Rock-Paper-Scissors Solutions

I was talking to a group of visiting college professors today about why the academy has seemed to become more distant from society. The irony is that years ago, when universities really were places of the elite, they were better respected and integrated than they are today. What the heck happened and how can we get back to the way it was? I think some of the problem is admissions. Let me explain.

When I grew up in Wisconsin, we considered the university "ours", even though nobody in our working class neighborhood had actually been to college. Our outlook was forward looking. Parents expected that their kids could go there. In those days, if you were alive and lived in Wisconsin, you had an excellent chance of getting into the flagship university in Madison and a nearly 100% chance of getting into a university somewhere in the system.

This was a good thing for me because I was pretty stupid. I was "disadvantaged" in that I didn't study. Both my parents were HS dropouts and besides my teachers I didn't know any college graduates. My father told me that if you were good at something, you didn't have to study and if you weren't good at something studying would not much help. No decent university would let me in today, but back then they did. After a while, I learned the system, studied and did very well in school and subsequently in life. I messed up many times, but America is the land of many chances. Or at least it was.

Today admissions process is crazy. It cuts people off from the university. It creates a wall that most people know they cannot jump. Even ordinary state schools require nearly perfect academic records plus all sorts of outside activities. What 18-year-old can live up to this? The ones with parents who create and mold the resume from the time they are born or maybe even before. This pushes tension through the whole system. It makes parents worry that their three-year-old isn't getting the proper stimulus. It makes legions of doctors prescribe drugs to keep rambunctious kids quiet. It drives teachers nuts trying to teach to tests. And it doesn't really improve quality. How can we stop the madness?

I have a couple suggestions. The first is open admissions. This works with community colleges. Many states are expanding sensible programs where students of community colleges can get automatic admissions to four year colleges after successfully completing their associate's degree with a 3.00 average. This lets kids earn their way into college instead of having to make the once in a lifetime jump that can determine their futures.

My other suggestion is to allow a little more random chance. Top colleges often have several times as many qualified applicants as they do places. They spend a lot of time trying to judge the "whole person" which is something they really cannot do. Edison, Einstein, Churchill and many other great individuals were indifferent students. I have a simple solution.

Universities should establish threshold requirements, i.e. basic qualifications. It might be things like adequate English and math ability, experience in science etc. Universities could publish these requirements in advance and interested students could work to meet them. At this point, the student would not be compared to each other. They would make the cut or not on standards determined before any applications had been received. This would probably produce many more applicant than the university could accept. After that, rely on random chance; hold a lottery; do a random number. Whatever works. Make the process completely transparent. Students could be told the odds, which would give them a better chance of predicting outcomes than they have today.

Consider the advantages of my "rock-paper-scissors" system.

1. It is very cheap. It doesn't require big boards of experts.
2. It is simple. Kids would not need to spend hours fighting with complicated applications and assembling all sorts of portfolios.
3. It eliminates bias. A roll of the dice is fair. Dice have no memory nor can they be affected by prejudices unconscious or overt. Random chance recognizes neither race, gender nor creed.
4. It will increase real diversity. The outcomes will reflect the populations from which they are chosen.
5. It will introduce new sorts of people and ideas. One of the values of diversity is that it helps groups make better ideas. Studies have shown that groups of experts do a better job if the group contains some variety, even if the variety means someone less prepared.

It is time we gave up this crazy idea of classification and abandoned the idea that we can accurately predict outcomes. A little randomness is good. We cannot avoid it anyway and should take advantage of it. It will make us all better off.

Using the tools of randomness works in lots of life's decisions, BTW. We should always do our homework, but at some point we have all the information that we can reasonably gather. Additional gathering will not help and may actually hurt. After you have gone as far as logic and research can taken you, a coin flip is as good anything else and better than wasting time on the arrogant idea that you can figure out all the angles.

My father told me not to spend a dollar to make a nickle decision. I don't. We shouldn't. Universities should learn the lesson too. America should not strive to become the land of the sure thing or metaphysical "justice." Rather we should aspire to be what we have been a land of many chances.

Posted by Christine & John at April 20, 2012 6:48 PM
Comments
Comment #342252

Community Colleges do a good job for those not wanting a 4 year degree or more.

Our oldest son went back to school at age 33 for two years and became a Respiratory Therapist. He has worked at Parkland Hospital in Dallas since graduating and is earning about 60K per year. He had offers of employment from many hospitals but wanted Parkland.

This same CC offers many programs such as auto and diesel mechanics and the grads are in great demand with very nice incomes and job stability.

How many BS and MS degrees in Liberal Arts find jobs in their field…not nearly as many as there are grads.

Posted by: Royal Flush at April 20, 2012 7:45 PM
Comment #342253

Royal

I agree re CC. My son was an indifferent student. He went to community college and found his way.

Community colleges are much more than junior versions of the four-year ones. They are very well connected with the needs of the community. We have to agree with Barack Obama about the value of these institutions.

Thanks for writing. I am wondering what/if our lefty friends will find fault with this. I suppose random chance somehow favors the 1%.

Posted by: C&J at April 20, 2012 7:53 PM
Comment #342256

Royal Flush, Liberal Arts degree means the students have had their heads filled with liberal mush. But it does qualify them to be a liberal democrat and possibly get a job on some type of government paycheck; other than that, I am reminded of the old “tits on a boar hog” senario…

Posted by: Frank at April 20, 2012 8:00 PM
Comment #342301
Thanks for writing. I am wondering what/if our lefty friends will find fault with this. I suppose random chance somehow favors the 1%.

So C&J what you are proposing is the voluntary adoption of a lottery for the 4 year colleges and universities in this Country. Seems fine to me as the problems you note seem to do more harm than good. Kinda have to agree with you on this one. I would think you would find more resistance from the 1% parents who would prefer to add a wing to a building to ensure Jr. gets in to the school of their choice.

Should we extend this system out to the corporations once these kids graduate as well? Or do conservatives wish to keep the business world sacrosanct.

Posted by: j2t2 at April 21, 2012 9:36 AM
Comment #342305

Frank apparently doesn’t know what the term “Liberal Arts” actually means. Perhaps he is missing the irony gene.

Jack,

“Kids would not need to spend hours fighting with complicated applications and assembling all sorts of portfolios.”

A committed student shouldn’t have any problem with this.

IMHO it is a good thing that Universities do have high standards and can pick and choose from those that qualify. It means those actually wish to excel will have a better chance to do so. Too much time and money is wasted on the “students” who are enrolled merely to show off their athletic skills.

Let’s allow the “indifferent” student go to the CC first to find their way.

Rocky

Posted by: Rocky Marks at April 21, 2012 10:40 AM
Comment #342306

j2t2

It is not just a lottery. It is a lottery combined with clear standards articulated in advance. For example, a top school might require calculus and a language. They would not ask when this was acquired, so a kid who didn’t have this at 18 could take the course later. Once you met the threshold, you could be in the lottery.

IMO - this would actually improve standards, since many would be able to work toward the goal with certainty that if they achieved it they would have the same chance as others.

Rocky

Re the portfolio etc - the more paperwork hurdles you apply the more trouble for all.

I agree that the indifferent student might be well served by community college. But if he/she found a vocation they would then be able to move ahead.

IMO - admissions processes were better in the past then they are today. I don’t want to “go back” but I do think we should ask what was good that we lost with what has amounted to a professionalization of college application.

I also want to produce true diversity, not just the coded crap that passes for it now and help the poor but virtuous really get ahead.

The complicated process disadvantages the new students.

I speak from experience at both ends. I was a poor student in HS, but fortunately for me we were a land of many chances. By the time I applied for grad school I was up to speed and ahead. But I would have been kept out by my background today. My daughter had all the advantages. We got her into activities such as habitat for humanity, travel languages etc. She was perfectly qualified for university and deserved the chance she had. We certainly should not punish her for being smart, but we should give others a chance to catch up, to earn their place with her.

This is what I did and what our great country allowed me.

Today we have the ass-backward system of trying to compensate for past under-preparation by trying to skip steps w/o actually encouraging or even allowing the dummies (as I was) to make up for their deficiencies.

IMO - we should make the goals clear and tough as they need be, but encourage people to strive for them. Most will fail to reach the highest levels, as I did BTW. But in working toward the great goal they will achieve good results for themselves and their communities.

Posted by: C&J at April 21, 2012 11:01 AM
Comment #342310

Jack,

“I also want to produce true diversity, not just the coded crap that passes for it now and help the poor but virtuous really get ahead.”

A University education shouldn’t be about diversity, it should be about an education.
Wasn’t affirmative action, the program the right so decries, about diversity?
Let those that need the help go to the community collages, and then if they choose, seek a higher education. I hate to use the term, but Universities should be about an “elite” education. It should be about the best and brightest. It should be about students committed to excellence, not to warm bodies merely filling seats.

It also shouldn’t be about those students who expect a degree simply because their parents paid for it.

There are plenty of fields for the marginal student to apply to without wasting their parents money.

Rocky


Posted by: Rocky Marks at April 21, 2012 11:34 AM
Comment #342311

Rocky

I am the most un-PC person in the world and I don’t support diversity because of that racist nonsense pushed by the so-called civil rights lobby. I have seen that diversity - true diversity - improves decision making and educational experiences. That is what I am looking for.

My suggested system would produce more of an intellectual elite by enlarging the pool of applicants and getting them all to work harder by eliminating the sense of entitlement that some folks feel as well as the excuses that we now extend to many poor and minorities for individual failure.

My system recognizes the role of random chance, which is always with us, but also holds people truly responsible for their own outcomes. After that, nobody can complain.

Posted by: C&J at April 21, 2012 11:57 AM
Comment #342312

Rocky

One more thing that I maybe didn’t make clear. I think it would be great if the current complex system actually did pick the best and the brightest, but it doesn’t work and is very expensive. Rather than double down on a failed system, perhaps it is better to recognize our limitations and embrace the better and cheaper system rather than pursue perfection and end up with crap.

Posted by: C&J at April 21, 2012 12:01 PM
Comment #342314

“Frank apparently doesn’t know what the term “Liberal Arts” actually means. Perhaps he is missing the irony gene.” Rocky Marks

Well Rocky, let’s see:

“College or university studies (as language, philosophy, literature, abstract science) intended to provide chiefly general knowledge and to develop general intellectual capacities (as reason and judgment) as opposed to professional or vocational skills”, courtesy of Webster.

So a degree in liberal arts qualifies you for what??? Let’s see, a job on government payroll or to run as a democrat politician. Like I said, heads full of liberal mush, and I might add, no ability to create a job or add to the well being of America.

Liberal Arts degree fills the receiver of the degree with a sense of intellectual superiority and elitism. This is part of the mush.

Posted by: Frank at April 21, 2012 12:23 PM
Comment #342315

Jack,

“My system recognizes the role of random chance, which is always with us, but also holds people truly responsible for their own outcomes.”

I am not belittling your point, however, would you choose to have “less qualified” applicants holding sensitive jobs in the State Department?
Or would you choose to have the best and the brightest?

Random chance is just that, random.

The future is random enough without injecting those less qualified into the equation.

Look, you yourself have stated that life isn’t fair, and when all things are equal, they really aren’t. Some people are destined by fate or chance, if you will, to be ordinary, and no matter what is done to diversify education at the University level, that won’t change.

We can’t force responsibility, as there is no real penalty for being irresponsible.

“Never try to teach a pig to sing. It wastes your time and annoys the pig.”

We have been celebrating ordinary for far too long. I want the leaders of tomorrow to be the best we can produce today, because as far as I am concerned slightly above average just doesn’t cut it anymore.

Rocky

Posted by: Rocky Marks at April 21, 2012 12:35 PM
Comment #342316

Just more proof of the anti- intellectual dumbing down of the party on the right. So sad.

Posted by: Jeff at April 21, 2012 12:38 PM
Comment #342317

Frank,

A “Liberal Arts” education also includes undergraduate studies in; Math, Religious Studies, Psychology, and Science.

And since you brought it up Frank, what are the qualifications to be a Republican politician?

Rocky

Posted by: Rocky Marks at April 21, 2012 12:52 PM
Comment #342318

Rocky

As a matter of fact, I have been on many selection and promotion panels. I want the best and the brightest, but I recognize the limited of my own cognition. I also try to look to future potential rather than past performance. This is an art, not a science.

As a leader, I try to surround myself with people who may NOT agree with me. We all need the people to dis-confirm our assumptions.

I am indeed an elitist. I think we should strive to be better than we are today and better than others. But there are limits to this. An elite group can fall easily into arrogance or group think. We need correctives.

I am not trying to be fair and I am not trying to include the stupid, lazy or incompetent in decision making. I am trying to include a wide variety of ideas, some of which I know I will be unable to recognize as valuable and some of which I will hate.

BTW - I have used rock-paper-scissors for some very important decisions. When I have gathered all the information that I can and done all the useful analysis and still don’t have a clear path. go for the game.

Jeff

My analysis is based on a comprehensive years-long study of behavioral methods, decision making and various newer fields of prospect theory and the effects of bias. I have applied and tested these ideas in very serious situations and actively monitored results. It is only anti-intellectual for people too dumb to understand what I am talking about.

You can disagree if you want and present counter arguments as Rocky has done, but calling it anti-intellectual is just … plain stupid. Spare me the shallow analysis and try to figure it out. Shall I forward you a reading list?


Posted by: C&J at April 21, 2012 1:51 PM
Comment #342319

C&j my coment was not in response to your post nut towards frank.

Posted by: Jeff at April 21, 2012 2:20 PM
Comment #342320

Jeff

Then excuse my unpleasantness in this respect. My goal is never to insult anybody … unintentionally.

Posted by: C&J at April 21, 2012 2:59 PM
Comment #342322

Jack,

“As a leader, I try to surround myself with people who may NOT agree with me. We all need the people to dis-confirm our assumptions.”

If I was in your position I wouldn’t act differently.

“An elite group can fall easily into arrogance or group think. We need correctives.”

Elitism is a learned vice. People no matter their education, intelligence, or status shouldn’t be treated any differently than any other person.

This is as much the fault of the treator, as the treatee.

Rocky

Posted by: Rocky Marks at April 21, 2012 3:37 PM
Comment #342323

“Just more proof of the anti- intellectual dumbing down of the party on the right. So sad.”
Posted by: Jeff at April 21, 2012 12:38 PM

“C&j my coment was not in response to your post nut towards frank.”
Posted by: Jeff at April 21, 2012 2:20 PM

So Jeff thinks Frank is part of the dumbing down of the Republican Party, but apologizes for C&J being part of the same Republican Party???? Talk about dumbing down; I think Jeff qualifies.

“Frank,

A “Liberal Arts” education also includes undergraduate studies in; Math, Religious Studies, Psychology, and Science.

And since you brought it up Frank, what are the qualifications to be a Republican politician?”

Rocky

Posted by: Rocky Marks at April 21, 2012 12:52 PM

Ok, let’s look at these undergraduate studies of liberals: Math (but unable to understand economics, you know money in/money out), Religious Studies (but don’t believe in God), Psychology (with the goal of justifying criminal activity), and lastly Science (with their heads filled with GW mush). Yes, RM, I can see where they would be qualified to be a democrat.

What are the qualifications of a Republican Politician? Well we can say business experience for one. In fact that’s all we need during Obama’s broken economy.

Posted by: Frank at April 21, 2012 4:02 PM
Comment #342324

Rocky

Elitism is difficult to avoid in some cases. You have to make a concerted effort to avoid it. I am not talking about elitism that we talk about as a vice, i.e. treating other people poorly. I am talking about coming to rely on particular sources or expertise.

It is also difficult for people that are especially good at some things not to think this makes them good at everything.

As you know, I make a special effort to “get out.” I find that lots of people know things I don’t and have not even thought about and I truly enjoy it. But you really cannot bridge some of the distances. We all are products of our experiences.

I had to give my younger son a hard time the other day. He started to talk about “fundamentalist red necks” in a kind of pejorative way. I pointed out to him that all those people we worked with on the tree farms were red necks and they were always really nice to him and knew lots of things he needed to learn. He was allowing stereotypes from those stupid shows on TV to overcome his experience with actual people. We all do this and have to employ active measures to counter the tendency.

Posted by: C&J at April 21, 2012 4:25 PM
Comment #342325

Frank

Re liberal arts - We should close off no route of inquiry. The liberal arts, properly understood, form the basis of our Western Civilization, that has given us the richest and freest expression of humanity ever. All the great conservative thinkers have been versed in literature and history. It is not the only thing in life, but it is something that helps us explain our world. The “Western Canon” is the treasure of mankind. In it we benefit not only from the wisdom of those alive today, but those who are long gone and lived in vastly different places and times. The problem with those who today call themselves “progressives” is that they think they can change things radically and they don’t take enough wisdom from past experiences. We need to remind them.

I well understand the frustration with many academics. In many ways, leftist “scholars” have corrupted the academy, replacing rigor with feel good identity courses in bogus subject like gender or ethnic studies. They essentially have banned Boethius in favor of the flavor of today. At Stanford University, Jesse Jackson led chants of “Hey hey, ho ho, Western Civ has got to go.” These are the enemies of a liberal education. Don’t join them. Don’t let these clowns win.

The reason I detest these thing is NOT because they are liberal arts but rather because they violate the basic philosophy of liberal arts education, which is that we can all be part of the experience of others. A true liberal education recognizes no privilege of race, gender or ethnicity. It seeks to understand the verities that apply always and everywhere to the human condition.

I think what you might be reacting against is the bowdlerization of the academy, the social scientist that justify bad behavior among the poor, the racist study classes that tell us that only blacks can understand the African experience, the Marxist inspired economists who really believe that we live in a class society run by imperialists. These are the cankers and cancers of the liberal arts, but not its essence.

We cannot give up on pursuit of excellence and knowledge because some pin heads have currently seized much of the academic high ground. Rather than play into their sophistic hands, we need to counter their pseudo-truth with real truth. If we withdraw from the field, we let the assholes win. Some of these clowns are enemies of Western Civilization. They want to weaken our ideas of truth. We should not let them. We are the future. They are merely the latest group of barbarians seeking to destroy our civilization. We will prevail, but only if we don’t fall into their traps.

Re government - Calvin Coolidge was right when he said the business of business of America is business, but we also require a perhaps smaller but efficient government to maintain order and the rule of law. We cannot abandon it. If the best people abandon government we may be ruled by the worst. Smaller and more efficient government does not mean no government.

I don’t want to get rid of government. I want to restore its virtue, get it back to its basic purposes. I admire people like Washington, Jefferson, Madison & Lincoln, all of whom devoted much of their lives to serving in government. We need to recognize that government is a noble vocation, but one that carries the constant danger of corruption. That means we need to use it, but in moderation and wisely. That is the hard part, but we have no choice but to continue the enterprise.

Posted by: C&J at April 21, 2012 5:59 PM
Comment #342343

Jack,

“It is also difficult for people that are especially good at some things not to think this makes them good at everything.”

Pride is a vice.

It has been in our culture to place people that are good at what they do, ie; “experts”, on a pedestal. This is enabling to some people that already have an inflated sense of self anyway.

Nobody is “better” than anybody else, be they Democrat or Republican, highly educated, or just an ordinary Joe.

America needs thinkers, not egotists.

Rocky

Posted by: Rocky Marks at April 22, 2012 12:14 AM
Comment #342344

Rocky

Agree. But this kind of pride is a vice, known since ancient time, because it is hard to resist and even hard to recognize in yourself.

The other problem is that you need a strong sense of confidence to be effective. Confidence can spill over into arrogance.

As a leader, I have sometimes had to act in very assertive and confident ways when I didn’t feel either. I have envied people with more natural confidence on these occasions.

Also as a leader, you have to believe that your judgement, at least in the areas of your responsibility, is indeed better than that of others. I think this is one reason why power corrupts. I have wrestled with these concepts. Sometimes when the task falls on you, you don’t have the luxury of doubt. Nobody really wants to know how you feel. They expect you to play your part. All leadership takes place in situations of uncertainty. Where we are certain, we don’t need leaders since everybody knows what to do.

I am digressing too much.

Posted by: C&J at April 22, 2012 12:31 AM
Comment #342346

Jack,

“Confidence can spill over into arrogance.”

I will leave it with this.

Confidence and arrogance are two entirely different things. IMHO arrogance is a sign of personal weakness, confidence is surely not.

We here in America have seen far too much arrogance from our “leaders”, and our pundits (who really do hold far too much power) in recent decades.

I am all for this trend to stop, though I don’t hold out much hope that it will end soon.

You said that you admire Washington, Jefferson, and Lincoln.

I wonder that a country such as ours, that brought together such statesmen as these, could find itself in the mess we are in.

Where are our modern day equivalent to these men?

Isn’t it also important that we are responsible to create a wealth of character?

Rocky

Posted by: Rocky Marks at April 22, 2012 1:20 AM
Comment #342348

RM

I very seldom agree with you in total. But your last statement I can agree with you and say it is time to step back and review the situation.

There were times in my working life that people would step up and want to change somethings. When I was in a position to interfere I would do so. I would first find out what and why they wanted a change. I would listen. I would sometimes allow the change to be made because it was better. But then I would not allow the change and explain the procedure and listen again.

One of the adages of the century is that we have two ears and one mouth. Therefore we should listen twice as often as we speak.


Thank you

Maranatha

Posted by: tom humes at April 22, 2012 3:41 AM
Comment #342358

Rocky

Great leaders practice restraint. Restraint is out of style in most organization, especially in government. We the people demand too much and politicians promise to give it to us.

This overexertion is indeed a threat to liberty. It is not a partisan thing. Bush was arrogant to think he could remake the Middle East. Obama is arrogant to think he can remake America.

There is a good saying we should all recall. If something NEEDS not be done, it needs NOT be done.

I disagree about arrogance and confidence being different. Just as the difference between a medicine and a poison is often in the dosage confidence can become arrogance.

Re wealth of character - I agree. I tried to write about that in the previous post, but many commentators were more worried about the 1% having more money than with doing their own duties.

Posted by: C&J at April 22, 2012 10:29 AM
Comment #342360

Isn’t it just like those hippy dippy liberals to come up with a degree program “to develop general intellectual capacities (as reason and judgment)?” Who needs those liberal arts? After all, if they were of any value wouldn’t we call them “Conservative Arts?”

Posted by: RUSerious at April 22, 2012 11:02 AM
Comment #342363

RUSerious

Martianus Capella defined the seven Liberal Arts in the 5th Century AD. Liberal comes from the same word as liberty, something modern liberals are less inclined to protect in academia today. The word is not much related to the political movement any more.

I blame those hippey dippy clowns for damaging and trying to destroy a tradition that has endured for a millennium and a half. Interestingly, the liberal arts were codified as a way to protect Western Civilization from the barbarian hordes, like those led by Jesse Jackson with the chant mentioned above.

Posted by: C&J at April 22, 2012 11:35 AM
Comment #342365

C&J, word meanings tend to change. The meaning of Liberal Arts today is not the same meaning as yesteryear. There was a time when a “gay” person was a happy person; and a “queer” person was a sickly person. When I hear that a person has received a Liberal Arts Degree today, I must believe their mind has been filled with mush by socialist professors. Liberal Arts today has little to do with studying philosophy or literature, or even “liberty” for that matter; and more to do with an elitist mentality that leads to believing big government is tha answer to all of mankind’s woes.

Posted by: Frank at April 22, 2012 12:49 PM
Comment #342366

Frank

I am with you on this. But we cannot give up and let the assholes win. We fall into their trap when we attack indiscriminately. We need to call them on their corruption. Show our own superiority in the claim to the liberal arts.

People like Jesse Jackson are their spokesmen, not ours, and they do not represent what we know to be true.

Posted by: C&J at April 22, 2012 1:54 PM
Comment #342367

I’m too busy getting ready for my upcoming exams to comment too much on this, but considering that I’m the only University student here, I feel I must provide my two cents.

I’ve heard of proposals to move to a lottery system of admissions. I generally agree with them; the current system we have is ridiculous. My best friend from high school applied to over a dozen schools as a senior. He got rejected by all but one, UC Berkley. Amongst the schools that rejected him were UC Davis, UC Irvine and UMass; go figure.

The system proposed by C&J also is very transparent, which I like very much. However, this sort of system will never fly. It would eliminate the ability of “elite” schools to charge greater tuition than their competitors because their product would no longer be considered “premium” or “unique”. Also, “elite” universities would lose the ability to give legacies a helping hand, and this in turn would diminish the donor base provided by alumni.

Regarding Liberal Arts:
Although I am not a part of a liberal arts program, my school does require me to take electives outside of my major and I have a friend who is pursuing a BA in “multidisciplinary studies”, which is my school’s version of a liberal arts program. In my opinion, it is the student’s duty to choose the correct course sequence. If one doesn’t think about the courses one is taking, then one can easily fall into the trap of taking heavily politicized classes. However, if one is at least semiconscious, then one can take classes that are actually worthwhile. I think I’ve done a rather good job of avoiding mush simply by reading course syllabi before I register. The only politicized class that I’ve taken so far was when I was forced to take at least one class that studied “American Pluralism”, which meant I had to take a class that studied the history of oppression of a certain minority group. I ended up taking “Topics in Asian-American History”, which I thought wasn’t too bad. It was actually a pretty unique class because we spent a lot of time talking about the recent phenomenon whereby Asian-Americans generally have better outcomes than Americans of European descent.

Frank,
Gay still means happy in my book. Men who love other men and women who love other women are homosexuals, and that tends to the only term I use to describe them. I don’t believe queer has ever meant “sickly”. I am aware that word was used as a pejorative for homosexuals, but that some present day homosexuals seek to reclaim the word. However, I would never equate homosexual with “sickly”

Posted by: Warped Reality at April 22, 2012 6:04 PM
Comment #342368

Warped

Good luck on those exams.

The success of the Asians is ruining that racist-oppression game. If the sons and daughters of boat people can make it, anybody can.

IMO the key to all group results is culture and habits. Oppression or discrimination is a small part of the equation today. Maybe soon we can give up that old-fashioned crap.

Re gay - I recall when the word changed its meaning. We had a funny incident at our dorms. A dozen of us were sitting around talking and joking. One of our friend’s mothers came in, looked around and remarked, “My this is a gay room.” She didn’t get the joke. For her it just meant happy.

But I wonder about that definition of “men who love men.” Also when I was in grad school I worked at a bookshop. They hired a gay manager and he never hired anybody who was not gay. After a while, I was the only straight man left. I got to know my co-workers very well. The lifestyle was not good - too many partners, not enough relationships and very little love and not a little violence. I think many straight people object to the “flaming” lifestyle, but get put down as homophobes when they say so. I dislike heterosexuals who act like this and I don’t feel I need to give gays a special break.

I support gay marriage because I hope that a legal outlet might diminish this lifestyle as it does among straight men. Marriage is a kind of civilizing influence on men, gay or straight.

Posted by: C&J at April 22, 2012 7:07 PM
Comment #342451

Why just “rely on random chance” for academic admissions at University? If you are willing to select our future doctors, lawyers, engineers and architects by lottery why not others? U of W could select their football team from a list of athletes meeting minimum requirements, the Yankees next center fielder, the Bronco’s next quarterback, General Electric’s next CEO….

“Using the tools of randomness works in lots of life’s decisions,”

Posted by: RUSerious at April 23, 2012 9:22 AM
Comment #342453

WR said; “If one doesn’t think about the courses one is taking, then one can easily fall into the trap of taking heavily politicized classes. However, if one is at least semiconscious, then one can take classes that are actually worthwhile. I think I’ve done a rather good job of avoiding mush simply by reading course syllabi before I register”

I commend you for taking an interest in the direction you want to go; but, how many students don’t? How many are just there for the degree, or how many waited too late and were forced to take classes that are heavily politicized? And if these classes are heavily politicized, then which way do they lean? I would be certain that they don’t lean right or conservative, so we must conclude it is left wing mush that is being pumped into their heads.

“I don’t believe queer has ever meant “sickly”. I am aware that word was used as a pejorative for homosexuals, but that some present day homosexuals seek to reclaim the word. However, I would never equate homosexual with “sickly”

Re/ word meanings; C&J has already backed up the original term “gay”. Concerning “queer”; the word queer can be an adjective, verb, or a noun. I remember my grandmother (born in England 100 years ago) who would refer to me as feeling “queer” or sickly.

“I don’t believe queer has ever meant “sickly”. WR, perhaps the reason for this statement is that you never had a grandmother who was born 100 years ago and asked you if you were feeling a little “queer” 60 years ago? The length and breadth of your knowledge is based upon the past 20-30 years.

“Origin
Since its emergence in the English language in the 16th century (related to the German quer, meaning “across, at right angle, diagonally or transverse”), queer has generally meant “strange”, “unusual”, or “out of alignment”. It might refer to something suspicious or “not quite right”, or to a person with mild derangement or who exhibits socially inappropriate behaviour. The expression “in Queer Street” was used in the UK as of the 1811 edition of Francis Grose’s A Classical Dictionary of the Vulgar Tongue for someone in financial trouble.[2]”

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Queer

My grandmother would also substitute the term “out of sorts” for the term “queer”; so this does coincide with the original German term “out of alignment”. So now WR can say he learned something new.

Posted by: Frank at April 23, 2012 11:22 AM
Comment #342464

C&J,
I agree with most of your points.

IMO the key to all group results is culture and habits. Oppression or discrimination is a small part of the equation today. Maybe soon we can give up that old-fashioned crap.

I do think that past oppression or discrimination has a large amount of influence on current-day habits and cultures.

I support gay marriage because I hope that a legal outlet might diminish this lifestyle as it does among straight men.
I think you are right. Most of the homosexuals I know are actually far older than me. They are usually married and raising children of their own. There are quite a few such couples in my hometown. The ’70s were a strange time for the homosexual community. Being openly homosexual had just become socially tolerable and a lot of stored up lust was unleashed. As homosexuals become integrated in our society, their promiscuity has decreased. The AIDS epidemic has also contributed to diminished promiscuity in that community.
how many students don’t? How many are just there for the degree

Too Many.

And if these classes are heavily politicized, then which way do they lean? I would be certain that they don’t lean right or conservative, so we must conclude it is left wing mush that is being pumped into their heads.

It depends on the professor and the department. Most Women’s studies or Ethnic studies classes lean left. Most Religious studies classes lean right. I’ve taken philosphy and economics classes that were taught by Republicans, but my friends have taken the same classes, but with Democratic instructors.

WR, perhaps the reason for this statement is that you never had a grandmother who was born 100 years ago
My grandmother was born in 1913; does that count as “100 years ago”?;)
So now WR can say he learned something new.
I’m very familliar with the use of queer as a synonym for strange. Equating strange with sick makes sense now; I’ll add it to my vocabulary. Thank you. Posted by: Warped Reality at April 23, 2012 2:37 PM
Comment #342468

RUSerious

I am not expecting that the final result will be random.

First, we take the qualifications. They might be very tough, but well laid out. For example, it might require having calculus. Nobody w/o calculus would be qualified. Among those who were qualified, we would use randomness.

I think this might create even MORE excellence, as people will know standards and work toward them.

I am not trying to eliminate excellence. I do not believe the process as now applied produces it as much as this variation would.

Qualification is a difficult idea. I am qualified to play major league baseball, if all you mean is running around the bases. But if you add in various abilities, I fall down. This is the same.


University admissions are a kind of mass production. They also include lots of uncertainty. The record of achievement of an 18-year old is not a precise predictor of future success. We are putting too much faith in a set of data that is not up to the task.

Warped

“I do think that past oppression or discrimination has a large amount of influence on current-day habits and cultures.” I agree, but it is the habits and cultures that we need to change. Past discrimination is beyond our ability to influence.

My excessive love of chocolate donuts in the past may explain my fat belly today, but it doesn’t change the fact that I have to change that habit in the future.

Re queers, gays whatever you want to call it, and this also goes for women - these groups have no history as groups that needs to make a difference today. I know this sounds radical, but let me explain.

Blacks, whites, etc have a history in that today’s group is descended from similar people of the past. This is different from gays or women. A gay man today is not descended from the gays of yesterday any more than a straight man is. In fact, given the proclivities associated with being gay, there are probably fewer descendents of gay people in the population in general. Similarly, a woman today has exactly the same number of female ancestors as does a man today. So when anybody in these groups talks about “us” 100 years ago, it is meaningless if it refers to people who may have shared their current identity, beyond the general human condition.

Posted by: C&J at April 23, 2012 6:13 PM
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