Liberal Uselessness

Thor’s day and the end of gym for the week. And liquid is falling from the sky. Is that an event that needs be shared with chickens? Obviously I am in strange mood today and perhaps I can blame it on the expedition yesterday to Nawth Alibam’s Shining City on the Hill/

I recently ran across an article [Link] of statement by four college presidents trying to justify the existence of “liberal arts”. I found it telling that one of them flatly stated that the studies (?) in secondary schule were adequate for adulthood.

It seems strange to me that high schule is adequate for anything. When I attended it was an information desert combined with a harassment Tartarus. I feel that I learned more in one semester, certainly one year, in college than I learned in four years of high schule. And it was overall useful stuff.

My strongest complaint is that in neither did I learn syntax nor composition in the classes that were supposed to teach that. The nature of the failures were surprisingly consistent: abysmal teaching; inadequate and irrelevant information; and too much distraction. I’ll take each in serial.

Let me start by saying that the teachers were not bad people, nor ill intentioned. They were overall good people with good intentions. But they were not good teachers. That is, in my taxonomy, I didn’t learn from them. That’s what makes them bad. In many cases I liked them but I didn’t learn what I needed.

Second, what they were trying to teach me on syntax and composition wasn’t what was needed. Drawing pseudo-Feynman diagrams of sentences is not useful, nor is writing essays. I have never been called on to write an essay, nor any other type of literary article. I have written novels, short stories, journal articles, books, and theses but never any literary poof. So what they were trying to teach was almost entirely orthogonal to need and want.

Lastly, what they were trying to teach was too little. Too much of it was literature, reading and discussing stories and novels that I would never have read if not compelled. Almost entirely these works were boring and unengaging, and largely irrelevant to either education or entertainment.  It is not that I dislike reading; I was going to the (public) Carnegie library thrice a week and chewing throuigh six to eight books a week but they were books I picked not forced upon me. That’s my chief indictment of the liberal arts; it’s stuff I don’t want forced upon me.

I did learn syntax and composition. Some was learned in college writing nerd stuff and afterwards writing more nerd stuff. But so far as I am concerned liberal arts is what people who can’t do study in college.

Take That Alabama

Ran across an article [Link] about how to optimally (????) visit all the states. The route, for the lower 48, at least, is

I call your attention to the amount of distance (time thereby?) spent in Alibam. About right I would say, both for the traveler and for those of us who think tourism is an acute rectal pain. 

Of course the council of thieves in Muntgum and the moneyed interests (their masters?) won’t like this since not enough portraits of dead caucasian politicians will end up in their coffers. That also is a good thing. 

Clock Revenge

Gad! I hate daylight savings time! Even worse – maybe – than winter. I feel worse than I do when I rise every two hours to inspect drips. Beathen with truncheons, I feel!

On the bright side, I want to compliment the Chief Bigot and his Repro-denialist brethren for totally compromising the state of marriage in Alibam. Only a group mystically committed to the matter could forbid it to everyone. Reminds me of Lt. Calley and "We had to destroy the village to protect it."

I suspect that’s another reason why I hurt. Too much laughing at the stupidity.

Now I suppose I can amuse myself seeing how they’re going to vertically copulate Net Neutrality. While I am wondering if any of them have any idea what the issues are? Other than mindless obedience to their corporate masters.

Once again

Horrible night. Typical sundae. Poor slumber, disrupted by body aches and pains, this time compounded by too much bunkering. But off this morning, thankfully, to gym. Enthusiastic to a degree that the weight bouncers and the educationalists could not deflate. The podcast was a episode of the CBC’s “Best of Ideas” having to do with modern hippie/sustainment movements. Horribly EXTRO. Very alienating.

And then the weather beaver, the Ichabod one at WAFF, came on and told me this week would be a repeat of last with ice substituted for snow. Which in Greater Metropolitan Arab means no electron potential difference. So I am now in despair.

I ran across this cartoon: [Link]

that made me glad that I am not young. And yes, schule was that way when I attended but torture? Yes, mostly from coaches. I have never encountered a coach that was not a martinet and a bully. Some go beyond this nastiness but the only ones I encountered who did coached college. 

Overall, schule was not bad except that it was a slow motion information desert. If it hadn’t been for my parents and the Carnegie library in Huntsville, I would surely have succumbed to slime moldery by about sixth grade. But that doesn’t address the cartoon directly.

Part of the problem is tradition. All that memorization of factoids has been a staple for centuries. It falls under the necessity of what is called “common knowledge”, which is the knowledge every functioning adult is supposed to have. Sadly, it isn’t, because the people who “teach” in schule don’t know how to teach what needs be taught – hint, not the factoids – and aren’t permitted to teach it anyway because it upsets too many folks, mostly religionists and politicians, which are usually the same thing in a Venn diagram sort of way.

Also, in the modern world of standardized tests and schule/educationalist funding being tied to test scores, only factoids that can be tested using a standardized instrument can be taught.

So yes, schule is a torture but it’s a torture that is as old as civilization. At least. 

Mind over Misery

The weather beaver on last nights evening news proclaimed that the snow is gone. I looked out my aft window this morning and beheld the verification of her prevarication. The snow is still with us. But at least I was able to sally forth yesterday and lay about at clods and villains. And as such I am not as spry this morning as I should like. But I am reminded of all the childhood complaints about seniors smelling of liniments.

Not much to comment from yesterday. There is a medium furor over the role of the Yankee government in managing the internet under Title II but I personally consider a known enemy preferable to an unknown one, or several. Asking whether we trust the yankee government is a relative thing. No we do not but more than we trust almost any ISP corporation. My only concern is what conspiracies they will hatch together.

This puts me in mind of a cartoon: [Link]

that I saw some time ago. This is a perennial theme of leader-follower fables. It isn’t mind reading. Rather, it is pattern recognition. What things does the leader/organization do and how and how can pain/suffering/time wasting be minimized by anticipating? This is one of the characteristics of good workers. The ones who can anticipate what is needed and have it ready expeditiously are good. Those who cannot are to be issue red shirts at the first opportunity.

It isn’t just about graduate schule but it does have a special significance in that setting. When a graduate student begins to know what to do before being told, what a teacher has yet to teach is diminishing. In effect, when this happens regularly it is time to write one’s thesis and prepare for defense. The rite of adulthood is nigh. 

The problem arises when the teacher isn’t good. This happens. Good and bad are situational, as we have discussed previously. But when one has a bad advisor-professor then this level of learning may never occur. And the sad part is that the professor is never at fault. That’s why we don’t trust the leadership and the organization. Because sometimes they are bad and aren’t good.

The other cartoon: [Link]


has to do with another aspect of being human. Our ancestors are still with us. So I wonder where in the parade the flag officers go? Between Neandertals and Cro-Magnons? No, silly. As everyone knows the flag officers don’t march in parade; they are on the reviewing stand.

And on that sorry note I rest.