Monday, October 30, 2017

More Bad News For Female Teachers

By Professor Doom

     I post in forums, and it’s so weird when politicized topics come up. For example, I mentioned how Google modifies its search engine to steer searches away from information detrimental to Hillary Clinton (this was during the last election, although what Amazon is doing with Hillary’s book today is no different). I’m called a conspiracy theorist and a  liar, so I provide a link, detailing how you can just type searches into Google and get results completely different (and more favorable to Hillary) than if you use any other search engine.

       My link is attacked, and I’m called more names for using such a terrible source.

      I argue that the name calling is irrelevant, and attacking the source is irrelevant, because you can just type into Google and see it with your own eyes. I  could gamely provide half a dozen other sources, with other examples of Google’s (coincidental, I’m sure) gentle treatment of Hillary-related searches, but I've seen what happens when you do that:

       I'd be dismissed entirely, because I must be insane to obsess so much over this “weird conspiracy theory.” Further attempts to get readers to simply use Google and verify the claims would be pointless, since I’m obviously a nut.

     I’ve seen it time and again, and not just with me: if one source is provided, attack and dismiss the source. If multiple sources are provided, attack and dismiss the provider of the source.

     At least on my own blog I can advance unpopular theories without such issues.

     Some time back I mentioned an interesting study: students don’t like female professors. The study was attacked, of course, and nobody should base much decision-making on a lone statistical analysis. That said, it’s weird how the study was assumed to be all about bias, and the things the study actually said were ignored.

     Let’s talk about some more studies:

     And now we have more evidence that male teachers, at the college level, are favored by students. Now, again, the claim of bias could be advanced but…every other decision at the college level, no matter how vile or detrimental to education, is made with the intent to make students happy. Who cares if there’s bias, if it makes students happy? There’s hypocrisy here.

      Why have I never seen a push for more male faculty? Time and again I’ve seen sexist hiring policies favoring females, but never the other way around. I grant that our culture really, really, trashes males. Every day I see or hear at least one representation of “males are stupid and goofy, females are wiser by far.” Even Harry Potter has this effect, with Ron being reduced to useless comic relief, while Hermione was transformed (from the books) into a flawless goddess of supreme ability. You can’t even have female Minions because our society won’t allow it, apparently---Minions are too stupid to be female.

      Now, if I went to my Dean and told her female-preferential hiring practices are (in addition to being of questionable legality) making the students unhappy, she’d blow me off. I could show her the above study, but she’d just tell me the study was weak and of no value, probably without even reading it.

      I wouldn’t press the point. Education isn’t about making students happy, it’s about pushing them to become better. So, it shouldn’t matter what gender the teacher is, what matters is teacher effectiveness. How does the gender of the teacher affect that?

     Now we have a study saying males don’t work as hard when their teachers are female. While the study is pre-college, it’s reasonable to conjecture that it would hold for older males as well.

     Again, we can claim sexism here—the boys don’t work as hard because they don’t think they’re getting a fair shake. But it’s just sexism, right?

It also shows their suspicions are correct - female teachers did, on average, award lower marks to boys than unidentified external examiners

     Once again we have a problem here, as the evidence shows we’re better off with male teachers. That wouldn’t be fair to the females, right?

It also revealed that girls tried harder if they had a male teacher because they believed they would get better marks.

      So…both males and females will work harder with a male teacher. I should point out that, in our elementary and high schools, most teachers are female, by a wide margin. Where are all the programs luring males into getting teaching degrees? I mean, we have evidence that male teachers are better at motivating students to study, shouldn’t that count for something?

     Now, I’m mostly talking about public school here, where it’s very clear that there’s a gender bias in grading—male teachers give boys better grades, while female teachers give girls better grades. I’d like to think there’s no such bias at the college level—I know when I grade a test, the name is the last thing I look at, and I’m too lazy to change a grade after I see the name.

Eliminating the factor of “non-cognitive skills…almost eliminates the estimated gender gap in reading grades,” Cornwell found. He said he found it “surprising” that although boys out-perform girls on math and science test scores, girls out-perform boys on teacher-assigned grades.

      In any event, boys don’t do as well as girls in school, that’s been the conventional wisdom for decades. For centuries, boys were top of the class. These days, girls are scoring higher grades. What changed? Shamefully, it lines up with when females started to be the primary gender of teacher by a wide margin, when school started to be more and more about touchy-feely topics. In fact, when you subtract the gender bias, children of both genders are far closer to being about the same in terms of grades.

The problem of boys’ underachievement in primary and secondary school follows them into their later lives. Research from 2006 has tracked the decline in male academic performance over the same period as the rise of feminist-dominated ideologies in academia and policymaking.

      Males are trapped in our public school system, but once they get to college, they’re walking away by a wide margin compared to females, because it’s more of the same hostile environment for them. I’ve seen education debased and debased and debased again in the name of “retention,” and it’s clear encouraging more male teachers, even at the college level, would help, but in the face of this evidence there are no changes.

      Next big meeting on campus, I’m sure to see yet another program to hire more female faculty, can't recall a time when it didn't happen.

     Sure, I can go to the Dean and show her study after study I’ve linked above, showing that sexist hiring policies, in addition to being legally questionable, are hurting our students…but she’d just label me an obsessive nut and get me fired.

     I really don’t like that higher education is this way, but at least I can still post anonymously about the existence of problems.

     For now.


Friday, October 27, 2017

Middlebury College Intimidated By Students

By Professor Doom

     Conservative speaker Ben Shapiro gave a “successful” talk at Berkeley recently. It’s a sad state of affairs that we now call a talk by a non-Leftist as “successful” if it satisfies the condition of “no Leftists rioted.”

      The secret to the success? Not telling the police to stand down. It’s a good start, but another thing that needs to be done is to get rid of the rioters. Claremont suspended rioters and so far no more riots; I suspect Berkeley will always be on edge until they adopt a similar policy.

     These speakers don’t come to campus randomly, they are invited to campus by students, desperate to hear something besides the usual indoctrination. But time and again rioters show up to shut down an opposing point of view.

     Another school with rioters I covered was Middlebury, which helped to show that the higher the tuition, the less free speech on campus. Middlebury didn’t track down rioters and suspend/expel them, and so admin there is still afraid.

     How bad is it?

Middlebury College Will Cancel Speakers If Students Make 'Imminent, Credible Threats'

     That’s right, all you have to do to shut down non-Leftist speakers at Middlebury is phone in a threat, and make it sound good.

      I feel the need to point out that our colleges are ruled by people with advanced degrees in leadership, integrity, vision, all sorts of silly administrative things. And yet, somehow, they consistently make the most idiotic administrative decisions possible.

     Now, yes, I grant that if some clown called in a bomb threat to the school, classes need to be shut down—campuses are so huge that they are impossible to secure against this sort of thing. Of course, when an idiot does this, he’s tracked down and the law comes down hard on him (and he’s expelled as well). Why isn’t similar risk levied against someone who threatens a non-Leftist speaker?

       Heck, an actual threat need not be made:

Proposed events will be evaluated by a Threat Assessment and Management Team; if the team feels that an event attracts an "imminent and credible threat to the community," it could be cancelled.

     That’s right, we now have an actual committee (hopefully not loaded up with full-time members, but I can’t rule it out) that’ll decide if a non-Leftist will be allowed to speak. No actual threat will be necessary, the committee need only have a belief that the speaker will attract Antifa or some other terrorist group.

      This is an idiotic thing to announce. It must take years of advanced administrative training to come up with such a stupid plan, and announce it. This team has guaranteed that threats of violence will be a certainty for future speakers.
       The violence at Middlebury was exceptional, but it’s being matched by the cowardice. All that tuition money and they can’t just afford to have the police do the job they’re trained to do?

The policy suggests that such measures would only be put in place for "exceptional cases." But what's an exceptional case? The views Murray intended to articulate at Middlebury last year were perfectly conventional. He's no Milo Yiannopoulos—and in fact, he has specifically refused to share a platform with the former Breitbart writer. And yet students resorted to explicit violence to silence him.

     I grant that in their cowardly and shortsighted way, admin is simply making the best decision to keep themselves safe. I respect that, but their job is supposed to be as stewards for the school, to preserve its mission for future generations.

     This plan won’t preserve the campus, it will destroy it. See, the whole point of higher education is to educate. If only one set of ideas is possible to be discussed on campus, no education will be possible there, only indoctrination. I know, lots of campuses provide indoctrination, but at least other campuses give a (small) chance of providing an education.

      Who in their right mind will pay tuition to send their kid to a school to get indoctrination? Much like with Mizzou, the student base here will only fall, and eventually this school will dry up and blow away.

     I’ll keep my eyes open for a news report next year, about how Middlebury is closing down dorms, or shutting down completely due to a drop in the student base. In the meantime, anyone want to bet against me?

Tuesday, October 24, 2017

The Predatory MFA

By Professor Doom

      “I’m going to be an engineer! I get free tuition for taking the classes!”
--So many female students walk on campus saying something like this. I have no problem with scholarship, but there’s a trap here many “female engineering students” fall into…

     Every year, students come to campus, and many are clever enough to understand: they need to take courses that lead to a job.

     The students file into obvious choices like engineering, and then find out the reason engineers get paid bucks is because they have to know things, things that not everybody can understand without effort. I promise the gentle reader, if building complex machinery were easy enough that everyone could do it, and pouring coffee was a very rare skill, barista would be a high paying job, while engineers would get minimum wage. It’s basic economics.

     “I really couldn’t handle the engineering classes, so I changed my major to nursing. There’s good money in that!”

--trust me, I’ve heard this or the like plenty of times from 2nd year students, female and male.

     The kids that figure out they can’t survive an engineering program (and really, there’s no dishonor in this) then move on to other degrees which are high paying, like nursing. Of course, the same economic principles apply.

      “I decided nursing just isn’t for me. I’m going to get a degree in Theatre. They’ll transfer all my credits from my engineering and nursing majors, so I can still graduate in five years, six at most.”

--I’ve heard the like of this too, many times. Students come in, try for the hard-to-get and thus valuable degree, and then shift down, down, down, eventually grabbing an easily acquired but worthless degree.

     The end result is the students stumble from major to major, falling ever downward until they finally get to some degree with coursework that anyone can get through (hi Education!). I’m not picking on Theater degrees in my anecdote above (although, yeah, this seriously is not worth paying for), but we churn out lots of degrees that truly have no market value.

     Sadly, after being cheated by higher education once, many of these kids figure grad school must be the secret to success. Having already been pummeled with technical and professional programs, they know better than to head off in that direction again. So, many go for the MFA, the Master of Fine Arts…which is basically the graduate level Theater degree.

     Our institutions of higher education, in order to qualify for that sweet, sweet, student loan money, have to promise in writing to act with integrity. They must make this promise, but because there are no penalties for violating accreditation, many schools jettison integrity to make room for more student loan money.

     Grad school is expensive, and students can accumulate amazing debts here, quickly. The Federal government has helpfully identified the most predatory schools, and somewhat consistently, MFA schools end up on top; this is pretty much the degree where graduates are least likely to make enough money to pay off the loan within a lifetime, as well as the degree program most likely to attract those least able to understand how they’re being cheated.

     Let’s take a look at just how quickly you can rack up debt getting that MFA:

One of the programs she was accepted to was the American Repertory Theater/Moscow Art Theatre School Institute for Advanced Theater Training at Harvard University, which, according to The Hollywood Reporter, was one of the top 10 schools for drama training. There was one catch: Tuition for the two-year program was $62,593. Sellers further calculated that her living costs in Cambridge, Mass. would be $50,000 for two years. Despite some scholarship money and a meager amount she raised via GoFundMe, Sellers—who’s expected to graduate in 2018—will be facing close to $130,000 in loan debt.

---I’ll be calling American Repertory Theater “ART” from here on out.

     It is so nutsy insane to go to graduate school to become an actor. Median hourly wages are around $22 (and you have to use the median because the multimillion dollar paychecks the top actors command make the average not a fair estimate for pay). That’s a decent hourly wage, but acting isn’t steady work.

Nick Basta is an actor and instructor at the University of North Carolina, Wilmington. He graduated from the institute in 2003, and from his graduating class he estimates that around half are no longer acting. “I don’t know what that tells you,” he admitted. “It’s an expensive way to figure out if you don’t want to do it.”

     Even the median is a bit misleading, because most actors are unemployed, and work as waiters or otherwise are not acting anymore, so their “average pay” shows up somewhere else. The “predatory” description here is quite generous: it’s predatory only for those who actually try to make money from the degree. For those who realize the degree is worthless, it’s more like “robbery” than “predatory.”

     I grant that $22 an hour is still better than minimum wage but it’s poor pay for unreliable work after  years of graduate school…and you’re going to have huge debts to make payments on as well. What typically happens here is disturbing:

     According to a poll of 500 theatre graduates released by American Theatre in 2014, 27 percent of respondents had $16-30,000 in debt and 22 percent had $31-50,000 in student loan debt. And 29 percent had $51-100,000 in debt.

     I really need to point that this place saddling students with huge debts is classified as a “non-profit” school. That’s the latest craze in higher ed—non-profit schools which are in fact about the profits. See, for-profit schools were getting a (deserved) bad rap for ripping off students, but the only reason for this is our government only looks suspiciously at for-profits. Using a bit of accounting legerdemain, you can rake in student loan money and avoid scrutiny if you get classified as non-profit, even if nothing changes as far as pay for administrators using the shifty accountants. If our government took a look at state and non-profit schools, especially the incredibly bogus community colleges, it would find out that for-profits are only a small part of the ripoffs of higher ed today.

     He explained that the ED [Department of Education] only evaluated for-profit schools… 

     This blog has covered other “non-profits” which nonetheless rake in the money while destroying the lives of students (for examples, see here, or here). Let’s get back to this school specifically:

Such programs are deemed predatory by the federal government and are at risk of losing access to federal financial aid.
As result of this report and the threat to its financial aid access, ART announced in July that it will take a three-year hiatus while it reevaluates its program. “It would be irresponsible to continue, especially if our federal financial aid was taken away,” said Diane Paulus, ART’s artistic director.
--hey, her title isn’t twice as long as her name, that’s promising! Do note, however, that she must please her masters higher up in the bureaucracy, and it’s clear from her quote integrity is irrelevant: she knows that it’s the student loan money, and nothing else, that pleases her masters.

     To its credit, ART, upon being deemed predatory, has decided to reconsider its evil ways, although it’s sad that “you are hurting people” doesn’t seem to be as strong a motivation to change as “government will cut you out of the student loan scam.” Harvard won’t shut down entirely, of course, but, being an old school, they have a sprig of integrity that’s managed to survive the deluge of student loan money. They’ll stop preying on people, for a bit.

     Most schools, even when declared predatory, will press on, manipulating their postgraduate employment statistics to make it look like they’re not doing as much harm as they are, actually, doing. They’ll keep on guzzling that loan money by suckering all those students who, 6 years earlier, walked onto campus thinking they’ll get a good job with an engineering degree.

     One school is slowing down the destruction because they feel threatened they might not get more student loan money. As I’ve said many times, we need to stop the student loan scam. There’s no way we can mandate integrity in our schools, but without the loan scam, at least we won’t be promoting corruption, and that’s still a win as far as I’m concerned.

Saturday, October 21, 2017

The Academic Economics War

By Professor Doom

     I know I pick on Women’s Studies often; I have many issues with this particular field of “study,” namely that it isn’t one. There’s another field that sure looks like it should be a legitimate academic topic, which nevertheless bears even more claim to absolute scorn: economics. It isn’t simply because economics departments succumb to ideology more than academics, but because academia’s current beliefs in the field are so blatantly wrong.

      Our nation’s top economist is Krugman (arguably, Karl Marx), and he favors the Keynesian approach to economics: if you print a great deal of money, you’ll create wealth in a country, due to animal spirits. I’m simplifying greatly, of course, but the bottom line is our country has been making economic decisions based on pagan aspects of Keynesian theory for decades now, ever since WW2.

     Now, Keynesianism was attributed to much of the country’s success after WW2, but I feel this is being generous. The United States was about the only industrialized country that didn’t get bombed down to ruins during that war, and this alone gave the country a huge economic advantage in the decade immediately afterward.

     Today the country’s wealth has dribbled away, and we’re at a level of debt that mathematically can never be legitimately paid off…and getting deeper in debt all the time. Again, according to Keynesians like Krugman, debt creates wealth. We’ve been practicing this policy for years, and I’m really not convinced we as a people are that much wealthier from all the debt (even if the people at the top are raking it in).

      This alone isn’t enough to cast aspersions on our current economic model for prosperity. There’s more. In valid academic study, when evidence contradicts your theory, you change your theory.

       Random things happen; even a skilled basketball player will miss a shot, a great runner will trip near the finish line, a stray iceberg can sink even the most well-designed ship. However, if a great basketball player misses every single shot, the runner always falls, or ships of the same design keep crashing into icebergs…you have to consider if your underlying assumptions are wrong and it’s not just bad luck.

       That’s the real issue with Keynesianism. The big crash of 1987 was considered a “6 sigma” event, an event so rare that, on a daily basis, you’d expect to see it every few billion years or so. The big Nasdaq crash in 2000 was another 6 sigma event. The big crash in 2008 was another 6 sigma event…all but impossible to believe happened. I’m not the only one to notice that statistically what we’re seeing is statistically impossible, but the end conclusion is clear:

    There’s no way Keynesian theory can be valid, and we can also have multi-billion to one events, as predicted by that theory, occur every 10 years or so.

Keynes: “In the long run, we’re all dead.”

--Keynes knew his kooky theories would lead to total disaster, and this was his response to the people who also understand his theories would end to complete failure eventually. But he figured he’d be dead when it happened, and he had no children to care about, so it wasn’t his concern. Shouldn’t we factor Keynes’ own understanding of his economics into our assessment of these theories?

     In the face of obvious, repeated, demonstrations that our accepted economic theories are wrong, what we should do is change the accepted theories. While this should have happened years ago, it hasn’t. Keynesianism is a government-friendly theory, and, hey, most of the money flowing onto our campuses and into our economics departments comes from government. So, no way for there to be a serious change…unless someone besides the government is willing to pay for it.

     Lookie here:

New Koch-backed institute at the University of Utah is raising questions about academic freedom and whether the center is designed to compete with Utah’s existing economics department.

     Now, I’m pretty sure Koch has “a drop” of blood on his hands, but when it comes to advancement of human knowledge, especially turning away from the dealth-cult mysticism of Keynesianism, I’m willing to overlook where the money is coming from…the money coming from government is already doing great harm, and is soaked in blood, after all. Koch’s couldn’t possibly be more tainted.

      So, Koch is plunking down tens of millions of dollars to build a new economics department on campus, one that will investigate the non-government friendly theories of Libertarian economics.

      It’s extremely interesting to me, that every time a fiefdom (and associated administrative palace) springs up on campus, there’s not a peep of complaint. I’ve been in higher education for years, and I’ve never seen admin or faculty complain when more money pours on campus.

      But, now, the complaints are widespread over getting enough money for 7 (yes, just 7) faculty and $1.6 million for student scholarships:

Some 18 professors from the economics department, along with 176 others on campus (mostly faculty members), signed a statement of concern about the institute submitted to the Academic Senate’s Executive Committee this summer. And on Monday the Senate approved a resolution charging a recently established faculty committee with the additional task of reviewing policies and procedures for approving institutes and centers.

     All those dogs not barking are really bothering me. A university can commit $1,000,000 a year to fight racism in response to a “hate crime” that never happened…and silence. Our universities can have dozens of $250,000 a year vice presidents of Diversity working hard to start riots…and silence. Campuses can spend millions teaching students about deviant sexual practices…and silence. I’ve documented many cases of many millions of dollars being spent on ridiculously detrimental things and my blog is about the only place to complain about the clear misuse of funds…everyplace else is silent.

     But set up a department to research a way to prosperity that doesn’t involve enriching the political caste, paid for with money not even coming from the government (though it’s fair to ask where Koch got his money), and 176 admin and faculty complain.

     On general principle, I have to be for this. I can’t even wrap my mind around the complaints:

     The “funding agreement between the Charles Koch Foundation and the University of Utah raises serious concerns about the principles and practice of intellectual independence and academic freedom,"

     Academic freedom? Seriously? Now it’s a problem? Our academics today tend to be anonymous when they say things, because saying the wrong thing can get you fired, quickly. Questioning the narrative in any form is career suicide. But hiring 7 faculty is going to be a threat to academic freedom? I almost wonder if this complaint is a joke.

The letter, which also recommends “vigilant…oversight by senior university leadership…for everyone affiliated with this institute,”

      Again, the thought that they are joking comes to mind. Nothing says freedom like “vigilant oversight by admin,” am I right?

    They want to watch everyone.


     In the name of freedom.

     I couldn’t make up something this offensive to freedom if I tried.

      What are they afraid of that they feel the need to watch a handful of economists so closely? Are they afraid the economists will come up with a theory that supports our government going $20 trillion in debt, debt that will bankrupt the country? Are they afraid the economists will support a Ponzi scheme entitlement welfare plan that is guaranteed to go bankrupt? Are they afraid the economists will create a fiat currency system that will bankrupt most of the citizens? Are they afraid they will say the way to solve our economic problems is to bankrupt the country by preparing for a theoretical invasion of aliens from outer space like top economist Krugman believes?

     Seriously, how could Koch’s economists have worse ideas than the government economists we use now?

     I’m very suspicious of billionaires slathering their money over things, but the more the university complains, the more I’m fine with Koch funding this. I emphasize: the “leaders” running this place think you’ll get more freedom from vigilant oversight by commissars.

      So what if Koch will control one small department with his money? With the current standard of competence at this university, and the standard for competence among economics, I’m interested to see how Koch could possibly be any worse.

Wednesday, October 18, 2017

Sanity For Campus Rape Claims?

By Professor Doom

     Most people don’t realize that our campuses have a “private” court system on them. Whenever there’s a claim of wrongdoing, from minor quibbles over policy to brutal gang rape, quirks in our laws allow the campus to handle it.

Faculty (proudly): “So, after the defendant finished his defense, I was secretly escorted in to the committee to provide additional testimony and evidence, and I didn’t leave until I was certain the committee would convict. The defendant never knew what hit him!”

Me: “Say…don’t you teach legal courses on this campus?”

Faculty (puffing): “Of course I do. I’m a lawyer and have a Juris Doctorate...”

--not exaggerating. The gentle reader should consider which is worse, that our system is this rigged, or that our law teachers are this ignorant of the concept of Due Process.

      I’ve done what I can to expose the wild incompetence of the rulers of our campuses, and I assure the gentle reader that this incompetence encompasses our kangaroo campus court system. This corrupted system has created atrocities in both directions, punishing the obviously innocent (when it’s a vulnerable white male), or giving rape-y administrators a free pass, depending, apparently, on which would be most foul at the moment.

     The Federal government, pouring as it does insane amounts of student loan money on campus, got mildly irked at the corruption (it hates competition, after all) and so attached some (more) strings to the money, with a piece of legislation referred to often as “Title IX.” Part of Title IX involves sex crimes, and it formalizes how administration should pursue alleged sex crimes on campus.

     Now, absolutely admin will still give themselves a free pass when it comes to sex crimes, so all they’ve done with the new regulation is turned the kangaroo court system into a chamber of horrors for students, particularly male students, who find themselves punished outrageously on the basis of thin accusations at best.

      And along comes Trump.

     Once again, while the mainstream media pours endless hate on everything he does (some of it even justified), yet another of his actions does provide a dash of hope. He appointed Betsy DeVos Secretary of Education; there was, of course, a primal howl of incandescent rage over this, but considering how the Department of Education has a track record of 100% failure since inception, I (and, I imagine, any rational person) was hard pressed to worry how the “completely unqualified” (as the press described her, endlessly) DeVos could possibly make things worse.

      So, what’s she been doing?

Betsy DeVos: The Era of Weaponized Title IX in Campus Rape Cases Is Over

"Through intimidation and coercion, the failed system has clearly pushed schools to overreach," says DeVos.

     Apparently, only a female can step in to save males from the incredible abuses of the Title IX kangaroo court system. Bottom line, the Title IX “guidelines” were making the rigged system even more rigged:

The new guidance encourages—and in some cases requires—university administrators to neglect the rights of accused students. It specifies, for instance, that colleges should use a "preponderance of the evidence" standard for determining guilt; officials need only be 51 percent sure an accusation is credible to expel an accused perpetrator. It also discourages officials from allowing students to cross-examine each other, because that might be too traumatizing for a survivor of sexual assault…

     Goodness, how could anyone look at the above and not see how this was going to cause problems? DeVos was slammed repeatedly by the press for her lack of credentials, and supposed lack of ability to make good decisions over a department which had not made one good decision in its 40 year history, despite, supposedly all the previous leaders of this department having great credentials and the ability to make good decisions.

       All that against her, but DeVos “gets it”:

"The notion that a school must diminish due process rights to better serve the 'victim' only creates more victims," DeVos' speech says.

     This really is the heart of all government programs: create more dependence upon the programs. It’s why our welfare rolls keep growing, our prison population keeps growing, our wars get ever more widespread, and yes, why now we’ve broadened our definition of victim, above, to include anyone whose claims wouldn’t hold up under even the slightest cross-examination.

      DeVos further reinforces confidence in her abilities by giving her speech against the horrors of the latest Title IX interpretations on just the right campus:

On that front, DeVos couldn't have picked a better campus to deliver her speech: A GMU student, "John Doe," was expelled for engaging in BDSM sex that the university judged nonconsensual. He later sued GMU and won, since it was obvious to a Virginia district court that the administration's investigation was biased against Doe and had deprived him of his due process rights.

     Time and again I’ve shown how kangaroo campus court rulings, despite being “unanimous” amongst the entire committee, are shown to be utter rubbish when taken to the (corrupt, but still more) legitimate court system the rest of the country uses. Much as my “legal expert” anecdote at the beginning of this essay shows, many of the practices of the kangaroo campus court system are hysterically inappropriate for a system interested in any level of fairness for the accused. The truly funny part is how shockingly unaware admin is that their actions are inappropriate; they always have complete confidence they’re in the right…right up until the judge (and real lawyers) explain to them just how much they’re going to have to pay in damages for screwing up so horribly.

Thankfully, DeVos' speech signals that she intends to do what the Education Department should have done in the first place, six and a half years ago: subject its guidance to public scrutiny.

     YES! Public scrutiny is needed. A huge part of why the campus courts have gotten away with so much is because of the Seal of Silence over the whole thing. Any faculty involved are threatened with termination if they expose any of the wrongdoing (sometimes they’re threatened with termination if don’t rule the way admin tells them to…and, again, admin doesn’t see how this might not hold up in a real court).

She'll no doubt take flak for it, but DeVos is right to criticize the Obama administration's approach to college sexual assault, and she's right to reform an utterly dysfunctional system.

      The article I’m quoting from is in Reason Magazine, obviously not a mainstream site (it uses reason, after all). To clarify the above: she’ll take flak from the Leftwing hate media which will cast aspersions on any attempt to fix even a tiny aspect of the massive mess this country is in.

       Incidentally, my favorite joke regarding how bizarre mainstream media is today involves the hypothetical of Trump personally curing cancer. The CNN headline covering this would be “Shockingly, Trump declares WAR on oncologists!”

      In any event, the whole Title IX debacle can be fixed quickly, since it only applies to schools taking Federal money:

     End the Federal student loan scam.

Sunday, October 15, 2017

Game of Thrones and College Football

By Professor Doom

     It’s obligatory to put “spoiler alert” in front of discussion of Game of Thrones; I’m going to be discussing one episode in detail, “Battle of the Bastards,” so if you haven’t seen up to that part, fair warning to stop reading now.

--it's a great shot, but this was a throwaway, a desperate attempt by the producers to do something with what little they had. Read on to find out why...

     It’s no secret that once Game of Thrones the HBO series went past the books it’s based on, the quality dropped, sometimes precipitously. Instead of fairly deep political machinations and a somewhat realistic action/consequence narrative in a pseudo-medieval world with a touch of magic, the series turned into standard Hollywood fare. The fantasy aspects of the show were light: before about the 5th year of the show, the most powerful magical effects most of the world had seen were dunking a sword in oil and lighting it, and the bones of long dead dragons. Past that, all things magical were considered “north of The Wall” stories nobody in the world really believed.

      But, even as the sexposition trying to explain the complicated backstories finally died down (at least one actress renegotiated her contract for fewer nude scenes), the more recent years began to disappoint, and it’s clear now the “epic battle” at the end is going to be yet another “Kill the Alien Queen” trope little different than the last few dozen similar stories out of Hollywood.

     My own personal peeve is how crude the military tactics are in the show. Every battle is determined by a “surprise attack,” because at no point in the multi-thousand year history of this fantasy world has there been a general with enough insight to understand how scouts work.

       A classic example of how ridiculous the world is (or has changed since Hollywood writers took over from the novels) is this one harbor town built at the base of a cliff, next to an ocean.  It leads to a great scene where an attacking army of monsters literally jumps off the cliff to attack the city. It’s a cool visual but…why isn’t there a watchpost at the top of the cliff? Being next to an ocean like that, you could probably see for miles, and Earth’s ancient world certainly knew the usefulness of lighthouses and the like. The town is walled, but there are no sentries, so the inhabitants literally have to peek through cracks in the walls to see if an enemy is approaching.

      Seriously, this is not clever writing, even if it’s cool to watch.

      One of the big combat scenes was “Battle of the Bastards.” A quick summary:

 1) Like most battles in the show, it’s shameful, with the commander literally running out into the open between the two armies, all alone. It makes for a nice visual of the lone idiot standing in front of a full on cavalry charge, although in the real world, an army could rout at the sight of their commander acting like such an idiot. For some reason, the Evil cavalry flat out disappear after the charge and aren’t seen again.

2     2) The battle goes badly for the heroes, with a lame scene where the Evil commander orders his archers to fire into the general melee—probably killing his own men, since he’s winning and outnumbers the Good guys, of course. Because the writers have no respect at all for the viewers, they make a point of showing the Good captain not doing the same (this is Hollywood’s best understanding of morality: the good guys don’t kill their own troops). Again, I’ve seen this countless times in other equally poorly written shows.

       3) Despite the Evil commander’s idiocy with the archers, he somehow manages to expertly train his infantry in ancient Greek phalanx-style tactics, and thanks to a strange 20’ pile of bodies that appears on the field, he envelopes the Good forces, slaughtering many of them (note: these very specialized tactics are never used before or since on the show or in the books).

     4) The battlefield turns to a field of mud, but a surprise charge by a huge force of Good cavalry (in mud!) turns the tide, and saves the Good guys. The Evil cavalry and archers probably could have helped, but they went home…or something.

     5) The Evil commander retreats to his well-defended castle. The Good commander’s forces smash down the castle gate in a surprise attack-- while the inhabitants of the castle knew an enemy army was in the area, they didn’t even know they were being attacked until there was pounding at the main gates! There’s probably not a castle on Earth where you can march an army up to the front gate unseen…

     There are other issues of stupidity in the battle, but the above are the highlights of just how weird and incomprehensible the scene was.

     Despite the serious issues with the battle, I don’t criticize the actors or producers here. This is just extraordinarily bad writing, even if the rest of the film crew is good at what they do.

     It turns out, there were long, arduous discussions between the writers and the producers, the people actually creating the show. They were given less than two weeks by the writers to shoot a scene that the professionals (i.e., non-writers) said would take more like six weeks to film. Making things even worse, there were three days of solid rain, turning the field into a pool of mud. It was impossible to film any battle scenes after that, so all the great mud scenes were throwaway shots, where they simply try to make lemonade from the all the rainwater (and doing a fine job of it).

      There was supposed to be a different ending to the Battle of the Bastards, but they had to show crud instead because what the writers wanted just wasn’t possible.

     The big main issue was the scene had 70 live horses, and simply training those horses is too time-consuming for what the writers wanted. The writers based their scene from an awesome Japanese film, Ran. It’s a great movie, but its wonderful cavalry battle scenes have real horses being killed and maimed…it’s inevitable when you have a bunch of horses and men with pointy things running full speed, even on a fake battlefield.

     We won’t stand for killing horses onscreen today, and there are very strong rules for how you can use horses in shows; a movie like Ran simply cannot be filmed now with real horses because our culture no longer allows for animals suffering for our amusement.

     But that’s what the writers wanted, they wouldn’t let reality interfere with their vision, and so we get a hot mess here. Along with the other hot messes in the episodes, it really takes the shine off a series that, thankfully, will end in one more season, hopefully before embarrassing itself beyond any chance of forgiveness.

     Anyway, I’m ok with the battle scene not being as glorious as it could have been, for the sake of safety issues for the horses.

     So what does this have to do with college football?

     Here’s the thing: college football is completely corrupt on every level (above and beyond Penn State). We’ve known it’s completely corrupt on every level for over 30 years now…and absolutely nothing has changed.

     One example (amongst legion) is the exploitation of the football players. They’re paid nothing. They risk life and limb on the battlefield (if you will), and we tolerate it, because, hey, only a few get seriously hurt, and a few move on to the NFL and make huge bucks. Yes, most just waste their time, but that’s little different than the time horses waste when they’re on movie sets instead of frolicking in some pasture.

In Dr. McKee’s sample, the incidence of CTE for players who stopped at college was 91% (48 out of 53). Fifty-six percent of those displayed severe pathology. The more football one plays, the more damage is sustained, but ending short of the pros doesn’t seem to give players a pass from the risks of the disease.[1]

--CTE is an acronym for Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy. I.e., serious brain damage.

     The gentle reader needs to consider: this study provides real evidence that 90% or more of college players suffer severe brain damage from their play. Now, sure, it’s just one study, so it might not be accurate. Maybe only 80% of college players suffer permanent brain damage for our amusement. Maybe it’s 70%...but the point is many of these kids pay dearly for that time on the field, suffering lifelong injuries for a game.

     Wait a second here. We won’t even tolerate a single horse suffering for our on screen amusement. Not even one suffering horse of a hundred onscreen is tolerable.

     This study shows 90 kids out of a 100 will be debilitated by college football. Why do we put up with it? We shouldn’t even let children play this game, as the evidence is very strong that quite a bit more than one in a hundred is going to suffer severe injury.

      We tolerate horses being used as slave labor, and living in harsh conditions. We tolerate our college football players being used as slave labor, and living in harsh conditions.

      We don’t tolerate our horses being abused, maimed, or killed for something so trite as pure amusement. Why should we tolerate it in our college students? We can no longer argue that college kids being abused, maimed, or killed on the football field is such a rare event that it’s only wussies who worry about it. We know that most of those kids will suffer with lifelong injuries.

      For our amusement.

      Maybe the widespread knowledge of just how devastating this game is will finally end college football. I grant none of the other chamber-of-horrors-type revelations have put a dent in college football but…

      I sure hope that someday we’ll treat our college students as well as we treat horses. It’s not that high a standard, honest.