Darkness has Fallen

Like many people, I have been thinking a bit about the nature of social reality since the recent election. This morning I ran across an article [Link] entitled “This Entire Galaxy Is Being Ravaged by Its Supermassive Black Hole.”

It seemed rather a perfect metaphor for the current situation of supermassive capitalists devouring American democracy.

But I also reflected on some things written by E. A. Burtt in “The Metaphysical Foundations of Modern Science.” I should comment that Burtt means metaphysical in the loose usage of social science/philosophy types and not the strict usage – that I use – of not-Physics. For convenience:

metaphysics  n 1: the philosophical study of being and knowing

The part of Burtt’s writings that I thought relevant were:

For the Middle Ages man was in every sense the center of the universe. The whole world of nature was believed to be teleologically subordinate to him and his eternal destiny.

man, with his hopes and ideals was the all-important, even controlling fact in the universe.

In effect then, we have returned to the Middle Ages aka “The Dark Ages”. What is important is no longer science or physical reality or actual Nature, but what the members of human society want and do.

This seems to fit surprisingly well. Science is under attack by politicians and society, when it is not ignored, and denial or misrepresentation is the common practice.

We may only hope the end is rapid.

On which note, I grabbed a wallpaper sized copy of the picture above to remind me of our depravity and degradation.

For those new to the blog, the title is taken from the work of Lester Sprague DeCamp.


Thankful/Unthankful 3

Thankful: Greed. Because greed makes people stupid and I have seen aplenty of stupid from advertisements yesterday for – almost universally – stercus I have no desire to own or purchase. Nor can I envision anyone I want to know who would. Unless they suffer a fire and lose everything and need to restock.

Unthankful: Greed. Because greed also makes people arrogant and annoying and I have seen aplenty of this with advertisements yesterday from a stercus-load of vendors. Just deleting the emails is a bit of a rectal pain. 

I have to admit I did purchase something yesterday: some Castile soap, which is about as far as you can get from “high tech” and electronics these days. Which is also humorous because soap operates electronically, that is, chemically. And performs a much more satisfying function than most of those supposedly performed by inept, crippled by design slablets.

Thankful/Unthankful 2

Thankful: Rain. In Alibam, rain is a BIG deal. 

Unthankful: Thanksgiving Holiday. Mostly because of time that has to be spent with people who are Flaming EXTRO Bogs who think INTROs are the spawn of Satan and have to be tortured and bullied for their own good. Redoubled for Nerds. 

Thankful: Black Friday. Because don’t have to associate with those people until the holiday known as Christmas.

Unthankful: Christmas Holiday. See above.

Thankful: Black Friday. Because I can avoid the whole mess because almost all the stuff offered is orthogonal to me.

Unthankful: Black Friday advertisements, which are noxious and nauseating.

Thankful/Unthankful 1

Given the season, it struck me to do a bit of a plus/minus blot or three.

Thankful: Physical Reality – because I’m here, obviously

Unthankful: Social Reality – because it’s too often an acute rectal pain, especially for INTROs. And, of course, EXTRO harassment and bullying.

Void Evacuated

Absent I have been. Partly because I was trying to digest the election. Partly because I was having to squirrel about FD SCP. Not sure either is over but maybe a bit of respite.

Nothing snarky to blot today. Still getting my head back.


Coeducation Connection?

Second try. I was using the WordPress blogging editor and it kept going into never-never land so I finally deleted the miscarriage.

So you miss the intro gibble that got eaten by the digital vacuum. Except for my cursing the reproductive organs of WordPress for producing such a pile of stercus.

Anyway, reading through the incoming this morning I came across an article [Link] entitled “Coeducation at university was – and is – no triumph of feminism.” This quote

“Beginning in 1969, and mostly ending in 1974, there was a flood of decisions in favour of coeducation in the United States and the United Kingdom. “

I was an undergraduate 1966-70 and the article moved me to reflect on the coed aspects of my UG days.

From my standpoint, Coeducation was an established fact when I got to freshman orientation in August of 1955 at the Campus of the Black Warrior. To my count there was essentially parity between men’s – not-jock – dorms and women’s dorms. No one used the term “co-ed” that I ever heard except a higher level student talking about hold over from the thirties. 

Yes, there were differences. The men had a later curfew than the women, and the dress code for men was much more liberal than for women. And the dorms were as far apart on campus as possible. But there seemed to be plenty of women students. 

It wasn’t till later that I realized they really were a minority when I realized that half the male students didn’t live in dorms. They were either resident Greeks – who would ever want to live like that? – evidently lots of useless Bogs – or they lived off-campus in apartments. Women could only live off-campus if they were married, their families lived in the city, or they were old enough to hire a lawyer and threaten suit. In those days when parents actually participated in the process, they seemed to unanimously want their daughters locked up.

I only tumbled to this when I realized after freshman year than none of my classes were more than 0.1 women. They were STEM courses, which I didn’t realize then women didn’t often do. Supposedly due to good sense according to the many guys who got weeded out freshman year.

Feminism wasn’t a known term. I don;t think I heard it in college. Maybe in graduate schule. But it didn’t impact. Grad students, at least in STEM, didn’t have time to date. And I didn’t think amiss that my classes were all male. Sex was orthogonal to grad schule.

So saying, as the articles do, that coeducation was not a triumph of feminism seems orthogonal somehow. If anything, coeducation, to my observation, was a triumph of flapperism or whatever the post-Great War women’s movement was. At least in Alibam. Except for a couple of monolith monsters, all the dorms, men’s and women’s were OLD. Plaster walls and Linoleum floors. Tile bathrooms with mostly dysfunctional plumbing.

Of course, once I got to grad schule – the Campus of the Boneyard – the dorms were coed. Alternating floors. Or so I was told. I lived off campus in a slum. Grad Schule – genteel poverty. 

I didn’t run into feminism, stated as such, until I encountered academics in the late ’80’s. Wasn’t anything but a new form of extremism, like the KKK. At least the members acted the same. But not in my UG days. 

Empty Pump

Last week, the governor of Alibam described its school system with a semi-profane term. In this Saturday’s Arab Tribune considerable space was devoted to local politicians and educationalists protesting. The politicians, in particular, used their skills at character assassination extensively.

As I read the article I kept asking myself how many people in the newspaper readership had any idea of what a tribune is.

I also reflected on the liner Titanic. The ship musicians, so far as I have read, gave an excellent performance while the ship was sinking. This probably saved some lives by calming but fundamentally it didn’t do anything to keep the ship from sinking.

If an educationalist tells me their system is doing well and a physician tells me it is failing, then I will trust the judgment of the physician over the educationalist.

Simply put, there are some things that an observer cannot reliably observe. Himself, for example. That’s basic quantum mechanics. If you’re part of the system, you can’t observe the system accurately and reliably.

That doesn’t mean that the members of the system aren’t doing their best. That’s the lesson of the Titanic’s musicians.

Along this line, some metrics aren’t meaningful. When you control how many students graduate, the fraction of each class that graduates is not a reliable metric. Reliable metrics have to be outside your system; they have to be defined by outsiders.

Let’s consider some such:

How many students of a given year group (fraction) have a college degree earned withing four years of attendance ten years after the year group’s graduation?

How many students of a given year group (fraction) earn more than twice their chronological age twenty years after the year group’s graduation?

How many students of a given year group graduate with a reading knowledge of two languages other than their milk tongue?

How many students of a given year group can derive the roots of a quadratic equation ten years after the year group’s graduation?

These are offered as examples only. But they do reflect that the metrics need to have some independence of the school system and they need to be things of endurance. We send children to school to learn part of what they need to be adults. If we fail at that, they likely will never be competent adults.

By that token, we cannot keep parenting by throwing our children over the fence to the educationalists. Likewise, the educationalists cannot be subjected to an absence of outside – non-educationalist – assessment and critique. And they have to embrace this oversight.