Education, February 25, 1926, on the proposed establishment of a Department of Education, specifically here addressing the alleged benefits of nati...

The Great Retreat of Pederasty

I picked up a link from Hot Air a few days ago to a disturbing but fascinating (English-language) article in Der Spiegel Online, The Sexual Revolution and Children: How the Left Took Things Too Far. The article explores the history of post-1968 views on human sexuality, specifically its role in the “liberation” politics of the left wing in the non-communist world, and how that was translated into pedagogy at the Kinderladen (nursery school) level in the more left-leaning communities in Germany. The results, it should come as no surprise, are chilling: D...

The Great Entitlement Society Blows a Gasket or Two

It seems that The Great Entitlement Society has hit another bump in the road to paradise lately. Seeing California in the throes of economic meltdown has been one thing, but watching the Greeks taking to the streets to clash with police in frustration over government austerity measures that threaten the leisurely lifestyle of public sector “workers” who collect 14 monthly paydays per year until retiring at age 57 is breathtaking. Where do these clowns think the money to bankroll them is going to come from, and how is it that they are entitled to it? Well...