Voting For Free Soup

So, I hear Donald Trump is now promising free college.  Don’t bother explaining that that wasn’t really what he said, or why it is the best idea possible.  I’m not interested in the Donald.  What I’m interested in is this idea of free college.

Free education was an idea of the liberals, back when liberals stood for life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.  They had the idea — which was amiably passed on to me by my parents and grandparents — that you could educate anyone into … well…  what they would have called a person of worth.

To an extent they were right.  Remember the people who came up with this idea were at the very cusp of the industrial revolution.  The first jobs in that were dirty, ceaseless and deadly, so about on a par with agricultural jobs (the idea that agricultural jobs were paradisaical is an invention of the romantics, all of whom had never seen a shovel and if they did wouldn’t know which end to use.) The difference is they weren’t learned by watching and starting to participate as soon as you could walk, which allowed a break up of large familial structure, of the bonds of tradition on any given individual, and allowed individuals more freedom of action.  To put it another way, just because your dad, your grandad, your great grandad and everyone else you could trace were farmers, it didn’t mean you couldn’t go to the big city and be a carder or a machinist.  Which freed you also to marry whomever you wanted from a much larger pool of candidates and, yes, if you so wished, to go to hell your own way with beer and blue ruin.

On the whole the industrial revolution represented freedom and the toppling of oppressive societal structures (yes, there was something to be said for those structures, to wit that you were less likely to go to hell with beer and blue ruin, because the people around you would interfere.  This is what the romantics noticed, and what turned their heads to mush longing for the good old days.  They confused “freedom to do it” with “necessity to do it” and concluded industrial production and capitalism were bad for humanity.  Their heirs, the greens, suffer from the same illusions. They think there’s something soul-satisfying about agricultural work, close to the land, etc.  Because the only part of it they’ve experienced is hobby gardening, they’ll continue thinking so.  Also, they don’t look at what’s happening in places like India and Chine as they, too, undergo their industrial revolution.  People are voting with their feet.)

But after the initial impetus, machines grew more refined.  It has been observed the first thing industrialization teaches a country is to keep time.  People become conscious of punctuality.  You can follow how important punctuality is in a culture by running an inverse proportion of how recently a country was industrialized.

Then other things happen.  You start to need people who can memorize schedules and sequences of actions.  The cities themselves lead to a need for people who can read instructions and information.  (Mostly pre-radio and pre-tv, for western countries.)

This means for the first time in human history, reading writing and ciphering become a real asset, and not just “prestige and for the rich.”  Those who read, write and calculate have a demonstrably better life, as they become supervisors.

At this stage, it is easy to confuse “better life” with “reading, writing and arithmetic.”  It is also easy to conflate such bourgeois virtues with the ability to read morally improving works.

This is how free public education gains impetus, with the best intentions in the world.

But that was about 200 years ago, most places, and what we’ve learned in between is this:

  1. It’s easier to indoctrinate people than to teach them, and for regulation and governing purposes, indoctrinating is more effective at control than teaching.
  2. The average person only needs to know so much.  For instance, through 9th grade I got up to pre-calc, which I’ve used … never in my subsequent life.  (Though trig comes in handy, now and then.)
  3. There is no practical correlation between education and morality.  Some of the earliest educated classes in the world were responsible for most of the massacres of the 20th century.

This hasn’t stopped the public drive for more and more free education (or education) for various reasons.  a) it’s easier to indoctrinate people more the longer they stay in school, so various governing bodies love the idea  b) there seems to be a correlation, at least in the cases we hear of (many more we don’t hear) between more advanced education and a better life.  Even where that doesn’t apply, there’s the recent memory of a time when it was so.  c) there is an entire apparatus in place to push us into believing that more education equals a “betterment” of the individual in the moral sense.  Mostly because those in power consider “good morals” to agree with them, and look up there at point a.

It’s gotten to the point now, where we have people with phds working as baristas, and the fact our educational costs have gone straight up (having two kids who wanted stem degrees there was no option for “apprentice” for them, or as older son put it “if you cut people without being a doctor, they arrest you.” I’m acutely aware of this.  In my time it was difficult but possible to put yourself through school in a timely fashion by having a job.  Now you can still do it, if you’re willing to take ten or fifteen years to get through a bachelor’s.)  Also, in most fields of study, a bachelor’s now means as much as a high school diploma meant in previous years.  I thought  this was merely due to glut and inflation of credentials (and it is due to that too, I think, but) some years ago I fell into this pattern where various friends with college age kids asked me to tutor their kids in foreign languages and/or literature.  And I found out that these kids’ were less proficient than the high school kids I’d tutored twenty years before.  I hadn’t realized it because I discovered when older son was in 3rd grade that they weren’t teaching him … well… anything… and started teaching him on the side, when he was home from school while using the school merely as a babysitting system so I could write.  I thought, at the time, it was because we were in a tiny town, with a backwater school, but some of the people I worked with ten years ago went to PRIVATE schools with an excellent reputation, so I don’t believe that’s the case.

Now, when your bachelor’s degree doesn’t get you much of anything and you start life in deep debt (which in turn means a population crash among many, many other bad things) I understand why people think “free college” will solve their issues, and why politicians on the make promise it.

Let me tell you, ladies and gents: it won’t be worth the paper it’s printed on.

I remember being very shocked there was no free college in the US. When I first came here in 12th grade, I fully intended to go through free college in Portugal.  And I did.  So it might seem a little hypocritical of me to ding it…

Except that back then (things have changed, and how) the same percentage of people went through free college in the US as in Portugal (yes, I know what I said.)  The same type of people too.

When I chose to go back to Portugal — mostly dad’s letters begging me to come back — I turned down a full ride scholarship to college, that two of my high school teachers had been at pains to arrange for me.  (Sorry, guys, if you read this.)  My husband was accepted to an ivy league peripheral college, with a full ride.  (He didn’t finish there by reasons of clinical depression for reasons that weren’t related to school and which, at the time, the schools weren’t alert are likely to strike people in a certain IQ.  Ah well.  Another leg of the pants of time.)

These pure-merit scholarships by and large no longer exist.  Now you must have merit AND be an interesting minority.  But that’s something else and a discussion for another time.

Meanwhile, while here I realized that the American college system was very different from the Portuguese one, too.  The Portuguese system is rooted in medieval traditions, which is great if you want to attend a non-magical Hogwarts for grown ups (complete with robes) but sucks goat teat if what you want to do is get a job in the real world.

This wasn’t as obvious to most of my family, the family afflictions being medicine and engineering, which have eminently practical applications.

But I had issues with transposing digits, which I couldn’t even talk about since it wasn’t a recognized disorder and I thought I was going crazy or was stupid.  (Ironically both my kids inherited the issue and I learned tricks to overcome it while teaching them. I’m still a menace with phone numbers and addresses, particularly when I’m tired.)  And the idea of cutting dead people, let alone living ones that I intended to keep alive, made me queasy.  I gave psychology a try by auditing while my transfer from the US was being dragged very slowly through bureaucracy, and dear BOB, it was all meringue, no cake.  Particularly since at the time they were in the throes of behaviorism.

There were things I genuinely WANTED to do: agricultural engineering, nixed because at the time it only made sense if you had family lands to work on; and archeology, nixed after I figured out it didn’t pay much and what it paid necessitated grants from the government.

Which took me to the “hardest” of the humanities.  I.e. if you take language and literature, it at least teaches you SOMETHING real.  The language part. Within that, I picked the hardest disciplines, English and German (because furthest from Portuguese.)  This was the path to teaching in school — as were most other humanities and even pure science degrees — which I had no intention of doing, so I started taking about a million (okay four to five) courses on the side in other languages, at consulates, embassies and institutes.  I paid for these courses by working, and I was glad to do it, because it meant I could learn languages that, had I stayed in Portugal, would have made me a sought-after translator.

I’m often asked why for the love of heaven I chose to learn Swedish, for instance.  Well, because textile factories were then (might still be) the main industry in the North of Portugal.  And because my dad worked for one, I KNEW that the machines were imported from Sweden, and that the most legible/accurate assembly instructions were in Swedish.

My idea was to become a free lance interpreter/translator, and what I’d realized up front is I couldn’t do it with my free education alone.  Our curriculum hadn’t changed from the nineteenth century where its main aim was to create young ladies who could speak various languages and be an ornament to society with erudite talk, or teach other young ladies to do the same.  I had more training in translation in high school, whose curriculum had been modernized, than in college.  Yes, the diplomatic corps mined our school (particularly the best students) for its ranks, but really they preferred those people who for whatever reason knew more than two languages, and knew them better than they were taught in college.  Hence, you know, jobs abroad, and paying for courses on the side, and well… everything else.  (Though knowing myself I was never interested in the diplomatic corps.)

However, look above, unless pursuing some thing  that has a clear definition and clear goals “free education” is worth what you pay for it.  Not being consumer driven, it tends to become fossilized in whatever worked back when some do-gooder founded it.  Or to become subverted for the purposes of government.

BUT, you’ll say, so does paid education.  Look at what is happening with people taking degrees in puppetry and basket weaving.

Well… there will always be a number of those when value is put on “a diploma” more than on what you can do with it, and when a piece of paper is your credential to entry in an “educated class” who might not be able to do anything, and therefore holds to the credential as a positional good with more fervor than ever.

Also “paid” is …. debatable, as the government is funneling money to schools via the students.  What I mean is there is no effort made by anyone along the line on establishing whether all that “education” is good for anything.  What I mean is, as in the insurance system, where the third-party payer for health care doesn’t care if the patient lives or dies, the scam of passing money from government to professors doesn’t care if the patsies in the middle get anything useful out of the deal.

Hence the fact that even in the hard sciences students are required to take courses in gender studies and micro-aggression sensitivity, keeping those otherwise utterly useless departments alive.  Also a reason there are no more Western history courses or Latin in most schools.  Because the consumer has less and less say in it every year.

It wasn’t that way thirty years ago, when most courses still taught SOMETHING you could use in the employment world, but that is neither here nor there.

Also, in America, the paper — as in Europe — has come to mean more than knowing the stuff.  And this is stupid as knowing the stuff is easier in the US than in Europe.  Not that we’re smarter, but we have lending libraries, massive bookstores and even before the internet, ways to order out of print books.  What this means is that self-education doesn’t have the issues it has in Europe.

I figured this out when I was writing the Shakespeare books.  This was almost 20 years ago, and I have since forgotten what the issue was, but I had a question about Shakespeare biography and called the library, who called the local college, who got me in touch with a professor, who got me in touch with another professor at a much better university.  As I explained my problem and asked my question, the gentleman asked me other questions.  In the end instead of answering me he laughed and said I might now be (after 15 years of reading everything I could find) the foremost expert on Shakespeare biography in the US.  Which amused him.

Of course I didn’t have a degree, so I couldn’t teach in college (or anywhere else.)

Which brings us to what they’re promising when they promise free college.  Look, guys nonsense aside, there’s a reason courses in line-fishing and popular music lyrics exist.

Countries that have free education MIGHT by and large have lost all touch with the economic realities, but they do still have a fairly demanding course of studies (even if it’s for being a well educated nineteenth century lady.)  Because they only have free education for the top 5% or so of students, if that much.

The mass of students — you guys went through school, right — not only can’t, but don’t want to engage in rigorous courses of study.  They want the credential, because they’ve been told it does all sorts of nifty things (as far as mine is concerned, though I never tried, I’m told I could make a nifty paper plane out of it, though the lacquer seals might make it hard to fly.)  BUT they don’t have any particular intellectual passion, and aren’t even interested in any work that requires extensive intellectual training.

So if you institute free college here, what you’ll have is a) more degrees in ant-watching.  b) more time to teach students what they actually need to know.  We’re now at the point where college graduates are less literate than my classmates at the village school were, and know far less useful stuff about the real world.  (By fourth grade, we learned about useful plants, how to buy and sell at a profit, and the geography of the region, among other things.)

I look forward to the time when you’ll need a doctorate before you can be sure the person knows how to read, write and count to twenty without taking off their shoes.  Because a system designed to accommodate those who have no interest in learning necessarily descends to the lowest common denominator.

Of course, it doesn’t matter if it’s free, right?  I mean, who does it hurt?

It diverts a substantial portion of the GDP to an idle and otherwise useless class as well as giving politicians more chance to indoctrinate the young.  It creates a false sense of entitlement in said young.  It dulls even the brightest minds as “education” becomes more and more a matter of dotting the is and crossing the ts with no thought involved.

Most importantly though, it costs the young their most productive and mentally alert years.  It means careers — and marriages, and kids — are postponed until the complexities of Marxist analysis of line fishing are mastered to perfection.

In the end, it means we’re poorer, older and dumber.


You get what you pay for.  And what the politicians give you for free is always bought by you.  At a higher price than it’s worth.

331 thoughts on “Voting For Free Soup

  1. Please tell me again, Trumpkins, how Trump is the truest of the true conservatives. I dare you.

    1. For many people Trump is their best opportunity to say “Eff You!” to a government that has abandoned even lip service to representing their best interests.
      Will he make a decent president? Doubtful, but worse that the one we have now, probably not.
      I must confess, I’m looking forward with anticipation watching his treatment of HRC. There is after all so very much there to work with.
      Of course Trump not only has to defeat Hillary on her merits, but also overcome media bias and blatant Democratic voter fraud, say at a minimum a five point skew. But on the other hand, there’s the witch’s ever so fertile record of incompetence and outright criminal activities.

      1. Two reverse midas touch white collar criminals do not make one of them a anti-establishment rightwinger.

      2. She’ll defeat him easily. yes, he’ll be worse than the incumbent. How much worse is the only question. I don’t find it in me to vote for either him or HRC.

        1. As much as I’ve been attracted to the Libertarian candidate for idealist reasons, I’ve always voted Republican for practical reasons. If Cruz can’t squeak through the nomination process (and it will be miraculous if he does) this is the first year that I’ll both be voting for, and actively campaigning for, a Libertarian candidate.

          But this will mostly because I cannot bring myself to vote for a Democrat, and this rules out both Hillary and Trump. (And it’s not even that Trump has been a Democrat in the past: I’d have no problem voting for Trump if he had a clear, well-documented trail of conversion to conservatism and/or liberty…but he doesn’t. Indeed, every time he’s pushed to defend a conservative principle, he goes squishy, and veers left!)

          1. I’ve been thinking lately is that one of Cruz’ major problems is being apologetically Christian in a country whose media is vehemently anti-Christian. The GOPe hates Cruz but voting for a polite Christian somehow doesn’t have the same visceral “Eff You Establishment!” feeling that voting for a vulgar bombastic a$$hole does.

            We here understand that Cruz is THE liberal establishment disrupter candidate. Trump plays one in a reality TV show.

            1. I think Cruz’s number-one problem is that he’s a farking idiot with a tin ear for what the public sees when he does stupid shit like select Carly Fiorina as his VP, before he even wins the nomination. Up until that moment, I grudgingly conceded that he was the least worst of the Republican candidates. Now? Yeesh. “Oh, I picked a girl as the VP, one with no real qualifications, and who ran one of our biggest, most successful corporations into the ground…”. Genius.

              This election is going to be a trainwreck, of epic proportions. Our only hope is that the conventions decide to say “Screw this…”, and come up with a candidate from left field, like Mattis. And, asking either the Democrat or the Republican establishment to show good judgment is pretty much a pipe dream–We’re all parties to this national suicide pact, I’m afraid.

              Whatever Cruz is, and I freely acknowledge that he’s still the least worst candidate we have, he’s still not the guy we need to fix this whole mess, and I seriously doubt he can pull a win out of his hat. Trump? Yeah, let me know what he actually stands for, and I’ll get back to you. That guy is every used car and real estate salesman I ever met, and I wouldn’t trust him to run a circle-jerk in a brothel.

              At this point, all I’m doing is waiting for the form of our Destructor to make itself clear. I’m guessing we’re gonna be doing well, if the form it takes is only as ludicrous as the Stay-Puft Marshmallow Man.

              1. “A managers hire A people. B managers hire C people.”

                The Parties control the nominations, and they’re run by Bs and Cs… they don’t want anyone in the top slot that they don’t feel they can control.

                Nowadays I can understand the frustration the Germans felt during the governmental churn after the Kaiser was deposed. The bus is chock full of Bozos, and they’re doing Three Stooges schticks while heading for the cliff.

              2. I liked the Fiorina pick, because while she was still running in the primaries, my opinion of her was, “I don’t want her as President because of how she ran HP. But I’d love to see her as VP, because she fights.”

                1. For Cruz’s judgement, the correct question is probably ‘How many of the people whose vote Cruz needs know about the HP matter, and would decide based on it?’ Cruz needs Indiana, California, and some fraction of the moderate middle in the general election.

                  The HP matter is a bit obscure and esoteric as far as the general population is concerned. A lot of people are already committed, based on things more important to them than that. Or will be.

                  Yeah, silicon valley is big in California, and mostly hate Fiorina enough to not vote for her, but a lot of silicon valley is left. Hence they probably are not following the GOP primary beyond ‘Trump, ugh’, are not already in the Republican Party, and might not get involved in the remaining month.

                  I’m entirely outside of silicon valley, and heard about it a long time ago. I count the HP matter against Fiorina, but would still support a Cruz/Fiorina ticket against the alternatives.

                  Reasons to go for Fiorina: Need an extra surrogate now, especially one that could bait Trump. (Women seem to have an edge in making Trump lose control.) Calculating that her connection to the CA GOP will help in the primary more than her HP history will hurt. As a counter to Hillary’s pro abortion feminism. (Unlike Palin, Fiorina’s primary time may prevent the media from trashing her reputation as easily. Fiorina has come out against abortion enough that it cannot be walked back. Fiorina can’t be dismissed with ‘Latinos just want to beat women’.)

                  1. The main feedback I hear about Fiorina is “well, good! Couldn’t stand a lot of her policies, but she’s willing to fight!”

                    1. She’s already come out swinging against rape with the Mike Tyson matter. This positions her well for attacks on Trump and Clinton.

                      The media already have the prep work for dismissing the attacks a man might make on the Hillary’s cheerful participation in the promotion of rape.

              3. I think he’s just hoping that Fiorina, a former California GOP Senate hopeful, will help him in California. If he doesn’t stop Trump from getting 1237 delegates, in doesn’t matter who he picks for the VP spot, or when.

                1. and to be fair, I’ve heard good things of Fiorina, and that her actions didn’t take the company down: she was just set up to look like it. ALSO honestly, it will help him in the general if he gets nominated to have a woman VP. No, not with the right, mostly, but iwth younger women and some of the left who might defect Hillary.

                  1. The first time I heard about Fiorina was when she was running against Barbara Boxer for the California Senate seat, and Clayton Cramer (who used to work at HP) expressed his opinion of her. What he said was:

                    “Let me emphasize: Carly Fiorina can’t even fake a caring, decent human being. I hold her in considerable disgust for how she ran HP when I worked there. Please, if you live in California, vote for Empress Carly the First. It’s that important.”


                    1. PC companies were tanking left and right and still are… unlesss people can show me how what went on at HP was specifically *her*, i take it with a grain of salt

                    2. HP had a lot of problems during Fiorina’s tenure. Many HP employees were in denial, always yapping about “The HP Way”. Dealing with HP computers at that time gave interesting insight into the company. For example, HP continued to build it’s own second-rate disk drives & keyboards. HP workstations were put together with 2 or 3x more fasteners than anyone else’s; you needed a whole damn toolbox to service an HP, instead of 1 or 2 tools, The OS people never seemed to talk to the hardware guys. Computers for business were entirely separate (including different OSes) from computers for engineering. In a nutshell, The HP Way meant that no aspect of HP’s organization need ever change or adapt. The company was going to get clobbered, regardless of who was in charge. While Fiorina doubtless made some questionable choices, she was a convenient scapegoat for a two decade accumulation of HP problems. The tech bubble imploded during her tenure, and anyone blaming her for the precipitous drop in HP’s stock price needs to also explain how she managed to torpedo all the other tech companies that had the same problem.

                    3. ehh, the XW workstation design predates Fiorina. Technically, the “Z” workstation design was begun under her tenure. I can swap the motherboard on my z600 without needing tools, unless I also need to pull the CPU.

                    4. The tech bubble imploded during her tenure, and anyone blaming her for the precipitous drop in HP’s stock price needs to also explain how she managed to torpedo all the other tech companies that had the same problem.

                      That would take… talent. 😀

                    5. Yeah, but there’s also degrees of failure…. as in get the plane on the ground with bumps and bruises for the passengers and crew vs a fireball on the ground. Hers was closer to fireball than bruises.

                  2. So I was an Employee of Compaq (Nee Digital) when Carly Fiorina negotiated the take over. She actually came and talked at the Spit Brook Road Facility where Unix and VMS Oses were developed. I got to meet her in person through some odd circumstances. Very personable, seemed very bright. Also had that Noblesse Oblige that makes a people like a CEO or politician. Given the speech she gave I think she had the right ideas for HP. However inertia (and downright muleishness) in HP middle and upper management meant the ideas never got implemented.
                    Also things depended on Intel doing The right stuff with the follow on chips for Itanium. Basically that failed too so the strategy was scrap.

                    As for choosing her as VP, as much as I like her its a mistake. You generally choose VP for one or more of three reasons.
                    1) Ticket balance (experience, different field)
                    2) Ability to win a swing state
                    3) Ability to bring delagates (in a brokered convention)

                    She’s a little of 1 (business vs Law/Govt Service). For 2 she’s useless California is not a swing state. Because of the Liberal north and the cities
                    its solidly blue. Carly Lost (badly) to Sen Boxer when she ran. And Carly has no delegates to swing. Truthfully even though he’s a little rat weasel with a personality similar to Obama Rubio is a far better choice.
                    And choosing now makes no sense whatsoever. All you’re doing is opening yourself up to an Eaglton style attack. At this point I’m stuck hoping for SMOD, The Second Coming, or the Elder Gods to run (Vote Cthulu, why choose the lesser of two evils?)..

                    The only other hope is that the current resident of 1600 Pennsylvania decides he hates the Clintons more than he wants democrats to win and
                    lets DOJ indite Hilary in a fit of “Apres Moi le Deluge!” pique. Sadly he’s (not quite) that venal…

                    1. California is extremely important in this primary. It and Indiana are essentially the remaining variables. If Cruz pulls enough of them, Trump can’t make 1237, it goes to the second ballot, and Cruz wins.

                    2. Actually California is very much a swing state. Trump and Cruz are pretty much dead even there. California doesn’t mean jack in the general, and neither does New York; the Democrats will get them both. But we aren’t going into the general, we are in a contested primary. The only real reason to Publicly announce your VP at this date is to affect the upcoming primaries. And frankly California is the most important one left. Indiana is also real important, but California has more delegates.
                      Remember, while Silicon Valley has a decent percentage of the California population, they have a much smaller percentage of delegates, and are generally disliked by the rural portions of the state, which actually amount to a higher delegate count. The fact that a bunch of liberal webheads who are constantly voting and campaigning to obstruct or outright outlaw everything the ruralites like to do is automatically going to make them inclined to favor her. Add in that she is a home state girl, and that California conservatives have had it up to here *holds hand a foot overhead* with the rest of the country associating them with liberal politicians like Boxer and governor Moonbeam; and she will draw the rural California vote.

                      Of course I think the California republican delegates are way overweighted, but that is a somewhat different issue. Why should states like California or New York which have numerically fewer Republican voters, and frankly won’t matter in the general, because everybody knows they will go to the Democrats, be so instrumental is choosing the candidate? New York had record high turnout, and had 800,000 republican voters, for 95 delegates. Meanwhile Texas had almost 3 million republican voters, for 155 delegates. Simple division tells you that Trump’s home state voters, in a state that will undoubtedly go Democratic in the general, are weighted much more heavily than those from Cruz’s home state, where there is also little doubt which party it will go to in the general. Now California’s primary hasn’t happened yet, but while it is worth an equal number of delegates as Texas, I very much doubt it will have anywhere near an equal number of Republican voters.

                    3. I long ago observed that the world’s best business plan#8482; won’t succeed if the employees in charge of implementing it don’t buy in, nor the world’s most single-buttocked plan necessarily fail if the employees are set on making it work.

                      Never underestimate the importance of culture in obstructing or imposing change.

              4. Personally Fiorina would have been my second choice (although virtually tied with Rand Paul) after Cruz. So I of course liked his pick of her as VP. I think a lot of Cruz supporters feel the same way. The problem is that they are already Cruz supporters, them liking his VP pick, while it doesn’t hurt, doesn’t really help Cruz any.
                The whole point of announcing Fiorina early was to help in the primaries, and while I’m sure she would be immensely useful against Hillary in the general, that is really immaterial if Cruz can’t win the nomination.

                All that being said, I think Fiorina will help Cruz more in California than any other pick that was on the radar. Also she happened to be about the only politically active potential pick that had a) endorsed Cruz b) did so without embarrassing policy differences, c) had not previously publicly and vehemently attacked him.

                Frankly the fact that a few computer geeks that a) whose attachment to reality is generally considered on par with the absent-minded professors, and b) the vast majority of lean leftist/socialist and are supporting Bernie; dislike Fiorina over the HP affair? Yeah, that is going to be viewed as an endorsement of her by the general public.

                1. Picking Fiorina at this time is about changing the news cycle from Trump Triumphant!

                  Reports are that they’ve found good chemistry on the campaign trail, as well.

                  The problem with holding HP’s crash against Carly is it ignores the impending disaster that would be a Donald, Hillary or Bernie presidency.

            1. Both the Rs and the Ds can ignore a “didn’t vote in the presidential race.” But a really solid percentage voting Libertarian? They’d notice.
              If it happens.
              If I can’t vote for Cruz, I’ll be voting Libertarian.

              1. I feel like they’d also notice a large write-in campaign for Cruz, if Trump gets the nomination. That’s my current plan: vote for Cruz in the general, whether or not he’s the Republican nominee.

                  1. Cruz would have to mount a 3rd party write-in campaign. I do not think he has the resources to do that.

                    I may have to consider doing that though…….

                    1. I don’t think he would mount an official write-in campaign. That wouldn’t stop people from carrying out an unofficial one. Since we’re never going to vote for Trump OR Clinton, this one time there’s no reason not to use our vote to send a message. It’s a losing game most of the time, but since as bad as Clinton is, Trump would be worse… for once the right game-theory answer really IS “vote for neither”.

                    2. Don’t bet on it; Cruz has also managed the most fiscally responsible campaign so far of any of the field.

                1. “Write-in” voting doesn’t exist in my state. You can’t even gett on the ballot unless you’re sponsored by one of the five (six?) parties the state officially recognizes.

        2. The incumbent at least has shown that there is something he fears enough that he can be persuaded to caution. It is not clear what that is, but it is clear he dearly wants to do some destructive things that he hasn’t been brave enough to do.

          Candidate B is unclear.

          Candidate C has a history of fearing consequences, and tries very hard to avoid political and legal consequences. It is not clear how she will behave as she approaches the end of her life.

          Candidate D shows no signs of fearing anything except threats to his ego.

          Candidate E is careful and mindful of future risks.

        3. I am unconvinced. I’m guessing that Barry hates Hill (and Bill) more than he does we “bitter clingers”, “flyover people”, white folks, and America as an idea and as a whole, and will give the FBI the GO GET HER call in August or September. Further, I think Trump knows what he doesn’t know and will seek good advice. I would expect Congress’ two houses to be less than cooperative on both sides.

          1. I doubt it. She promised to put him on the Supreme Court. That was his price for not telling his dogs to “get her”. On the other hand, if she does not win the primary, or the general, well, that would be a different ball game wouldn’t it.

          2. Trump seeking good advice? When he tried to do that, seeing how badly he screwed the pooch, he picked Manafort. Twenty-years-out-of-date Saudi-lobbyist Manafort who makes Trump’s Russki lovin’ even more blatantly obvious. I think the evidence points the other way. Luckily, we have a handy experiment ready to help us test that idea more. Pay attention to Indiana and California. Pay attention to the delegate game. If he can scrape together an operation with a viable plan for those, he is more capable that I have given him credit for. If flaming wreckage, no one has to care any more.

          3. ” Further, I think Trump knows what he doesn’t know and will seek good advice. ”

            WHAT in his past behavior would ever support this theory?

          4. I don’t think it matters — whether the dogs of the DoJ are unleashed or not, a (threatened) mass resignation at the FBI would be as damning or more than a trial dragging out over several years.

    2. My comment on the previous thread on why should I vote for another Democrat gains strength. Isn’t “free college” what Bernie Sanders has been promising?

      1. A Bernie presidency might prove highly educational from those who will learn from no way but experience.

    3. “Trump is the truest of the true conservatives. I dare you.” – Christopher M. Chupnik

      *poke* Trump is the truest of the true conservatives.

      Whatcha gonna do about it? *intensely interested expression*

      1. Well, I for one would point out his abuse of eminent domain for his own profit, trying to force Vera Coking out of her house so he could build a casino parking lot. I don’t care how many jobs he allegedly would have created; if he’s willing to trample over other people’s property rights, he does NOT believe in the Constitution.

    4. I never thought he was a conservative but I long figured he was the ideal GOP establishment candidate whose only failing was not kissing the right asses and paying off the right consultants before running like the other establishment types did.

      I’d say the past 24 hours have proved me right.

      So again, I ask, if we have to vote Mitt or Obama and had to vote McCain or Obama how is it wrong to vote Trump or Hillary.

      1. Also, it was that failure to kiss asses and pay the Rove types that I think got him a lot of support. It looked like a big middle finger to the establishment, and it was, but it wasn’t an indication he didn’t agree with them on policy.

      2. Because neither McCain nor Romney were unfit to serve. They were arguably the wrong person at the wrong time. But that’s different than morally unfit.

        1. Yet somehow Hillary is fit to serve.

          I would also question the fitness of anyone running against Obama who, when asked, point blank if Obama was ready to be president answers ‘yes’, which McCain did.

          The GOP has earned Trump fair and square and now they are embracing him.

          1. Actually, I implied the exact opposite – that Hillary *isn’t* fit to serve.

            And you have an interesting standard – that if McCain does something you disagree with, he’s unfit. Frankly, I don’t think you could find any candidate you’d be satisfied with.

          2. McCain’s answer was precisely accurate, in that Obama fit the Constitutional standards for the presidency. McCain wasn’t asked whether Obama would be a good president.

            That a clown suit may technically “fit” doesn’t make it appropriate garb for attending a wedding.

            1. A clown suit has been fairly standard garb for at least the male participants at most weddings I have attended.

  2. On the so-called link between “education” and “morality”, it appears that modern education is geared to destroy what morality parents teach, doesn’t given any real morality to replace it, and is more interested in teaching you who to hate.

    Mind you, I think the “teaching you who to hate” can be accidental as many of the modern “anti-bullying lectures” are geared to preach against “bullying the victim classes” and done in a way to cause students to want to “bully those people”. [Frown]

    1. It’s similar with the military. Long, drawn out lectures on what not to do to the point that you want to do those things just because they told you not to do it. It’s the only reason I can explain some of my soldiers deciding to snowboard down the stairs at their barracks anyway… Reverse psychology at its most incompetent.

        1. And warning privates about the dangers of snowboarding down stairs just makes them think “whoa, cool idea… why didn’t I think of that?”

        2. Also anti-bullying techniques get used by bullies against their victims. Like the “it doesn’t matter who started it” bullcrap about fighting. Bullies don’t care if they get punished but really love it if they can get their victims punished for fighting back.

          1. Tell me about it. I can’t teach my son to fight back, but when two kids were trying to set him up to get into trouble with the teacher (Shoved him so he fell then offered to let him kick them in the ‘nads ‘to make up for it’) son ran to the teacher. First kid tried to get another kid to do the same, and expected result happened again.

            1. My parents essentially gave me the green light to fight back and they’d deal with the consequences, though I couldn’t start a fight.

              Fortunately the bullies that had been making my life utter hell dragged me out of sight of the gym coach… and they didn’t complain to him when I kicked one in the groin and knocked him into a wall.

              Unfortunately they kept up the psychological abuse, but they didn’t try physically attacking me again after that. So there was that.

              1. My father’s rule was I couldn’t start a fight, but damn skippy, defend yourself. None of the bullshit about ‘reasonable force’ either – keep hitting until they’re not coming after you any more – and if that means they’re dead, that’s their damn fault, not yours.

                Can’t do that these days, and unfortunately, son is a twig with my metabolism – nothing stays on despite the amount he eats, and well, he got a dose of his paternal uncle’s genes – he’ll be a beanpole. One of his bigger problems is, he’s one of those boys who’s just too nice, and sensitive to boot.

                And he had a run in with a substitute teacher who, for the week-odd she was handling their impressionable class, taught him that crying when your feelings are hurt is TOTES OKAY and Vincent’s a handsome little fellow who’s got BIG BROWN EYES with those unfairly long eyelashes that convey all those hurt feelings as soon as he’s scolded or harsh words are said. As his mum, I’m frankly terrified of what will happen if he doesn’t toughen up, and he can’t if he’s not allowed to fight back.

                1. Depends on the Kid, but my Kid is very, very (very!!) analytical, and I’ve had good luck where she’s concerned with variants on “doing X doesn’t make you a bad/weak *person*, but some people WILL interpret it to mean ‘acceptable target’, so control your reaction in order to control theirs.” But it is fairly abstract and I don’t know if that perspective would work for your particular Kid.

                2. This makes me glad for the school my son will be in. (Small school out in the country). A couple of points in their bullying policies that I’ve liked: 1) Fights and arguments are not inherently bullying. 2) Fights should, generally, be avoided, but students have the right to defend themselves. 3) I can’t remember the wording, but they have not taken the ‘I don’t care who started it’ route.

                3. I’m a big believer in “Reasonable Force.”

                  In my dictionary Reasonable Force means that force which ensures no reprisal attempts.

                  1. Maxim 6: If violence wasn’t your last resort, you failed to resort to enough of it.

      1. Trust me, on this one: The lectures and training have no actual impact. They’ve been doing the stupid shit since long, long before those higher in the food chain mandated the “preventive training” BS.

        You think snowboarding down the stairs isn’t normal? HA. And, double-HA. Sometime when you’ve got several hours and a mind to be warped, let me tell you about the Army of the early 1980s. You’ll leave that discussion, and immediately seek out your worst troublemakers for hugs and kisses, believe me.

        {shaking head} Kids, these days… No idea, no earthly idea at all, what it was like, back in the old days. Trust me on this–We’d have had a laugh at the idiots, scraped them up and sent them off to have their boo-boos bandaged, and then sighed in relief that they hadn’t done something like we were used to seeing, such as OD in their bunks, or get caught selling dope to CID in commodity-sized lots. All you younger guys see a couple of minor transgressions, and think it’s the end of the world, when the reality is… It really isn’t. Get back to me when Monday’s formation is missing half the junior enlisted, and a full quarter of the NCOs, ‘cos they’re in fucking jail…

        1. Snowboarding down the stairs … how about the guys that rode a motorcycle at speed through the downstairs of the women’s barracks – in one door, straight down the hall and out the other?

          Or some the practical jokes the broadcasters used to play – like bribing an SAS stewardess to strip off and go into the radio and sit naked on the duty DJ’s lap as he was in the middle of afternoon drive time. Or how my best female friend was mooned on air by every one of the male staff, from the station manager and chief engineer …

          Or the three Navy guys who were running a delicatessen out of their room in the Navy barracks; hot and cold sandwiches, chili, soft drinks and delivery within the barrack…

          *wipes away a nostalgic tear* There were giants in the world, in those days.

          1. Yeah, there was a lot more room for “aberrant and eccentric” when everyone was just happy they weren’t doing hard drugs in the barracks…

            Remember the old stories about Lieutenants on Staff Duty who were thrown out of third floor windows? Yeah… I, too, thought those were bullshit “Old Soldier’s Stories” until I was tasked with cleaning out the old file cabinets in what was once the MP substation at Kelley Barracks in Darmstadt. In those files, which dated to the late 1960s through late 1970s? Holeeeee–sheeeit… My friends, you have no idea. Even the shenanigans I went through during the early 1980s had no comparison. I wish I’d been able to keep some of those, or at least just take notes, as I went through them for shredding. Assuming they weren’t the product of someone’s demented imagination, it was a vision into another Army entirely, one I had had only peripheral contact with.

            That supposed tossed Lieutenant? Well, if he wasn’t real, there was a very convincing set of files going over the details of the incident with names, dates, faces, and sworn statements backing the story up as having actually happened there at Kelley Barracks in the early ’70s. And, oh-by-the-way, there was that odd little requirement, still on our books, for the Staff Duty Officer to be carrying a locked-and-loaded .45 pistol at all times he was on duty–And, not because anyone was worried about Spetsnatz coming over the fence, either. The worry that led to that mandate?

            Yeah, wall locker plus naive young LT, fresh from states, and the way he’d been put in it, and then thrown from a third-floor window. Seems he’d tried to arrest some guys, up on the third floor, after smelling marijuana/hash burning in one of the barracks rooms. The fact that the malefactors had then carted the wall locker/lieutenant combination back upstairs, past the “See no evil…” Charge of Quarters NCO? Twice?

            That’s why the SDO got the .45. Even ten years later, that shit wasn’t forgotten. Well, not entirely–Most of the people in charge had forgotten just why the unit required that, they just knew it as a unit “norm”, and carried on with it.

            People complaining of indiscipline in the barracks these days have no ‘effing clue. There was a time, literally, when the chain of command wasn’t able to exert itself above the first floor safely, and intrusion into the billets was best done in the company of what amounted to a SWAT team.

            Which goes a long ways towards explaining why guys who restricted themselves to running delicatessens out of their rooms, or who merely moved their 15 year-old girlfriends into their wall lockers were simply smiled at, and spoken of with a sigh of relief: “Well, at least he’s not dealing heroin…”.

            No joke: We had people getting murdered, over drugs, in my first unit at Fort Sill. Wasn’t blamed on that, openly, but it was well known that a couple of “disappeared/AWOL” statuses had to do with someone stepping on turf that wasn’t theirs, and/or failing to pay back the right people.

            Then, there was the supposed “AWOL case” that they found walled up in one of the dayrooms they were tearing down, behind drywall. Kid had been reported as AWOL at some point in the 1960s there at Fort Sill, and nobody was any the wiser until the skeleton literally dropped out of the wall during some remodeling in the late-’70s. You’re not going to find that one in any history books, either–The whole thing was studiously ignored, past changing his status from “AWOL” to whatever fit the circumstances when you turn out to have never left your company area. I never did hear the determination on that one–The supposition was that he was probably a victim of a drill sergeant, who’d then hidden the evidence of his crime. I only know about that one because I made friends with the people there at Fort Sill who did building maintenance, and they had clippings from the newspapers about the whole incident up on the wall, as a precautionary warning about what could come tumbling out on you during work in your buildings…

            Yeah… The “Good old days”? Mostly, weren’t. Count your blessings, friends: Things are a lot better, even with the budget cuts.

            1. “…there was the supposed “AWOL case” that they found walled up in one of the dayrooms they were tearing down, behind drywall. Kid had been reported as AWOL at some point in the 1960s there at Fort Sill, and nobody was any the wiser until the skeleton literally dropped out of the wall during some remodeling in the late-’70s.”

              *Madly scribbling notes for something of this sort happening in one of my as-yet-unwritten books.*

              Yeah, be careful of either intriguing or or pissing-off a writer. The matter or the character who attracts interest and attention will be folded neatly into a future book…

              1. I thought I spotted a few things that could have come from discussions here in the Luna City opener… 🙂

                Hell, at least this way something I write might make publication…

                If you’re interested in details on that incident, let me know… There were some interesting fillips with it.

                1. Sure – don’t know where I would go with it, but all grist to the mill.

                  The Luna City chronicles will be fun, I promise. And sometimes kind of heartbreaking. I talked with my daughter a couple of weeks ago over — weren’t there just too many military veterans in the place? And then we started tallying up the veterans in our own neighborhood.

                  No, for Texas, not all that far out of the norm. One of my models for Luna City is Goliad – where we had a problem with the Montero AC, shortly before arriving in town for a big reenactor event. We finished up in the parking lot of the town grocery store, and it was like moths to a bright light. A woman came back, seeing us peering earnestly into the engine compartment of the Montero, and figuring out that it was the belt that drove the AC compressor that had broken. She had a friend – who lived about a block away … long story short, we were able to purchase the necessary belt from a local auto repair place — on a Saturday! – and her friend dropped everything to put on the new belt for nothing, because – friend of a friend, and women in need. It turned out that friend-of-a-friend and all of his friends (somewhat sauced at midday) were all veterans, and so … we got on delightfully, parked on the side of the road, while friend of a friend and his friends installed the necessary belt.

                  THIS IS TEXAS!

                  1. Added detail about the “walled-up soldier” story:

                    It’s been awhile, but the gist of it is that this went down in the old WWII-era barracks areas at Fort Sill where they conducted Artillery basic and AIT. As you might imagine, the least-used facilities there were the little separate day rooms each company was required to keep–The trainees kept those scrupulously clean, but actually using them? Nope, not likely. So, these things were like little time-capsules; nobody ever went in them, except to clean and polish the floors.

                    At some point in the late-ish 1970s, someone got a wild hair up their ass, and decided that they needed to renovate one of these buildings, for some such purpose–So, the drill sergeants tasked a detail to do some of the demo work, knocking down a plastered wall. This, they did–And, in the course of things, this mummified skeleton in a bloody white t-shirt and OD green pants falls out of the wall, on top of one of them. You can easily imagine the scene, I think. The young men on the detail were sort of… Disturbed? Yeah, that’s a good word for it.

                    Drill sergeants appeared, followed by the folks from the Military Police, and CID. The remains still had dog tags, and those were used to trace the victim to a soldier’s name that had been reported AWOL from his training company back during the late Vietnam war, and they were finally able to close the books on that one. Bit of a problem, with his family, in that they’d been told he was AWOL, and here he was, obviously never having left his company area–Dad was not pleased, at all, having been a WWII and Korea vet, of some rank. He’d always insisted that his son couldn’t have gone AWOL, and now, here was proof. If I remember what I was told about it all right, they buried the young man with full honors, and paid the family a not-quite-within-the-letter-of-the-regulation sum that included the then-current SGLI and a bunch of back pay.

                    You can imagine the nightmare CID had, tracing all this out. From what I understand, they took three-four months of steady, hard work just to figure out what basic training company had had authority over that building, and who would have been likely to use it–It wasn’t one of the buildings assigned to the supposed AWOL soldier’s company, back then, but it was within their area, if that makes sense. Figuring out who’d had access to it? Don’t make me laugh: Key control records? From the 1960s? Yeah, right… Suuuuuuure, we got those, right over here next to the sign-out sheet for the flying saucers…

                    The guy I got all these details from had been working there in facilities maintenance at Fort Sill for years, back to when this actually happened, so he had an excellent perspective on the investigation. From what he told me, they finally had to close it out when they couldn’t trace the most likely suspect past his ETS. The suspicion was, based on what the other trainees in the victim’s company had observed, it was probably a specific drill sergeant that had a habit of beating trainees, and who left the service in the early 1970s. They couldn’t find him, and since he’d essentially fallen off the face of the Earth, that’s who they wound up placing the blame on. They never had enough to really tag anyone for the crime, which it obviously was–There’s no way the body could have wound up where it did, without someone putting it there.

                    The drills supposedly used that incident as a bit of a threat, for years afterwards.

                    1. (Flipping through Russian Military phrase book) Ahhhhh … that seems to fit the definition of “suicide.” See – it describes such pathological actions right here.

                2. Take a story, file off the serial numbers…

                  Don’t know where it will fit in mine, either, right now, but intriguing.

                  (I do recall that LMB had a similar thing – except with a drain culvert.)

                  1. No, this one was, obviously, foul play. Body had to be hidden by someone. LMB’s incident was an accident. Stupid young soldier hides something in a drain, goes back to get it, and drowns when he gets stuck and the water rises.

                3. Hmmm . . . I wonder if any obnoxious/criminal/otherwise untouchable administrative types ever vanished while Rada and Joschka were in the Adamantine Divisions’ scouts . . .

            2. Few units before mine, for Hell Week, a sister and brother had joined the Navy (would have been… about two months before 9/11 when the went in.) From memory, they didn’t put him in the same division or in the brother division.

              Well, during Hell Week, she supposedly went AWOL from cranking duty in the galley.

              Her brother didn’t buy it; he did go AWOL, searching around.

              Short version, she was kidnapped by one of the guys in charge of the galley, and was being kept in the basement. This would’ve been right about the time of 9/11.

              Scumbag survived, unfortunately.

              Good luck finding anything about THAT.

              1. Yeesh… I can’t even.

                How’d they find her? Did she come out of it OK?

                There are some alarmingly bad things that can happen to young people, even ones that have made it through the rigors of initial military training. They think they’re immortal, epic bad-asses, and then they encounter things they simply aren’t prepared for.

                I can’t find the details, right now, but there was a serial killer active in the South Sound back in the late 1970s, early 1980s whose chosen prey was young men. He’d pick them up in bars, and then take them to isolated locations to sexually assault and kill. He got sloppy, and took one of his victims to a site he’d used before, the victim got suspicious and somehow got the advantage on him and killed him. They traced something like three other killings to him, but one of the investigators was convinced that there were probably a lot more they never found, based on the number of sightings they had putting him with young men who were never seen again. Included a bunch of soldiers from Fort Lewis, all young guys who were likely very naive. I had that investigator come in and give a talk during one of our safety stand-downs, and you could literally drop a pin and have heard it, once he got done with his presentation. Most of the young men he made it to were completely certain they could handle anything, and he demonstrated clearly to them that that wasn’t so.

                1. How’d they find her? Did she come out of it OK?\

                  They followed the sounds of her brother attempting to kinetically re-paint the walls of the basement with her kidnapper’s blood, as I heard it. The only detail that stuck was that it was near the freezers in the storage area.

                  Neither of them are nationally famous, so I’m gathering that the bastard survived, and the girl was as alright as you can hope; the impression I got was that he hadn’t had a chance to “do” anything besides the whole break-your-mind kidnapping her for at least 48 hours part.

                  We did not get this in any kind of “news” situation, we got this information because suddenly all of the females were not allowed to go anywhere without being in at least groups of two, and instructors did not count; the guy who told us was, I believe, the same instructor who told us about 9/11 against the orders of the head drill instructor. (he also smuggled in “week in review” videos on the Sunday after 9/11; I’m inclined to believe him, even if I wasn’t already pro-biased ‘cus we were the same rate)

                  So if you were going to medical or anywhere else, you HAD to have a “buddy” that was another female, and we weren’t allowed to go get anything from any storage area.

            3. Remember the old stories about Lieutenants on Staff Duty who were thrown out of third floor windows? Yeah… I, too, thought those were bullshit “Old Soldier’s Stories” until I was tasked with cleaning out the old file cabinets in what was once the MP substation at Kelley Barracks in Darmstadt.

              My sergeant (who had been EOD and then CID and finally QM) told me that somebody’s CO got thrown out of third floor in a wall locker in Germany and, if I remember correctly, it killed him. Yeah, it was drug dealers.

              1. I’m pretty sure that it either happened at Kelley Barracks, Darmstadt, or it happened multiple times at different locations.

                The file I found outlined the details as being a brand-new Second Lieutenant, fresh in from the States, and with only around 72 hours in-country. He’d gone through the barracks on Staff Duty checks, and found marijuana and hash smoke coming from under a door. At this time, just having the SDO go through the barracks was a risk; he compounded his ill-judgment by attempting to arrest the occupants of the room, who responded by stuffing him into a metal wall-locker, and throwing the wall-locker out the window from the third floor. Going to check their work, they found he was still breathing, so it was hey-ho, up the stairs we go, past the Charge-of-Quarters desk and the NCO on duty, and out the window again. Second trip didn’t kill him, but the third one did. When the Staff Duty NCO went looking for his boss, he found the locker on the ground, leaking blood.

                Whole lot of “I saw nothing” went on, detailed in the files. A lot of things were missing, in there, but you could read through the lines to see that there was a considerable amount of racial animosity involved–The LT was white, the throwers were apparently black, and well-known drug dealers. The whole thing was a mess of really epic proportions. Made for enthralling reading, though, I’ll tell you…

                It was also interesting to find the files surrounding the supposed “Hold a battalion formation and have CID, the Polizei, and the MPs haul off half the battalion to Mannheim…” story, and discover that something like that really did happen. The Army of the late 1960s and 1970s in Europe was a flippin’ mess, one that I don’t think a lot of people in today’s military would even begin to comprehend. Literally, they had lost control of the barracks, and I don’t mean they had problems with the troops doing basic housekeeping, either. Per one file I found, there was a sworn statement to the effect that the company leadership in one of the line companies hadn’t gone above the first floor in the barracks for at least a six-month period, due to “safety concerns”. It wasn’t the Wild West, it was complete anarchy. The local German city government was supposedly on the edge of demanding the departure of the US Army, period–And, to be honest, I can’t say I blame them, at all. There were some horrific things in those file cabinets, and I could see why there had been no development around the US-occupied kasernes in that part of town from the 1960s to the mid-1980s. Some of the local Germans told stories of what went on, and you’d be sitting there, listening to them with complete incredulity, thinking there’s no way that was really going on… Only, it was.

                Still wish I’d been able to salvage at least some of those files, as I was reviewing them before tossing the damn things in the shredder. There was enough material in there for years worth of scripts for some bizarre soap opera…

                1. Then there was her story about her CID time at Ft. Pope when the first sergeant marched the company to the battalion and stated emphatically they weren’t working for the racist commander anymore. She said that was the easiest equal opportunity investigation she ever did.

                  The only somewhat interesting files I burned were nothing remotely like yours. Stuff like “when moving from area Skip in Saudi Arabia to Hop in Iraq (or vice-versa) trailer came loose from truck. Convoy instructions were not to stop for broken down vehicles.…When maintenance personnel returned to pick up trailer, only the body remained; contents and tires were gone (or some such).”

                  1. Oh, criminy… You’ve opened up a whole other cache of “Old Soldier Stories” with that bit about Saudi. I spent a year “massaging” the logistics systems for my brigade in Kuwait, and the stories I could tell…

                    Dear God, I’m still looking over my shoulder for CID, on some of them. Thanks to being attached to 4ID, whose combat patch I flatly refuse to wear, we were still taking part in and contributing to 15-6 investigations stemming from OIF I in 2003-04 when we returned from OIF IV-V in 2006. Some of those may still be open…

                    Let’s see… There were the 4 D-9 uparmored bulldozers I was ordered to essentially steal off the docks down at Ash Shuaiba, the dozens of “lost” vehicles I found scattered around Kuwait on various installations, the missing containers of equipment that vanished into the maw of the container yard at Doha, and… God. If I start now, I’ll never stop, the evidence might well be used against me, and the American people would be sadly disillusioned about the competency of their military forces…

                    1. That was from the Gulf War (’90-’91).

                      You should have heard her story about what was in the connexes when her unit came back from Panama; it sure wasn’t weapons.

                    2. Gortex? No, I did *NOT* steal the Gortex, sir. They got ganked before I went to MEPPS, or so I was told. I ordered those coats because the CO (and Property Book Officer) ordered us too; we returned them because they weren’t Gortex. Yes, I turn all my stuff in (except the unit crest, oops). (They sent me a letter or a fax with a long list of questions regarding the investigation to my Reserve unit–don’t remember which–after I got out.)

                      Like the man said, a whole ‘nother level of trouble; lower level basically.

                    3. Ah, Panama, ’89…

                      Dealt with the repercussions from that one, in, of all places, Korea.

                      Young soldier in my unit is on the wash rack, cleaning vehicles for return from Ulchi Focus Lens ‘whatever (Probably ’92-ish), and finds that he can’t quite get the dirt out of the hood area behind the headlights. So, he takes the cover plates off the wiring compartment, and blows that out, only to find that something is rattling around in there…

                      Turns out to be an M9 slide and some magazines, wrapped well in plastic ziplocks and grease. Huh, that’s odd… Does the other side. Lo and behold, something else is in that one, too–Which proves to be the rest of the pistol, also wrapped up carefully.

                      So, being a good soldier, off he goes to report this to the wash rack NCOIC, who calls in the commander, who calls in CID. Now, in a rational world, this young man would have been given a commendation for his honesty, and having Done the Right Thing(tm). In CID-land, however, they had a crime to solve, in that elsewhere during that exercise, M9 pistols had been stolen. So, their theory became that our guy had stolen those pistols, despite never having been closer than sixty miles away during the exercise to where they’d gone missing (a bathhouse, surprisingly…), and the small discrepancy that the serial number of the pistol didn’t match the stolen ones…

                      He stayed in Korea for an additional 60 or so days, until the I Corps commander got involved, and demanded that 8th Army CID either prosecute the young man, or make forth with the Specialist. And, by that time, they’d completed the trace on the pistol: It had been reported lost during the jump into Panama by a young 82nd Airborne LT, who’d suffered an equipment failure during the jump, and barely survived. Pistol had never been found, and it got written up as such, until it appeared in our vehicle in Korea…

                      CID’s working theory had become that our guy had stolen the pistol in Panama, where he’d never been assigned, and then taken it with him to Korea for sale to unknown Koreans, and then chickened out after being unable to do so, and subsequently chickened out of trying to ship it back to the US. Hearing this theory, I became convinced that the folks at the 8th Army CID office needed to receive a command-directed urinalysis, because if they had come up with that theory absent the consumption of illegal drugs, I don’t want to contemplate who else they may have railroaded into Leavenworth. The only reason that they didn’t proceed with this theory to prosecution? Command influence, and a threat that I Corps was going to hire the kid some civilian attorneys if they didn’t back off.

                      Strangely, the young man’s scheduled reenlistment didn’t happen, when he got back. Having been Soldier of the Year or some such, for post, that was kinda odd, but understandable.

                      Nobody ever did come up with more than a bare theory for all that having happened. The HMMWV in question? Records showed it had been precisely two places since leaving the factory: Fort Lewis, and Korea. All we could ever figure out was that the HMMWV hood had maybe come out of the cannibalization point, which had had a bunch of Fort Ord vehicles from 7th ID in it, and that one of those was the one that had the pistol. Records not being kept, and there not being any other clues, that’s where we had to leave it.

                    4. From 2008 to 2012, I was working on the Marine Corps portion of GCSS. Hundreds of BILLIONS of dollars of stuff the Marines had simply lost track of. And yes, that included weapons of several dozen sizes….

                      And the first line of every proposal was that they wanted COTS software…. Of course, the commercial world doesn’t have the Congress and the bureaucracy directly writing it’s accounting systems and business processes….. YET. But there was no way in Hell you were going to run any government department without customizing the software.

              2. If interested bystanders have gotten lost in the acronyms, here is a link to Damon B. Shackleford’s Army dictionary (not the notional Alabama monster hunting Shacklefords, the real North Carolina former DBS drawing Shackleford. He credits the author of “Ka-boom!” for much of it. Also, QM=quartermaster, CID=Criminal Investigative Division, and EOD=Explosive Ordinance Detail.

                Alas, DBS is in re-runs and Ka-boom is offline, although the author (Gallager?) did write a book after he got out.

          2. Snowboarding down the stairs … how about the guys that rode a motorcycle at speed through the downstairs of the women’s barracks – in one door, straight down the hall and out the other?

            How long did it take them to get clotheslined, and did they break what was put across the door?

          3. Or the three Navy guys who were running a delicatessen out of their room in the Navy barracks; hot and cold sandwiches, chili, soft drinks and delivery within the barrack… Enterprising fellow, wot?

            Rhys told me about how once, for a giggle, some of the guys in the barrack decided to pile the common room furniture in front of the showers, after nicking all the towels, as one guy was in there, showering after a workout.

            The fellow climbed out of the furniture blockade, and said, laughing “you fucking assholes,” to the other guys around him, then strutted in all his naked, muscled glory back to his room.

            Rhys wasn’t into that kind of prank, he was more the verbal trap and pun-dispensing sort. But he relates tales of people being sent to the Q-store for target cross-hairs and such chuckles.

            Or the time when, they were in lockdown for a training exercise, they decided to do the harlem shake to pass the time. I was rather impressed with the fellow who caterpillared his way across the room, wrapped up in a sleeping bag, wanting to do one better than the guys wriggling in those sleeping bags in the snow. Afterward, he said he hurt, but he did it.

            Rhys pointed out their boss (I can’t remember what rank) dancing with a shirt flopping around his head so I guess the guy thought it was a pretty harmless and silly way to dispense with boredom and boost unit morale… Rhys was standing on his head, legs waving in the air.

            IIRC the video isn’t on Youtube. One of the props they had was lifting some workshop tool and carrying it, so for security reasons it wasn’t up there. Doesn’t matter. They had the fun, and laugh about it.

            Inter-section pranks though, seem to be part of the army tradition, and there’s plenty of stories of stealing the unit mascots, hanging the section’s plaque off of Mt. Stewart’s cliff side, rearranging office furniture, etc are unofficially allowed, as long as it’s done in a way that doesn’t interfere with necessary work, and nobody gets hurt.

            1. Rhys wasn’t into that kind of prank, he was more the verbal trap and pun-dispensing sort. But he relates tales of people being sent to the Q-store for target cross-hairs and such chuckles.

              Like the sergeant who called another NCO on the phone one night and did a good enough imitation of my voice that he thought it was me (or could be me, at least) cussing him out? I was a specialist (E-4), not an NCO, BTW.

        2. Oh, trust me, I know it could be worse. I had my share of wife-beaters, drug users, and the like as well. The snowboard down the stairs kids were some of my good soldiers, who had just had enough of a shitty chain of command who held them late every day and then announced training every weekend for the last two months before a sixteen month deployment. It could have been worse, but at least most of them signed up because they really wanted to be there.

  3. Most major American universities have some or all of their curricula online now. MIT was the first, as far as I know.

    That’s because the “education” is of no value. Not to them, not to you, not to your future career. They’re in the business of selling diplomas, not education.

    1. Precisely. It stands as one of my points of pride I went through state college and got in first try. I once looked up statistics. For my year, my degree, that was 0.01%. For the more coveted degrees like medicine, it took more effort.

  4. Public Speaking 303

    Career Preparation

    This course will prepare students for future employment with emphasis on phrases like “would you like fries with that?” and “can I supersize that for you?”

    1. Which will still not qualify one for a minimum-wage job tending the automatic coffee vending machines.

      1. … tending the automatic coffee vending machines.

        Entry-level McDonalds jobs soon to require a STEM education?

        1. Given the difficulties I’ve seen workers have with the Coca-Cola Freestyle machines, that might be good (especially mechanical engineering) – or at least an apprenticeship as a plumber or machinist.

            1. Or the guy who was hired as a Unix system admin by some genius in HR who quit after three days saying his Christian beliefs didn’t allow him to work with an operating system based on “daemons*”…… /HEAD DESK

              Sarah’s met me and she can testify to the number of “blonde highlights” I’ve acquired via 30 years in IT…

              * For those who don’t know, daemon is a term of art used in Unix to describe running processes. It’s….. fairly basic knowledge.

        2. Or maybe just arithmetic. I keep getting surprised looks from fast-food clerks when I give them exact change after calculating the sales tax in my head.

          1. I can’t (or at least don’t) do that. I had a great-uncle who could; he ran a country store with his nephew, my uncle. He also did the crossword every day and the Crypto-quote, which I never tried hard enough. I did learn my multiplication tables up to fourteen (instead of the twelve I learned in school) counting cigarettes when I worked at a convenience store in the city.

          2. Item is 16.72. I give 21.75.

            Sometimes I have to tell them to ring it up.

            Once the manager had to.

      2. Of course not, it’s only a 300 level course. Even after completion, they have at least another year to go before getting the degree in Fast Food Cashier Studies.

  5. The techniques and topics of mass education have not kept pace with other changes in society. Once, an elementary education (plus an apprenticeship with one’s parents) was sufficient to teach the skills required for independent living as an adult. Now, it doesn’t even come close.

    1. To be fair, elementary education back then was a fair bit more demanding than it is now.

      1. When I was in school, it was still possible to be required to repeat a year in school because one had not passed the requirements to advance a grade. Automatic promotion plus grade inflation has meant dumbing down of the entire curriculum.

        1. “But-but-but – NO CHILD MUST BE LEFT BEHIND!”

          Therefore, the system will be dumbed down until that happens.

            1. If you are forced by law to wear heavy weights and stuff to make you uncomfortable, it may as well be level 3 tactical armor a semi-auto shotgun and a Glock 17. Take that Handicapper General!!!!

              Note: If Mr. Bergeron had followed my freely offered advice he would still be alive and the Handicapper General would not.

          1. So, we have standardized tests; more and more of them. And then we get teachers teaching how to pass the test, instead of the content the test was supposed to measure. And then we start to get school teachers and administrators cheating on grading the tests. Government compassion in action.

            1. I spent my early school years in California in the 1960s. They were absolutely mad for testing back then, at least at the school I went to. By the third grade I’d had the Weschler and Stanford-Binet, the MMPI, an early version of the ASVAB, and dozens of others, some of which were probably dreamed up by low-level administrators somewhere.

              My favorite was the one where we were given a matchbox, a match, a thumbtack, a paperclip, a piece of string, and a candle. Within some allotted time we were supposed to attach the candle to the wall in its normal orientation so it could be lit. I rebent the paperclip, wedged it into a corner, and sat the candle on top. FAIL

              The “correct” answer was to use the thumbtack to pin the matchbox to the wall, then set the candle on top. There were two problems with that:

              1) the wall was concrete block

              2) if I’d poked a hole in a wall a home, I’d still be feeling parental wrath

              The fact that my solution worked didn’t count; it wasn’t the *right* correct solution…

              1. If you are asked how rabbits and dogs are like, the “correct” answer is that they are both mammals. Quadrupeds will get you reduced credit. And “they both feature in rabbit hunts” none, even though all three are ways they are alike.

                1. My favorite is the tale of the girl, asked to distinguish between a fish and a sub, who responded that the first had tartar sauce and the second employed oil & vinegar.

              2. Considering that that test is supposed to test creative thinking, the teachers apparently should have been taking it.

            2. So, we have standardized tests; more and more of them.

              Written by people who have no freaking clue.

              Had an English teacher, who was a college-level English professor who couldn’t bear the politics. He displayed his skills in English by conveying his dismay (while avoiding entire swaths of vocabulary) at knowledge displayed by those writing the Wazzle. (Washington state assessment test, not sure what the acronym is but “wazzle” is how folks said it.)

              The one that comes to mind is the instruction to write a style of essay which requires five paragraphs, but to do so in one paragraph, and to write a summary of a thing in more words than the thing which we were “summarizing” had.

      2. I remember reading back in the ’80s that someone compared army entrance exam scores from WWI to current scores. WWI enlistees with 6th grade educations tested more literate and numerate than ’80s high school grads.

        Might have been a Pournelle column.

        1. I don’t know that I buy into this. Mainly, because using those tests to evaluate the general population is highly suspect; if the test weren’t given, which it wasn’t, to the illiterate, then they were invisible. You’re thus comparing a situation where a really good education was given to a small part of the population to one where a mediocre education is given to a much broader swathe of it. Which is a better thing?

          You can’t really compare a situation where the average kid didn’t go to high school, and that high school was comparable in rigor and quality to one of our better community colleges, to one where “everyone goes”. The old days were a hell of a lot more selective about who even got into high school, let alone who could afford to graduate one.

          The conditions changed. Cross-comparison thus becomes exceedingly difficult, and requires that someone actually has a solid background in the realities of the times. Which, given what I know of my sainted grandmother’s high school and college transcripts, were exceedingly different. The average grade school teacher of our day, which she was educated to be, wouldn’t have gotten past day one of her curriculum–In high school. Attendance at which, and graduation from, certified her to be a teacher in a one-room primary school in Eastern Oregon. Her getting into college in Portland was highly competitive, and quite an attainment, as well as her later teacher certification and training in actual schools. Today’s teachers? Ha. Most wouldn’t have managed to make it as freakin’ janitors or even teachers aides–And, I’m dead serious, when I say that. The standards, back then, were rigorous and enforced from within the profession, in many locales. You got black-balled by the senior teachers for conduct or ignorance, and you were not getting a job anywhere in Oregon.

          1. The reason that I brought this up is that 100 years ago six years of school was a standard education. Only the best and the brightest or richest continued up through high school. Colleges were truly elite institutions. Now school get twelve years to give a standard education. Giving schools more public schools more time did not increase the level of education. Instead it let them take their time.

            The education establishment is also enamored of any “new and improved” teaching method. Throwing out tried and true phonics for whole word. Oooh, correcting student spelling only discourages the little dears. If we expand free school another four years, make work will expand to fill the time.

            1. I’ll stand to be corrected, but I believe that the substitute tests for illiterates were not included in the averages, mainly because the tests weren’t at all comparable.

              I honestly don’t know what the hell an intelligence test is measuring, in the first place. I’ve known some very smart people who wouldn’t even register on a standard intelligence test, and some amazingly stupid ones who would ace the written test, but also prove unable to pour piss out of a boot that had written instructions and a diagram on the side.

              1. Well, your objection is still valid because we don’t know what the stats were even on, or even if it was WWI or WWII or the original ASVAP or what, it’s just a vague memory.

                I figure an IQ test is kind of like a vocabulary test– it depends on what language you’re using.

                1. I think a lot of the problems with IQ testing are that the people setting out to do them do an initial assessment of what constitutes intelligence as being what they consider intelligent, in their own context.

                  Someone who is an academic psychologist is likely to have a very different idea about what intelligence is than, say, an experienced shop floor manager in a machine shop. There may be some congruence, there, in terms of mathematical reasoning and knowledge, but I bet that the floor manager in that machine shop would grade that kid who sticks his fingers into a running machine, and who comes into work wearing loose clothes as a complete moron, even if he did do really well on the MENSA tests…

                  I’ve known some guys who didn’t test very well at all on formal written tests, but who demonstrated far more intelligence out in the real world than men who did. I could list all the times my guys with super-high GT scores did stuff that flatly blew my mind, in terms of the sheer situational stupidity of it all, and they all, to a man, claimed that what they’d done made perfect sense to them. Meanwhile, some of my guys who never did that well in school or on tests…? Never once did something even approaching that level of “temptation of the gods”. Which group was really smarter, again?

                  I think there’s something we have come to term “intelligence”, and then there’s something we’ve left entirely undefined and untested for–Call it “wisdom”, or something. It’s of a different nature, and because we haven’t figured out how to quantify it, it’s immeasurable.

                  1. There is truly a disconnect between problem solving ability, one measure of IQ, and common sense. I sometimes think the high IQs stupidly think they can handle any unforseen results of the highly original schemes they create. The less gifted learn to avoid making stupid mistakes.

                    Is that where Common Sense comes from? The Common Man has learned to be sensible.

                    1. “There is truly a disconnect between problem solving ability, one measure of IQ, and common sense. I sometimes think the high IQs stupidly think they can handle any unforseen results of the highly original schemes they create. The less gifted learn to avoid making stupid mistakes.”

                      I think that’s definitely a “thing” with regards to this–I know for sure that I’ve gotten myself into a lot of trouble, over the years, thinking that I could think my way out of situations where I knew I was taking risks that someone lacking my entirely unjustified and unwarranted confidence wouldn’t have. At the times these situations have turned south for me, I would certainly have not ever used the word “gifted” in relation to the qualities that got me into them–Cursed? Yeah. That.

                      There’s a sweet spot, a place on the range of intelligence and common sense, where one is humble enough to realize you don’t know everything, and yet confident you can figure out a solution to what you encounter. Sadly, I’ve never found that point of satori, although I know a couple of people who have had the natural grace to center their lives there. I’ve often wondered, though, if that was the same assessment that they would have made, and how things looked from their perspective…?

                    2. I’ve taken most of the “intelligence” tests at one time or another. Some, several times. They’re heavily biased toward memory and speed. Problem-solving… not so much. And the ones that tried, badly needed someone to vet their problems, which tended toward either “trivial” “or not solvable with the information presented.”

                      The personality tests, though… those are the fun ones. I took one once that was something like 900 multiple-choice questions, all oriented to three basic groups:

                      A) is stealing OK if you don’t get caught?
                      B) are you LGBT? (in modern terms)
                      C) how often do you chat with Jesus?

                      I thought the test revealed quite a bit about what its designers thought was important…

                  2. I think your last paragraph has it pegged.
                    The other thing is the saying that there are some things so stupid that only smart people can believe them. I think that happened with your smart guys doing stupid things.

              2. As I recall my thirty-five or so years agone Soc (or maybe it was Psych) teacher, IQ tests were designed and calibrated as predictors of which people would do well in college. No actual correlation to intelligence, real or implied, should be assumed. The ability to consume large quantities of material and regurgitate in response to prompts is all that they measure.

    2. Disagree.

      It isn’t that “mass education hasn’t kept up”.

      “Mass Education” has destroyed itself as they don’t do things that “mass education” did in the past.

    3. *raises a hand, one finger raised in the classic choto mate, kudasai form*

      Public school mass education.

      The aspects of military mass education that I was exposed to worked quite well; it basically broke the topic down into two to four week blocks of competency, pass or fail; one or two repeats, and then you get dropped back a block. (or dropped entirely)

      I’d rather like to see an option for this….

      1. I am convinced that requiring kids to take a version of the ACT in order to move forward a grade would do more for American education than any other single reform.

        1. My theory has been to allow teachers to establish entry level requirements for their levels of instruction with salaries determined by how many they get into the next level, so that (for example) 4th Grade teachers devised the standards which students must demonstrate to enter that grade. Too strict a standard and some teachers are getting laid off for lack of students. Too mild a standard and the 5th Grade teachers aren’t accepting your output and your pay gets reduced.

      2. I haven’t been exposed to military training, but I have been thinking along similar lines.

      3. I was exposed to worked quite well; it basically broke the topic down into two to four week blocks of competency, pass or fail; one or two repeats, and then you get dropped back a block. (or dropped entirely)

        Aff says that TAFE is run like this. You don’t get the certification unless you pass on competency and practicum (in other words, the stuff you work on HAS to work, and must be done to a certain standard, and you MUST get re-qualification certification every set number of years, via exam that’s up to date.

            1. Well, the fully-functional CRTs probably won’t bite; it’s the broken ones that will almost make you wet your pants.

              And I think I’ve forgotten how. Do you leave it plugged in (not kidding)?

      4. You *have* to pass military tests to get credit, at least in the old days.

        There are too many courses where passing people on “how hard they tried” or feelz would result in dead bodies.

        1. When you graduate out of basic, Charlie teaches the next course. And when he is doing the grading he grades on a simple pass/fail scale.

    4. The problem is both simpler and more profound than grade inflation or skill degradation. The problem is that the focus is on making “the college experience” something that is fun and easy.

      Working for a university, I set up chairs and tables for events and over the last ten years I have seen the number of student events skyrocket. Three weeks out of four during the semester we set up for some kind of party, a barbecue, a movie night, some kind of event that is designed to engage and entertain the students.

      The end result is that the students stay in school because it’s fun. That’s fine in the short term because it keeps the student loan money coming in by putting butts in seats. As an education, however, it misses the point.

      It doesn’t matter how much knowledge a student picks up in school. If that student isn’t taught how to do things even when they are not “fun and easy” then the education is a failure.

      Employers need to be able to hire people who have the self-discipline to show up for work on time and do the job even when it isn’t pizza day. They aren’t getting that from recent college graduates.

      1. There is no part of the “college experience” that you couldn’t get anywhere else. Or do on your own between classes. I can do everything, including learn, except for having access to professors, on my own. The teaching is what you’re paying for, especially if you’re not an autodidact.

  6. I lucked out in that I did get my college education before all this madness cut loose, and even if my major was definitely not STEM (English and history, with some ventures into art) it was sufficiently rigorous that yes, I emerged from the experience fairly literate, able to spell and write, do research, pull together disparate facts and get them to cohere in an interesting and readable manner. I could also type. Local community college and a relatively obscure state uni of no particular reputation – but I have never at an intellectual disadvantage with people whose educations were far more expensive and prestigious. Of course, after college, I also went full autodidact with history, various computer programs and designing books …

    Free college education has to be limited in some fashion to those who are actually interested in it, or else it turns into babysitting twenty-something babies.

  7. One thing I am almost looking forward to is watching the “admit all” colleges collapse if there is not some kind of college-welfare system. Not because I wish ill to any of the tens of thousands of adjuncts scraping by, or to the professors who are old school and who refuse to water down their courses, but to see all those administrators and hyphenated-studies faculty panicking as they realize that they are dispensable. Well, yeah, my being kinda locked out of university teaching also has something to do with my desire to pop popcorn and watch the weeping and wailing, but not entirely. *raises right front paw* Pinkie claw swear.

  8. I left high school in 1980, without a diploma, and I only had one job that ever asked me for proof of education. (Gateway Computer Store, and my boss admitted when he let me go that I could do the job, but the corporate office insisted that everyone on payroll have a high school diploma.)

    Every other job I’ve had has taken my work experience as proof that I know what I am doing.

    Sadly, this isn’t the case today. If I had been born in 1993 instead of 1963, I would probably be considered unemployable.

    1. I never got a high school diploma either. Nobody ever asked, even when I wrote medical software for a local hospital.

      Even in the late 1970s the high school I went to had lowered its standards to graduate everyone with an acceptable attendance record. They weren’t much for education, but they were hell for doing head counts for attendance every time you changed classrooms…

    2. When I got my current job, my employer had to jump through extra hoops to hire me despite my 20+ years experience as a programmer (and the client’s 20+ years history of purchasing my software), because my degree is in Philosophy.

      ‘Course, it’s a job contracting for the gummint, so there’s that…

      1. Stop me if you heard this one before… My first job after getting my PhD was at the Naval Research Institute in DC. A local car dealership was offering a substantial discount to “new graduates” and after confirming a PhD would count, I went in with my diploma. The salesman (who was very nice, actually) got done with the paperwork, including proof of employment, examines the diploma and then looks at me with a puzzled expression. “Um, what are you doing with a degree in Philosophy at the Navy?” (The diploma had in large type DOCTORATE OF PHILOSOPHY at the top and then in smaller type “in Physics”. ) I managed, just barely, not to laugh.

          1. Or just shrug and respond “c’est la guerre”.

            In college,I used to like browsing through the course catalogue looking for interesting names. One I still remember was a ROTC course… “Theory of Modern Warfare”. Which sounds fairly standard until you read the line below it… “Lecture and Lab”.

            I know the “lab” would have been PT, D&C, etc., but the thought of what it COULD be was amusing. “Today’s experiment will be to see the effects of a strafing run on an empty college dining facility. Everybody join up with your lab partner, please.”

            1. Wayyy back when when I played the GURPS RPG and had a copy of the (excellently illustrated by Phil Foglio) “IOU” sourcebook – think weird science and magic at a university – someone had written an article for the Pyramid proposing a course in applied assassination and how that might be slotted into a campaign.

    3. When I was at community college, one of the students in my class was an older gentleman who pretty much was the IT department for his company. He’d gotten into it when the field was first taking off and at the time, no-one had cared about anything beyond whether he could do the job. Anyway, new leadership at his company took over and insisted that all employees have a degree in the field they were working in. Basically, the guy had to go back to school in order to certify that he was capable of doing the job he’d been doing for over a decade!
      I don’t think this kind of credential worshiping stupidity is sustainable, and we’re in for on hell of a crash.

      1. Thing I learned from my mom, being a good person to talk to…. I got to hear one of the guys who was a mid-level manager of the Air Force’s computer system from back when that meant he knew what a vacuum tube was. (he brought his…. either grandkid or great grandkid, I didn’t ask, to the BX play area when I had the Royalty of Elfland there, waiting for the Elflord to get a lunch break)

        The guy graduated high school, but that’s it. Other than that, he just paid attention.

        Big credit to the air force that they kept him on into the 80s, doing his job, basically being a BS detector and paying enough attention to find people who could actually do stuff.

    4. My mum started and ran a children’s shelter for my Church back in the late 80’s, and did it well for 8 years. The Church asked her to take it over in early 2001; the state told them that she wasn’t qualified since she didn’t have a college degree.

  9. “What this means is that self-education doesn’t have the issues it has in Europe.”
    Could you expand on that? What issues does it have in Europe?

    1. Sounds like books are less accessible. I recall hearing that libraries in the UK require one to buy a membership.

      1. I don’t know what the situation is now, but in the 1980s engineering and technical books in the UK were 2x to 3x the price of similar titles from the USA.

        Figuring relative income, an ordinary paperback novel cost a friend in England a bit more than twice what it did me for the same title.

    2. Well, now there’s computer. And yes, I could, but it would take a whole post. Where I grew up there were no lending libraries. Books were printed in such tight numbers finding the used book you want (as opposed to a random one) was almost impossible. there is no technical printing that is not for use in schools. etc.

      1. Which irks the fire out of me when I’m trying to find geology or agronomy info for Europe. There are no “general interest geology” books, just very specific academic works that cost $$$.

        1. THIS. My brother buys into the propaganda that Americans don’t read. He belongs to some very specialized book clubs and periodically, kindly, offers to lend me history books. I’ve had to break it to him (Over and over) that I buy those and more obscure and interesting stuff on Amazon every day. And before that I belonged to the history book club. BUT as a country we have WAY more “for the layman” and easy entry specialized subject books than any other. Or as Dave Freer says: American elementary education sucks. Secondary and tertiary are fairly bad. But Americans just keep learning. (Not a direct quote.)

            1. Shoot, our church is having a book sale tomorrow, which had a small room stacked completely full of book boxes, floor to ceiling. I have no idea if there are thousands or merely hundreds of books in it.

            2. Over half of the “real” books in my kids’ library are library discards– I got a hell of a deal on an entire set of the mythology-and-legends books, a set of something like 60 “countries of the world” booklets from the 60s, several “presidents of the United States” books that are current to about when my mom graduated college, and of course the “MONSTERS!” books I’ve raved about here. (Seriously, like unicorns or trolls mythology will change much in a few decades?)

              That’s not counting the cheap textbooks I get from Amazon, usually based on folks here raving about how good they are.
              The kids may never use them, I may never use them– but I remember paging through my mom’s old college text books, and the little slivers I picked up were awesome.

          1. When Beloved Spouse and I were gifted to a week in London by F-in-L I wish you could see the reaction of the Customs guy when we confessed t filling our entire “Free” allotment with books. Sure, there was a bunch of Dr. Who in there, but also such things as a British historian’s retelling of Custer’s demise. Some great mythology and folk lore, too.

        2. I don’t promise quick turn arounds as I have no internet at home and am working on the Project of DOOOOOM at work, but what specifics were you looking for? I could see what I could find and do a write up.

          1. Thanks. Right now I’m not on the hunt (thank you, petrogeology faculty at a Hungarian university) but I’ve been trying to find a little bit more about the geology of the Don River basin as well as the relation of the Rhine Rift to the French volcanics of the massif Central (Puy du Dom) and the maars up in the Rhine hills, if there is any set relation. I’m pretty sure there is for the Rhine hills, but not so certain about the Puy du Dome.

      2. Please do the post on the differences, even if it’s got a big “MY DATA IS X DECADES OLD” on the top.

        I’ve been trying to explain to folks that the whole “my grandparents had a lending library” thing isn’t normal.

        1. Yes, please do the post. In fact, I wish you would write a non-fiction book on Portugal dispelling all the myths about Europe that progressives have foisted on us.

  10. I don’t know about other states, but once upon a time, the University of California system did not charge tuition to California residents. When my parents attended in the mid-late 60s, tuition was free and there were very few fees. My mom paid $50/month in rent and worked her way through quite easily. My dad had a close friend who was essentially homeless the whole time–his family had no money whatsoever, even less than my dad’s–he mostly squatted in various places, but he could still go to school (and wound up working for Star Wars).

    By the time I went in the early-mid 90s, tuition was officially still ‘free,’ but there were plenty of fees. “Registration fees” was the tuition cost, and now it seems impossibly cheap at less than $3K/semester, but it was quite a struggle for us at the time. I was always having to explain to my mom that rent and tuition were both relatively higher than in her time, and yes, I really needed that $300 every so often to pay the rent even though I had a job (my folks didn’t have the money either).

    I’m not sure when they finally gave up on the pretense of free tuition, but now it’s massively expensive. I don’t know who goes to a UC anymore, besides wealthy kids and people from out of the country (who pay huge fees and are thus recruited). I’m not really in favor of Bernie’s “free college,” but I also remember when all my college friends came from ordinary poor families just like mine. It’s a mess.

    1. Nod. At Cal State Northridge I had a tuition fee on $95 per semester for a full-time credit load, plus about the same for textbooks. This was in the early 1970s. My brother had the same, but as he was majoring in science, he had $200-300 addition in lab fees for some classes. We were both CA residents, and lived at home. I had a very part-time job which brought in $25 a week, and graduated with a surplus. Never considered a student loan or a scholarship; my parents and grandparents had paid taxes for years in part to support the state university systems!
      My sister’s son had to go to the U of Arizona, as the Cal State system now favors/prefers out of state students, and charges tuition/fees through the nose. What a come-down.

      1. I live near a CSU, but it’s so expensive that the LDS parents (of which I am one) find it cheaper to send a kid to BYU and pay rent than have them live at home and go to the local college.

      1. The definition of “meritocratic” can prove oddly malleable in Progressive hands.

        Of course, the same could be said of the definitions of most words once they start twisting them.

    2. I went to Cal State Long Beach in the late 80s. Tuition was cheap for in state students. The school got massive amounts of money from foreign students. At least half the students in my math and engineering courses were foreigners. Liberal arts not so much. I remember the school bragging that it gave STEM diplomas to more foreigners than any college in America.

      Long Beach jumped on the foreign money train early.

  11. One of my siblings passed this on to me recently; it seems to mesh pretty well with some of Sarah’s points.

    1. In some ways, that video makes me cringe, because I could think of important reasons to learn a lot of the things he complained learning about, and I learned some of the things he complained that he wasn’t taught…

      But about three-fourths of the way through, when he was talking about not learning how to vote, that made me cringe. Do we really want government-run education teaching us how to vote?!? There’s a certain conflict of interest there.

      Overall, the thought that came to mind was one expressed by John Taylor Gatto, “When did we get the idea that it was acceptable for us to have the State tell us what to think?”

      But then, now that I think about it, “Don’t stay in school, learn what you want” was John Taylor Gatto’s message after all….

      1. Yeah, I don’t agree with everything the guy has to say, but it is illustrative. And if they only taught the things he asks for, rather than the classical education I would like to see, it would still be a huge improvement over the present. My biggest thought while watching it was “A lot of people failed this young man.” His parents, his teachers, a million faceless bureaucrats… At least he recognizes that there are gaps in his knowledge. That’s the first step to fixing it. Hopefully he can find his way to the knowledgeable adulthood he longs for despite his circumstances.
        On the voting thing, I interpreted that not as what causes to vote for, but how the process works and how to take the action of voting. A lot of people here seem to have strong political views but no idea how the actual process work even in theory, much less the more complicated reality.

      2. Madeleine L’Engle had a quote posted on her door in college, something to the effect that all knowledge acquired by compulsion has no grip on the soul.

        She admitted that she had learned math and science there under at least a moderate degree of compulsion, and it had done her some good.

  12. I keep repeating this to a roaring lack of response.

    I’m an economic determinist. I you look at higher education and ask the question, “Who gets rewarded for free college?”, the answer is not — “The students who have to pay nothing.” The answer is — “The college that is collecting no tuition from the students.”

    How can this be.

    Because a bureaucracy only continues to exist if the problems it has been created to address never go away. It only grows, if the problems it has been created to address continue to grow — that is, it only succeeds if it fails.

    Free college will require more legions of bureaucrats — called administrators — to mange the free stuff. It will create the demand for more professors, more classrooms, more services to students, more administrators to administrate all of this, more parking lots, more buildings and offices. It will require more labs and textbooks and cultural indoctrination courses with cultural indoctrinators, more sexual assault and discrimination monitors and tribunals and programs and kangaroo courts. It will require more taxes and even more legions of bureaucrats to manage those.

    In addition, not all of the free stuff will be free. Will textbooks be free? Lab fees? Student activity fees? Ticket to cultural events? A year overseas? And if it is determined by the education Gestapo that all students, regardless of merit or financial state, should have these — see the paragraph above.

    And since the university will only continue to grow and prosper by giving out and administering more and more free stuff, there will evolve a mandate that no student — without regard to performance, or progress, or age, or, perhaps, attendance — can ever be dropped from getting free stuff.

    And we haven’t even begun to address illegals and foreign students.

    Free education is intended to grow a Marxist bureaucracy with no output of merit but increasing in size and rewards to the bureaucrats.

    Just the way I see it.

    1. Around here, a lack of response for arguments usually results from stating glaringly obvious. Stupid statements typically earn ridicule, abuse, and mockery. Tell us the Pope is Catholic, bears go potty in the woods and heat won’t pass from the cooler to the hotter and you’ll receive a collective shrug.

      The curious question I see nobody asking is: How many years?

      Of course, as we all know, He who pays the piper calls the tune, so how long until the provider of that “free” indoctrination edumacation starts instructing suckers recipients beneficiaries what they must study?

      1. How many years? Zero. This has already happened; free college would increase it only in degree, not in kind.

  13. One of the driving forces for both “free education” and “inexpensive housing” is that everyone looks at the middle class, and they see “hey, the ones who are most successful have a college education and a home!” and then conclude that, if only everyone had a college education and a home, then everyone would be successful.

    They never stop to think that the reason why those college-educated people might be more successful is that they worked hard, studied, and then found good employment helping others with a dire need or want that was left unfulfilled. They never stop to think that the reason why they have a home, is that they were successful at what they did. In other words, they look at the effect, and mistook it for the cause!

    And so they go and make stupid rules to make sure everyone could get an education, overlooking the myriad other ways to succeed but require apprenticeships or whatnot, and create stupid rules that insist that loans should be given to everyone, so they could have houses and be successful…only to have education become meaningless and housing to become a pariah rather than a boon…

    The end result is that everyone needs a doctorate to get that job as a barrista, has a foreclosure on that house that they should never have tried to buy because of that $300,000 in student loans that can’t be bankrupted. Way to go, ye bureaucrats and legislators who know all, and in knowing all, can fix everything!


    1. Oh, and I would like to propose that any education–free or otherwise–should probably start with an apprenticeship at a trade or two. Had I been aware of this idea, I would have liked to receive some training as a machinist before starting college, and then use my income to get myself through college, probably up through and including my doctorate.

      And, very importantly, I would have appreciated the importance of living within my means to be thoroughly drilled into my head!

      But the danger of this course of action, however, is that I might have been “stuck” as a machinist (likely because of it being something I’d enjoy doing!), and may even own a house at this point, rather than be enjoying the fruits of gobs of student debt and being stuck in a rental…

    2. Glenn Reynold’s First Law:
      “Subsidizing the markers of status doesn’t produce the character traits that result in that status; it undermines them.”

      1. Ace at AoSHQ points out that a great deal of the sub-prime mortgage debacle was driven by this line of thinking.

        Home owners are good and productive members of society, so we need to create more home owners.

        No, good and productive members of society tend to have the traits (focus, willing to save/defer enjoyment) that leads to buying a house. Having a house (without effort) does NOT imbue these traits into a citizen.

        The free-college crowd ignores the likelihood that the people taking them up on it might not have the finishing drive to make it to graduation.

        Of course, creating a whole bunch of new educator slots (earning government checks, natch) is probably just as important if not more so to the organizers.

        1. A part of the slow recovery is that people underwater on a house can’t just pull up stakes and move to greener pastures. My BIL was a good carpenter. He described his lifestyle as following the construction carnival. Roots would have just held him down.

        2. The Left seems locked onto results and totally skips the whole messy bit about causes. Which fits Marx – he locked onto a desired outcome, assumed everything had to be material (it’s economics and production all the way down) and blew off everything else as mere “superstructure.”

          1. Too many politicians, left and right, will vote for anything that sounds plausible to impress the LIV back home. Results happen after elections so are dismissed.

          2. TXR, that’s why they insist on equal outcomes rather that equal opportunity, and have to cheat to make the outcomes “equal”.

    3. The problem with Cargo Cults is that occasionally, just often enough, they succeed in luring a plane into crashing on their beach.

  14. Any discussion on the merits of more education is a good excuse to revisit the great American philosopher Herman Kahn’s thoughts on the subject:

    “…the more educated a person is, the less likely that person is to see a solution when it is not within the framework in which he or she was taught to think. When a possibility comes up that is ruled out by the accepted framework, an expert—or well-educated individual—is often less likely to see it than an amateur without the confining framework. For example, one naturally prefers to consult a trained doctor than an untrained person about matters of health. But if a new cure happens to be developed that is at variance with accepted concepts, the medical profession is often the last to accept it. This problem has always existed in all professions, but it tends to be accentuated under modern conditions…”

    1. I remember a Forbes article at least 5 years before the medical establishment got on board urging everyone with an ulcer to get medicine to kill H Pylori, a “harmless” stomach bacteria. Common antibiotics like amoxicillin would cure your ulcer.

    2. >”the more educated a person is, the less likely that person is to see a solution when it is not within the framework in which he or she was taught to think”
      Well, this says more of what sort of education it is, doesn’t it? In that theoretically, if some high school did more in the vein of teaching “tricky” physics and math, TRIZ and more “political” tabletop games, its typical alumna would be far more capable of thinking out of a box – or at very least out of a wet paper bag.
      The inevitable problems are that:
      1) Education becomes bureaucratised too, with all this entails.
      2) The organisation is formed not by necessity of the disciplines themselves, but from arbitrary sweeping fiat (e.g. “there should be a milestone at 3 years, and the whole thing should take 5 – for everything!”) and unification, there is going to be wrestling between basics, specialist “payload” and ideological mandatory parts, and padding in the material.
      Either of these opens a road for rapid degeneration into memorized parroting if not maintained and pruned constantly.

      1. Who certifies expertise? Those most invested in the conventional wisdom.

        This tends to be noticeably counter-productive toward innovation.

    3. The medical profession has long had a resistance to new things. There should be a Semmelweiss Award for “the year’s most obstructionist actions by the AMA.”

  15. > The cities themselves lead to a need for people who can read instructions and information. […]
    > This means for the first time in human history, reading writing and ciphering become a real asset, and not just “prestige and for the rich.”
    > Those who read, write and calculate have a demonstrably better life, as they become supervisors. […]
    > But that was about 200 years ago
    Good start, but you missed by a few dozens of centuries. Because the former is true back when the cities appear – or rather empires (military or trade) that form cities. It’s necessary for large-scale administration, while existing civilian construction, fortification and shipbuilding contribute to it – and then “it just happens so” you have a whole bureaucratic class.
    It just became more obvious (outside China) “recently”, as the cities grew larger and more numerous, while between better communications and desire of powers-that-be for better grasp and reach (both for good reasons and not) administration was centralised more (essentially, de-feudalised).

    1. I was NOT tracking the growth of an administrative class, which falls under “the rich” — or the Church, in the west — but tracking the need for literacy in the common people. QUITE different, as you note.

  16. …go to hell your own way with beer and blue ruin.

    Wait. There’s beer in hell? Well, this changes my calculations significantly.

    Unless it’s Coors. Then we’re back to the old calculations.

    1. According to reliable sources, nobody can get the good stuff (no matter stuff you’re talking about) in Hell, not even the Devils.

      I mean, it wouldn’t be Hell if one could enjoy oneself there? 😈

      1. There’s an old joke about Don Juan finding himself in Hell, surrounded by beautiful women and frosty cold bottles of beer. Neither having holes in them.

    2. Not only Coors, but Coors Lite. And that’s all there is to drink, ever.

      That’s why it’s Hell.

        1. You’re lucky it just tasted like water. The bars that serve Bud Lite have large, prominent signs in the restrooms: “Please Recycle”.

  17. I want to shut down the guaranteed student loans for whatever idiotic major appears in the course catalog. Sure, government loans but only for majors that are useful to the country as a whole, say medicine. Business could sponsor loans for odd degrees they need that nobody thinks of (food science was one I recall they were *begging* people to do…) with the loan being severely discounted or paid off if the student hires with the company. Have certification testing done by a different organization than the universities, to both confirm an entering student’s capabilities and also to allow for testing-out of the class time (and cost).

    Or if that’s too much, let me designate where I want my tax dollars to go, like the silly presidential campaign fund. That way I could specify only STEM students get my tax dollars.

    That was one of the best job interviews I had. After asking a few questions from the “is she a closet axe-murderer?” list, they set me in front of a computer with some code and told me a) find the bugs and b) write automated code, however you like, that will find those bugs. You know, what I would ACTUALLY DO on the job, instead of contortions with doubly-linked chains…but no, that would make SENSE.

    1. To go with that, taxpayer supported state universities should be teacher’s colleges and “trade” schools. Nursing and doctoring, engineering, agriculture, mechanics, military, etc. Taxpayer supported community colleges do focus on trades, but should focus more on them.

      And testing out of any course should be allowed. If you can demonstrate you have the knowledge- you should get the credit for having it. And any profession the all powerful state licenses the all powerful state should provide a way to apprentice into the profession, learning on the job.

      1. State licensing itself can be counterproductive.

        A friend married an Argentinian licensed PT and brought her home to California. Licensing board asked for her transcripts so she sent them FedEx. Called in a month later because she hadn’t heard from them. She was told the transcripts were never received. She asked for Mr Q because he had signed the FedEx receipt. He replied “I’m Mr. Q and FedEx is wrong. Please send the transcripts so that we can begin your review. Well she sent them a second time and finally got her review months later. It seemed that one of her chemistry courses in Argentina was 4 units but the same course in America was 5 units. She was 1 unit shy in 4 subjects so had to take four courses and nobody offers 1 unit courses. So back to school while working in a boring, low paying job outside of her field. She was then informed that she needed to work as a physical therapy assistant to a licensed PT for a year. The 10 years she had been practicing did not count in California.

        Six months in and her husband was laid off but found a better job in Reno NV. So she started all over again with Nevada. Nevada had even more hoops to go through. All her California work didn’t help with Nevada requirements. AGH!! All of these frustrations contributed to marital tensions. She went home to visit family back in Argentina and has never returned. She is back to being a valued professional in her community and has very little good to say about America

        1. State licensing in most places is a relic of the old guild system; it’s not designed to assure competency, it’s to circle the wagons and keep “scabs” out of various professions.

          My area requires a “certified electrician” to do residential wiring. After butting heads with the local Code Gestapo and three different electrical contractors that were collectively unable to pour urine out of their own footwear, I decided to get a certificate of my own and be done with the hassle.

          Erm. It turns out I can’t. Licensing is through a guild that the state recognizes, not the state itself. The guild’s ONLY requirement is some number of years of apprenticeship under a guild member. Seven, ten, something like that.

          Do your years, get your certificate. There is NO TEST AT ALL.

          No wonder I had to spend so much time cleaning up the messes “certified electricians” left behind. That stuff is straight out of the Middle Ages.

          1. Yep. This. Talked to a former Navy Electrician’s Mate. NY State doesn’t license electricians, but some municipalities do. He took the local licensing test, hadn’t apprenticed, and wasn’t part of the good ol’ boys network. He failed. But after he got a lawyer and sued to see the exam and grading- which the municipality required to be kept on file- turns out he passed! He doesn’t get along well with the other local electricians, but has more then enough work to keep busy. I didn’t take the local plumber’s test. It’s subjective; the local master plumbers watch you do various tasks and decide if you did them right. I wasn’t born and bred here; I was told I would never pass.

      2. And the professors teaching the course should not be grading the test, unless it’s objective.

    2. Rather than using my tax money to subsidize someone’s “education”, how about letting them pay for it themselves?

      After the collapse of the entire state/Fed supported collegiate structure, the survivors would presumably adjust their fees to reflect something more in line with their actual value.

      1. Eliminate all federal loans, make other education loans bankruptable. Watch college prices plummet and students who wish to borrow money be pushed by the lenders into highly remunerative fields and only loaned to if they have a good chance of succeeding.

        While we’re at it, eliminate the requirement to have an Ed degree to teach, and hire all the freed up adjunct profs in the high schools. Most of them are plenty ticked at how poorly prepared their incoming freshmen are anyway, so let them fix it.

      2. But how will the government be able to impose Title IX restrictions on colleges if certification isn’t required to qualify for student loans? America’s campus rape culture* might grow even worse than that of our prisons!

        Ummmm …

        *BTW – does nobody perceive a problem with so many colleges and universities relying upon Foreign students to pay full freight and promoting our colleges and universities as festering biomes of hatred and violence?

    3. “Sure, government loans but only for majors that are useful to the country as a whole, say medicine. ”

      Surely you meant to say “Gender Studies.”

      No, I think it’s all or nothing. I do not trust the Leviathan to chose majors.

  18. This was almost 20 years ago, and I have since forgotten what the issue was, but I had a question about Shakespeare biography and called the library, who called the local college, who got me in touch with a professor, who got me in touch with another professor at a much better university. As I explained my problem and asked my question, the gentleman asked me other questions. In the end instead of answering me he laughed and said I might now be (after 15 years of reading everything I could find) the foremost expert on Shakespeare biography in the US. Which amused him.

    Of course I didn’t have a degree, so I couldn’t teach in college (or anywhere else.)

    And now it wouldn’t matter, because you COULD always write a book….

  19. Thing that scares me?

    We’re forcing our military to spend more and more time getting a degree– any degree.
    I know of two officers, the one of whom (mine) literally had some jargon version of “underwater basket weaving” because a master chief had suggested it to him (No, I don’t know if he realized it was a joke, but it was the same guy who was shocked I had a Bush sticker on my car because I was such a “nice girl”.) and another who majored in cheerleading.
    They put her in charge of a computer shop. (It worked out well, because somehow all her people had enough empathy to feel sorry for her, and worked their rumps off to make dang sure she wasn’t embarrassed. Someone really wanted that woman eaten alive, she was barely computer literate, and her management style was basically Being Really Nice…while looking like someone who’d major in cheerleading, but still genuinely nice.)

    My husband is now figuring out if he’s going to ditch the reserves because he doesn’t have time to do the reserve component, his weekly job, his mandatory volunteer stuff, have time with his kids AND get a degree.

    1. “They put her in charge of a computer shop. (It worked out well, because somehow all her people had enough empathy to feel sorry for her, and worked their rumps off to make dang sure she wasn’t embarrassed. Someone really wanted that woman eaten alive, she was barely computer literate, and her management style was basically Being Really Nice…while looking like someone who’d major in cheerleading, but still genuinely nice.) “

      Don’t discount the “nice” factor. Ever. You would find it really hard to believe just how fscking incompetent and ignorant one of my junior officers really was, especially compared to how well the unit functioned around him. See, the thing was, he was someone all of us wanted to succeed, and who we all, from private to platoon sergeant, really, really liked. I mean, he was just… Likable. Dumb as a post, but… Likable. And, he had the virtue of knowing he was an idiot about a lot of things, and always consulting with his subordinates before doing anything. With him as a figurehead, we got a lot of stuff done, and done right. It was always funny to hear his peers talking trash about how dumb he was, and then watching them crash and burn on something we’d managed to pull off seemingly without effort–And, mostly because of our LT. Geez, you’d send that guy off to try and get one of something essential, from somewhere that normally held on to it like life itself? He’d come back with three of them, and the crusty-ass senior Warrant that was in charge of them, who’d tagged along just to “…help out the nice lieutenant…”.

      I suppose I should have been offended when I overheard one of my guys using me like the “bad cop” in one of those situations, too–“Hey, if you don’t want to do this for us, well… You know who I work for, right? SFC K? The asshole? Yeah… Or… I could send over the LT; your call…”.

      Once caught one of my junior enlisted guys chewing out the battalion Sergeant Major for disrespecting an officer over this guy. The CSM had made some disparaging remark in the hearing of the young soldier, and he’d taken it rather badly. And, personally. It was like watching a mouse tackle a lion, and then seeing the lion back the hell off with an expression of sheer terror.

      Likability can get you a long damn way in life, when the right people are motivated by that likability. That LT had a quality I’ve never run into anyone else, in that he was instantaneously just… Liked. I mean, seriously: It could have been a damn superpower, it was that effective. I’d almost have wanted to throw him into a North Korean POW camp, just to see what effect he’d have had on the guards. Would never have done that, ‘cos I liked the guy, but I was curious just how far his powers of likability went. I bet money the Norks would have liked him a lot, too, and probably put him in command of the camp.

      1. Harumph. I have the opposite superpower. Though I’m a reasonably neat and presentable individual of conventional appearance and quiet demeanor, random people often get bristly when I’m around.

        On occasion I’ve felt like Mr. T at a Klan gathering…

        1. Welcome to the club. I’ve given up on trying to overcome it, and have decided that if I present as Mr. Asshole, I might as well go with it.

          You can get a long way with “bad cop”, so long as you have a counterpart Mr. Niceguy lurking somewhere about, who can go in and take advantage of your ground preparation.

          What I can’t get over is the number of times I’ve set out to be as friendly and benevolent-appearing as possible, and I’ve still managed to terrify people, while trying as hard as I could to be not-terrifying.

          I’m never going to forget that nice Korean lady who I took my KATUSA in to negotiate use of the bathhouse during an exercise with, who literally burst into tears while we talked to her. I don’t know what the hell she thought I was going to do, but it was mortifying, and earned me a huge apology from the ancient manager, while another employee took her back into the nether regions of the bathhouse to recover from the sheer stress of dealing with me. My KATUSA could only explain that I “looked really scary, like you were going to kill people…”. And, I’m thinking, jeez… All I was doing was trying to find out if they took the 8th Army chits, before bringing in the platoon…

          1. You must do that thing where you concentrate (in a perfectly neutral way), but your face or eyes look scowly. I had a female fannish friend who would look like she was going to kill the nearest wall whenever she concentrated.

            It’s better than “Resting Bitch Face,” though.

            1. I dunno… That story probably deserves some elaboration…

              The way it happened was I was involved with Team Spirit ’89, which was the last one we sent major quantities of troops to. I was newly arrived, first time in Korea, and the exercise was midway through. During a lull in it, we were told we needed to take advantage of the opportunity to go out and use the bathhouse chits we’d been given. So, they sent me out with my gawdawful huge 5-ton dumptruck w/trailer, and told me to find a bathhouse that would take the chits.

              Cue me wandering through Korea like Diogenes looking for an honest man; the bathhouses were all either so run-down and ratty that I’d hesitate to have my dogs groomed there, or they were so high-end that they wouldn’t accept the chits. The other problem was that every other GI and ROK Army unit in the maneuver area was doing the same damn thing. It was not looking good for our bathing options, and frankly, we stank.

              So, I’m driving along with Corporal Kang there in the front seat of the truck with me, and we spot this bathhouse off on a side-street; we head for it, park the truck, and go in to inquire of the nice people if they’ll accept our chits.

              I knew I was in trouble the moment we walked in; the poor girl behind the counter at the hostess desk immediately froze, seeing me. And, I mean, froze. I smiled, thinking to reassure her, and she starts sniffling. I have Corporal Kang, who is translating for me, ask her about the bathhouse chits, and if they’ll accept them. As I proffer her the folder with them inside, and try to show her the leaflet in Hangul that detailed the program, she starts wailing like the damned. And, I’m not talking minor kid-in-trouble-with-mama wailing, I’m talking full-on, Satan-has-come-for-me histrionics. Corporal Kang is looking at me like “WTF?”, I’m looking back at him like “Hey, you’re the Korean; you tell me…”, and the poor girl is just going at it like one of the damned in the seventh circle of hell. I swear to God, it was like I’d appeared as Satan in a puff of black smoke, and the gates of Hell had opened in the floor to spit me forth…

              The older gentleman who managed the place came out, and she’s curled up into a ball behind the counter making like it’s the end times, and I’m taking her eternal soul, and there Corporal Kang and I are, looking like we have no clue what is going on, because we very clearly did not.

              The manager took things into hand, had one of the other girls come out and lead her away, wailing like a Korean banshee, and waited on us himself. They didn’t take our chits, but because of the situation, he very kindly offered to let us use the place, and he’d try to get reimbursed. This was apparently by way of apology for his employee’s reaction to me.

              We’re walking out, Corporal Kang and I, and I turn to him and ask “What the hell just happened, in there…?”, and Kang looks back at me in surprise, and says, very seriously, “Sergeant K, you are a very scary man…”.

              This, as you might imagine, left me dumbfounded. I hadn’t done a damn thing to try to intimidate, and I’d even been smiling while I talked to her, on my best behavior, and Kang tells me I’m scary? What the hell?

              On the drive back to get the platoon, I’m interrogating Kang: “Dude, what the hell do you mean, I’m scary? I’m a nice guy; everyone says I am… Hell, I never yell at you guys, or throw shit, the way Staff Sergeant Timmons does with his guys… How the hell am I scary?”.

              Corporal Kang just looks at me, and says “Sergeant K, you are very… Intense… Sergeant Timmons is a joke; everyone knows he is an ass. Nobody really cares when he yells at them: You… You are like crazy-intense, and always take everything so seriously… People see you and think you are going to really hurt them… You always seem angry, even though you talk nice and are polite…”.

              Obviously, I have problems demonstrating my true inner nature of amity and love for all mankind. Or, something.

              We got our showers, and took them in a truly magnificent facility, clean tile everywhere, and all sorts of luxury abounding around us. Several of the KATUSAs commented that they’d never been able to afford to be in such a nice bathhouse before, and were really impressed that I’d somehow made it happen. For a few weeks after, I was a hero because of it.

              I’m never going to forget that poor woman, who I somehow managed to inadvertently terrify. My theory that she was mentally disabled, or something went right out the window after I suggested that to Corporal Kang, who informed me that no, she was perfectly normal… Until you showed up.

              I’ve had that effect on a couple of other people, too, and I still don’t know what the hell I’m doing that they react to. It’s like I occasionally take off this mask I don’t even know I’m wearing, and they see something I usually manage to conceal, or something. It’s actually kinda disturbing, because I’ll be damned if I know what I’m doing when it happens…

              1. My guess as to why she was terrified is because she saw two GI’s and knew: 1) they’re here to ask if we’ll take their chits, 2) we won’t take their chits, and 3) I’m going to have to say no to these people. Add in that she apparently thought you were somone who… wouldn’t appreciate being said no to, shall we say… And I figure she was anticipating having a big, scary-looking American yell at her (or threaten her), and she started pre-freaking out over it.

                Also, are Koreans as polite as Thais are? Because I’ve learned that in Thailand, people really don’t want to say “No” to you. If they can’t do the job you’re asking them to do, they’ll say “Maybe.” So if she was one of those people who doesn’t like saying no to people anyway, AND her culture says it’s not nice to say no to people, AND she read your looks as frightening… That would go a long way towards explaining her hysterics.

                1. That’s actually a decent theory. I like it better than the one that Corporal Kang had, which seemed to be borne out by my success talking to Korean girls out on the town. His theory being that I was just naturally threatening and frightening to all women, everywhere…

                  Koreans are pretty contextual. Hit them in the wrong mode, and you’ll think you stuck your hand into a meat grinder. Hit them the right way, and they’ll be all over you with the obsequiousness. Hit them a third way, and they’re your best buddies. They definitely do not like telling you “no”, and that’s true with most Asian cultures. You hear “maybe”, and odds are that they’re just trying to humor you, and not be offensive with the negativity.

              2. Another thought (just as a factor), Americans meet people’s eyes automatically. For a Korean that’s ‘I am in charge of you’ and depending on other body language factors (such as a natural upright posture, squared shoulders etc… aka normal American good’ol boy.) all are subtle cues of someone who is very much in charge. If you’re an substantial man then you add accidental loom factor. Normal American body language is signalling her hind brain that you are The Great Authority Figure. On top of the ‘she doesn’t want to tell you no’ factor.

                1. Better theory than I came up with at the time, and somewhat comforting, to be honest. It’s a culture thing, then, not a “me” thing…

                  Now, I just need to come up with equally good explanations for why I’ve had the same effect on multiple occasions outside the Korean peninsula…

                  1. Probably a something similar. I have a co-worker who has ‘scam me’ written all over her… because she has Seattle body language which amounts to ‘Pay no attention to the mouse that is me’. Military posture to ordinary civilians often comes across as more confident/more in charge levels. Some people have those subconscious cues naturally. Some places interpret it as ‘aggressive’ rather than ‘confident’. I haven’t met you physically so I can’t comment on how you, specifically, carry yourself or interact with people.

                    I pay attention to body language because my folks grew up in Korea and I had the weirdest mishmash of body language and mannerisms growing up. I sent all kinds of weird signals and misread people’s body language all the time, so I learned to do consciously what most people do subconsciously. Ain’t perfect, but I can usually get into the right ball park.

                    1. I grew up right here in the USA, and I guess I was absent the day they covered that body language stuff. Along with most of the “facial expression” stuff, for that matter.

                      There are times when people twist their faces into expressions which they probably think are conveying Deep Meaning, but the signal I’m getting is “I am having a sudden pain in a private place,” which usually doesn’t seem appropriate for the discussion at hand…

      2. Likability is a vastly underrated commodity, especially when combined with an honest recognition of one’s own ignorance. Best bar manager I ever saw had the ability to make a rowdy drunk not only like him but apologise and leave so as to not cause “Gold old John” any trouble.

  20. Good catch there – that it’s not just inflation, they are not as well taught. or ignoring that the German/etc model of “free university” worked because they ruthlessly culled people to winnow the list down.

    We’re told the future belongs to those who show up .

    So between college and careers, pushing back kids for so many women, promotion of abortions, childlike me-first behavior, etc., etc. ad infinitum. Every policy, no matter what we think of them individually, promoted by the left….

    We’re not going to show up.

  21. Amusing: as I read this, I’m listening to the Michael Medved show.

    An outraged teacher just called in to basically whine about how he should be able to fire parents because they don’t do enough to spend at least two hours every night working on school stuff with the kids.

    Let’s see; I know that the kid next door gets on the bus between 6:45 and 7AM every morning.
    The bus drops him off at between three fifteen and three thirty. (He’s… eight, I think?)

    Figure that he gets up at six.

    We’ll say 9 to 10 hours of sleep a day, and figure he can get ready in 45 minutes. So that puts bedtime at 8 or 9.

    So he’s got from 3:30 to 9 pm.

    Figure 45 minutes for dinner, and fifteen for bedtime rituals.

    So 3:30-8. (No, I don’t think it happens right then, but it’s just for math.)

    So there are four and a half hours that he could, possibly, be getting these two hours.

    Average it to half an hour for activities– I only know a few kids who are in sports, their practice is two hours twice a week, I don’t know if their school is nuts, and we’ll again assume pretty low transit time.

    So there’s now four hours that could be used.

    So parents are supposed to spend half of all the time they have with their children, assuming that their work schedule magically matches up with the kids’ school schedule and they have NO OTHER ACTIVITIES, in order to do the job that teachers are given an average of over five and a half hours a school day to do?

    Kids are supposed to spend almost eight hours a day, 180 days a year, on instruction– or the PARENTS are failing?

    1. Also, I’m not anti-homework, there is a need for rote repetition and practicing to ensure the material is learned.

      That said, between all the hours spent at school, homework – and much of it BS projects that would take less tame and be more educational as a tightly written paper – etc., when do the kids do chores? Play?

        1. Busywork- grrr, my old enemy.
          Busywork is one of cogs of our current Cargo Cult educational system. The kids are busy doing stuff- that’s learning, right?

          1. Oh, there’s a serious educational purpose for that busywork, never doubt that.

            The question is, what do you think that purpose might be? Perhaps it is to condition you to mindlessly comply with instructions from a superior without any back talk about whether that serves any useful purpose. Industrial line workers have to have the initiative beaten out of them somewhere along the way, eh?

        2. THIS. And if you complain, they tell you that you don’t want your kid to learn. I would rather the kid read a book than spent time coloring some circles pink and some yellow in 8th grade. He could color within the lines at 3 thankyousomuch.

          1. As a HS senior in my last semester, I wound up in a required American Government class. The teacher handed out assignments I would have found insulting in 3rd grade, crossword puzzles and “bring in articles having something to do with the elections” sort of thing.
            I made it a point to not do the assigned busywork.

            1. Note, the above was over 20 years ago. I doubt the silliness has abated much in the public school system.

              1. The difference between now and then is that now they mostly don’t even bother teaching high school students ANYTHING about American Government.

            2. Exactly. I didn’t put it well enough earlier, but given the sheer number of hours spent at school, one, a lot of this practice work should take place there where the teachers can answer questions, and two, why is so much of what they’re handing out “busy” work. No time for play, no time for chores, no time for jobs.

              I’ve lost count of the number of times my kids would end up doing an hour of research to spend 6 hours putting together a diorama or infographic when they could have spent half the time writing up a far more informative report or “long answer” on what they found, and put together more links and thoughts in the process.

              1. I can kind of see the point of busy work at school, I don’t agree with it, but I can see the point. Give the kids busy work, so you (the teacher) can do whatever you need/want to do while the kids are occupied. But why give them busy work as homework? Do you think it is going to earn you brownie points with the parents by keeping the kids occupied when they want to have a beer and watch Monday night football?

          2. Shoot, I still can’t color within the lines. It’s one reason I’m hesitant to get into the adult coloring books. 😉 They have such small things to color.

            My mom still talks about one homework assignment I got when I was in first or second grade, something very young, anyway. I was supposed to copy math problems out, then do them. I very laboriously copied out the problems, taking maybe an hour or so.

            My mom was thinking, oh great, it took her this long to just write the thing, she’ll be here all night doing the math.

            Instead, zoom-blink, I got the math done.

            My mom said that unless it was done as a handwriting exercise (which, heavens knows I needed, still need), it was entirely the wrong assignment for me.

        3. That was all “homework” as far as I was concerned. I never did any despite threats and “parental consultations.”

          Three “study halls” per day, and most of the rest of the classes spent twiddling our thumbs while we practiced doing nothing – only useful for people going into government jobs? – and then they’d pass the “homework assignments” out as we went home.

          Sorry, I just wasted an entire day in “school.” I’m not wasting any of *my* day due to their time management problems.

      1. I’m a big fan of repetition. Which is part of why my daughter and I are butting heads over homeschooling, because there is math EVERY DAY.

        Even if she’s sure she knows how to do it. (She does…if she focuses long enough. But she’s not good enough to hurry through it, or to stop halfway and chase butterflies adn then come back and get it right.)

        1. A butterfly chaser… Ooooh, I empathize.

          One of mine is only able to sit down and finish in one shot now (in COLLEGE). Still a last-possible-second one, though. Sigh.

      2. I am anti-homework. I went to school. I know how much of the time there is pure waste. Sure the material needs repetition, so do it in the time that they are pi$$ing away now at school. Don’t waste hours of the kids day at school and then insist on wasting hours of their home time making up for it too.

    2. I’ve seen the local buses running as early as 0530. Since school doesn’t start until 0845, that’s a long time on the bus, or standing out on the sidewalk in the rain before someone lets them into the building. And then they might stand outside just as long before they get to go home.

      I’ve sometimes wondered if my tax dollars would be better spent by just putting some blackboards in the buses and using them as rolling classrooms.

      1. I have heard two different examples of why they do this– one is because due to seniority, drivers get to choose their routes, and they choose routes which result in the maximum time driven rather than the most efficient way for the kids to get to school.

        The other is requiring kids to not cross the road to get on the bus…but scheduling one bus for an area. So when the kids across the road go to school, they’d be picked up about an hour later than the kid next door.

        Both are golden examples of forcing people to fit into a system, rather than building a system to serve the people. Funny how they’re not pointed to, in a time when folks talk about the in humanity of the systems, ain’t it?

      2. Back before I got my license– and thus magically gave my sister and brother an extra hour of sleep– I’d get my home work done on the bus and spend the rest of the time reading or writing horribly bad attempts at fiction or poetry.

        And that was when we had a “short” trip of only an hour and change; the kids down the road from my folks had nearly two hours on the bus each way. (Their mom got a job around the idea of driving them to school– even though it required them getting there an hour earlier, they got more sleep that way.)

        Head to school in the dark, get home in the dark; then they wonder why nobody plays outside.

  22. Thirteen years of free school are enough. They need to teach better, earlier, and get us back to the point where a HS diploma means something. HS and College credit for basic subjects.

    I’m about ready to starve the colleges, for what they’re doing to a whole generation of kids.

    1. I’m about ready to starve the colleges, for what they’re doing to a whole generation of kids.

      Why do you think there’s such a big push for Free* College** now? Bureaucrats and administrators aren’t stupid, even if they can play it convincingly on TV, and they understand what’s happening at Mizzou. And, rather than give up their phoney-baloney jobs, they’re taking the lessons of Mizzou to heart and making sure it can’t ever happen to them. And the best way to ensure that student attendance doesn’t drop? Is to make sure someone else pays for them.

      * (Don’t look at the fine print, or you might realize what “free” really means.)

      ** (The word “college” may not have the same meaning it did twenty years ago.)

    1. Our hostess occasionally reminds us of the insanity built into our language at the simplest of levels.

      “Fácil,” “más fácil,” “muy fácil” in Spanish, Portuguese I’m sure is the same method. Much more easy… (Than “easy,” “easier,” “very easy.”)

      1. No. Our hostess doesn’t think in Portuguese and hasn’t in years. Also I know the rules of the comparative and superlative per size of word. When I’m tired I just type with the back of the brain.

      2. falls more under “more… what’s the damn word… oh, yeah, well, easy will do.” Gah. I’ve been dragging myself from exhaustion to exhaustion. Can’t seem to get enough sleep.

        1. I was once exchanging some messages with a Peruvian. In English, since his fluent English trumped my decades-old high-school Spanish.

          He used the word “analphabet” in a sentence. It was clear what he meant in context, but I had to stop and look at it for a minute. Hey, as long as you make up a word out of pieces of Greek and Latin, it’s a perfectly good English word, right?

          1. no, it’s Spanish. And Portuguese.
            No, I actually had to analyze why that sort of assumption when I make a stupid mistake natives make also annoys me so much — and it’s because I’ve THOUGHT in English longer than I’ve thought in Portuguese. (Which at any rate is more complex than that. If literally translated it would be “many easy.”) Heck, when I was concussed, I didn’t revert to Portuguese or even Portuguese structure. I reverted to BRITISH — which is the first English I learned.
            I think it’s because the idea of my sitting here and thinking in Portuguese while translating into English is so… not me that it annoys me.

            1. Please forgive me, ma’am. Probably my back brain working the keyboard, and an echo of fighting a long-running battle with the children on many, many constructs that are logical, but not English. I truly do hate it when I am reduced to “because” as an argument…

              Perhaps, though, our back brains do attempt to rationalize the language (whichever one it is: every natural language has odd constructions somewhere…).

              I find myself doing it, too (and I have no good excuse, with only the single language that I actually can think in). Besides other (English) grammatical errors.

  23. Reblogged this on The Arts Mechanical and commented:
    The problem with romanticism is that eventually the romance hits reality. And giving people stuff rather than expecting them to earn doesn’t change their bad habits, it just makes everybody poorer.

  24. I recollect paying tuition of $110-115 per semester. Early ’60s. Got a good education at a school that is now has a bad, rotten, no-good for anyone’s kid reputation (having been in the news).

  25. is it just me that sees the irony in the leading edge of the group that wants free college for all demanded that you “tune in, turn on, and drop out?”

    1. Not only that, but they thought marriage was a very oppressive institution. Now they want gays to be allowed to participate in this “very oppressive institution,” too.

  26. “Of course I didn’t have a degree, so I couldn’t teach in college (or anywhere else.)” Not exactly true.. You need a teaching certificate and creds to teach K12 for college? You need a “body” of knowledge I taught Math and Electronics for a while at a Jr College with 2 Associate Degrees.
    Sarah you could teaching writing tomorrow at any College or University smart enough to hire you

      1. Somewhere I read a novel that had Shakespeare brought forward out of time by a college research project. The English department declined to let him teach a course in his own work since their interpretations of his plays were at odds with his own. After all, he only wrote them, he didn’t have an advanced degree in them…

        I thought it was Simak’s “The Goblin Reservation”, but flipping through it, I think it was a different story.

        1. Like Wiki saying that a prof’s own work wasn’t a good enough source for his Wiki page. His documents were unreliable, and they needed a secondary source quoting him saying what he said.

          Or all that postmodern stuff about authors didn’t mean what they thought they meant.

  27. OMG, and I can’t even begin to describe how right you are! I just started in a doctoral program that is a two year totally online degree so I can eventually put my almost 30 years of real world experience to work in teaching the knowledge and skills I have learned to work for me. They are pushing social justice nonsense and outright Marxism into the most ridiculous journal articles and so called research. I have to go out of my way to refuse to let it into my work. Psychology and Sociology were long ago terminally infected with this rot, but now it is reaching practical fields like Physical and Occupational therapy, and Nursing. No one knows how to do a real job with a real patient, but they can sure spout a boatload of PC nonsense about it. Just wait till you go to the hospital for treatment and you get the lecture on privilege instead of medical care…and have to pay for it too.

  28. “So, I hear Donald Trump is now promising free college.” – ATH

    I don’t think that Trump has promised free college anywhere that I’ve seen. Gorra link to it? Anyone? Bueller?

    I’ve seen him quoted slamming Bernie’s free college plan. I’ve seen him quoted as saying that the Government shouldn’t be making money off of colleges.

    “Don’t bother explaining that that wasn’t really what he said… “ – ATH

    I’ve always been just horrible at following orders.

    “I’m not interested in the Donald. What I’m interested in is this idea of free college.” – ATH

    So basically, you’re not interested in The Donald. Check. Just interested in getting in a quick slam at The Donald on the way to discussing the idea of free college, whether the slam is actually true or not. Checkeroonie.

    Got it. I think we’re on the same page now. Carry on.

    *snicker* That being the case, I’ll keep the laughter, pointing, and duck noises sotto voce over here.

    1. Trump is hardly so consistent in his messaging that it’d be implausible for him to promise free college.

    1. Oddly, with the existence of MIT style courseware, and Kahn Academy type mastery-based online learning, the .gov could efficiently provide computer-based education certificates for anyone interested in a broad array of topics at any public library.

      Of course, I’m sure that’s not what any of the politicos running for office are advocating.

  29. I suspect you’re preaching to the choir here. Even if some of us can’t sing. Free college = another 4 years of worse-than-useless “education” for most. Possibly the worst part of it is the 4 years of life where they could be doing something useful or at least interesting.

    As for Mr. Trump, I look forward to his election for two reason

    1) At least he’s not Hillary Clinton.

    2) The tears from those who have been crying about him being the second coming of a combination of Adolf Hitler and George Wallace will be glorious.

  30. All the world over, so easy to see
    Soup everywhere just wanna be free
    Listen, please listen, that’s the way it should be
    Peace in the valley, soup got to be free
    You should see, what a lovely, lovely world this would be
    If everyone learned to live together
    It seems to me such an easy, easy thing this would be
    Why can’t you and me learn to love one another
    All the world over, so easy to see
    Soup everywhere just wanna be free
    I can’t understand it, so simple to me
    Soup everywhere just got to be free

    In the performance version they were forced to encode this message, substituting a less provocative word for “soup.”

  31. This doesn’t go here except as grist for the mill, Strategy Page reports: “As if North Korea didn’t have enough problems the UN recently reported that satellite photos and reports from inside North Korea indicate that 2016 will be one of the worst years for food production since 2010 with crops reduced by drought and general economic collapse. Over half the population has been going hungry (but not actually starving, yet) for several years. A dismal 2016 crop could lead to more starvation.”

    You may recall that the famine in the 1990’s was so bad that children of those years are noticeably stunted.

  32. Wrote this up after tearing through Weapons of Mass Instruction, thought it relevant:


    You are a child until the age of eighteen. Unless it’s twenty-two, or twenty-six. Anyway, until you graduate, you are not deemed responsible for your own well-being or anyone else’s.

    The way to properly socialize a thirteen-year-old is to force them into a room with at least fourteen other thirteen-year-olds and one helpless adult.

    Everyone of a certain age should know the same things. The maximum deviation is about three years. (Twelve-year-olds in any kind of profession are right out.)

    As you are a child, the people in your age group aren’t supposed to know all that much.

    As this is a whirlwind, fast-paced modern age, the people in your age group aren’t supposed to know a fraction of what they knew in 1920.

    If you’re getting A’s, you’re performing as well as you can for your age.

    If you’re gifted, you are so talented you have no need to put in any real effort.

    If you’re a poor student, you don’t need to put in the effort either; you’re doomed in life already.

    Your grade is important, because it predicts your future success.

    Getting into a good college is important, because it predicts your future success.

    “Success” here means “a salaried, white-collar position in a preexisting corporate or governmental bureaucracy.”

    College will always net you enough to pay off the debt you incurred going to college.

    College will always be worth the years you spent going to college.

    Physical labor, however skilled, is for failures.

    The GED is for people eighteen and up who’ve essentially given up on life.

    The world outside the classroom is irrelevant.

    Nonetheless, school prepares you for the real world.

    Knowing things is far more important than using that knowledge to accomplish things. (Tests and essays, together, form a clear majority of your grade; the science fair, one of the few opportunities to put your knowledge into practice, might not even get you credit at all.)

    Math class is no time to think about science. English class is no time to think about history. American History is no time to think about Asian History. They are separate subjects and you get no points for combining them.

    The teacher will accept any opinion, but she’ll probably mark you down if that opinion is contrary to hers. (And your grade is important.)

    The teacher is the only possible source from whom you may receive knowledge.

    Your parents are a rotten source for you to receive knowledge from…
    After all, they had their education in public school.

    1. Nope, sorry, I had several teachers who didn’t. This is just more cynical claptrap.

      1. That’s the second time I heard that. I guess a somewhat less-accusatory title might help?

        Because these things aren’t outright said, most of the time, yet (except for the progressively-lower-standards thing) they’re absolutely inherent to the fundamental structure of school: get good grades in all your separate subjects while going pretty much at the system’s pace -> graduate at eighteen -> go to college -> get the kind of job a college diploma will let you get. Most of the bullet points on the list above are derived solely from that bare-bones formula of what modern schooling is.

        1. The underlying assumption that *all* teachers are exactly like those you know is, frankly, prejudice.

          1. Everyone at this blog understands these are statistical norms on a bell curve. Your problem is jumping to conclusions on underlying assumptions. After all you know what assume does.

          2. As I just said, it’s not willful malice on the part of the teachers. (Not even with the legions of humanities teachers who are notably biased in grading opinion essays; you can’t take bias out of English any more than you can take it out of journalism.) It’s simply the implication of the entire system. Mr. Green the freshman science teacher, however good he is at his job – and I’ve known a good many teachers who WERE good at their jobs – can’t fight against these assumptions short of outright fomenting a revolt.

            School-Acquired Delusion Syndrome? Lies We All Learned By High School? As I say, the header probably needs work here; the snappy famous-book riff doesn’t seem to be setting the right tone.

  33. What we are seng, with the “free college” meme and the ongoing whoop-de-doo over how awful the “for profit” clleges are is a desperate last ditchnattempt to shore up the huge secondary education establishment that so much of the Liberal Left depends on.

    The are far too many clleges in the country, the accomplsh far too little for the money, and their primary function seems to be to give pillocks like Ward Churchill a salary.

    Naturally, the Progressives are horrified at the idea that sombody might notice and do something reasonable, like start treating BAs as the toiletnpaper they really are. Why, the Status Quo could get positively seasick.

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