Wrong Paint

I have to admit: I don’t understand parents. And yes, I am one. And beyond that to include grandparent. But I admit that as a parent I consider myself mediocre. Which doesn’t count. All that counts is what my daughter thinks.

Parenting is like being a teacher. If a student thinks a teacher is good; that is, the student learns from that teacher; then that teacher is good. No learning, BAD Teacher. Doesn’t matter what the school system thinks. Doesn’t matter what the teacher thinks. No learn, Bad Teacher.

Parenting is the same. 

So it seems no wonder to me that I don’t understand parents. But that doesn’t keep me from trying.

I ran across an article [Link] entitled “‘Brown Is Completely Off the Table'” that talks about how parents are preventing their children from attending colleges that the parents think are politically “bad”. 

I have to admit that between the way the article is written and my difficulty understanding I am not at all sure whether the parents are concerned that the campus climate is of a political nature counter to their own or that the campus climate is antagonistic to open discussion and consideration of politics. Some parts of the article seem to indicate a Red/Blue (in the popular vernacular) political atmosphere on campus while other parts seem to be about either the administration shielding the students from some political exposure or the students preventing that exposure through protests.

(I recall the latter vividly in my own day, at least second hand. When I arrived at the Campus of the Boneyard I found the walls of the student union still besmirched with the spring occupiers’ curse words scrawled on the walls with human feces. Amazing how retentive some forms of wallpaper are.)

I tend to favor the lattermost since that was the attitude of parents when I went off to college. There was still a concern on the part of parents that their children be exposed to divergent ideas (but NOT TOO divergent) for the sake of education. Of course nothing blasphemous or evil or such like. But since most parents hadn’t gone to college. education was still a semi-substantial goal.

Today with the alienation of partisan affiliations at the level of blood feud between clans, I have to wonder which of the above is accurate and relevant. I know from talking to students that education is irrelevant to most of them. All they care about is getting a diploma. Discipline matters only in terms of money flow. Or ROI. 

Happily, there are still a few who care about education. Parents or students. And the total number of students who care about getting an education seems about the same as in my day. It’s just that the population is larger and mostly diploma hunters. Not just Greeks and Jocks like in my day, but GDIs too. Of course lots of GDIs didn’t care in my day but they didn’t count because they got free sustenance from the Yankee government after one or two terms, at least the boys, and there were more boys than girls in those days. 

But I am still taken aback by parents vetoing a college choice on political grounds. Since most colleges are liberal or tolerant and the only conservative colleges are thumper schules, doesn’t this run afoul of religious concerns? Or are such matters irrelevant these days? 

And what happened to that statistic that the majority of adults are antipathetic to partisanship? 

I am confused. And almost forced to fall back on the tried and true that almost all parents are Bogs and almost all children are Bogs and hence this sort of nonsense.

More progress on the race to be a Third World Nation.

Mental Gas Chambers

One Day and back to gym. Yet the ominousness of the morrow casts a doom-and-gloom shadow over the day. Part of it is the blatant misrepresentation – read prevarication – that day four of July is the actual day of declaration when yesterday was the day, or, at least, its anniversary. And I got propagandized with this lie by the Yankee Army this morning in an email. Rather casts doubt on anything in the epistle.

Speaking of doubt, the podcast this morning was an episode of the CBC’s “Best of Ideas” entitled “Why Grow Up” based on a book written by some academic with that as the title. Not immediately out of the ordinary except perhaps more meat than the series usually offers. But they have to run out of fruitcakes and politicians occasionally.

What riveted me about this podcast was when the author – who was interviewed throughout – proclaimed that schools are structured to be detrimental to learning. That’s not an exact quote but it’s close. And I was rather riveted by the accuracy of this statement.

It struck me that schools are not about students learning; they are all about the intimidation and bullying and programming of students into social machines. Any attempts on the part of the student to learn are dealt with in the most brutal way possible, with shaming and actual mental damage.

To paraphrase the Chicken Man, students succeed and learn in spite of the schools.

I have nattered previously about how horrible the schools were when I was a student, how the students were starved for information and inundated with behavior and social serfdom. Now I am pleased to learn that was the intent of the schools.

I was also struck that the people who are successful in life (and perhaps society) are the “bad” students who ignore the bullying and intimidation. But that these same students turn around, at least the ones who are socially successful, and impose the bullying and intimidation to perpetuate the inequity.

So the question arises as to whether this is either beneficial or necessary? That will require some cogitation.

But for now, I feel rather validated in my distaste for public schools and the concentration guard behavior of too many of the “teachers”.

Watering the Tree

Off yesterday to Huntsville for a “stress” test. Not a fun activity. Will never replace baseball which it compares to in magnitude of boring.

Came out of the test to discover some fellow from Illinois had ambushed a Repulsian practice session for a Council of Thieves Charity (?) Baseball game. Evidently hit one Congress Critter and four myrmidons. 

As I motored back to Castellum SCP, I reflected on the nature and contemporary state of Amerikan politics. My first thought, for some disconnected reason, was the Boston Massacre, which, as we know, is rather the opposite, the reigning tyrants striking down freedom loving citizens for protesting their tyranny. 

I cannot say, upon reflection, that this surprises me. Politics nationally, and to an extent, world wide have steadily excluded minorities. Only the Us, the In-people, have any rights or privileges; the Them, the Out-people, exist only on the sufferance of the In-people. 

Democracy is a funny thing. No, not as in laughter; as in strange. If you tell people they have a democracy and can determine things for themselves, and it emerges that this is a prevarication, one of two things happens. Either the people roll over and die, or they go out and shed their and the liars’ blood. Either way, they die. 

It seems to me rather like a plant. Too little water and it dies. Too much water and it dies. The same seems the mechanic of democracy. 

Obviously that wonderful medical test has depressed me.

College Factors?

One Day. Back to gym. The podcast was a CBC “Best of Ideas” episode on the psychedelic drug of the ’50’s and ’60’s, which, according to politicians, is the direct cause of today’s drug problems in Amerika.

Seems to me that our politicians are the direct cause of today’s drug problems in Amerika. But that’s not my point in this blot.

I went to schule in the ’50’s and ’60’s. In fact I matriculated with investment of a bachelor’s degree in June of 1970. I have to admit that the only drug problem I saw in high schule was cigarette smoking. The schule administration was opposed to the practice but for some reason unknown to me had to permit it. To discourage the practice (addiction?) smoking was permitted only in certain undesirable locations and so there was a constant thrashing of people smoking in unauthorized places and then being suspended from schule. At the time I was rather bewildered on why anyone would risk being suspended and why the administration was so depraved as to sanction the practice. Education then, unlike today, was consider both a personal and a community obligation and responsibility.

But my awareness of a drug problem was nil. We were exposed – outside schule – to the drug experimentation and the life style experimentation but all that interested most of us was the sex. Alibam was then, and now, a rather insecure place and sex was seen as a sin. Even in marriage.

When I got to college, I got to see the drug problem but it was limited to the artsy, hippie, contingent who lived in the art department. The population of which was so small and so alien to the main streams of Rah Rah Greeks and studious nerds that I can recall no individuals of the population in any of my classes. Of course most of my classes – deliberately – were nerd classes to minimize interaction with bullying Greeks. And yes, I do know that last is redundant. 

This brings me to the matter at hand. I ran across an article [Link] recently entitled “These 3 factors get people through college.” It claims that being able to get through college is basically three factors:

1. Do you fit in?

2. How do you think about your intelligence?

3. Where are you headed?

I have to admit that I find these a bit mystifying to the point I have to conjecture they are more EXTRO garbage. In my experience,fitting in was a minor thing. Nerds are naturally excluded from the bulk of the bog student body. They are usually socially inept to begin with and then they study untouchable subjects. Although they are in demand as tutors of those bogs in those subjects, an activity that is at once frustrating and nauseating. It is amazing how stupid bogs can be and still live.

So aside from a small social group composed of nerds and getting along with professors and TAs, what fitting in is there? That social scene of the bogs? It’s unnecessary and if one pick the right college, nonexistent. But such college are rare and expensive.

Nerds don’t have problems with their intelligence, except possibly to bewail how small it is. Rather like bog Greeks worry about the size of their reproductive organs, Nerds worry, to a lesser extent, about their intelligence. And not very much. They are too busy doing nerd stuff to have a lot of time to worry about inadequacy. Although in senior year when one worries about graduate schule admission, there is some about intelligence inadequacy. 

The headed matter is trivial. Nerds have goals. Mostly to go to graduate schule, at least in undergraduate schule. Why? Because if you stop with a baccalaureate degree you are stuck teaching high schule or washing bottles in a lab. To be fully techno-nerd you have to do research and that means graduate schule.

So perhaps these are EXTRO Bog things? Or has schule really rotted into pustulence since I was a student? 

The authors claim there is a statistical connection between these factors and grades. Hardly surprising, there is a connection between everything in college and grades. But I have to wonder still about this study.

Puzzle Piece

I was reading one of the news eLetters I subscribe to this morning, one devoted to academic research but written by publicists. It gave me a teaser title “Tyrannosaurus Rex Has Scaly Skin And Wasn’t Covered in Feathers, Says Study” and I realized that one of the problems of contemporary science, namely that the bogs are bored and uninterested, is due to this practice.

In the old days, outreach stuff was written almost exclusively by real researchers or people who had at least studied science extensively in college, (admittedly, this was a long time ago when SCP was a bairn,) and now it is written by journalists for pay. And the pay comes from people who are more interested in cash income than in accuracy and reality.

What I realized is that journalists like to make statements – or, at most, titillating questions. (Have you quit abusing your wife?) Scientists make statements too but how they compose them is entirely different. For example, a scientist would probably have composed the above as “A recent study casts doubt on the feathered dinosaur theory and supports the scaly skin theory.”

And that’s what’s wrong with science. Or perhaps, how science is harmed. Because the boggerate has been mindwashed by the journalists into being handicapped along the cognitive direction. 

They can’t think for themselves. Except maybe in a social dimension. But not about reality. 

And that’s another way that outreach is doomed. It doesn’t matter how much you write if none of the audience can read. Well, they can read, but they can’t (don’t) understand what they read and they don’t think about it. But in most cases, they just flat don’t read. 

The good news is that we are on the road to new greatness: at the current rate, the literacy fraction of the nation who can read and comprehend what they read will be about 0.1 in a few years, which is the same fraction as when the nation was established.

Dilution to Dissolution

Two Day, and back to gym. As mentioned, the gym was closed yesterday as part of its on-going program of denial of service. So yesterday was a hard day.

The exercise was welcomed this morning, as was the scant population. But the podcast, an episode of The Guardian’s Science podcast, was dismal. The podcast was an interview with three “award winning” writers of science books. 

If these are the best of who is writing these days I can well understand the dismality of contemporary science books.

To clarify, I want to distinguish between books about science and books of science. The latter are textbook and collections of papers from conferences and such intended for nerds or the science education of the young in a classroom environment. The former fall primarily into two categories: outreach books written by academics or academia employed journalists; and books written for profit by journalists.

I am probably doing a bit of disservice to some of these authors but inasmuch as the composition and style of most of them is indistinguishable from that of contemporary journalists the aggregation seems accurate.

I should also comment that I do not read a lot of books about science. By that I mean that I start reading a lot of such books but seldom get beyond the first, or occasionally, second chapter. And yes, the books are that bad. Revolting in fact. As in almost nauseating.

The reason for this is the, at best, poor, most often, blatantly inaccurate descriptions of science matters. Descriptions that are so bad that they revolt me even in the fields where I am not a practitioner and am only peripherally and superficially informed.

Sadly, the outreach books are almost as bad, which leads me to conjecture an overall process by which a scientist explains something to an author, diluting and distorting, who in turn writes their own explanation, further diluting and distorting. What is said and what is bear less connection than a doughnut and a coffee cup mathematically.

In addition, the outreach books seem to be written with the same heavy hand of grammar and an absence of story telling rather like a turn crank journal article.

I should be tempted to say that books about science were better in my youth but since I was less knowledgeable and more adaptable then I am sufficiently uncertain to do so. But my emotional response is exactly that.

For these reasons, I will attempt in future to redirect my efforts to blog more about the successes and failure of contemporary science books. But don’t expect much. After all, I am ORF.