October 29, 2007
That’s right, the entire Sanity Squad will be together tonight for another brilliant, scintillating and utterly mesmerizing BlogTalk Radio podcast.
Join Dr Sanity, Shrinkwrapped, Neo-neocon and ourselves as we shepherd you into the pastures of insight, understanding and intellectual stimulation (we are not responsible for what you step in as negotiate the unfamiliar pastures).
We will be discussing political narcissism of both candidates and voters and we will discuss Mark Steyn’s article on the morons who believe the horrors of war can be defined by Hollywood.
Tonight’s podcast will be a good one. Be sure to participate. The call in number is 646-716-9116.
October 29, 2007
Recently, the current herd of presidential candidates have had much to say about national healthcare programs and government funded college education for all. Candidates are falling over each other making promises they know they have no intention of keeping, even if they could.
Have you ever noticed how it is always the same group of people who want government to give more while at the same time ask for less and less in return? Nowadays, progressive ideologues have relegated the Peace Corps to history and disrespecting the very institutions that make up our democracy has become religious dogma. Voters who choose ‘inappropriately’ are ‘Nazis’ and every election is ‘stolen’- unless of course, the progressives are satisfied with the outcome. In that case, the ‘people have spoken.’
In The Bootstrap Nation; Bill Clinton’s Best Legacy?, the Anchoress breaks stride with the march du jour. As is often the case, she has trouble walking in lockstep with anyone. Clarity and a bit of insight will do that.
… we’ve been talking, for the last few days, about socialism and socialized programs, and why they don’t work, or how they encourage mediocrity. As the discussion spilled over into the comments sections, I wrote:
Sometimes people need a hand-out, yes, but making it a way of life has never ended up being a positive…No handout can replace the sense of pride one gets by accomplishing things on one’s own.
The emails on this subject have been wide-ranging and in one of them I was taken to task by a reader identifying herself as a “progressive” and requesting anonymity, who wagged a finger at me for advocating a “bootstraps” mentality that – to this woman’s way of thinking – is a “tired old canard” belonging “to the last century.”
…I wonder if my progressive reader would feel differently about the “bootstraps” mentality if she were to consider that Bill Clinton, one of her heroes, brought its value into sharp focus.
The Anchoress makes clear that that the conversation isn’t about politics. In fact, that is the last and least important of issues she addresses. Her discussion centers around the elevation of man and her observations about how that elevation is reached. Her views are more scientific than political.
We know that the highest achievements of man have always come about a response to restrictive thinking or restrictive ideologies. The environments that have restricted man from exercising his full potential produce two kinds of people- those who resist and ‘think outside the box’ and those who acquiesce.
Those who acquiesce become dependent. They lose the drive to achieve. Of course, human being are hard wired to achieve, so beating that drive out of us takes some work. Everything we know as instinctively true must be upended.
Life becomes defined as a zero sum game. Your success comes about as a result of someone else’s failure. Victory comes about at the cost of another’s shame. If you take pride in accomplishment, you only highlight the humiliation of someone less accomplished
Of course, those beliefs are the least ‘natural’ of human instincts and those beliefs are antithetical to science.
From the beginning of time, man has competed against nature, himself and other men. If he hadn’t, we would not have survived as a species. As a species, we need to exceed our capabilities and capacities. We excel because there is a fire in our bellies that cannot be extinguished. To fulfill our destinies as human beings, we must look within and find a way to leave our mark and excel. Animals adapt to their environment. Man adapts to his environment and excels in that environment.
Dr Sanity’s Science Is Under Attack- But From Whom? is a perfect complement to the Anchoress post. First, she quotes Yuval Levin:
..the left actually has a much more complicated set of problems with science that are explored far more rarely than those of the right. Scientific advance, for instance, is the great engine behind capitalism, and is in that respect responsible for much that the left has disliked about the west since the 18th century. Much of what progressives oppose is precisely progress. Science, extended beyond its appropriate bounds, is also the chief contemporary threat to our continued allegiance to the principle of human equality, which has been at the heart of the liberal worldview. Put simply, science seems to demonstrate we are not equal—this after all is the problem many on the left had with The Bell Curve. Of course, it only seems that way if you take a very peculiar view of what the principle of equality actually is. We are equal not in our natural capacities—obviously we are not all equally strong, or smart, or tall, or healthy—but in our standing as human beings in relation to something higher than ourselves. But the left is no longer well equipped to offer that defense of equality, since it requires all manner of premises they have given up.
She then goes on to make some very biting observations:
The assertion that I hear repeatedly in the academic setting is that science is “under attack” from the religious right. Yet what I actually observe time and again is that it is the secular left that is intent on suppressing ideas and research that aren’t ideologically pure…
One thing you can say about the religious right is that their desire to teach “intelligent design” (a theory I do not think has sufficient evidence to be included in children’s science textbooks) basically represents a rather desperate desire to have their religious views respected in a system that has deliberately and with malice aforethought been excluding them for years. even as other “religions” views are substituted. As examples, consider that even the word “Christmas” is prohibited in schools these days for fear of offending some sensitive leftist’s feelings; but these same leftists are eager to make sure kids learn all about Islam (we don’t want them to become Islamophobic, do we?), or that the religion of the left– multiculturalism– is integrated into the curriculum without so much as a by-your-leave.
We are also subjected to grown women (or should I say “indoctrinated feminists”?) who presume to call themselves “scientists” swooning when a University President suggests the possibility that factors other than sexism–i.e., biological considerations– might be at work in explaining disparities between women and men in academia. That University president was forced out of his position for daring to have such ideas and expressing them in a spirit of open-mindedness.
I guess some ideas are far too threatening to be freely discussedand debated.
So, which of the above two scenarios has had the most chilling effect on free speech in this country? The debate about intelligent design? Or the lack of one about the biological differences between males and females? I submit that the latter, which had serious repercussions on that particular University President and effectively warned anyone who might want to explore theories other than sexism that they would be appropriately persecuted.
Meanwhile, no one who advocates intelligent design theory or creationism has ever advocated (that I am aware) that evolution theory be struck from the curriculum and not be allowed in public discourse or debate. All they ask is that their ideas be included in the debate.
When politics dictates what is and isn’t human nature, humans will be abused.
Hope sparkles from the wheel, and all possibility is contained therein. And the man who can sharpen his own knife, and teach his children that craft, will never be helpless or hungry or cast aside as worthless. He will, therefore, be at peace, and so will his house, and columnists will write about it in wonder.
…the helping hand of necessary, but structured, social aid can uplift and encourage, while the hand-out of creeping socialism can only deplete and depress our human spirit, drive and ingenuity. It is a legacy of which any good conservative would be proud.
The truth the Anchoress speaks of is crystal clear- and that is why truth is so often under ferocious attack by those who need to negate the science and hard wiring that defines the human species. Their desperation can often times be regarded as pathetically desperate. The deceit of that desperation comes easily.
The generations of souls lost and forgotten to the socialist ideals and dreams of utopia will not be forgotten- especially by those that had to endure the ‘utopia’ that tried to extinguish the fire that made us human. As we have noted before, Utopia cannot be imposed without tyranny.
The elevation of man has always been a mark of honor and has served as the foundation of our greatest achievements. Socialism, the ideologues who would limit man, ideas and science, is the mark of Cain of our times. Those who wear it proudly, have learned nothing.
Those who have learned nothing, have failed at life.
Portions of this post have been previously published. Given the current campaign huffing and puffing, we thought readers might want to avoid the hot air.
October 29, 2007
The BlogTalk Radio podcast covered a lot of ground. We discussed Post Traumatic Stress Syndrome (PTSD), the MSM gone AWOL in Iraq and deliberate efforts by the MSM to avoid reporting what is really going on in Iraq.
We also talked about the realities of urban warfare and the lack of political unity and weakness of the current Iraqi government. We also discussed how the Iraqis, both Shia and Sunni, are now cooperating with Coalition forces are determined to build a nation independent of the attempt to foist various agendas on the Iraqi people. According to Sanchez and Fumento, the MSM are deliberately obfuscating and denying that truth.
We also discussed ‘Baksheesh‘ and how that single cultural notion and reality influences every relationship, exchange and negotiation in the Middle East.
Fausta’s BlogTalk Radio podcast with Matt Sanchez, Michael Fumento is a keeper.
October 29, 2007
Via Mamacita, who knows more about schools, education and what it means to teach kids than most anyone. While you might not see or hear the train coming, she does.
American kids, dumber than dirtI have this ongoing discussion with a longtime reader who also just so happens to be a longtime Oakland high school teacher, a wonderful guy who’s seen generations of teens come and generations go and who has a delightful poetic sensibility and quirky outlook on his life and his family and his beloved teaching career.
And he often writes to me in response to something I might’ve written about the youth of today, anything where I comment on the various nefarious factors shaping their minds and their perspectives and whether or not, say, EMFs and junk food and cell phones are melting their brains and what can be done and just how bad it might all be.
His response: It is not bad at all. It’s absolutely horrifying.
My friend often summarizes for me what he sees, firsthand, every day and every month, year in and year out, in his classroom. He speaks not merely of the sad decline in overall intellectual acumen among students over the years, not merely of the astonishing spread of lazy slackerhood, or the fact that cell phones and iPods and excess TV exposure are, absolutely and without reservation, short-circuiting the minds of the upcoming generations. Of this, he says, there is zero doubt.
Nor does he speak merely of the notion that kids these days are overprotected and wussified and don’t spend enough time outdoors and don’t get any real exercise and therefore can’t, say, identify basic plants, or handle a tool, or build, well, anything at all. Again, these things are a given. Widely reported, tragically ignored, nothing new.
No, my friend takes it all a full step — or rather, leap — further. It is not merely a sad slide. It is not just a general dumbing down. It is far uglier than that.
We are, as far as urban public education is concerned, essentially at rock bottom. We are now at a point where we are essentially churning out ignorant teens who are becoming ignorant adults and society as a whole will pay dearly, very soon, and if you think the hordes of easily terrified, mindless fundamentalist evangelical Christian lemmings have been bad for the soul of this country, just wait.
It’s gotten so bad that, as my friend nears retirement, he says he is very seriously considering moving out of the country so as to escape what he sees will be the surefire collapse of functioning American society in the next handful of years due to the absolutely irrefutable destruction, the shocking — and nearly hopeless — dumb-ification of the American brain. It is just that bad.
Now, you may think he’s merely a curmudgeon, a tired old teacher who stopped caring long ago. Not true. Teaching is his life. He says he loves his students, loves education and learning and watching young minds awaken. Problem is, he is seeing much less of it. It’s a bit like the melting of the polar ice caps. Sure, there’s been alarmist data about it for years, but until you see it for yourself, the deep visceral dread doesn’t really hit home.
He cites studies, reports, hard data, from the appalling effects of television on child brain development (i.e.; any TV exposure before 6 years old and your kid’s basic cognitive wiring and spatial perceptions are pretty much scrambled for life), to the fact that, because of all the insidious mandatory testing teachers are now forced to incorporate into the curriculum, of the 182 school days in a year, there are 110 when such testing is going on somewhere at Oakland High. As one of his colleagues put it, “It’s like weighing a calf twice a day, but never feeding it.”
But most of all, he simply observes his students, year to year, noting all the obvious evidence of teens’ decreasing abilities when confronted with even the most basic intellectual tasks, from understanding simple history to working through moderately complex ideas to even (in a couple recent examples that particularly distressed him) being able to define the words “agriculture,” or even “democracy.” Not a single student could do it.
It gets worse. My friend cites the fact that, of the 6,000 high school students he estimates he’s taught over the span of his career, only a small fraction now make it to his grade with a functioning understanding of written English. They do not know how to form a sentence. They cannot write an intelligible paragraph. Recently, after giving an assignment that required drawing lines, he realized that not a single student actually knew how to use a ruler.
It is, in short, nothing less than a tidal wave of dumb, with once-passionate, increasingly exasperated teachers like my friend nearly powerless to stop it. The worst part: It’s not the kids’ fault. They’re merely the victims of a horribly failed educational system.
Then our discussion often turns to the meat of it, the bigger picture, the ugly and unavoidable truism about the lack of need among the government and the power elite in this nation to create a truly effective educational system, one that actually generates intelligent, thoughtful, articulate citizens.
Hell, why should they? After all, the dumber the populace, the easier it is to rule and control and launch unwinnable wars and pass laws telling them that sex is bad and TV is good and God knows all, so just pipe down and eat your Taco Bell Double-Supremo Burrito and be glad we don’t arrest you for posting dirty pictures on your cute little blog.
This is about when I try to offer counterevidence, a bit of optimism. For one thing, I’ve argued generational relativity in this space before, suggesting maybe kids are no scarier or dumber or more dangerous than they’ve ever been, and that maybe some of the problem is merely the same old awkward generation gap, with every current generation absolutely convinced the subsequent one is terrifically stupid and malicious and will be the end of society as a whole. Just the way it always seems.
I also point out how, despite all the evidence of total public-education meltdown, I keep being surprised, keep hearing from/about teens and youth movements and actions that impress the hell out of me. Damn kids made the Internet what it is today, fer chrissakes. Revolutionized media. Broke all the rules. Still are.
Hell, some of the best designers, writers, artists, poets, chefs, and so on that I meet are in their early to mid-20s. And the nation’s top universities are still managing, despite a factory-churning mentality, to crank out young minds of astonishing ability and acumen. How did these kids do it? How did they escape the horrible public school system? How did they avoid the great dumbing down of America? Did they never see a TV show until they hit puberty? Were they all born and raised elsewhere, in India and Asia and Russia? Did they all go to Waldorf or Montessori and eat whole-grain breads and play with firecrackers and take long walks in wild nature? Are these kids flukes? Exceptions? Just lucky?
My friend would say, well, yes, that’s precisely what most of them are. Lucky, wealthy, foreign-born, private-schooled … and increasingly rare. Most affluent parents in America — and many more who aren’t — now put their kids in private schools from day one, and the smart ones give their kids no TV and minimal junk food and no video games. (Of course, this in no way guarantees a smart, attuned kid, but compared to the odds of success in the public school system, it sure seems to help). This covers about, what, 3 percent of the populace?
As for the rest, well, the dystopian evidence seems overwhelming indeed, to the point where it might be no stretch at all to say the biggest threat facing America is perhaps not global warming, not perpetual warmongering, not garbage food or low-level radiation or way too much Lindsay Lohan, but a populace far too ignorant to know how to properly manage any of it, much less change it all for the better.
What, too fatalistic? Don’t worry. Soon enough, no one will know what the word even means.