A Free College Education? I doubt it.

In so many ways, college is a big, massive waste.  From offering useless and expensive degrees in soft subjects to relentless leftist indoctrination, many of our college students are made worse off for their four years of effort and their massive and permanent student-loan debts.

But will technology save us from the cretins running our universities?

Here’s Forbes on the issue:

Colleges, designed for the world in the 1960s and 1970s, have not changed with the times. Colleges are still run as top-down bureaucracies rather than bottom-up communities. Outside of government, few other organizations operate this way. Anybody can publish and sell a book at Amazon.com. Google and Apple let their customers determine most of their content. Walmart empowers even its most junior employees to order products and set prices. Wikipedia allows any reader to write or update an article. Higher ed’s institutional structures aren’t like that at all, featuring top-down, inefficient, bureaucratic command management. Maintaining this old-fashioned system is ever more expensive and increasingly impossible.

The article goes on to to discuss the various ways in which the academic cartel can be broken.  But there are a few glaring omissions.  Khan Academy, simply the internet’s best source of free instruction is not mentioned.  Also, the following paragraph simply isn’t true:

These already exist for languages. A quirky company called Rosetta Stone has largely put college foreign language instruction out of business. For approximately $200/semester one can learn almost any language one wants—not quite free, but much cheaper and (apparently) more effective than the college classroom. Rosetta Stone is a good example of winner-take-all; it has cornered the market not because of some government license, nor because only their employees know languages, but because they are better and cheaper. (more…)

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On Disparities

No two human beings are equal in any way whatsoever.  Two people might be extremely similar to one another in certain measurable aspects, but if you can measure with sufficient precision, you will inevitably discover that these people are not equal in whatever quality you choose to measure.  This proposition can be proven mathematically.

Now, certain qualities such as self control give their possessor an advantage over others.  The advantage of self control is one that adds up over time.  If a child has the self control to practice the piano for a half an hour a day, he will become a better pianist than one who only has the self control to practice for ten minutes a day (especially if he uses the methods of deliberate practice).  And this advantage will compound over time, making the first child a much, much better musician than the second.

So, why would you expect any two people, any two populations or any two anything to have equal attainments?

Well, if you do, you’re just not being very realistic.  Like many unrealistic and sentimental belief, the belief in equality has many disadvantages for society.  Here Powerline blog quotes four fantastic articles by Thomas Sowell on the issue of disparity.

An ignored “disparity”:

Gross inequalities in skills and achievements have been the rule, not the exception, on every inhabited continent and for centuries on end. Yet our laws and government policies act as if any significant statistical difference between racial or ethnic groups in employment or income can only be a result of their being treated differently by others.

An ignored “disparity,” part 2:

Statistics are often thrown around in the media, showing that people with college degrees earn higher average salaries than people without them. But such statistics lump together apples and oranges — and lemons.

An ignored “disparity,” part 3:

Historical happenstances — the fact that the Romans invaded Western Europe but not Eastern Europe, for example — left a legacy of written languages in Western Europe that people in Eastern Europe did not have until centuries later.

But the innumerable factors affecting human achievements are not only complex and hard to untangle, they offer neither politicians nor intellectuals the opportunity to simply be on the side of the angels against the forces of evil. Factors which present no opportunity to star in a moral melodrama have often been ignored in favor of factors that do.

An ignored “disparity,” part 4:

[M]undane explanations of gross disparities are seldom emotionally satisfying — least of all to those on the short end of these disparities. With the rise over time of an indigenous intelligentsia in Eastern Europe and the growing influence of mass politics, more emotionally satisfying explanations emerged, such as oppression, exploitation and the like.

Since human beings have seldom been saints, whether in Eastern Europe or elsewhere, there were no doubt many individual flaws and shortcomings among the non-indigenous elites to complain of.

The complete articles are well worth your time.

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Life Imitates Bias Incident: The World’s Most Politically Incorrect Novel

When I sent Bias Incident: The World’s Most Politically Incorrect Novel to my editor, she didn’t think the premise was realistic.  Come on!  A school trying to expel a student for not toeing the line on the issue of homosexuality?  No school would do that!

Well, the Keeton case is a real-life illustration about how Bias Incident is about as realistic as satirical novels can get.  Here’s the story:

Keeton So Far

It concerns a court case in Georgia.  Jennifer Keeton was a graduate student at Augusta State University (ASU) where she began studying for a degree in Counselor Education in fall 2009.  She completed two regular semesters and two summer sessions but was then dismissed from the program because she refused to participate in a “remediation plan” that was designed either to change her views on homosexuality or convince her to misrepresent those views.  Miss Keeton, citing her Christian beliefs, held that homosexuality is a form of “identity confusion,” and had stated this view in class.  The faculty members involved rejected her view and cited it as “a violation of the codes of ethics to which counselors and counselors-in-training are required to adhere.”  The remediation plan to which she was assigned singled out Miss Keeton’s view that homosexuality is a “lifestyle,” and posited that “sexual orientation is not a lifestyle or choice, but a state of being.”   (The quotations are from Keeton’s complaint in U.S. District Court, July 21, 2010.)

Personally, I cannot imagine better advice from a counselor:  You must choose how you want your life to be.  You must adjust your behavior to make your life as close to how you want it as possible.  If some of your desires are incompatible with other of your desires, you must prioritize.  How is this not excellent advice?

Apparently, if you’re teaching people how to give advice, your students must not be permitted to think this way.


Obama’s College Transcripts

Nothing better illustrates how the ideas of the university fail more than the presidency of former professor Barack Obama.

Obama’s college career made the news again this week when White House Press Secretary Jay Carney dodged a question about the president’s transcripts.

I wonder why they’re so reluctant to release the transcripts.  By now, the myth of the highly intelligent Obama has been thoroughly shattered to all but the most loyal and self-deluding groupies, so I doubt they’re  worried that people will see how average his grades were and how he relied on characteristics other than intelligence to get by.

I’m betting he was the beneficiary of a “gentleman’s C” on more than one occasion.  I doubt anybody would really be surprised to find this is the case.

I figure there are two possibilities:  1)  He’s worried that his failure in office, when combined with the exposure of his intellectual weakness will make people question affirmative action.  Or 2)  He is worried that people will see that, instead of going to college to get an actual education, he went to college as more of a leftist finishing school, taking nothing but a mixture of really easy and really leftist courses.  I would be absolutely shocked if he took a mathematics course that was not absolutely required.  I would bet heavily that he never took calculus.

The failure of his administration?  It’s the failure of the ideas he learned in college.


Pat Buchanan Booted From MSNBC?

I have no use for Pat Buchanan.  His views of Israel and the Jews are just as ignorant and disgusting as the views of such lowlifes as James Carter and Barack Obama.  Unlike Carter or Obama, however, there are some issues on which Buchanan is correct.

Anyhow, it seems he’s been banned from MSNBC.  Here’s Radio Derb on the issue:

Late October, when Pat last appeared on MSNBC, was shortly after his latest book, Suicide of a Superpower, came out. Sample quote from that splendid book, quote:

The crises that afflict us — culture wars, race division, record deficits, unpayable debt, waves of immigration, legal and illegal, of peoples never before assimilated, gridlock in the capital, and possible defeat in war — may prove too much for our democracy to cope with. They surely will, if we do not act now.

End quote. What kind of action is Pat looking for? He spells it out: Stop garrisoning the world, downsize the federal government, bring back the tariff, overhaul immigration. Along the way, I cannot resist telling you, he quotes me a generous four times. And, full disclosure, I reviewed the book for Taki’s Magazine — favorably, of course.

Pat’s arguments all make perfect sense to me. They are way too much for liberals, though. They were flapping their wrists and squealing in horror at the central notion Pat puts forward: the notion that if the U.S.A. ceases to be majority-white and majority-Christian, it will cease to be a nation of any consequence, and will likely cease to be a nation at all.

Pat may be right on that, or he may be wrong, but we no longer work these things out by open and honest discussion. We deal with them by bullying and ostracism, by censorship and silencing and moralistic shaming. We are halfway to totalitarianism: open and honest discussion, Anglo-Saxon civilization’s great gift to humanity, is no longer a feature of our national life — perhaps, as Pat argues, because we are no longer very Anglo-Saxon.

Or as Phil Griffin, the president of MSNBC, put it last weekend, quote: “The ideas he put forth aren’t really appropriate for national dialogue, much less the dialogue on MSNBC,” end quote.

Well, well: a prophet is without honor in his own country. Perhaps Pat should move to a different country. How about a small, advanced European country with a pleasant climate and lots of interesting antiquities, where the kinds of ideas offered in Suicide of a Superpower are discussed openly and frankly, are in fact approved of and acted upon by the nation’s executive, legislature, and judiciary, to general public applause? That’s it, Pat, that’s what you need to do — move to Israel!

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Badges!? We don’t need no steenkin’ Badges…. Wait. Yes, we do.

Bias Incident takes no prisoners in lampooning our country’s higher education system.

There’s a good reason for this.  For many, if not most, students a bachelor’s degree is a horrible idea.

Charles Murray, he of the article linked in the previous paragraph has proposed a series of certifications that employers could use to determine the skill level of their employees as an alternative to the phoney-baloney bachelor’s degree, which tells employers exactly nothing about one’s qualifications in most non-math, non-science and non-engineering subjects.

Educational upstarts across the Web are adopting systems of “badges” to certify skills and abilities. If scouting focuses on outdoorsy skills like tying knots, these badges denote areas employers might look for, like mentorship or digital video editing. Many of the new digital badges are easy to attain—intentionally so—to keep students motivated, while others signal mastery of fine-grained skills that are not formally recognized in a traditional classroom.

At the free online-education provider Khan Academy, for instance, students get a “Great Listener” badge for watching 30 minutes of videos from its collection of thousands of short educational clips. With enough of those badges, paired with badges earned for passing standardized tests administered on the site, users can earn the distinction of “Master of Algebra” or other “Challenge Patches.”


Employers might prefer a world of badges to the current system. After all, traditional college diplomas look elegant when hung on the wall, but they contain very little detail about what the recipient learned. Students using Mozilla’s proposed badge system might display dozens or even hundreds of merit badges on their online résumés detailing what they studied. And students could start showing off the badges as they earn them, rather than waiting four years to earn a diploma.

“We have to question the tyranny of the degree,” says David Wiley, an associate professor of instructional psychology and technology at Brigham Young University. Mr. Wiley is an outspoken advocate of so-called open education, and he imagines a future where screenfuls of badges from free or low-cost institutions, perhaps mixed with a course or two from a traditional college, replace the need for setting foot on a campus. “As soon as big employers everywhere start accepting these new credentials, either singly or in bundles, the gig is up completely.”

Imagine a future with no student loan debt, no more political correctness, no more degrees in useless fluff and a future of real learning instead of overpriced four-year parties (nothing against parties, but at the price that most universities are charging, young people could have much better parties at much lower cost).

This is such a fantastic idea that it is certain to be shot down by the courts in short order due to it being racist, sexist or homophobic.  Why a system of badges earned for demonstrating mastery of a specific academic skill would be considered bigoted is anybody’s guess, but I’m sure our robed spoilsports will figure out a way (probably having something to do with “disparate impact” or some other nonsensical fig leaf).

Naturally, the idea already has its critics.

Some observers see a darker side, though, charging that badges turn all learning into a commodity, and thus cheapen the difficult challenge of mastering something new. Rather than dive into an assignment out of curiosity, many students might focus on an endless pursuit of badges, argues Alex Reid, an associate professor of English at the University at Buffalo. “The presence of a badge could actually be a detriment to an otherwise genuine learning experience,” he wrote on his blog earlier this year.

But in an interview, he agreed that in today’s tough job market, people are searching for alternatives that better reflect the range of their qualifications.

Note that the critic is an English professor.  ’nuff said.

Of course, I’m probably biased in favor of a system of badges because I am, as of this writing the proud owner of 564, count ‘em 564 Khan Academy badges, and I’m eagerly working my way towards a pair of “legendary and unknown” Black Hole badges.  In achieving these badges, I’ve learned more mathematics in the last three months than I have in my entire educational career.

Here’s to hoping that this could, somehow, be a part of our nation’s future.

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“Racism”: a word that doesn’t mean anything anymore.

The word “racism”, long shouted by people determined to shut down their opponents has been losing it’s meaning for decades.  With this disgraceful article from the LA Times, the word has officially gone from meaning “thinking people are inferior human beings because of their race” to “I like the person you’re criticizing and, justified as it may be, I don’t like what you said.  And since the target of your criticism is of a race that gives me an opportunity to use my favorite word…”

The same can be said for the words “sexism” and “homophobia”.  It is for this reason that it was so easy to satirize the use of these words in Bias Incident: The World’s Most Politically Incorrect Novel.

So, what did the LA Times write?



A baldly racist depiction of First Lady Michelle Obama that appeared Tuesday on a right-wing website is based on a 1775 portrait of Marie Antoinette by Jean-Baptiste André Gautier-Dagoty (1740-1786). The full-length painting hangs outside Paris in the Palace of Versailles.

The Internet image grafts Obama’s face onto Gautier-Dagoty’s lavish depiction of the French queen, dressed in full regalia. It also replaces the draped left arm of the young monarch, then barely 20, with a muscular black arm and shifts the position of the right hand to place it in front of a world globe.

The caricature of Obama as a profligate queen relies on the racist stereotype of an “uppity Negro,” which emerged among slave masters in an earlier American era. Obama, born into a working-class Chicago family whose roots are traced to the pre-Civil War South, graduated from Princeton University and Harvard Law School, prior to holding several high-level positions in the academic and private sectors.

Now, Michelle Obama, amid awful economic carnage, has been profligate in spending taxpayer money on vacations, dates with her husband and other useless perks.

You know who else was a useless, profligate wastrel who extravagantly pampered herself amid the economic hardship of her people?  Marie Antoinette, that’s who.

The comparison is justified.

Honestly, if we can’t have black public figures about whom we can make justified criticisms without shouts of “racism”, then we just can’t have black public officials at all.  (Before you shout “racism” (and I know you’re gonna) the same can be said for white public officials, if they were prone to shouting “racism” or some such at every criticism or Jewish public officials if they were prone to shout “antisemitism” at every criticism or ugly public officials if they were prone to shout “lookism” at every criticism).

Public officials pretty uniformly do a lousy job in office.  They are, almost without exception, narcissistic, venal, avaricious and incompetent.  They are bound to give us what to criticize.  And we need to be able to criticize them.  If there is a class of individuals immune to criticism, whatever that class may be, that immunity in and of itself makes them unqualified for office.

Update: Big-Bad-Barry loves to compare himself to Lincoln.  Well, if he actually knew anything about Lincoln, he might have learned proper conduct.  Here’s how Lincoln responded to the profligacy of his wife:

Congress had appropriated $20,000 to redecorate the White House but when she was finished she overspent by $6,700. Lincoln was irate when he discovered she had spent so much. “It would stink in the nostrils of the American people to have it said the President of the United States had approved a bill overrunning an appropriation of $20,000 for flub dubs, for this damned old house, when the soldiers cannot have blankets,” Lincoln said.  If Congress had not covered the overage, it would have come out of Lincoln’s pocket.

Lincoln vowed to repay the money.  Unfortunately, our greatest President could not scrape together the money.  Congress had to bail him out.


Shut-uppery from the Right side…

Usually, “shut up” is from the Left.  If given the time and a search engine, I can think of hundreds, if not thousands of examples of the Left using courts, legislation or shouting down opponents with cries of “racism!!”, “sexism!!”, or “homophobia!!”

It’s not quite as easy to find examples of “Shut up” from the right.  The cultural high ground is possessed by those who advocate “multiculturalism” and “diversity” not “Americanism” and “Spiritual excellence.”

But, unfortunately, there are examples to be found.

I happened to have the displeasure of finding one such.  Besides, it’s about time that otherwise good and decent patriots took their share of the heat for yelling “shut up” or using the government to shut up opposition.  Bad acting is not confined to the Left, even though it’s most at home there.

This exemplar of “shut-uppery” is dressed in the mantle of respect for our national anthem.  I’m all for respect for our national anthem.  I think, for instance, that this is a disgrace.

I do wish Roseanne Barr would never open her pie hole ever again, but I wouldn’t ever DREAM of using courts or governmental force to achieve that desirable goal.  I would oppose any who would do so.

If people were smart enough, they wouldn’t listen to Barr.  Eventually, tired of being ignored, she would just shut up.  But that’s a long way from this story:

Sen. Vaneta Becker, R-Evansville, has introduced a bill that would set specific “performance standards” for singing and playing “The Star-Spangled Banner” at any event sponsored by public schools and state universities.The law also would cover private schools receiving state or local scholarship funds, including vouchers.

Performers would have to sign a contract agreeing to follow the guidelines. Musicians — whether amateur or professional — would be fined $25 if it were deemed they failed to meet the appropriate standards.

Shame on Sen. Vaneta Becker.

Besides, if we ban unconventional renditions of the National Anthem, we would have been deprived of the following national treasure:


How to Get Rich using the Obama EEOC

Step 1: Buy a monkey.
Step 2: Send him on job interviews.
Step 3: Sue when he’s not hired.
Step 4: $$$$$$$$!!!!!

See here.

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Theodore Dalrymple Debates on Sentimentality

Probably the worst insult you can hurl at somebody in a politically correct society is that he is “judgmental.”

But this raises a contradiction with another politically correct value:  compassion.

If you’re not judgmental, you’re not compassionate.

Find out why as the master discusses this issue:

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Why satirize nonsense?

Bias Incident is a novel dedicated to satirizing Politically Correct nonsense.  Why do so?

Let’s let a far better writer than myself explain.  Here’s Theodore Dalrymple on why he bothered to refute the arrant nonsense of an “educationalist” he was debating:

Halfway through my own reply, however, I suddenly became bored. Why do I spend so much time arguing against such obvious rubbish, which should be both self-refuting and auto-satirizing the moment someone utters it? Why not just go and read a good book?

The problem is that nonsense can and does go by default. It wins the argument by sheer persistence, by inexhaustible re-iteration, by staying at the meeting when everyone else has gone home, by monomania, by boring people into submission and indifference. And the reward of monomania? Power.

Read the whole thing here.

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Theodore Dalrymple on Western Parents

Theodore Dalrymple is a great hero of your humble Politically Incorrect Novelist.  Here he speaks about on western parents.

The best quote:

“When someone in my town complained of the litter around the school the school instituted Litter Studies.”

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Truth-phobic lefties protest commercial.

Dennis Prager said it best:  “Truth is not a left-wing value.  Feeling good is.”

Few examples can better illustrate Dennis’s principle than the actions of a group of truth-o-phobes in New Zealand.  They’re protesting because a commercial for women’s products points out a forbidden truth that is completely obvious for all to see.  What is this forbidden, yet obvious truth?

Actually, there are three:

That a man pretending to be a lady is not really a lady.

That a man is not a lady even if he thinks he should be.

That the only kind of person who can be a lady is, in fact, a lady.

Excuse me while I repair to my fainting couch.  If I’m not back in five minutes, bring the smelling salts.

Anyway, you can click the link to read the boilerplate silliness spouted by the protesting group.  I’m not going to quote it here (though I will mention I had a great deal of fun parodying that kind of silliness in Bias Incident: The World’s Most Politically Incorrect Novel).

Anyhow, for your amusement, you can watch the offending commercial here.

It’s actually pretty darn amusing.  See what I mean when I call those lefties “spoilsports”?

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No word on whether they’ll give any credit for…

No word on whether they’ll give any credit for attending a Tea Party Protest.

But I’m not holding my breath for that one.  Nope.  Ivy League schools only seem to give credit for Marxism.

From the article:

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork/AP) — Columbia University will offer a new course for upperclassmen and grad students next semester. An Occupy Wall Street class will send students into the field and will be taught by Dr. Hannah Appel, a veteran of the Occupy movement.

The course begins next semester and will be divided between class work at Columbia’s Morningside Heights campus and fieldwork that will require students to become involved with the Occupy movement outside of the classroom.

The course will be called “Occupy the Field: Global Finance, Inequality, Social Movement” it will be run by the anthropology department.

At this point, the only way real life over at Columbia University could better imitate Bias Incident: The World’s Most Politically Incorrect Novel is if they changed the name of the Anthropology Department to “Anthrogynology.”


“But I love you all”

No quotation in the history of human speech encapsulates the attitude of the nanny-state spoilsport PC Left better than this quotation from former Stasi chief Erich Mielke upon his organization being deservedly thrown into the trashbin of history.

“But I love you all.”

The Stasi, you will remember was the secret police of the brutal totalitarian regime of East Germany.  No society in history was more spied upon than the people of East Germany.  The Stasi were completely without remorse in removing people from their rights.

But they did it because they loved the German people.

That really sums up the Left.

The Left doesn’t take away your right to eat an Oreo or smoke a cigarette because they’re a bunch of mean bullies.  No.  They take away those rights because you’re better off with out them.  Remember.  They love you all.

The Left doesn’t aim take away your right to express your religious sentiments because they’re a bunch of anti-Christian totalitarian thugs.  No.  It’s because you’re better off without that mental illness they call religion.  Remember.  They love you all.

The Left NEVER separates you from your rights because it is nasty.  No.  They just love you so much that they expect better of you than you would produce if you were a free person.

And that’s why I support freedom.  Because I love you all.

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