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January 30, 2015

February fundraiser, early bird edition [sticky; new posts below]

Since February 1st is Superbowl Sunday — as well as my birthday (I’ll pass on the cake, thanks. It’s broccoli and carrots in a light ranch dip all the way down for me from here on out) — I figured I’d go ahead and get this posted now before most people, myself included, disappear for the winter version of spring break.

Not only is my birthday on Superbowl Sunday this year, but my wife’s is two days later. And Satch’s championship tournament at the University of Northern Colorado comes at the end of the week, meaning I’ll be spending time outside of my normal team coaching sessions prepping him most days. Hopefully Obama doesn’t take my absence to mean he can do any goddamn thing he pleases to my country. Fucker’s sneaky like that.

So, to sum up: as always, if you feel inclined to donate, I greatly appreciate it. If not? Well, I won’t starve or anything like that. But then I won’t be eating steak this month, either. And that’s on you.

update: speaking of birthdays, I was just going through some of my Mom’s things and found an old college portrait photo. Thought you might all get a kick out of it, so I snapped a pic of it with my phone, creating a kind of weird photo palimpsest. Behold, the 80s! And yes, that’s an earring. Like I said: the 80s.IMG_4454

Suddenly I feel like humming a Smith’s tune, then killing myself.

update 2: pub decor additions!

posters

Posted by Jeff G. @ 7:10am
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January 30, 2015

“Yeah it’s both a mnemonic and a catastrophic extremist-destroying device.” [Darleen Click]

#nailedit

Posted by Darleen @ 6:14pm
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January 30, 2015

Liberal writer discovers resurgent PC movement is essentially illiberal in ideology

– And though he does his best to present its illiberal aspects as at least minimally intellectually justifiable — using perverse grievance politics and self-fulfilling prophecies about power relations themselves belied by the outsized wielding of power over discourse the self-styled oppressed and marginalized possess — in the end what is revealed is what I’ve been writing about here consistently since the inception of this site back in 2001, and before that, in academic fora: identity politics can only lead in one direction, and that’s to a kind of police state for speech and thought.

It is totalitarianism masquerading as liberation, and as far as it follows the Marxist critique of free speech, it is anti-American, fundamentally illiberal, and hostile to Enlightenment notions concerning the marketplace of ideas and competing claims to knowledge. It is the act of the self-styled “dispossessed” — who have repositioned themselves as the very control mechanism of discourse they pretend to fight against — congregating into a kind of pseudo-academic goon squad and mental lynching party.

It is, in a word, revolting. Or, if you prefer, pathetic.

I’ve long counseled many on the right who believed solicitousness, deference, and capitulation, at least in practice, to these gambits was a way to mitigate them, that all they were accomplishing in fact was emboldening even more of such behavior, devolving inevitably to the point of ludicrousness — where purported microaggressions are treated as significant breaches of decorum and worthy of shunning, with even the various factions within the left’s identity politics movement eating their own. I mean, patriarchal-racist syllabi? Seriously? The frightened silence some of the erstwhile proponents of controlled speech now engage in is, perhaps, the only real benefit of the radical surrender of free speech as a justifiable ideal.

To combat these occurrences of being surreally assailed as a bigot of some stripe or another, most people choose…well, not to. They fall silent, instead. Slip off the radar. And yet the only real effective way to defeat such nonsense is to point at every naked emperor in his or her (or transitioning) pique of high dudgeon and laugh hardily at the flaccid, drooping bits he/she/they? has chosen to display as socially constructed emblems of their own empowerment, but which in reality are just naked, impotent, barren folds of ugliness.

In short, when you allow these people to define and determine your meaning, you’ve lost.

…Which, sadly, can — in certain scenarios — make innocuous actions like calling your dog, if he happens to be a boy, and someone is around who might take that wrong, an act of racist aggression requiring public contrition.

Or so I’ve heard. But then, I’d have to take a reader poll to know for sure what position to take on the issue.

My advice now, after years of preaching the same thing? Embrace your inner Joshua / WOPR: “the only winning move is not to play.”

(h/t Terry H)

Posted by Jeff G. @ 10:50am
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January 30, 2015

Romney says he isn’t running; Bush, Christie now the new “inevitable” nominee contenders

But hey, we can take care of that, I think. After all, Christie has overseen NJ’s credit-rating tanks, and Bush — well, Common Core, amnesty, “center-rightest,” et al. Both fit this description perfectly: ” he is the wrong man at the wrong time representing the wrong people.”

Then of course, there’s Princess Lindsey. Who is a McCain favorite. And there’s nothing more important in a GOP primary than the imprimatur of John McCain, perhaps the most impotent, unbalanced, and feckless “leader” of the modern era. A “Maverick” with a black thumb, he has proven he can turn any flower into a pile of wilted compost.

Now, this doesn’t mean one of them won’t be foisted on us; after all, they have big money support and Karl Rove’s shiny white board to buoy them. Just that neither has a single chance in hell of winning, given the number of fed-up conservatives and Reagan Democrats who would rather sit home than see another pal of Big Government and Wall Street pretend he stands for any of the things he’ll pretend he stands for during primary season. May as well have Hillary. Bc there’s not a shit ton of difference, and at least we don’t have to pretend she stands for things that we do.

On the positive side, Romney’s realization that he can’t reinvent himself as “authentic” opens the field up for Walker, Rubio, Paul, Cruz, Carson, Kasich, and even Santorum, the latter two of whom seem to have the ear of Reagan Democrats, even as in the case of Santorum he infuriates the hardcore “progressive” left whose voice is outsized compared to its electoral numbers.

Of course, the left will do everything they can to steal any election (hi, Al Franken! Have enough last-minute ballots stashed away somewhere?), so there’s always that concern. But who knows? Maybe they’ll be too caught up in destroying Israel and rigging their elections to get their ground game going early here at home this time.

Fingers crossed!

****
nb: if, say, a conservative takes the lead in the primaries, I still believe Mitt will “reluctantly” join the fray, to rescue us from ourselves. I believe he believes Bush and Christie will be drummed out earlier than expected, and once they leave, he’ll swoop in and take their “grown-up” role in the field.

Just speculation on my part. But Romney is about Romney. And Mitt wants to be President so badly he can taste it. Which is what happens when you spend all your time kissing asses.

Posted by Jeff G. @ 9:28am
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January 29, 2015

Thinking about getting your kids involved in wrestling or MMA?

Some of you have emailed me about getting your kids involved in wrestling or martial arts, so I’ve decided to suggest a few training aids that really work. Here are a few tools that I think will prove useful, both for kids and for adults looking to get into grappling / wrestling / MMA:

Iowa Style Snapper: working the head is a crucial skill, and developing the functional strength and the proper technique will give you a huge edge.

Takedown Defender: I actually just ordered this for Satch, who has a good sprawl but whose footwork after his fakes leaves him on his heels and vulnerable to deep penetration shots. This piece of equipment helps you improve your footwork, develop quick reaction times, and practice short offense on the mat — be it a go behind, an ankle or knee-block takedown, a headlock series, or even monsters and bow and arrow cradles. Once you are confident that no one can get to your legs, you can work your ties and set-ups — which goes back to having good technique on the head.

JOBO Legs Takedown Trainer: life-like feel and resistance that actually increases as you complete the shot, this piece provides the optimal amount of space from the wall to complete all sort of leg attacks, from blast doubles to swing singles to heel and ankle picks to high crotch.

Suples Bulgarian Bag: strength, conditioning — all the benefits of kettle bell training (hitting multiple muscle groups) with grappling-specific advantages (offset leverage, grip strength, and the landing of the weight directly on the shoulders, back and chest).

Any kind of rowing machine or, more simply, rowing: push / pull strength, grip strength, and tendon strength are essential in wrestling. Rowing works the first two efficiently.

Short range of motion curls: using heavy weight and beginning w/ a bent elbow, move the weight about 4-5 inches in reps of 30-50. This will build incredible tendon strength in the arms, which will allow you to shuck, snap, downblock, and keep shooters at bay, often without sprawling. You can also plant your elbow on the table and do table curls, which will give you similar results.

Indian clubs: develops the shoulders and gives great range of motion (for all sort of great products, check out Strongergrip.com)

Hercules strap: in addition to bridges, which work one component of the neck, heavy neck lifts with a hercules strap and a loading pin will develop the carotid sheaths.

Any questions? Just ask.

Posted by Jeff G. @ 5:51pm
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January 29, 2015

“Middle School Reading Lists 100 Years Ago vs. Today Show How Far American Educational Standards Have Declined”

Idiocracy incarnate. Which, I suspect, we’re supposed to see as the “democratization” of education rather than what it truly is, the corruption of intellectualism and the intentional formation of a benighted and propagandized civic base easily won over by arguments appealing to emotionalism, identity politics, and bumper-sticker bromides. From The Federalist Papers blog:

There’s a delightful and true saying, often attributed to Joseph Sobran, that in a hundred years, we’ve gone from teaching Latin and Greek in high school to teaching remedial English in college.

Now comes even more evidence of the steady decline of American educational standards. […]

[…]

[…] American students are not being taught about America.

University students who major in social studies education are not being taught about America.

I’ve talked to several of these types of students who want to teach American history at the middle school or high school level. So, these are our future teachers. And I always ask the same question: When was the American Revolution?

Usually, I am met with dumb stares. Hardly any of them answer correctly: 1775-1783. This is because, for the most part, students who will eventually be teaching American history are not required to take a class on the American Founding. Again, these are our future teachers.

Mediocrity and ignorance passed on as the height of intellectualism produces a species of academics that are filled with self-esteem, often undeservedly so, and who — because they lack general knowledge and have been taught that facts and truth are subjective — rely on sophistry, hive-minded bullying, phony consensus (of the ignorant), and identity entitlement to create “arguments” that they believe support their decidedly self-righteous and mostly illiberal positions.

This is by design. All of it.

I won’t bore you with any talk of language and understanding how it works as it pertains to this condition. Suffice to say, I’ve been telling you so. Over and over and over again.

As I result, I couldn’t be less surprised.

(thanks to RI Red, via Insty)

Posted by Jeff G. @ 11:59am
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January 29, 2015

For discussion: should adjunct teachers be given increased status at govt. funded colleges and universities?

A friend of mine — a liberal, but she’s showing signs of slipping now that I’ve gotten my hooks into her — represents a group of adjunct teachers at a Colorado community college who have tried to bring legislation that would give adjunct professors and teachers more say in their departments, if not things such as health care, etc.

Currently, some 75% of university teacher positions are held by adjuncts, who are mostly designated as part-time employees. Additionally, the 25% of full-time faculty are aided by TAs, and are required to carry a very small teaching load.

As college tuition has increased dramatically, adjunct pay and benefits has remained relatively stagnant. Yet federal and state tax monies given to colleges and universities has increased — all so politicians can claim they support higher education.

The problem, according to my friend (and backed by my own experience), is this: the money these colleges and universities are granted is being spent on coffee bars, swimming pools, indoor water falls, copper-domed shrines, and administrative comfort — that is, on the schools’ bureaucracy and management, who have a perverse incentive to spend (they lose what they don’t spend), but who aren’t spending on teacher salaries, or even on improvements to education per se.

The bill my friend championed before a Colorado Senate committee a few days back was defeated on a party line vote, with the 2 Democrats voting for it and the 3 Republicans (including a TEA Party Senator) voting against it.

Now, as I explained to my friend, who pointed out that the TEA Party Senator and even the other two Republicans appeared conflicted, it would be a mistake not to consider that the 2 Democrat votes were proffered knowing that the Republican votes would kill the bill: after all, it is the left who controls the majority of the university apparatus, and it is the left that rather enjoys the idea of a clear separation of the elites and the masses — the full-time tenured professors and the rabble who do much of the teaching. Too, they populate much of the administrative echelon — and they are happy to be able to claim they’ve spent X dollars on “education” while really spending it on finely appointed administrative offices, increases in salary for themselves, and the kinds of ostentatious buildings and facilities that will attract the next herd of young adults who are told they must attend college should they wish to enter the workforce at a level beyond menial labor.

Meanwhile, on the Republican side, Senators are no doubt trying to reconcile the market dynamics of the institutions and avoid getting involved with what they likely believe would be interfering with a system that is owned and operated by the left.

Here’s the thing, though: I understand the principle behind the opposition. But I believe that, for purposes of a political paradigm shift, the GOP, and particularly the TEA Party Senator who was on the fence until the very end, have an opportunity here to show that it is they who stand for real education reform — reform that comes not only in the iteration of school choice, but in this case, by asserting that tax money that goes to higher end should go to the education of students and the maintenance of a decent faculty, rather than into the coffers of an administration who often scrambles, at the end of the year, to find ways to spend the government largess before its expiration date.

At the college my friend teaches, adjuncts make $2400 per class and usually are capped at 3 classes. They receive no benefits. And they are not considered on a full-time track. Consequently, the turnover rate is high — as is the incidence of teachers holding several jobs, which in turn necessarily affects the amount of time they can give to students and to grading, which is never taken into account when money is doled out for teaching.

9 lobbyists were arrayed against my friend’s group. And she has a target on her back as a result of this fight.

Personally, I believe the classical liberal / conservative / and even free market case, can be made for the position my friend has taken on behalf of adjunct professors. This is not a unionization movement. But there is something perverse about universities churning out Masters and PhD students in order to keep classes flush with low-paid labor — especially when tax payer money is involved in the funding of higher education.

Shouldn’t teachers — and the stability of the classroom — be the most important component of a college education? And if not, what is it, exactly, that colleges and universities do, save put the next generation of young adults in debt, while ironically keeping those responsible for passing them into that debt in debt and underpaid themselves?

I’ll try to find the audio of Colorado SB-094. In the meantime, however, I’d love to hear your thoughts. Because frankly I’m contemplating testifying on the side of teachers in this case. Am I wrong?

Discuss.

Posted by Jeff G. @ 11:41am
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January 29, 2015

California high school sends unvaccinated students home [Darleen Click]

Glimmer of sanity

Officials sent home 66 Palm Desert High School students Wednesday, telling them to miss up to seven days of classes because they haven’t been immunized for measles.

The students won’t return to school until Feb. 9 unless they confirm they’ve received immunization or show proof of resistance as determined by a Titer test, according to the Desert Sands Unified School District.

The district’s decision came just two days after a student was sent home with a suspected case of measles. She was cleared to return to class on Tuesday.

“We’re trying to prevent a second wave of cases,” Dr. Cameron Kaiser, Riverside County Public Health Officer, said in a statement Wednesday.

Posted by Darleen @ 8:52am
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January 29, 2015

Trigger alert: “I’ve already seen the bulge …” [Darleen Click]

Oh.The.Humanity!

There’s a mantra quickly repeating in my head: “Please have a badge. Please have a badge. Please have a badge.” It’s a steady heartbeat as I begin a conversation with a shop clerk and reposition myself so I can peer over her shoulder.

I’ve already seen the bulge in his jacket, and it’s clear from the size and shape that he has a holstered gun. Now my eyes are quickly scanning, hoping to find a law enforcement badge clipped to his belt. […]

I do not know this man, have no knowledge of his profession, personality or character. I am unaware of his mental state, of why he feels the need to carry a weapon into a bookstore. Frankly, I’m not that interested in his reasons right now. My mind is too busy filtering through the various scenarios that could be taking place. They flick before me like movie trailers, and I watch, casting some aside and mentally marking others for further consideration. […]

I still don’t know him, and the movie trailers increase. He could be the stalker, searching for his mark. He could be contemplating a robbery, or seeking someone to abduct. He could be an off-duty police officer, or even one that is undercover. He could be paranoid, thinking the world is out to get him or knowing someone truly is. He could be a fugitive, a drug dealer, a rapist or the owner of a sporting goods store. He could be a million things.

Thanking the clerk, I walk toward the YA section and my children. We won’t be spending money in this store today. We will be leaving as quickly as I can get them through the door, away from the man.

Although he is unknown to me, I do know Iowa’s lackluster gun laws and that they offer no assurances.

Poor dear. I hope she went home to lay down on the couch, have a cold compress placed ever-so-gently on her forehead and a cup of certified organic green tea to sip and sooth away her soft weeping.

And I hope she stays there.

Posted by Darleen @ 7:59am
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January 27, 2015

NOT The Onion: “We must dismantle the tyranny of the white male syllabus.” [Darleen Click]

I’m going to post the whole thing because … because … I’m in awe (and not in a good way) …

Remember now, this is the nation’s number one ranked public university:

We are calling for an occupation of syllabi in the social sciences and humanities. This call to action was instigated by our experience last semester as students in an upper-division course on classical social theory. Grades were based primarily on multiple-choice quizzes on assigned readings. The course syllabus employed a standardized canon of theory that began with Plato and Aristotle, then jumped to modern philosophers: Hobbes, Locke, Hegel, Marx, Weber and Foucault, all of whom are white men. The syllabus did not include a single woman or person of color.

We have major concerns about social theory courses in which white men are the only authors assigned. These courses pretend that a minuscule fraction of humanity — economically privileged white males from five imperial countries (England, France, Germany, Italy and the United States) — are the only people to produce valid knowledge about the world. This is absurd. The white male syllabus excludes all knowledge produced outside this standardized canon, silencing the perspectives of the other 99 percent of humanity.

The white male canon is not sufficient for theorizing the lives of marginalized people. None of the thinkers we studied in this course had a robust analysis of gender or racial oppression. They did not even engage with the enduring legacies of European colonial expansion, the enslavement of black people and the genocide of indigenous people in the Americas. Mentions of race and gender in the white male canon are at best incomplete and at worst racist and sexist. We were required to read Hegel on the “Oriental realm” and Marx on the “Asiatic mode of production,” but not a single author from Asia. We were required to read Weber on the patriarchy, but not a single feminist author. The standardized canon is obsolete: Any introduction to social theory that aims to be relevant to today’s problems must, at the very least, address gender and racial oppression.

The exclusions on the syllabus were mirrored in the classroom. Although the professor said he wanted to make the theory relevant to present issues, the class was out of touch with the majority of students’ lives. The lectures often incorporated current events, yet none of the examples engaged critically with gender or race. The professor even failed to mention the Ferguson events, even though he lectured about prisons, normalizing discourse and the carceral archipelago in Foucault’s “Discipline and Punish” the day after the grand jury decision on the murder of Michael Brown.

Furthermore, the classroom environment felt so hostile to women, people of color, queer folks and other marginalized subjects that it was difficult for us to focus on the course material. Sometimes, we were so uncomfortable that we had to leave the classroom in the middle of lecture. For example, when lecturing on Marx’s idea of the “natural division of labor between men and women,” the professor attributed some intellectual merit to this idea because men and women are biologically distinct from each other, because women give birth while men do not. One student asked, “What about trans* people?” to which the professor retorted, “There will always be exceptions.” Then, laughing, the professor teased, “We may all be transgender in the future.” Although one might be tempted to dismiss these remarks as a harmless attempt at humor, mocking trans* people and calling them “exceptions” is unacceptable.

This was not an isolated incident. In another lecture, the professor cited the highly racialized case of the Hurricane Katrina fallout as an example of people in a poor, brutish, Hobbesian “state of nature.” Moreover, he talked about Native American traditions and beliefs as examples of illogical and irrational superstition. All of these incidents are connected to a larger systemic problem with inclusion in classroom spaces at UC Berkeley. In the 2013 campus climate survey, 26 percent of respondents reported that they had personally experienced exclusionary, intimidating, offensive and/or hostile conduct. The survey also found that marginalized students, such as trans* and black students, had experienced exclusionary conduct at rates much higher than average.

We need to create classroom spaces where everyone can feel welcome. We recommend that instructors attend workshops on inclusivity in the classroom, such as those offered by the Gender Equity Resource Center. Beyond that, we must restructure the way social theory is taught. We must dismantle the tyranny of the white male syllabus. We must demand the inclusion of women, people of color and LGBTQ* authors on our curricula. We must break, systematically and explicitly, the epistemological assumptions on which this exclusionary education rests.

So, if you have taken classes in the social sciences and humanities, we challenge you: Count the readings authored by white males and those authored by the majority of humanity. Then ask yourself: Are your identities and the identities of people you love reflected on these syllabi? Whose perspectives and life experiences are excluded? Is it really worth it to accumulate debt for such an epistemically poor education?

Rodrigo Kazuo and Meg Perret are students at UC Berkeley. Perret is also an intern at the Gender Equity Resource Center.

Just another example that colleges and universities are not about education but are indoctrination centers.

Until the Holy Victim Studies Departments of the UC system are closed, taxpayer money should be withdrawn. And the parents of such precious hothouse flowers need to be publicly shamed.

(h/t Glenn Reynolds)

Posted by Darleen @ 8:16pm
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