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The Future Is Nothing To Play Games With

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This weekend, Mrs. Realist and I go through a "quaint" parental rite of passage that we've awaited a long time. Our youngest, Sensei, turns twenty. What this means in blunt terms is that we are no longer parents to teenagers. But instead of celebrating this milestone event, we remain mired in parental concerns regarding the future prospects of our four offspring.

It's hard for the smart on the street! (You ain't knowin'!)

We have managed to get two of our spawn through college with degrees, but only my daughter Envirocop is on her own two feet, going through what her mother and I did by raising our first grandchild while putting her husband through veterinary school. The other, my son Bookseller, cannot get an interview despite having both a degree and many years on his current job.

The younger two, Translator and Sensei, are still in college. Sensei is supposed to be on a full scholarship, but the Wall St. banking fiasco damaged the school's portfolio so badly that they have lost the means to live up to that promise. Their abject apologies for making us an offer they had to refuse are almost enough to break your heart.

Add this institutional lapse to Der Governator's cutbacks of California's support of higher educational (while doing little-to-nothing to repair California's Enron-like finances), and the burden of scholastic financing once again falls upon the parents. Just this year alone, we are committed to an additional $12,000 for Sensei's junior year. We cannot, despite my medical travails this year, in good conscience deny her the best possible attempt for her to realize her educational goals. I use the word "attempt" deliberately, for this endgame has already been compromised once due to the college's financial shortfalls having forced a change in major. We would greatly prefer to avoid another such change, and are doing what we can to keep the quill to the parchment. This is yet another "quaint" reason why I will not let the medical industry bankrupt my family over my health care, a sorry saga I related in my last post.

So why not have Sensei work to help herself? She does! As a part of her financing, she works as a part-time teacher's aide in a local school district. But the federal work rules limit how much time she can spend on that job. She is allowed two hours of work a day, and cannot work at all if her classes are not in session. For instance, her spring break did not align with that of the local school, and cost her two weeks of vital income. We paid for her gas those weeks.

Local employment options outside of the purview of the Department of Education are not of much use either. She's put in dozens of applications with the various chain stores and restaurants at the local malls, and has followed up on the few employment ads which show up in the local paper. She only got one interview, and that job went to someone already in the organization. What was that "quaint" belief you recently expressed that the economy was improving, Barry?

Sensei's goal is to teach at the college level, but I have certain doubts that this is a viable option. For example, in Britain and in Northern Ireland, colleges are in danger of closing. Such experienced professors as are displaced will certainly be looking for new positions, and one has to suspect that previously tenured professors with a track record would in most instances prove to be deemed more valuable than those newly-graduated for what unfilled posts remain in any college's budget, even here in the US. The claim of the UK authorities in defense of their plan is that the system is cutting back on operating expenses in order to create new "21st Century" facilities, but a program being run in Ohio demonstrates that a more effective usage of existing resources may prove less costly to all concerned.

The UK is not alone in reducing educational staff. Ohio colleges are clearly looking to reduce staff, as are Dartmouth College, Greensboro College, Columbia College, and Texas A&M, just to cite a few examples. The list of US colleges including staffing cuts in their efforts to cut expenses is long and growing.

Professors all over the nation are losing tenured positions, and are as afflicted by governmental actions as any other group of educational professionals. In Colorado, for instance, a law has been passed that uses "evaluations" to determine whether or not a teacher should lose tenure over an ill-defined "effectiveness" rating. While this bill appears to be aimed at primary and secondary school teachers, I suspect that the bill is in part this is a knee-jerk response to Ward Churchill winning reinstatement at the University of Colorado after his ouster over some admittedly rash comments made regarding some 9/11 victims, and I won't be surprised to see it applied in the future to Colorado's college staff.

All over the nation, as represented by the district of Brockton, MA, heavy cuts in teaching staff are being undertaken to save money. Mrs. R has had to endure such threats to her job for the past two years, and there is no sign of relief. Losing her job will likely happen at some point. In addition to the schools getting cut back, ancillary facilities like libraries are closing, or losing staff, or cutting back on hours due to a loss of funding. The means for one not to be illiterate are diminishing, which only weakens one's employment prospects in the New World Order.

One has to wonder why I had to dig to find these stories. It may be that the United States has abandoned education as another of those "quaint" artifacts of a bygone era, and that no one really cares. A co-worker laughed heartily once when his son proclaimed a deep distaste for reading. This deliberately illiterate attitude may be why the US military is turning to using video games as training tools rather than the infamously thick and quaintly small-printed field manuals. Some of the choices may well be promoting lasting redeeming social values, such as one game which seeks to enhance local cultural awareness in military personnel in the field, but that isn't not what a military tends to want in its recruits. What they want, to paraphrase Gen. Patton, is to enhance the ability of the average soldier to help the other SOB die for his country.

Involved in this effort for battlefield supremacy, UCLA was just granted $5.5 million of YOUR MONEY for new research into micro-electro-mechanical systems (MEMS) technology, some of which is being used to do real-time brain scans on troops using video games for training. The idea is that such training could "bolster the odds that snap decisions in the real-world will be based on more than just a gut feeling", but do you really want to subject more of your inner self to an entity that already wants to know when you are sick even before you feel the symptoms? You wouldn't have time to develop any physical gut feelings before they knew about them! Duke’s Institute for Genome Science & Policy is getting $19.5 million of YOUR MONEY for that minor intrusion into your personal humanity.

The point to this diversion into militant video gaming is to illuminate my concerns that Sensei's sought-after sojourn into education as a career is based on deliberations for which details are gleaned only from the past. It may well be that education as we understand it is a buggy whip industry, and that she will rack up thousands of dollars of school loans with no realistic hope of ever repaying them through educational employment. As I am already subsidizing the existence of her brother Bookseller, I am not looking forward to adding indefinitely-extended life support for another child to offset my dwindling prospects for retirement. I will not, however, throw them out on the street as long as they are making honest efforts to improve their economic condition. It's another of those "quaint" parental attributes that I tend to adhere to.

I've not gone into the prospects for my son Translator for a reason. He may well be the only one of my children to have a real opportunity of doing better in life than I did. This quaint -if time-honored- desire of American parents is becoming more difficult to realize. Yet due to Translator's interest in video game programming, he may well be the one in demand by future employers. All he will have to do is turn his interests to the service of the dark side and create games to enhance the abilities of his peers to kill and destroy. It slays me to admit this, but it's a growth industry sans pareil – the only game left in town!

I'll be standing on this side, cheering for the end of it. I already know that in the end, nobody really wins.

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About pessimist

  • Ruvy

    Another smash-em-up exercise in iconoclasm that nobody seems to want to talk about. You cut way too close to the bone, Realist…

  • Well, Realist, it’s just you and me here. The rest of the known blogosphere at BC is too caught up “other articles of greater interest”.

    When I went to high school, back when the dinosaurs tramped the earth, the subject that interested me the most was printing. I wanted to get a job as a printer for one of the papers, pulling out type from a California box, spreading ink on the wheel, setting paper on it and letting the next day’s news rip.

    An eldritch art, along with fixing typewriters and sending telegrams.

    In a pornographic society like America, it is no surprise that aborting kids is more important than educating them….

  • zingzing

    ruvy, that comment is like a lost dog. what the hell did the last sentence have to do with anything? and your understanding of america is obviously a cruel joke someone has played on you. even a child can see more nuance in the world than you.

  • You said it, not I.

  • Read the article, zing. According to our friend, the Realist, education is going the way of the printing press, typewriters and telegraphs. And the result is that technological advances in aborting unwanted inconveniences, like fetuses conceived during recreational sex, are more important than education. You don’t have to like the unkind truth, but destroying children is more important than nurturing them in your country.

  • “And the result is that technological advances in aborting unwanted inconveniences, like fetuses conceived during recreational sex, are more important than education.”

    It’s still taking a hyperbole to the level of concrete.

  • zingzing

    ruvy: “You don’t have to like the unkind truth, but destroying children is more important than nurturing them in your country.”

    you’d really like to believe that, wouldn’t you? but i don’t even think that you believe that. you just type it out and smile at it.

  • You’ve got to admit one thing, zing. Our society has always been paying lip service to education. And now that the going gets tough, well . . .

  • zing, roger,

    It’s not hard for me to see the shit in your playpen or note its stink. In a society where recreational sex is de rigeur, and pornography is mainstreamed, you get subtle shifts in the way people look at families and children.

    Unless the couple actually wants them, children are an inconvenience to be gotten rid of, as quickly and as quietly as possible. The market for tools to do so – to self-abort in a society where abortion is frowned upon – grows, and those to fill that market are there and ready to attempt to fill the demand.

    You can’t see that shit all around you because you are in its midst. I am not.

  • You’re not the only one who can be detached. But I don’t necessarily see the situation in the US through the moral lenses you do.

  • zingzing

    ruvy, if the “shifts” are “subtle,” how is it that you get to the point where abortion is more important than education? it’s true that abortion is made relatively easy here in the us, but to go from that point to your ridiculous hyperbole is a logical leap of histrionic proportions. it’s bullshit, and you know it.

    as to your “recreational sex is de rigeur, and pornography is mainstreamed” claptrap, stop being such a fucking puritan. sex is a natural thing and being a smug prude is so 19th century. that kind of shamed attitude leads to just as many abortions as anything else.

  • Well, Realist, it’s just you and me here. The rest of the known blogosphere at BC is too caught up “other articles of greater interest”.

    Add me to the list, Ruvy. I’ve been passionate about education since day one and have attributed 99.6% of our nation’s woes to the incredible degradation of education’s value in America. That, my friend, is my definition of immorality. Those on the fringes of the Right have some convoluted definition of the same. They think two people of the same sex being in love is immoral, yet the erasure of historical fact from our history text books is somehow “God’s work”.

    Unfortunately, our so-called “Ivy League” educated politicians do not want the rest of us to gain knowledge. Why? Because if we did, they would be out on their collectives asses. Our legislative branch of government is populated by “educated” officials who are products of institutions who have made an art out of sucking the government bank accounts dry for their own self-gratification while sacrificing the remainder.

    I, for one, am not impressed by Harvard or Yale educated folk. There is little difference between the fringes of the right and left. They’re both elitist. They’re both self-righteous. And they both serve to make this nation less secure.

    I live in the shadow of Harvard and MIT. Every day I look upon both institutions with an ever increasing contempt. Realist’s children are paying the price. It’s not fair. At a time when Realist and his wife should be reaping the harvest of their lifes’ work, they instead are immersed in a quagmire not of their making. That is immoral. We have laid a foundation in a pit of quicksand for our young and there remains no one in a position of authority who has the wherewithal to do anything about it.

    What amazes me most is this debate concerning Arizona and immigration. Why the hell would anyone want to emigrate to the United States in these days? What do we have to offer? Jobs at Burger King and Taco Bell? We manufacture nothing and consume everything. We live in this fantasy that the United States is Earth’s last, best hope for freedom and quality living. It’s all smoke and mirrors. That which is most important in the course of human events is usually that which we pay the least attention to these days.

  • [Edited] Sex is a natural act that is fun – and that designed to propagate the species. If you don’t want to propagate the species, you take precautions.

    And I indulged, just like most guys who grew up in the 70’s, and unfortunately one of my sons was aborted – without me knowing about it till after the fact. The difference between you and me, apparently, is that I actually learned from that. If you experienced anything like that, you never did, it appears.

    So, cut out this stupid “puritan” shit, you foolish young man. You know very little about the life I’ve led, and have no idea how I developed the moral compass I use.

    It’s simple, zing. The simplest and easiest method of birth control is not to fuck – period. As in “just say no”. In a society where porn is mainstreamed and recreational sex is de rigeur and expected; one where girls seek out sex at a younger and younger age, that takes real determination and grit.

    Obviously “just saying no” doesn’t work where rape is involved, and in a society where porn is mainstreamed, watching rape is a good way to get your rocks off – but whether it encourages actual rape is not yet clear. In a society where porn is mainstreamed, this is yet a new wrinkle in the sexual code to be considered.

    There are other methods of birth control, but all of them have an element of risk, in one fashion or another – or of such inconvenience that they just don’t get used, like condoms. Finally, there is the issue, that because artificial birth control is so widespread, popular culture and attitudes separate sex from its natural function – procreation, and make it into mere recreation (as in “Come on, babe, you’re on the pill. Let’s have some real fun….”).

    It’s stuff like this that gets you to those subtle shades of thought where babies, children and education are concerned. Enough DINK’s in a district and education is sure to get cut. Why should DINK’s care about buildings where snotty kids run around making a mess and selling drugs?

    Voilà! Cuts in the education budget! And articles like that of the Realist, who is complaining about his kids not having a chance in the field of education….

  • Ruvy’s right in that the abortion debate does seem to get a lot more media coverage than the state of the nation’s education.

  • And Silas, in his comment, has added the additional points I did not cover in my comment. Thanks, dude!

    Between the élitist bastards from Hahvahd and Yale who have dumbed down education in this country because they had an attitude that they had the right to rule and the rest of the people in the United States were just shit to be ruled over, you have an education system that is dysfunctional as well as unpopular.

    Nu? When money is short, who do you cut – teachers – who, according to American popular culture, can’t do and who therefore teach!

  • one where girls seek out sex at a younger and younger age,…. should have read, “one where girls and boys seek out sex at a younger and younger age,….”

    My thoughts ran ahead of me.

  • zingzing

    ruvy, you’re not saying anything that’s news to me. no, i haven’t had to deal with an abortion, because i already knew the lessons you had to learn the hard way. (that’s one of the benefits of sex education that goes beyond abstinence only.) of course abstinence is the most sure-fire birth control, but that ignores reality. and procreation isn’t the only thing that sex is good for. sure, it’s the biological goal of sex, but that’s like saying that nourishment is the only reason to eat.

    rape porn? really? ugh. there’s a movie called “irreversible” that you should watch.

  • Coming from a family where the maternal side is mostly Jesuit-educated, I’ve come to appreciate that Jesuit education is far superior in many respects. Does that sound elitist? Perhaps. But in my mind a product of Jesuit education is far more likely to contribute something positive to society as opposed to those who come out of Brown, Princeton or Yale.

    But back to Realist and his situation. Where’s the anger, folks? Where are the comments from those who know exactly where Realist is coming from? What Realist and his wife are going through is something each of us will go through if we have children going through the education system over the next decade. Is this what we really want for our kids? Are we willing to accept sub-standard education as the norm? Are we willing to squander the creativity and natural curiosity of our young for some false notion that those in the United States are somehow more privileged or intelligent than the remainder of the world? Investment in our young can only result in a greater return than that which Wall Street has to offer. The problem is that Wall Street has the cash to pay off members of Congress to keep our children dumb.

  • it’s the biological goal of sex, but that’s like saying that nourishment is the only reason to eat.

    Let’s get back to basics, zing. Special for you!

    Sex is a natural act that is fun – and that designed to propagate the species. If you don’t want to propagate the species, you take precautions. The point is, for you slow kids in the class, is that sex is fun because pregnancy, without the aid of modern medicine, can be damned risky. Even the ancients figured out that pregnant women needed some kind of protection – marriage developed out of that understanding.

    Eating is fun because if it is, you will be more likely to nourish yourself – and risk hunting deer, and other animals, growing grain, picking fruits, etc., etc – all of which involve danger, and often back-breaking work. When you separate eating from nourishment (welcome to Burger King, what can I get you today!), you get a country of fat, unhealthy pigs. When you separate eating from producing food (Hypernetto’s chicken Wednesday – a kilo for just 3 shekels [80 cents]!), you get a country of unhealthy, food obsessed, undernourished fat pigs.

  • Clavos

    @ #12:

    Nice post Silas!

  • Thanks, Clavos. Sometimes I do make sense.

  • zingzing

    ruvy: “sex is fun because pregnancy, without the aid of modern medicine, can be damned risky.”

    i’m not totally convinced that’s the reason why nature made sex so damn thrilling… i think it’s more base than that. procreation, being the ultimate biological necessity, is fun because those that enjoy doing it do it more and have more kids. it’s just evolution at work.

    marriage, at least in part, certainly developed out of a protective instinct, but, like sex, marriage also has elements of emotional connection (obviously) at its core. that emotional connection is another one of the points of sex, as in it’s a way to express love (and lust) physically.

    sex (and marriage) is more complex than you’re making it out to be.

  • I got my sex education out of a book that was written by a doctor at a time when many women died in childbirth. It was his amused observations that “Love” – what we would now call “lust” – created a game of “love” that people never tire of watching.

    We’re not talking about getting laid here, we are talking about all those “pre-screw” rituals that make up so much of “romance” novels.

    Of course all this is more complex than I’m outlining here. But, Eric Olson is not paying me to write books on his comment threads. So, I simplify to keep things under 500 paragraphs. I hope you don’t mind, zing….

    And by the way, young man, you are repeating yourself. Or rather, you are repeating what I have said without admitting to it, and arguing that you have some great wisdom going beyond the basic truisms I have written.

    You don’t.

    i think it’s more base than that. procreation, being the ultimate biological necessity, is fun because those that enjoy doing it do it more and have more kids. it’s just evolution at work.

    Care to echo my words some more?

  • And, as usual, zing, you have managed to miss the whole point of the comment – which is that some things are hardwired as enjoyable to keep the species alive, and keep it taking the risks it needs to take to stay alive.

  • zingzing

    “Care to echo my words some more?”

    how exactly does “sex is fun because those that enjoy doing it do it more and have more kids” echo “sex is fun because pregnancy[…] can be damned risky?”

    you can claim i’m just repeating you, but if that’s what you meant, that was far from clear. and now it looks like you’re saying “that’s what i meant” so you don’t have to admit anything.

  • John Wilson

    The article clearly and simply reveals the madness of modern american society and the nightmarish penny-accounting economic system which has brought us to this condition.

    I fear for our survival.

  • John, you have the sense to fear for the survival of your country. You’re a wise man.

  • If, indeed, we are destined to survive. We treat sex and education equally. They both are fundamentally important and we ignore that simple notion. We don’t want sex discussed in a formal education setting yet we don’t discuss it at home until it’s too late to make a difference.

    If I recall, nearly half of all births last year were to unwed mothers. That’s society’s fault. We’re more concerned about Barack Obama’s birth certificate than we are about teaching our children the ramifications of unprotected sex. While a bit over than half of children born here are to wedded parents, half of those children are destined to be in a one-parent home before junior high school. Why? Because marriage is a disposable commodity. It is easily dissolved in a society where simple, basic values of trust, personal accountability and mutual respect are not encouraged.

    The Far Right would have you believe it’s the queers. Those of the Left would have you believe it’s the Christians. The truth is, it is every single one of us who choose to be as silent as the politicians and cops who could have brought the Church to its knees years ago and saved a lot of children.

    No matter what society’s ills may be, they all go back to a free, comprehensive fact-filled education free of religious sanitization and political propaganda. In a country as “great” as the United States is supposed to be, we really don’t give a damn about insuring that our children have the best education possible. We’re satisfied to let them be fast food clerks or greeters at WalMart. Every child born since 1980 should sue their parent(s) for malpractice and dereliction of duty. It was our job to insure our children had a better shot at a better world. We have failed. Miserably.

  • Careful, Silas,

    If you don’t endorse free love and casual sex, “thoroughly modern” zing is liable to call you a puritan with a 19th century “Good, goody girl” mentality.

  • zingzing

    free love, yeah, man, that’s where it’s at… cooooool.

  • According to Speaker Pelosi, there may be hope for all.


  • Even supporters of free love and casual sex will have a difficult time discounting the notion that intimate sex between two people in love is far more gratifying than bedding down every Tom, Dick and Harriett. And I think that’s a subject worth discussing at the puberty level in education. Sure, sex feels good. It satisfies a primal urge and relieves stress. But when one experiences intimate relations with one other person, the act becomes so much more on so many more levels. Some will have you believe that it can only exist with two members of the opposite sex. Not true. It’s not who you love, or HOW you love. What’s most important is that when you find that kind of love you do everything you can to keep it alive, fresh and sincere.

    With all this talk of the “sanctity of marriage” it amazes me how easy it is for married folk to just draw up papers and dissolve such a union. We’re a disposable society from the things we consume to the partnerships we make. I’m beginning to believe that a marriage license should be difficult to obtain and can only be granted when a couple passes a litmus test. Even reproduction should be regulated if we can’t get back to basics in rearing our spawn.

    For all this talk of “family values” in America, why don’t people start practicing what they preach? Families come in all types and sizes. They are not necessarily connected by biology. Regardless of the parental dynamics, every child born into this world deserves an equal shot at the brass ring. If and when we can all agree on that one simple premise we are doomed to repeat history ad nauseum.

  • Free love and casual sex is all about “me, me, me, and my sex organs and how good they feel”…. When a guy gets beyond “me”, he may – note I said “may” – be ready to be a father. Silas has some very good points in his comment. There is a reason I wait for what he says, and often find myself agreeing.

    He is a grownup.

  • STM

    zing” “free love, yeah, man, that’s where it’s at… cooooool.”

    Luckily, given my vintage and the propensity of my countrywoman to feel that they were on equal terms on that score,meant that I never missed out … and some.

    Now, believe it or not, I couldn’t give a rat’s … especially being married, although I was lucky enough to marry an absolute glamour (I think she needed coke-bottle glasses). Now neither of us can be bothered because we work too hard and just can’t be …well, bothered

  • Thanks for the link, Dan. Just another reason why House leadership rules MUST be part of the political dialog this fall. I want to know who my candidate will support in House Leadership, regardless of party affiliation. Pelosi and Boehner are clones. Hoyer and Cantor are political whores who will stop at nothing to rake in K Street bucks. So, when you cast your vote in November, be sure to ask your candidate who they are supporting in House Leadership. The future of this nation depends on it!

  • Silas, you are more than welcome. There seems to be a movement away from incumbents, be they Republican or Democrat, and I hope the movement succeeds. That might increase unemployment a smidgen, but that I can endure. Perhaps some of the newly unemployed congresscritters could pursue a more creative and certainly less harmful career in music or art.

    I have become rather a pessimist, and fear that we may well just exchange one band of jerks for another, with no improvement at all. That would be very sad.

    Off topic as well as of no relevance whatever, here is a fun piece. On the other hand, in view of the spotlight focused on the political views of celebrities and the weight their views sometimes carry, maybe it has some relevance after all.


  • Actually, the piece may apply, Dan. The definition of “dictator” and “socialist” depends upon which school district one is educated. A “Communist” in say, Alabama, is defined differently in Massachusetts. In Texas Teddy Kennedy was a Socialist. In Massachusetts a Democrat. In West Virginia, Pat Robertson is a patriot. In my mind a heretic. I loved the “FOX Commentary” at the end of the piece.

  • Silas, the commentary toward the end does rather distract from the piece. I don’t much care whether Allen had “carnal conversation” with a goat, provided of course that the goat gave informed consent.


  • Speaking of goats, time for some falafel, tabouleh and lahmejune.

    Hey, Ruvy, how is Israel taking the nuclear pact between Turkey and Iran? Betcha school children in Israel know the definition of “nuclear”.

  • Any Hebrew-speaker knows “nuclear”, Silas. The Hebrew word for “nuclear” gar’iní comes from the word for seed – gar’ín; you know like pumpkin seeds and sunflower seeds, which people have on the Sabbath here while learning Torah and such. The folks at the Hebrew Academy made a brilliant choice – “nuclear”- the seed from which the mushroom cloud grows….

  • Glenn Contrarian

    Realist –

    Very good article. I’ve got two comments – one you may not like, and one that may well help your kids.

    1 – As far as the cost of education in California goes, it’s not only the Great Recession you have to thank, but also Proposition 13. That’s what taxes do – they enable a better infrastructure to the society. If you minimize the taxes, while you may be keeping a few dozen more dollars in your pocket at the end of the year, you also have a a local/state/federal infrastructure that is not funded well enough to keep up with the times. Thus, California’s woes not only with higher education, but with much of her social services as well – including police and fire protection.

    The old saw, “You get what you pay for” applies to taxes, too. If the nation is stingy with paying taxes (since we’re at the LOWEST rate of taxes since the early Truman administration, according to USA Today a week ago), then the national infrastructure will not be – cannot be – what it once was. You get what you pay for.

    2 – For all the problems facing brick-and-mortar colleges, we’ve all got a great opportunity – online colleges. The best opportunity out there (according to Time and Newsweek) is Western Governors University, which is a non-profit university sponsored by the governors of the 19 western states (including Der Governator). Since it’s non-profit, its costs are much lower than, say, University of Phoenix. Right now, its costs are $2900 per semester – regardless of how few or how many courses one takes. Furthermore, it’s competency-based, which means one can test out of courses that one already knows.

    I know that WGU doesn’t carry the pedigree of the better brick-and-mortar universities, but it’s a good and inexpensive way to get a nationally-accredited sheepskin (including masters’ degrees).

    I hope this helps.

  • The future is nothing to play games with – unless you are an immigrant Lebanese pole dancer….

    Mainstreaming porn into American society – that’s where the money is at – just check Rima Fakih’s brassiere if you don’t believe me….

    Hey! Who needs a college diploma if you can just wriggle your way into riches?

  • “For all the problems facing brick-and-mortar colleges, we’ve all got a great opportunity – online colleges.”

    Sorry, Glenn, gotta disagree. Most of them are just ripoffs, and designed with no other idea in mind than making money. And even aside from that, the basic ingredient is missing – interaction. Education goes beyond the mere idea of cramming for the test.

  • Glenn Contrarian

    Roger –

    Look up WGU using the link provided, check what they say, and then decide. I think you’ll find it has better credentials than you might expect.

    When it comes to interaction, Rog, on the one hand you’re quite right for the same reason that home-schooling doesn’t prepare a child because it keeps them from the interaction they need with the other kids…but on the other hand, the world is changing.

    No one would advocate for online elementary school…but online college is something else altogether – because those who are taking online classes are already adults. Furthermore, look at the opportunity presented not only to those who can’t afford it, but also to those who for whatever reason cannot go to a brick-or-mortar university, whether physical location, job, military duty, or physical handicap, or age (yes, age), or simple inability to get out of the house (housewife with kids).

    The world is changing, Rog – and while it’s easy for us to say the world is going to heck in a handbasket and wistfully look back to the good old days, it’s wiser to see the very real (and quite positive) opportunities presented to us (and our children) now that we never had before.

    Half empty, half full, double-edged sword, and all that. But for every negative, there’s quite a bit of positive.

  • “The world is changing, Rog . . .”

    Right, Glenn, and not necessarily for the better. I’ve been going to graduate schools for half of my life. You’re not going to convince me that correspondence classes are any kind of substitute.

    Just look at the kind of education you get at Oxford – at worst, they’re seminars; at best, you’re working one on one with a Reader.

    Dialogue and exchange of ideas, back and forth, are the integral element of any decent education. Again, correspondence schools are in no position to offer that, regardless of how impressive their offerings.

    To close my argument, examine the very process of writing a dissertation. You’re not alone but are guided along the way by select faculty, the kind of people whose judgment you respect.

    Even the greatest minds need that kind of feedback.

    Finally, getting a degree should never be the end all and be all – only a benchmark along the way.

  • Glenn Contrarian

    And Rog –

    I did not deny by any means the value of such interaction. What I did say was that online education renders the opportunity for higher education that people might not otherwise have had.

    For instance, my oldest son was able to keep working towards his MBA at the same university even though he moved from Puget Sound to Las Vegas, stayed there for several months, then returned here.

    The number of people who desire college is much greater than the number of student slots available in quality universities. You know as well as I do the quality of education in community colleges is often lacking, and doesn’t even begin to compare to an education at a better university.

    But many people simply don’t have the opportunity to attend a better university, do they? I wish I could, but I simply can’t. So instead of wishing I could do what I can’t do, I’ll instead take advantage of the opportunities I do have. A degree from an online university is still much better than no degree at all.

    Again, did you look at the advantages of WGU using the link provided? Time and Newsweek don’t give out their endorsements to just anyone, you know.

  • Pedestrian programs, Glenn, geared for a mediocre jobs in teaching or in the health industry. Sorry to say, but beneath my skills.

  • BTW, I’ve been attending some of the best graduate programs in the country, on full scholarships, too. I’ve been spoiled.

  • Glenn Contrarian

    Rog –

    Maybe the programs are in your opinion pedestrian…but which is more advantageous to Joe Everyman or -woman who does not have the opportunity to have the education available at the better brick-and-mortar universities?

    Which is better? To do without any degree at all since one can’t have it from a reputable brick-and-mortar university? Or to at least have a degree that might, just might get one’s foot in the door where one might at least have a better opportunity to achieve the middle-class dream?

    You know the answer to this. All the hemming and hawing of the anti-online-education crowd will not change it.

  • I suppose you’re right, Glenn, if Joe Everyman is the object of your concern and if the object is landing a mediocre job. But tell you what, I wouldn’t want Joe Everyman educating my kids.

    As I said, education is a lifelong process and degree only a benchmark. I’m speaking of liberal education of course, not of technical or professional colleges gearing you for a career. I view education as an end, never as a means.

    And be serious now: education is not “the middle-class dream,” never has been. Only the immigrants felt that way about their children: they wanted their kids to be doctors or lawyers rather than bricklayers. Not for everyday Joe, however. As long as he or she could keep up with the Joneses, that was the size of it.

    As a society, we’ve always had a strong anti-intellectual bias. And this hasn’t changed.

  • Glenn Contrarian

    Again, if there is no opportunity for the education you want for yourself or for your kids – and if you can’t make the opportunity you need – then you do the best you can with what you have.

    Maybe the Stones said it best: “You can’t always get what you want…but if you try sometime, you just might find, you just might find, you get what you need!”

    Those of us who love learning (as you and I certainly do) indeed see education as an end and not as a means…but I suspect you’ll find that to most parents sending their kids to college, education is certainly a means to an end.

    As a society, we’ve always had a strong anti-intellectual bias. And this hasn’t changed.

    And THAT is a tragedy indeed.

  • Well, Glenn, I consider myself fortunate. Of course, I embarked on my college education in the sixties when the prospects were still great. An MA in education was considered an insult, only fit for those who couldn’t cut it in more challenging subjects. And so it was with vocational schools, remember them? for those who were not cut up for college.

    But look at the turnaround. Now vocational schools abound and it is those institutions that are mushrooming – technical colleges like Heald, to name but one. I suppose that’s my main objection against online colleges. It’s a big ripoff. They’re in business because they collect government money and get subsidies. And it’s a lucrative business. In that sense, they’re like the vocational schools of old.

    The big push for college education at BA level is a farce. BA doesn’t mean anything anymore. And the main reason is – to keep the young away from the labor market because there are no jobs.

    They should make grants available for masters level in teaching; at least that would mean something. But no, you have to pay to the tune or 20 thousand or more, or get in debt, for what is virtually a useless degree.

  • I like the prospect of online colleges. As one who gained many credits through CLEP, I favor alternative approaches to gaining a quality education so long as the information provided to students is uncompromising in its accuracy.

    The only problem I have with online education is the quality of formal education provided at the elementary level. If a student hasn’t been provided with a quality education from the git-go, we can’t expect good results from electronic education.

    Ruvy, re: #40. I have no doubt in my mind that a child of Israel gets a darned good education. That’s the point I am trying to make. If we do not provide a mechanism for a solid education from Kindergarten through High School, we can’t expect much from our children once they transition to adulthood, can we? I look at some of the young graduating today and I am alarmed.

  • Glenn Contrarian

    Silas –

    The only problem I have with online education is the quality of formal education provided at the elementary level. If a student hasn’t been provided with a quality education from the git-go, we can’t expect good results from electronic education.

    AMEN! BTW, that’s one reason I put my youngest son on the plane to the PI a little after midnight this morning – the schools there are better, though their classrooms aren’t as nice and they don’t have all the technical advantages. Why are the schools there better? Because they have discipline (which is something that our schools seem to have forgotten), they concentrate on the basics and have no problem with learning by rote, and the students actually value getting good grades. My son’s in for a bit of a shock – but like most rude awakenings in life, I strongly suspect it’s going to be a great character-builder.

    “Builds character” – my youngest son (who I honestly believe has a genius-level raw intellect) learned a long time ago that the phrase is military-speak for something that he’s probably not going to enjoy….

  • Well, Glenn, character is not built without hard work and sacrifice. I’ve been on both sides. I’ve had everything handed to me on a silver platter and then I’ve seen it all taken away. Which side is better? The one where there was hardship and struggle. It makes one appreciate that which one achieves.

    Public education should be hard work. It should be disciplined, tough, regimented and basic. Take the case of Central Falls, RI and the mass firing of the high school faculty. This week the unions prevailed, the management backed down, and all those fired teachers are back. Where’s the lesson to our young? If their own teachers are not held accountable how can we honestly expect our students to perform close to their capacity?

    My nephew graduates from high school at the end of the month. He’s not a particularly good student and has really not been given the support and education he needs to compete in this vicious market. Is he ready to embark on his adult journey? Not even close. Does he have the foundation of a solid education to prepare him for college? Nope. His parents failed him (and, mind you, his mother is a unionized “educator”), his teachers failed him and he’s getting that little piece of paper which claims he has made it through high school. He asked my advice on his next step. College? Work? I quickly replied, “the military”. Why? He needs to learn discipline. He needs to see the ravages of battle. He needs to experience life outside the fragile safety net of his community and family.

    Today’s teenagers are not prepared for the cold realities of life. They see the world through the myopic view of X-Box and PlayStation. They can’t even make change for a dollar without the aid of a device. Like it or not, every single one of us is an unwitting contributor to the dumbing down of mainstream America. It’s time to fight back. It’s time to demand more. It’s time to realize that electronics do not replace intellect and reason. It’s time to get back to the three R’s — Respect, Resilience and Rebellion.

  • Glenn Contrarian

    Silas –

    I once read a letter wherein a man was complaining about how disrespectful the youth of today were, and how uneducated they were. The letter was written somewhere around WWI.

    Another man once said, “The youth of today are so disrespectful, and they all want to write a book!” That was by Cicero, a century or two before Christ. Books and libraries were, as you can imagine, the internet of their day.

  • From what I see, gentlemen, too many parents do not demand respect from their children – let’s put that more precisely – they demand respect from their children but do not earn it. The result is that the children are heartbreaks to their parents. If the kids run around like snotty brats in restaurants as 5 year olds, this reflects directly on the parents who are doing a crappy job raising them.

    If the kids show no respect at home, and show no respect at school, the most essential lesson they need to learn at school – that school is a place to learn – is missed entirely. This lack of respect both at school and at home is something I saw both in the States and in Israel.

    ON THE OTHER HAND, if schools make the curricula of the classes so boring that kids view education as a chore rather than something to be looked forward to each day, you can’t blame kids for worming out and not giving a damn.

    I saw examples of time-servers in my kids’ elementary school in the States, and I saw examples of inspiring teachers. From what little I could gather, the teacher’s union served to protect the time-servers, the shit-heads who didn’t give a damn. One such fine individual was the union steward at the school and she was a shitty teacher, compared to the well educated woman who was my other son’s teacher for that grade.

    In other words, public schools do not do a good job with education anymore. They may have once – I can’t say. But they don’t now.

    Speaking for myself, I was a bored kid at school. So I read the encyclopedias and TIME LIFE books my mom bought for me. I taught myself French, linguistics and about all sorts of other subjects. I have my BA, but for practical purposes, I’m self-taught – like many others who write here.

    But returning to education, this is the failing industry that the Realist, who evidently did teach his kids respect, sees his children trying to enter. It’s really a shame – a once great country flushing itself down the toilet. When a high school kid can’t multiply 9 times 3 in his head, the next generation is a sorry sight indeed.

  • Mark

    It’s interesting to watch you guys ‘crap your pants’ (as Ruvy might say) over the failure of our indoctrination facilities.

    I look forward to a more final breakdown in government tyranny over ‘education’ and the experimentation that will follow.

  • Les Slater

    I haven’t got beyond 15 yet but so far the discussion has been quite interesting. 15 by Ruvy is one reason that despite all his reactionary shit, I still think he sees more clearly than many others:

    “Between the élitist bastards from Hahvahd and Yale who have dumbed down education in this country because they had an attitude that they had the right to rule and the rest of the people in the United States were just shit to be ruled over, you have an education system that is dysfunctional as well as unpopular.”

  • Les Slater

    I’m a high school drop-out. I seem to have survived quite well. I suspect not having been indoctrinated by a college might have been an advantage.

  • What kind of indoctrination you’re referring to, Les? If you had gone into law or business administration at any of the Ivy League colleges, then perhaps I might understand. But that’s not your cup of tea. And in light of this, I’m totally confused.

  • Les Slater

    I’m a retired electronic design engineer. I found that most of my colleagues with BS, MS and PhD thought they knew more than they actually did. Where did that come from? I spent much time cleaning up after them.

  • True, college education can breed arrogance. It often does. But that’s not an indictment. We’re all different individuals and we respond as individuals.

    I just think you shouldn’t make a general kind of pronouncement about the value of liberal education on the basis of your experiences.

  • Les Slater

    Actually I see a liberal arts education as the most valuable but I see many many being sucked in to looking to be paid agents of the ruling class. I also see signs that even the most prestigious of institutions breeding a fear of thinking.

  • It wasn’t so during the Vietnam era, Les. Of course, I never attended Harvard or Yale.

    All the universities and colleges I attended – Brooklyn College, NYU, University of Oregon, even a theological seminary at Berrien Springs, Michigan, encouraged critical thinking.

  • I look forward to a more final breakdown in government tyranny over ‘education’ and the experimentation that will follow.

    The private control over education by corporate entities and the extreme exclusionary and enslavement policies that would be followed as a result are the “experimentation” (that Mark refers to) that would follow, were events to continue without undue and unexpected major interruptions – for example, if there were no major economic crisis in the States and Europe, and no developing a nuclear bomb by Persia.

    There will be other major disruptions of a cataclysmic proportion, in my opinion, which go far beyond the ones we have seen hitherto, that will prevent the development of a culture that turns most children into slaves at an early age – which is what we appear to be heading towards, IMHO.

    We will be saved from the hellish future of “western civilization” by a Force that few of us are able to even believe in, much less appreciate.

    The future is nothing to play games with, and the Games Player will not allow rank amateurs like us puny humans to wreak any part of His experiment of Creation. The future will be seen by those who survive, and they will live long and celebrate it all with the sound of music.

    I am an optimist, in spite of all the clouds of death and danger surrounding me.

  • Les Slater

    From my experience I have found that theological seminaries have been the greatest in the encouragement of critical thinking. I went to a guest lecture by Elaine Pagels. I think it was something about the Gospel of Thomas. It was very interesting and when the question and answer period came I complemented her and voiced my opinion that her perspective was clearly materialist. She thanked me for the complement. I am sure she knew precisely what materialist meant in that context.

  • The government tyranny over education doesn’t extend to colleges and universities – not the last time I checked. Take the UC, for example, headquartered in Berkeley. If anything, it’s still anti-establishement.

    So I really have no idea, Ruvy, what experiences or sources you’re citing from, but they’re outdated.

    And BTW, Noam Chomsky, your intellectual idol is still about and kicking.

  • You are right, Les. But you would have no idea if you went by what issues from Pat Robertson’s mouth.

  • Les Slater

    Ruvy, one of the observations of Elaine Pagels in that lecture was as the gospels progressed the blame for killing Jesus progressed from the Romans being the most responsible to that of the Jews being most responsible. An evolution toward anti-Semitism.

  • The Pontius Pilate narrative is the culmination of the tale.

  • What other accounts were credible?

  • The government tyranny over education doesn’t extend to colleges and universities – not the last time I checked.

    The tyranny of political correctness over universities is not of governmental origin. It is the homegrown poison plant of “new left élitists” (Jews and others who think they are part of the Hahvahd élite) that has stifled political debate and freedom of thought on universities. That is why this woman, cornered into admitting that she advocates the mass murder of Jews, will not be censured, while any Jew who advocates the mass murder of Arabs will be.

    By the way, this is not outdated at all, Roger.

  • About comment #70. At least the woman admitted that her religion was tending towards Jew-hatred in its development. Compared to the side-stepping of many other Christians, like lobsters on a beach, that is relative honesty, and is appreciated.

    But as an issue, it matters little to me. What matters to me is that the Christian who attempts to actualize that Jew-hatred gets murdered off, preferably by a Jew, so that other Christians can see the price of their Jew-hatred and draw the appropriate lessons thereby.

    As Gandhi once pointed out, Christianity was the greatest religion never to have been put into practice.

  • Similarly, what matters to me is that Arabs who attempt to actualize their Jew-hatred get murdered off, preferably by Jews, so that other Arabs can draw the appropriate lessons thereby. There is much room for Jews to extend a hand of friendship to Arabs. But those who want us dead, need to die before they kill me.

  • Les Slater

    “At least the woman admitted that her religion…” I’m not so sure I would call her a Christian. As I said, to me she is a materialist and scholar. She just reports what she finds. She is not a woman of faith, at least not in the general accepted sense.

  • Les,

    I do not know enough of this woman to comment too intelligently, but to subject doctrine to sharp question and to make points about that may be uncomfortable for an audience of believers is not necessarily “not being a woman of faith”.

    I view Judaism through very different lenses from those of my neighbors, but I am just as much a believer in the Faith as they, and just as much a Jew.

    Glenn, is not a trinitarian of any kind and does not subscribe to the “believe in Jesus or go to hell” nonsense pushed as Christianity by so many. But he views himself as much of a Christian as the pope, if not moreso.

  • Les Slater

    You have no choice but to be a Jew, regardless of your particular belief. A Jew is not defined by religion but by birth. Not so with those that just comment on gospels.

  • You have no choice but to be a Jew, regardless of your particular belief. A Jew is not defined by religion but by birth.

    A Jew can turn against his own faith and walk out if he chooses. My father-in-law did just that. Most Jews do not bother to make such statements openly, embracing a foreign faith, and thus remain Jews.

    But many times, Christians will not buy the conversion of a Jew. They didn’t in the case of D’Israeli, for example, who never could have sat in the Commons were he a Jew. But Anglican that he was, most Brits viewed him as Jewish – and still do.

  • The new left elitists like Noam Chomsky?

    Academic freedom has got nothing to do with PC. It calls it as it sees it. It’s not about [Gratuitous vulgarity deleted by Comments Editor] playing up to the crowd.

    But I guess you can’t help but judge from the vantage point of how it all relates to the State of Israel.

  • “who never could have sat in the Commons were he a Jew”

    But he was a Jew. It is a birth thing. (Faith has got nothing to do with it.) And a PM besides.

    By contrast, Sammy Davis Jr. wasn’t a Jew but a black. He converted to Judaism.

  • Judaism is a religion. But being a Jew is an ethnic characteristic. You’re either a descendant of Abraham or you’re not. You can’t wiggle your way out of it.

  • [Gratuitous vulgarity deleted by Comments Editor] At least a Nazi is an honest racist. A Wahhabi is an honest hater of all those who are not Wahhabi. But the new leftists are like the Christians who talk about “love” and “peace” – and stick the shiv in your back when you are not looking.

    And academic freedom is gone in our country, as it is gone on most of the planet. The new left [Gratuitous vulgarity deleted by Comments Editor] have taken over most of the groves of academe [Gratuitous vulgarity deleted by Comments Editor]

  • I wasn’t aware he was on anyone’s pay.

    Must be then he suffers from false consciousness.

  • But he was a Jew. It is a birth thing. (Faith has got nothing to do with it.) And a PM besides.

    Roger, you just proved my statement for me.

    But many times, Christians will not buy the conversion of a Jew. They didn’t in the case of D’Israeli, for example, who never could have sat in the Commons were he a Jew. But Anglican that he was, most Brits viewed him as Jewish – and still do.

    Thank you.

  • Finally, Roger, WE TELL YOU who we are. YOU DO NOT TELL US. You don’t know [Gratuitous vulgarity deleted by Comments Editor] about Judaism, for all that you think you know. Living in Israel taught you nothing about us, and if you think reading a book or two will teach you, you are sadly mistaken.

  • Les Slater

    What Ruvy talks about, in a twisted way, is connected with what I said earlier in 64, academics “being sucked in to looking to be paid agents of the ruling class.”

  • It’s in a language, Ruvy – a Jew is a Jew is a Jew, no ifs ands or buts about it – however much you may detest Jews who do not fall into the category defined by your rigid thinking. No one talked about what Christians or whoever accept or not accept. That was your paranoid observation.

    [Personal attack deleted by Comments Editor] I don’t agree with Chomsky on lots of things – he’s too lukewarm for me – but an agent of the ruling class he’s definitely not. He’s just as critical of the US imperialist government as he is of the Israeli imperialist government. [Personal attack deleted by Comments Editor] But self-criticism was never Ruvy’s strong suit. [Personal attack deleted by Comments Editor]

    Get real, Les, and stop being impressed by a hothead. I don’t even know why you’re wasting your time.

  • zingzing

    serious question here… how does the politics of the faculty really figure (in any meaningful way) into hard sciences, math, literature, medicine, etc? and even if the left has “taken over the groves of academe,” why would the quality of education, all politics aside, necessarily go down? (just because you don’t agree with someone’s politics doesn’t mean they’re dumb.)

    and in all honesty, other than one political science (teacher was conservative) course and one history (ditto) course i took, i don’t remember much of any kind of political thrust to any of the courses i took. even if a majority of professors are left-wing, it doesn’t seem to matter in practice.

    the right-wingers who spout this kind of nonsense are looking at somewhat unrelated facts and finding correlations that just don’t exist in reality.

    i mean, is it any surprise to find that young, intelligent people away from home for the first time, idealistic about the future are more often left-wing than right-wing? no… yet, the right always wants to claim that it’s university (terrible left-wing indoctrination camps) that made them so. that’s like saying a gun show is a right-wing indoctrination session, or a rap concert in downtown atlanta is turning people black.

  • serious question here… how does the politics of the faculty really figure (in any meaningful way) into hard sciences, math, literature, medicine, etc?

    it doesn’t. it’s just one more thing for people to bitch about.

  • Les Slater

    Noam Chomsky is a paid agent of the ruling class. He’s a useful vent for rage which he channels into nothingness. Very useful for some.

  • Les, you are reaching. I understand your unshakable faith in the purity of the proletariat, but come on . . .

    Next thing you’ll be saying that about Mark and me.

  • a Jew is a Jew is a Jew, no ifs ands or buts about it – however much you may detest Jews who do not fall into the category defined by your rigid thinking.

    My rigid thinking, Roger, defines a Jew as the child of a Jewish mother – except where the individual involved has publicly renounced the Faith and embraced another. LIKE BENJAMIN D’ISRAELI. That is not just my definition – that is halakhá – settled Jewish Law – again, something you know nothing about. So, don’t prattle on in arrogant ignorance. WE TELL YOU who we are. YOU DO NOT TELL US.

    Now to bring Chomsky into all this, [Gratuitous vulgarity deleted by Comments Editor] he is still a Jew. I can’t take that away from him. Only a legitimate Sanhedrin can do that, and no legitimate Sanhedrin is sitting in session now. [Gratuitous vulgarity deleted by Comments Editor]

    However, Les is right about all these [Gratuitous vulgarity deleted by Comments Editor] in the “new left” just shootin’ it off in the pecker to be the lackeys of the ruling class. And in the case of Chomsky, and all the rest of the new left trash in academe in America, they are the lackeys of the ruling class now, as the ruling class is being drawn from this stinking pile of offal.

    So much for what you know, Roger. As usual, it ain’t a lot. [personal attack deleted]

  • Les Slater

    zing, the politics of faculty have very little to do with anything, except when those politics are taken seriously. For some classes those politics are meant to be taken seriously. Students are not usually prepared to judge the profs perspective objectively.

  • Try to more imaginative and pick up a different expression rather than mere parroting. Your ignorance and envy – the traits you’ve never been able to shed – are showing.

    How would you know, Les, since, by your own admission, you were a drop out, just like Ruvy?

  • Les Slater

    “My rigid thinking, Roger, defines a Jew as the child of a Jewish mother – except where the individual involved has publicly renounced the Faith and embraced another.”

    It’s a political question. Renouncement seldom convinces the Jew-hater whipping up a pogrom.

  • You can renounce your faith, Les, but not facts of birth. It’s a blessing, or a curse, depending on your POV.

  • zingzing

    les: “For some classes those politics are meant to be taken seriously.”

    sure, but for a large majority of courses, politics don’t play any role whatsoever. and for others where politics do creep in, it’s only in isolated spaces–like say in atmospheric sciences or various history courses. even political science, for all the opportunities such a discipline invites for left or right-wing political “indoctrination,” has to present both sides of the argument.

    basically, this right-wing idea of higher education being a left-wing indoctrination center is going to lead to generations of really fucking stupid right-wingers.


  • zingzing

    ruvy, calling out people for having little respect for other people by having little respect for other people (which is something you tend to do if they disagree with you) isn’t the best argument. going around insulting people, which i do as well (although far less than you), isn’t the biggest show of respect either way.

  • The presumption Les makes that the students are incapable to judge and evaluate. For Christ’s sake – that’s totally wrongheaded. They are being thought to judge and to evaluate – my twenty some years of experience, anyway. That’s the goddamn purpose of liberal education, folks, to develop critical faculties. So I really have no idea what rock some of you crawled from under. About Ruvy I’m not surprised whatever. As to Les, I believe he’s got an ideological axe to grind.

    And no, no one paid me for this advertisement. I’m not a government agent to the best of my knowledge.

  • Les Slater

    zing, I do see politics in school a problem. But the problem is much bigger than that. I think the teaching of science is quite reactionary. It is taught like religion. The simple things get taught adequately but there is much that should be challenged. But the challenge is taboo.

  • zingzing


    ruvy, you can have all the reasons you want for being angry at roger, but it still doesn’t excuse the hypocrisy of calling out disrespect by disrespecting people. just be the bigger man and take his arguments out without resorting to name-calling. it’s just not a good way to make an argument. [Edited]

    les: “I do see politics in school a problem. But the problem is much bigger than that. I think the teaching of science is quite reactionary. It is taught like religion. The simple things get taught adequately but there is much that should be challenged. But the challenge is taboo.”

    i didn’t see any of that in the science courses i took. of course, they were pretty low level, perfunctory classes that i had to take to graduate. just the first two levels of physics and one biology class (which i couldn’t get a good grade in because i fucking hate memorization, which is all it was at that level). certainly, scientific dogma does exist, but those things are constantly challenged. that’s how we learn new things. it happens all the time.

    as i said before, it’s hard to reconcile the fact that politics very rarely comes up in college courses with any idea that politics is ruining higher education. i can only go by my own experience, but i’d say that 95% of the courses i took weren’t slanted one way or another. and if they were, it was taken with a grain of salt.

  • Les Slater

    110, thanks Ruve. You, of all people know you and I have serious differences.

    At the same time my views are often quite different than those expressed by others here.

  • zingzing

    of course, “my own experience” is 3 years at a southern university in a regularly red state (although we did go blue last time around) and 1 year in a school in london (mostly studying literary modernism, ancient history–even atlantis–and film). so, i guess i didn’t get into too many areas where modern politics would apply.

  • Wow, so now Les has been convinced he’s been insulted? I wonder when and how.

    Thanks for indirectness, Les.

  • Well, zing. Literary modernism is a political forum of sorts, don’t you think?

  • zingzing


    well, ruvy is ruvy, and although some part of that is because he’s jewish, that doesn’t reflect on jews as a whole. i live in a neighborhood that borders on a jewish neighborhood–hasidic, in fact–and from what i can tell from my interactions with them, and from my roommate’s jewish family and friends, and from my jewish friends, they aren’t like ruvy at all.

    one of my best friends is jewish, married to a girl from pakistan, and he’s one of the most genuine, peaceful people i know. he’s an amazing person, and one of the best people i know. in fact, of all my friends here, i’d say he’s the one with no personality flaw i can find. not that i’m really looking for them.

  • Les Slater

    Roger, I did not find it an insult. I did find you unusually testy though. Please don’t expect me to always agree with you as opposed to someone else.

    I understand Ruvy’s positions quite well. I think he is mostly honest, not always to himself, and quite often very insightful.

  • What on earth are you referring to, Les. The fact I suggested you may have an ideological axe to grind? It can’t be it.

    What, then?

  • Of course I’m exaggerating, zing. But stiffnecks, generally speaking, the Israelites are. That’s why their God must exercise infinite patience to break such insolent and arrogant people.

    The whole of Jewish scripture testifies to the fact. You may dismiss it as nonsense, but in a sense it’s their history.

    So you don’t believe in the Abraham gene?

  • zingzing

    roger: “Literary modernism is a political forum of sorts, don’t you think?”

    it certainly had elements of that, and they weren’t ignored, but the politics that i concentrated on were universal. (and really, it was formalist technique and the fracturing of language that drew me to it, so the politics were almost a secondary concern, and it was more how purely historical circumstances drove the movement forward rather than how political arguments of the time actually affected that history. only ezra pound brought up any real left vs. right arguments in my mind, although the professors presented his stuff without political comment–as usual–and let us do the thinking.)

    i still like modernism and post-modernism, but i rarely read the stuff any more. it’s difficult and i’ve already gone through that. (“at swim-two-birds” has been sitting on my bookshelf for a year now. damn thing just never looks enticing.)

  • Well, may be it was a different era, zing. It certainly wasn’t so during the Vietnam era or thereafer. Alas, even Harvard was instrumental in introducing multicultural studies, via Cornel West. And I’m speaking of years later. So my question is, how could you be so insulated from politics?

  • Well, I tried zing. Was hoping you were going to bite.

  • zingzing

    roger: “All I can say I’m thankful for the antidote.”

    being half non-jewish isn’t a cure for being jewish. it’s just being half something else. i recently found out that a lot of my father’s side comes from the french-influenced side of luxembourg. shrug. don’t matter shit to me. (although maybe it does make me a bit wishy-washy.) (then again, i recently read a textbook on european history–all of it–and neither luxembourg or finland warranted a single mention. shit book.)

  • Well, it’s not just that, zing. I was raised in a totally different culture and environment. It wasn’t until I was fifteen that I discovered any traces. And yes, it was a shock.

  • zingzing

    i went to school at the turn of the last decade. i was in england during 9/11, which happened my junior year. so yeah, it wasn’t a really politically charged time. until it was. my ex-girlfriend graduated last year. she went to a very left-leaning school (hampshire college in massachusetts), but she also escaped without becoming a militant. she doesn’t give a shit about politics, even if her major, public health, was more connected to politics than mine was. she’d bow out of most political discussions. just didn’t care.

  • Well, perhaps the reason was you went to these schools relatively late. I was in college when I was eighteen, truly formative times. Besides, the political climate was explosive. But I suppose I understand why young people today would be turned off by politics.

  • zingzing

    either way, i’d posit that my experience (1998-2001… ok, 2002) and my ex’s (2006-2009) are closer to current truths than ruvy’s experience. the idea that school is a political indoctrination camp is ridiculous. it’s just not true.

  • But let me tell you. Even a few years ago when I was doing some auditing in the San Francisco State, the young were very energized by the Iraqi involvement (Bush was still in office). So I certainly don’t think we’ve seen the last of the campus’s influence on the young. Of course, Obama being in power kind of puts a damp on the liberal thought; but there’s still the enemy number one to battle with: capitalism.

    Take heed from Greece. We’re not that far behind.

  • What is indoctrination, zing, is not going to school or going to bible colleges where you’re being rammed the very same things your parents and your community have been ramming down your throat. We all need exposure, and the greater the exposure, the better. Exposure to new kind of people, new ideas, etc. etc. It’s only in that kind of dynamic environment that critical thinking can develop – meaning, people will start thinking for themselves rather than mouthing off the sugar-coated lies and half-truths.

    Ruvy may call college kids as being subject to indoctrination; well, the tea party crowd is the kind of indoctrination he ought to be talking about. [Edited]

  • What I meant, zing, you were not a kid when you went to college.

  • zingzing

    sure i was. 18.

  • zing,

    At comment #140. I don’t comment on my experience at college when talking about universities being run by the new left. My own experience (1968-1978) is not really relevant to what is happening on campuses now. I talk about the things I read going on at various schools, and from various students I talk to.

    My direct experience is relevant in that those who run universities now were in steering committees directing various kinds of strikes when I was in college. I was on some of those steering committees then, and now, I see these same [Gratuitous vulgarity deleted by Comments Editor] showing no guts in really running universities today. Had I gotten involved in academia, I likely would have either turned into one of these [Gratuitous vulgarity deleted by Comments Editor] myself or at some point quit, condemning them of hypocrisy and wiping my hands of their detritus. That is kind of what Dave Nalle did. I didn’t, however, so I see this stuff from a different perspective – the potential consumer.

    My younger son is university material. I would not let him go to America simply because the culture on American universities is poisonous – but as if that weren’t enough, he would be discriminated because 1. he is an Israeli, and 2. he lives in Judea and Samaria, and the s[Gratuitous vulgarity deleted by Comments Editor] professors or students would be asking him how many Arabs he killed when he was a kid.

    We have fine enough universities here [Gratuitous vulgarity deleted by Comments Editor]. Only two are decent: Bar-Ilan and the University Center of Judea and Samaria. Anyway, my son is going to school in Israel – not America.

  • Ruvy may be right, zing, in that the anti-Israeli sentiment may well be quite prominent today on many of the campuses. It definitely wasn’t so in the sixties and early seventies. So from his point of view, his son could well be exposed to the kinds of things he’s talking about.

    On the other hand, by his own admission, an anti-Israeli sentiment is present and alive even on many of the Israeli campuses – not antisemitism, I hasten to say, but a sentiment against the Israeli government policies vis-a-vis their Arab neighbors.

  • Which is just as good, for on many of the US campuses, there is a strong anti-American sentiment against the policies of the US government and its continuous courting and enabling Big Business.

    And I don’t call that indoctrination. I call it eye-opening.

  • zingzing

    ruvy: “he would be discriminated because 1. he is an Israeli,”

    not true. as i noted above, my friend is israeli (actually, i didn’t note that above, but he is, and he just got his phd, and he’s very well respected at columbia,) and he hasn’t experienced any discrimination he’s felt worthy of reporting to me. COLUMBIA! really, people don’t give a shit about national origins in america, so get over it.

    “and 2. he lives in Judea and Samaria, and the [Gratuitous vulgarity deleted by Comments Editor] professors or students would be asking him how many Arabs he killed when he was a kid.”

    bullshit. that’s just nonsense. i went to school with a whole contingent of israeli students in england, and that never came up whatsoever.

    “the culture on American universities is poisonous”

    only if your son wants to have some raunchy sex and do a shitload of drugs. it’s liberal. you do things you couldn’t/wouldn’t do at home. but that’s college. better get used to the idea.

    “Anyway, my son is going to school in Israel – not America.”

    good for him. but don’t let your politics decide his future. he’ll only resent you. he’s the one, beyond the money, who should decide where he goes to school, not you. and you know that’s true.

  • zing,

    There is no “Abraham” gene that I am aware of. There is an Aaronic marker on the “y” chromosome that is over 100 generations old that appears in Jewish men who claim to be part of the priesthood. It does not appear in all “kohaním” (priests) but in 62-65% of them. It appears also in the shaman tribes of the Lemba in Africa. It will be interesting to see if Pashtun tribesmen (who are also Children of Israel) also have this Aaronic marker in the “y” chromosome, as kohaním. Amongst the tribes, descent is patrilineal. In Jewish nationality, descent is matrilineal.

    What will happen with nationality of all the Children of Israel other than Jews (Pashtun, Igbo, Lemba)? This will get to be an interesting question that I may be privileged to deal with in the closing years of my own life. That Public Admin and Poli Sci degree will finally come in handy after 33 years of rusting away in its case….

  • The whole idea is, zing, you are supposed to find yourself when you’re attending college. It is supposed to be a formative experience – one of discovery. Discovery of one’s true interest, who you really are, what makes you tick. And it was so for me.

    To speak of indoctrination is to negate the very idea of what going to college is supposed to be and mean. Any anyone who does that never really was part of that experience. They just went through the motions.

  • zing,

    My son is very much his own boss. But money is a factor in going to school. He’ll do better if he tries to stay at home. At this point, the fields he wants to go into (architecture or civil engineering) don’t appear political – but in reality they are. Every new construction plan needs a zoning board’s approval and that means going before local committee members of the parties on the local councils to seek approval to build support for the zoning committee of the local council. And that is all politics. Poor kid does not know what he is headed into. And in this case, I suspect that it would be wiser not to tell him….

  • Nite everybody.

    Glad it’s all quiet on the Western front, and in Samaria too.

  • On the other hand, by his own admission, an anti-Israeli sentiment is present and alive even on many of the Israeli campuses – not antisemitism, I hasten to say, but a sentiment against the Israeli government policies vis-a-vis their Arab neighbors.

    Like most, Roger does not see the internal discrimination against religious Jews in Israel. But in either event, I have made sure to teach both my sons of the discriminatory policies against Arabs in Israel in many levels of society here. Partly because it is true, and partly to inoculate them against the anti-Israel shit their professors will try to indoctrinate them with. My sons have already seen how the government discriminates against Jews from Judea and Samaria. Politics gets personal here, and we really do not have the luxury Americans used to have of shutting politics out – it intrudes at every level of one’s life – even down to the services one gets from the phone company.

  • Mark

    …no legitimate Sanhedrin is sitting in session now…


    This renders the relationship between the secular state of Israel and Jewish law tenuous at best, imo; left cut off from legal tradition, it is nothing more than one more rogue state.

    zing, the entire history of the ‘hard’ sciences is one of the political applications of natural laws. Thus, for example, physics issued from the barrel of a gun.

    For the politicization of science from another angle, see the interesting case of Comrade Lysenko. While a century old, it points to a syndrome that there is no reason to believe we are immune to today.

  • Clavos

    I chose to speak for Les, because, from what I’ve seen, he is a gentleman.

    That he is. Very much so. I respect him and enjoy trading ideas with him, despite some of our political ideas/philosophies being poles apart.

  • “the internal discrimination against religious Jews in Israel.”

    I don’t see this aspect as an example of antisemitism, only as a reaction against fundamentalism.

  • Mark

    I chose to speak for Les, because, from what I’ve seen, he is a gentleman.

    …..the irony

    Ruvy, I’m sure that it will please you that I continue to be disgusted by your revolting murderous guttersnipe presentation. Despite your airs, you are ignorant of the personal consequences that come with the killing you dream of. I spit in the general direction of your blood lust.

  • #154 is essentially correct, but hard sciences present a different kind of case, and argument, in an “indoctrination” debate than would social sciences and the humanities. What is shared in common is that politicization permeates most forms of social life. Whether it is good, bad or indifferent is another discussion.

    The apparent disagreement over what is and what is not “indoctrination” stems from the ambiguity of the term: it means different things to different people.

    For a example, to the fundamentalists, liberal arts colleges “indoctrinate” their children by teaching them other than religious values, and they won’t have any of it. To some of those children, being exposed to new values will count as a “liberating experience,” and they will tend to view their past experiences as having been stifling. And as it goes for religious values, so it goes for political values.

    So to say the least, “indoctrination” is not a very helpful term when used so loosely; and it remains the source of misunderstanding when people do not agree beforehand what they mean by it.

  • Les Slater

    In earlier posts the question of whether education was an end or a means to an end indicates that the indoctrination has already been well developed even before the colleges get their hands on you. The whole purpose of the whole ‘education’ system is to prepare you for YOUR PLACE in the CAPITALIST economic system.

  • Les Slater

    The indoctrination is pervasive.

  • Clavos

    The whole purpose of the whole ‘education’ system is to prepare you for YOUR PLACE in the CAPITALIST economic system.

    True, but it’s a capitalist society, so not unwarranted.

    The real problem lies in the fact that, for decades now, the government schools have been steadily deteriorating — to the point that they now graduate kids from high school who are unable to even read and write coherently, much less intelligently.

  • But that’s institutional type of critique, Les – and generally speaking I don’t disagree with you on that score. Just as I might agree with you that the concept of welfare state, especially as practiced in the US, may be said to work to appease and co-opt the underclass so as to keep ’em all “reasonably content” – in short, a different type of argument.

    I was talking about individuals within those institutions who do not necessarily see their functions so and, according to their own conscience, don’t go along with a program. And the results aren’t always as anticipated by the prevalent institutions. Which is to say, not everyone is turned into an unthinking robot and shit happens. There are unintended consequences.

    It is this element of the equation that you failed to address, and what I was essentially responding to.

  • Besides, your use of “indoctrination” becomes almost as all-comprehensive as Cindy’s. I’ve had unending discussions about this on my long thread.

    For the notion of “indoctrination” (or “ideology”) to work as a meaningful term of language, there’s got to be a viable contrast. If everything is “indoctrination,” nothing is.

  • Les Slater

    Those that fight the system in academia are inconsequential. Many that think they are fighting the system are actually furthering it. And then there are those, no matter how they may appear, know quite well they are furthering the system.

  • But that’s another subject matter, too – one about which there is still an ongoing debate, the role of the intellectual. And especially in America, the argument you’re advancing may be more valid than elsewhere. There are many voices to the effect that the Left has become divorced from the working class to make a significant impact. Offhand, I tend to agree, but this situation may soon change. And I understand your concerns.

    On the other side of the coin, I would like to suggest that people like Marx weren’t exactly irrelevant. Much of your own intellectual makeup and your present day concerns you do owe to him, don’t you?

    Still, I understand your impatience.

  • Les Slater

    “True, but it’s a capitalist society, so not unwarranted.”

    Quite warranted from the perspective of that capitalist system. But this system is not delivering for the majority of people. The indoctrination is not only pervasive but also oppressive. Education for the majority is oppressive.

  • Clavos

    But this system is not delivering for the majority of people.

    Here I have to disagree with you, Les.

    Our collective wealth (As the USA) is truly impressive, and our capitalist system has historically been the engine of its accumulation.

    While I would concede that the distribution of our wealth is imperfect, the “majority of people” in this country nevertheless enjoy a higher standard of living than the vast majority (but not all, true) of the rest of the world.

    Again, thanks to our capitalist system.

  • Mark

    Clavos #161, when was this golden age in which capitalists invested in successfully educating the proletariat/lumpen proletariat? Was it back in the day of Kenn’s pure capitalism?

    re #167, lol! Capone ate well, too.

  • I suppose then, Les, nothing would make you happier that having the majority of the population in Marxists schools. But then, by your own admission, that would be indoctrination, too, since no other, alternative viewpoints would be presented in such schools. In fact, they would err more on the side of indoctrination than present day liberal colleges which still offer more than one point of view.

    Isn’t the case, wouldn’t you agree, that ultimately it is up to every individual to be able to decide which kind of truth is most compelling to him or her? So the idea is to develop critical faculties in people so that they could make those decisions for themselves – yes, even within the context of “oppressive,” indoctrinating institutions. Wouldn’t you agree?

    And what institution, you tell me, holds a monopoly on truth? Again, each individual must be able to make that decision of herself.

  • Mark

    And what institution, you tell me, holds a monopoly on truth?


  • Clavos may be right in that it has delivered in terms of material goods – thus far but no longer – at the expense of education and instilling other than material values.

    So the question is, why bemoan the poor quality of education when it serves the capitalist system just fine to turn everyone into a consumer?

    Again, another form of appeasement.

  • Walmart indeed. An altar to American brand of prosperity.

  • Les Slater

    “So the idea is to develop critical faculties in people so that they could make those decisions for themselves – yes, even within the context of ‘oppressive,’ indoctrinating institutions. Wouldn’t you agree?”

    Do we have a choice? And no, I would not look forward to Marxist schools.

  • Clavos

    why bemoan the poor quality of education when it serves the capitalist system just fine to turn everyone into a consumer?

    But it doesn’t — not when it fails to teach the consumer basic math skills and reading comprehension.

    How will my target consumer read and understand my advertising aimed at selling him a yacht, or the terms of his financing for said vessel if he has deficient reading and mathematical skills, as many of today’s government-educated consumers do?

  • So now we’re talking about smart consumers, and there’s nothing wrong, I suppose, with the fact they’re all consumers, and primarily consumers, so long as they’re savvy.

    Well, I don’t think you have much to worry about your clientele, Clavos. Anyone who can afford your brand of product should be savvy enough.

  • Les Slater

    “But it doesn’t…”

    It does. You are on the fringes of petty capitalism and the system will leave you to your own devices to get by. You can explain the brochures and do the math for them. There’s an opportunity there.

  • Exactly, Les, we don’t have a choice, which is why this discussion is sterile.

    So unless you come up with an alternative plan, my position is we’ve got to do the best with what’s available to us.

    I am not a magician.

  • Mark

    How will my target consumer read and understand my advertising aimed at selling him a yacht, or the terms of his financing for said vessel if he has deficient reading and mathematical skills, as many of today’s government-educated consumers do?

    ……isn’t there an app for that, yet?

  • Mark

    …we’ve got to do the best with what’s available to us.

    Change the relations of production. Changes is ‘education’ will follow.

  • At least Clavos is being scrupulous. He doesn’t just want to sell his potential customer a bill of goods.

  • Clavos

    ……isn’t there an app for that, yet?

    Good point. Maybe I’ll devise one.

    Or pay some geek to do it for me…

  • Well, Mark, we’ve been over this before. Easier said than done.

    So yes, I agree with you and Les in that the unfolding history will pave the way. Meanwhile, back at the farm . . .

  • Ultimately, the collapse of the system will present new modes of visualization and new realities. But I can’t yet divine what they might be.

  • Les Slater

    re 177,

    But the education system has become an obstacle. We do learn some valuable and necessary stuff but the rest just fucks up our heads.

    Get down to basics and speak directly to the working class.

  • As much of an obstacle as our welfare state system is – no more and no less.

    I still happen to think that our liberal arts colleges are the best breeding ground for developing critical thinking people. It’s unfortunate they eventually become co-opted by the system. But we should see this becoming less and less frequent because the system is no longer capable of ensuring rewarding careers. Because it’s quickly becoming bankrupt, the same goes for its past appeal. One should only be encouraged.

    The working class doesn’t really need to be spoken to. Give it a few more years of extended hardships, and it will surely come into its own. And then, we will all join forces.

    Again, the future is anything but bleak. But you’ve got to give it time in order for the system to demonstrate its excesses. So yes, I am very hopeful.

  • Mark

    Meanwhile, back at the farm . .

    Look into ‘food not bombs’ and the decentralized food growers movements. Figure how to support workers when they make their move on the corporations.

  • Nice thought. All meaningful changes come from grass roots, from people who are directly affected by the debilitating conditions, not from top down. We intellectuals, and I don’t know whether you consider yourself in that number, should take heed. But we should definitely support all such initiatives.

    They’ve got to attain a critical mass.

  • Mark

    (Of course, this conversation has a surreal stench to it. My 30 year old looks at the Gulf quickly becoming a dead bowl of oil and asks, “What’s the point”?)

  • Yet, there isn’t sufficient opposition to the continuation of the same insane policies by the present administration, simply because the resident in the White House is a good liberal.

    The Dems are just as complicit in this whole affair as the Reps. All is a window dressing, and the people, except for the teapartiers, are silent.

  • And it extends beyond the operations by the military but in fact every aspect of our lives, from Obamacare to the recent “effort” to regulate Wall Street.

    It’s a sham.

  • The real problem lies in the fact that, for decades now, the government schools have been steadily deteriorating — to the point that they now graduate kids from high school who are unable to even read and write coherently, much less intelligently.


  • Silas,

    Unlike Europe, the government schools – up to and including K-12 – were never meant to educate. Anyways, high school education doesn’t mean jack shit anymore. I doubt it ever had. Of course the conditions are worse than they have been, but that’s a minor point.

    Talk instead about jobs and opportunities. There are none.

    So my question, considering the larger scheme of things, what does it really matter?

    Again, judging by the American experience, no person comes of age until they attend a college. And if they don’t, they’re sure to turn into morons.

    Need any examples?

  • Les Slater

    “…no person comes of age until they attend a college. And if they don’t, they’re sure to turn into morons.”

    That’s pure elitist bullshit.

  • Well, what else do you suggest, Les? That we are mature by the time we graduate from high school?

    I don’t believe I’m expressing any elitist point of view either. Attending college, the way I look at it, is like attending an extended summer camp, when you’re finally free to explore on your own, find yourself. It’s a formative experience, though I wouldn’t argue is the only one.

    You must have missed earlier comments to that effect, or you’re simply intent on putting words into my mouth.

  • Les Slater

    “You must have missed earlier comments…”

    No, this is just the most blatant.

  • All along, Les, I spoke of college as an experience and of the value of such an experience in young person’s life.

    We all should be encouraged to think, and liberal arts colleges, imperfect as they are, still happen to offer the opportunity. So I really don’t see why you should be so outraged by the very point. That’s all I mean by it, nothing more and nothing less.

  • Les Slater

    Go back and read the second to last paragraph of your 192. It is quite explicit.

  • #182 has got nothing to do with what we’re discussing. You must have your reference wrong.

  • Les Slater

    182? Take a deep breath and try 192.

  • Yes, I stand by it. We are a nation of morons.

  • Les Slater

    You excepted?

  • I’d like to think I’m above the fray. And so are you, Mark, and Cindy, if you forgive the insult.

    At least I don’t accept what’s being spoon-fed. Do you?

  • Les Slater

    No insult. But I think that most people are worse off from attending college.

  • Why would you want to say that?

    But anyway, I’m glad you’re fighting for your indefensible position, like a lion in a den, because it goes to show your promise. You show passion, and passion always is in short supply.

  • Les Slater

    Movie Review:

    I just got finished watching ‘V for Vendetta’. Not sure about the politics but a credible and enjoyable love story.

  • Les Slater

    I see what is offered to the working class in the guise of higher education. This has been discussed elsewhere in this thread.

  • What is being offered to the working class in the guise of higher education, Les, do tell?

  • Les Slater

    I’m not sure what percentage of workers graduate from four year colleges but many have some college. It is junior colleges, especially community colleges, that target recruiting workers. Most do not offer any serious core liberal arts curriculum. They are more designed to provide a certain skill set in a certain field where good employment is the dangled carrot.

  • Exactly. That’s precisely what I have against community or vocational colleges. And the general idea is – to make ’em all fit into the mold.

    Which is precisely why I argue the art of thinking is indispensable. So how am I being an elitist?

  • Les Slater

    The colleges that are the most accessible to the working class don’t teach the ‘art of thinking’, critical or otherwise. The more prestigious institutions, that have pretensions to teaching critical thinking, consciously work to channel that criticality in harmless directions.

  • I ain’t talking about the “most prestigious institutions,” Les – just red brick. And if I can go by my own experience, they’ve done just fine.

  • Les Slater

    Your 192 betrays that they haven’t done just fine. Even the community colleges teach elitism. The better ones do an even more thorough job.

  • Mark

    And if I can go by my own experience, they’ve done just fine.

    Rog, don’t take this the wrong way, but didn’t you came out of our elitist educational institutions thinking that appropriating surplus labor wasn’t problematic (ethically speaking, that is?)

  • Mark


  • No I haven’t, Mark, to answer your #213.

    As to Les’s #212, please explain. I don’t get your meaning.

  • Mark

    …haven’t what?

  • Les Slater

    re 215, 192 is clearly elitist so whatever education you may have gotten has not prevented such attitude. Do you consider that just fine?

  • Haven’t been exposed or swallowed this kind of thinking.

    What attitude, Les? The more you talk, the more I see it as a personal problem.

  • Les Slater

    I speak as clearly as I can. If you don’t see it then I have failed.

  • Mark

    Oh. I thought that you went on to be an ’employer’ — limos, champagne, the high life, etc.

  • I’ve lived a high-life, Mark, if that’s in question. But I still am at a loss when it comes to discerning the attitude I’m being accused of.

  • Glenn Contrarian

    Roger –

    Talk instead about jobs and opportunities. There are none.

    You’d better go let the hundreds of thousands who’ve gotten jobs since last November know that their jobs are illusory, and so is the money in their paychecks, then.

    Rog, as long as you maintain that the world is going to heck in a handbasket, then as far as you personally are concerned, it will be – never mind how much it has improved and continued to improve from two months after Obama took office.

    Google charts of initial unemployment claims since 2008 (I’d post them, but Askimet won’t let me). They show a classic bell curve, its nadir at two months after Obama took office. Since then, with the exception of ONE month, we’ve had nothing but improvement and we’re now in the positive job-growth area. If you’ll read through the sites, you’ll see that a strong dip in initial unemployment claims is almost always – heck, always – followed by a strong dip in the long-term unemployment stats.

    Again, judging by the American experience, no person comes of age until they attend a college. And if they don’t, they’re sure to turn into morons.

    Rog, you know better than that…and the most helpful reply I think I can give you is to tell you that I expect better of you. College is a great help…but it is not a make-or-break standard by which one determines success, happiness, intelligence…or even education, for that matter, because I’ve seen some quite well-educated non-college-grads over the years, and I’ve seem just as many not-so-smart college grads. Dubya comes to mind….

    I think more than anything, you wrote that comment out of despair – at least that’s the tone I got from it. Frankly, if I were you – with having a degree and perhaps a master’s to go with it – instead of getting a job driving trucks (IIRC, you recently took such a job), I’d follow Kenn Jacobine’s example and teach overseas (to borrow an old Navy phrase, “it’s not just a job – it’s an adventure!” And that is a fact!).

    Don’t get me wrong – driving trucks is a crucial trade (so is wiping butts, which is what I do), but in all honesty, with your degree(s) you can do far, far better than that. Talk to Kenn – he (and Dan Miller) should be able to give you some helpful hints.

  • Glenn,

    There’s nothing personal about my comments about the value of education, nor are they dictated by any form of despair. So perhaps you are projecting your own personality, but let me assure you – it’s not me. Nor are you familiar enough about my personal situation to be intuiting the kind of things that run through your comment. Sorry, bud, you’re out of line and you’re trespassing.

    As to your ever-optimistic outlook on the nature of our economic recovery and all that comes with it, please spare me. We do have a difference of opinion on the subject, you know it, so let’s just leave it at that.

  • Les Slater

    A lot deleted here. Roger’s former 192 is now 170.

  • Clavos

    The WSJ examines one troubling aspect of the supposed “recovery” of the economy: widespread shortfalls in state budgets, caused by declines in state tax revenue collections as a result of the continuing weakness of the national economy.

    This week’s precipitous “correction” on Wall Street is another real world indicator, inasmuch as it reflects investors’ skittishness about the nation’s economic health in the near term.

  • Quite right, Les. Ruvy always exercises the intended effect.

    Are you mad at me, BTW?

  • It wouldn’t matter to Glenn if it was in NYT. You could spit in his face and he’d say it’s raining.

  • Les Slater

    Mad? No, frustrated.

  • Well, that’s honest at least. But think, reaching an accord, especially online, is no small feat.

  • Hiya Roger 🙂

    What do you think about this assertion?

    There is no higher understanding in the world that we can achieve, as far as expanding our awareness, except to realize that we need to stop dominating. Everything else is a social/cultural invention, subject to learned tastes, and has no intrinsic, universal value. We made it all up. (Do you disagree?)

    (Do we learn to question/challenge domination in universities or is it reinforced?)

  • Only with Mark and Cindy, I’m proud to say, we kind of see eye to eye – on most things. But it took well over a year of aches and pains.

  • Hi, Cindy,
    Just spoke of you serendipitously.

  • Good question, Cindy. Of course you know that from my experience, I’ve learned to challenge. I can’t speak for anybody else, of course, but that was the spirit of the times.

    As you can well see, I’ve gone out on a proverbial limb espousing the value of liberal education, for which fact I was promptly disciplined by all and sundry for being an elitist. Even though my I idea of college is akin to that of an extended summer camp where people can discover themselves – in short, a kind of one in a life time experience.

    No matter, I am an elitist and a snob. I guess I’ll have to live with it.

  • Anyway, call me tomorrow evening. It’s been a murderous day trying to fend off Les (just kidding) and people on other threads justifying Rand Paul’s comments about the right to discriminate/refuse service in restaurants, hotels and privately-owned places.

    Believe it or not, some questioned the constitutionality of doing away with separate water fountains – one for Whites and the other for Blacks.

  • Les Slater

    When I was living in Detroit a couple years ago I had a friend who was black. She grew up in segregated D.C. She was pretty spunky but told me of her even more spunky sister. My favorite story was of her sister going up to a ‘colored’ water fountain in a very public place, twisting the handle and exclaiming, “this water isn’t colored, it looks just like what comes out of the ‘white’ fountain”.

  • Nice story, Les.

  • I’ve learned to challenge…

    I learned to challenge too. The question was, do we learn to challenge domination?

  • If we are are learning to challenge domination in universities then why has nothing changed?

  • Les Slater

    At this point it is more important to challenge falsities. The truth is powerful.

  • Power manufactures truth. I don’t think it’s as easy as that, Les.

  • Not that you said it was easy. Maybe I don’t have the faith in people you have.

  • Les Slater

    At this point it is easier to challenge the falsities. Most of our weakness is due to our internalizing their view of reality, their rules. They are nowhere near as powerful as they pretend to be.

  • Les Slater

    Read Malcolm X.

  • Sure, Cindy – challenge domination. It’s not a new theme and it didn’t start with Foucault. Charles Wright Mills Power Elite was still a required text, and anti-establishment sentiment was rampant.

    Those were the times.

  • You just threw Les the Foucault twist.

    Aren’t you clever, Cindy?

  • Most of our weakness is due to our internalizing their view of reality, their rules.

    I agree.

    Okay I will try to find some Malcolm X videos. I got a lot from the house negro/field negro the last time you referred me to him.

    I think I am game for some revolutionary ideas. Pun intended.

  • Not enough has changed because enough people have become co-opted by the system, with rewarding careers, things of that sort. But this is about to end. The system no longer appeals. It’s about to fall flat on its face and disintegrate. Look around you.

  • Les Slater

    The movie I finished watching this morning, V-Vendetta. It was very anti-establishment with some feel good depiction of the destruction of that establishment. But where has this brought us? Nowhere.

  • Mark’s comment on Foucault: you become what you resist.

  • Les Slater

    That is VERY pessimistic.

  • What happened to Charles Wright Mills in the curriculum? Answer: His ideas were marginalized.

  • I think resistance is vital. I have come to think other choices are self-serving and not social. They seem to aid the dominator.

  • But that’s the truth, Les. The superior way is to transcend.

    Well, not for ten or fifteen years well into the seventies. So don’t say it didn’t matter. As I stated earlier, we haven’t attained the critical mass. But this is about to change.

  • It’s vital, but make sure you don’t play into the existing power structures which are defined by and dependent on resistance.

  • Les Slater

    Critical mass? It’s building on the right. The whole left has its collective head up its collective ass. We had better start thinking clearly.

  • You’re being seduced by the Marxist bug, away from Foucault. But that’s OK – both approaches may be necessary. Still, it’s a tough balancing act.

  • Sure, Les, temporarily. We’re going to go through a major reversal before the dust settles. But when it finally does . . .

    Anyway, you didn’t really think that the Obama administration was going to save America or the world. You’ve got to shed the right-left dichotomy. It’s fiction.

  • Les Slater

    Yes, temporarily, but it will take an organized working class to defeat it on the way to taking power.

    When I talk about the ‘right’ I’m not talking ideology, I’m talking armed thugs.

  • Or the underclass, Les – to include all those who will no longer be able to find jobs. But I’m afraid the welfare state, as I argued later, will keep most content enough to the point of averting anger.

    So in a way, you should hope for the change of guard in the White House come 2012, with which there will come a cut in the benefits. See, I’m thinking strategically.

    But even the left, as ideology, is obsolete and not suited for the times. It needs to reinvent itself. That’s why I’m working on (ha ha!)

  • Les Slater

    The left “…needs to reinvent itself. That’s why I’m working on (ha ha!)”

    “You’ve got to shed the right-left dichotomy. It’s fiction.”

    There is fiction, but make no mistake, there are fundamental differences. You making light of this is disturbing.

    A while back, many months, you were defending the maybe necessity of resorting to fascism, just temporarily, of course, to clean house, so to speak.

  • But that was because I still had faith in America, I’ve told you. No longer.

  • Clavos

    A while back, many months, you were defending the maybe necessity of resorting to fascism, just temporarily, of course, to clean house, so to speak.

    Is that an endorsement, Les?

  • Roger,

    It’s vital, but make sure you don’t play into the existing power structures which are defined by and dependent on resistance.

    I want to understand that, can you give me an example?

    Did you consider that the power structure is aided by separation of people, lack of organization, and failure to resist?

  • Besides, all the credit is due to French thinkers who have opened my eyes and made me see how insidious the system of power and domination really is.

  • Yes, but it’s also aided by resisting. It’s a tightrope, really, and I will try to tackle it in my book project – I allude to it in the short intro I sent you.

    See, I don’t want to completely dump Foucault; yet, if his emphasis is solely on personal transformation, it’s not enough. That’s why the subject matter of communities is so important.

    I really think the disintegration of the economic system worldwide – in progress – will suggest viable and workable solutions on the ground. Mark has already alluded to one such a few comments above. Look it up.

  • Les Slater

    Resisting an abstraction, or something you somehow are convinced to resist, maybe by a mob, will get you deeper into the hole.

    It is important to understand the real needs of the working class as a class that is to take power before just ‘resisting’.

  • 236 –

    Murray Bookchin was an anarchist not a Marxist.

    There are many strains of anarchist thought. Some are insurrectionists. Bookchin was talking about anarchism as a social practice for cultural change rather than a subculture or lifestyle.

    Of course, though, the ‘state of Communism’, is a state of anarchy. Anarchists just don’t think there needs to be a period of socialist gov’t that will wither away. Most anarchists I talk to consider themselves anarcho-communists.

    But, it’s not seduction, so much as rethinking.

    I supported the Iranian people in their revolt/resistance against the dominating state. Is resistance justified there? If so, what makes it not justified here? I’m finding it hard to justify ‘accepting’/tolerating the status quo here, by discounting resistance in this circumstance. I suspect that the only reason we could do that is if we, personally, were well-enough-off. Thus, the circumstance where resistance becomes discounted is one where I am personally not in danger. It seems easier to give up ‘resistance’ when one has enough food or isn’t in jail or living in a ghetto, or being personally killed by the gov’t.

    But there are people who are experiencing all those things at the hands of the gov’t. What kind of solidarity is it to fail to act? It seems like a middle-class, white solidarity. It seems as if we stop to think about resistance being negative only when we have a dominating state that ‘suits us’ by allowing us to be more well-off or comfortable.

    A saying of the IWW workers is ‘an injury to one of us is an injury to all of us’. I think that is something I would like to come to live by. It hardly seems real in a disjointed culture of people who are not involved in social movement, but instead make lifestyle changes.

  • Cindy,

    Refer back to Eco’s article on Foucault (way early in the thread) – how change occurs almost imperceptibly, until ….

    And the falling of Bastille, Eco’s example, was but an icing on the cake.

    That’s how I envisage the process in the abstract. But since you brought it up, I’ll reread the article and perhaps come up with an illustration or two.

    So yes, I’m glad you brought it up.

  • Since you’re on the subject, we had an interesting discussion on co-operation, a la Kropotnik. Perhaps you’ve seen parts of it, perhaps not. I can’t recall the thread right now, Mark was supposed to get back to me on it but never did. I’ll look it up and post a link.

  • Les Slater

    “Is that an endorsement, Les?”

    Not at all. I was horrified when Roger brought it up, not so much by Roger bringing it up but the complete lack of anyone on BC except me taking him to task.

    Now its dismissed as a minor incident.

  • Here it is, Cindy, an article on Greece.

  • Mark did too, Les, don’t forget.

    Sure it’s dismissed as a minor incident now, and why shouldn’t it be? I am a passionate thinker and so are you. At that point, that was the direction I was going. Do you have a problem with a total overhaul of Weltanschauung?

  • Roger,

    My understanding of Foucault was he though resistance was necessary.

  • I really don’t understand your #245, Les.

  • thought

  • Not in the sense of “taking over power” – like during the French Revolution – and certainly not by violent means. Then you would just be replacing one power structure with another power structure.

  • “Now its dismissed as a minor incident.”

    Aha, so that’s why you don’t trust me, holding an old grudge?

  • Les Slater

    Believing in America is one thing, most that do don’t justify fascism in defense of America. It is your intellectual training that lead to such a ‘natural’ conclusion. The same intellectual training could just as well justify other terrors to support what you might think is necessary to suit your current or future theories.

  • 255 – I don’t mean in the sense of ‘taking over power’ either.

  • Forget it, Les. I’m not going to try to justify myself to you for something I said over a year ago, and especially without the aid of a context. So think what you will, and draw whatever conclusions you will.

  • Les Slater

    Over a year is not a very long time.

  • Well, that’s the trick, Cindy, what precisely did Foucault mean by “resistance.”

    Remember earlier examples – the battered housewife, e.g. It had to do with changing the paradigm.

  • It was a very long time for me.

  • In fact, over 2500 comments strong. So if you care to monitor my intellectual progress since, you’re welcome to it.

  • Bye, Cindy, bye Les.

    It’s been a long day.

  • Les Slater

    The key is not your intellectual progress but how you did then find it so easy to justify fascism on the fact that you believed in America. There’s not usually that much of a positive correlation there.

  • Night, night Roger…may as well hit the hay too…call you tomorrow night.

    Les, Roger has made some dramatic changes in his thinking since then. I agree with him a year has been a long time in this case. Night, Les.

  • Roger,

    I relate what Les is saying in 257 and 263 not to a personal criticism, but a criticism of the elite education that you were defending. That is there was a reason then that you easily thought of such a solution based on your defense of the nation.

    You see the validity of what Les is saying there, when you consider it, don’t you?

    It’s no criticism of you personally now.

  • Mark

    Rog #248 — since carelessly offending Cindy on that thread and receiving her Italian curse, I haven’t gone back.

    And I haven’t made any significant progress in coming up with answers to my more or less academic questions about Kropotkin’s work. Your ‘transcendental’ critique remains unanswered.

    Concerning this resistance thing, Les’ #245 seems to be the practical approach, but it begs a unified decision procedure. Relying on class consciousness remains a pretty vague prescription.

  • Mark

    Oh, and Rog, don’t take yesterday’s ‘attack’ so hard. You emerged from Universities ready to become a capitalist. I emerged in a nihilist fog ready to study war for the Army after years of pacifism. And this despite following a program in a basically Marxist philosophy department. Indoctrination is.

  • Les Slater

    “…it begs a unified decision procedure.”

    If you read my 245 carefully you will see the last sentence implies a subjective factor. I don’t rely on spontaneous class consciousness. I’m a Leninist.

  • Mark

    Les, I’m not clear on what that means to an individual trying to decide whether or not to provide material support to a particular resistance movement.

  • Les Slater

    It’s an individual decision from a certain perspective. But it needs to be informed and coordinated, not spontaneous. The working class needs a leadership that is of itself, and by study, experience, knowing the needs of the class as a whole, interjects proposal and then leads the class or sectors thereof.

  • “Oh, and Rog, don’t take yesterday’s ‘attack’ so hard. You emerged from Universities ready to become a capitalist.”

    Quite wrong, Mark. I haven’t emerged from the universities till I was near forty. I would have gone into teaching except of a number of line detours.

    But I think you’re missing the point. A person’s lifeline isn’t a linear one. Detours are precisely what happen more often than not.

    Perhaps my case isn’t a good one because I’ve never assimilated capitalist values being born and raised elsewhere. But yes, I experiences the thrill of running a small business (70% labor intensive, which made it most fun) so I have not picked up from the colleges, only from real-life situations.

    Brooklyn College in the sixties wasn’t an elitist kind of school, Mark. So I am not defending any elitist type of education, only the experience that is available to young people to try to find themselves in that kind of environment.

    What is there so difficult to understand? Perhaps you should consider how your ideology presents an obstacle here.

  • Mark

    Perhaps I’ll do that, Rog.

  • Les,

    You are speaking from a faulty memory and so do I. It’s impossible to revisit this question without revisiting the context, so if you want to dig it up, welcome to it and we can resume. But unless you do, you’re just venting.

    You mention correlations in the appropriate comment. Correlations have got nothing to do with it. What is a natural correlation to you may not be a natural one to me, and vice versa. Each mind is an individual thing, and I don’t know whether you can say that for yourself, but it’s definitely the case for me. If I did suggest means of dealing with our problems that struck you – I emphasize, struck you – as resembling fascism, that’s your problem. But in any case, I saw it at the time as a viable solution.

    I am a problem solver, Les. That’s how I think. To say that I something once as a viable solution doesn’t mean I see the same thing today, not does it commit me in any way to that or any particular line of thought. I really find it annoying you questioning the integrity of my thinking and my motives.

    If you continue to do so, I shall make it a point not to deal with you. A suspicious turn of mind, such as you seem to exhibit lately with reference to me, is certainly something I can do without. I defying the very idea of human communications by infecting it inauthentic speech. So I don’t know what your problem is, but you better work on it.

  • Mark, I didn’t mean to insult you in any way or to be facetious. I’m simply trying to understand what a simple point about the value of certain experiences is being fought and resisted by you, Cindy and Les tooth and nail.

    I don’t think I’m saying anything that’s particularly controversial nor damaging in any way to any of our aspirations to forge a better society.

  • Mark

    Each mind is an individual thing…

    Each mind is a social thing.

  • Perhaps the following might amplify some of the questions you raised.

    I think it takes an unusual kind of dedication, coupled with the right kind of circumstances, for a young person to continue on a life course in a linear way. There’s still so much life to be lived, people to meet, things to see. These are the detours I was talking about. I don’t know about you, but I had plenty of them. And perhaps it takes, in many cases, just living long enough and going through life’s bumps and thrills to have finally realize what’s important when one is older and stick with it. And that would answer Cindy’s question why our young haven’t changed the world if colleges were such a revolutionary breeding ground.

    Another thing to consider – to some, the thrill and success of making money and having careers was too much to reject, capitalism still wearing, presumably, a more benign face. Well, my argument is, it will be more and more difficult for the young to maintain such a cheerful attitude, and this is one source of my hope.

    Which places the intellectual in a rather tenuous position, for he is not the direct victim of oppression but identifies with it only by proxy. Which is why the sentiments of the working class, which is direct butt of oppression, represents a more potent force and mechanism of social change, and Les is right in this respect.

  • Mark

    I will consider my biases rather than be insulted by your comment, Rog.

  • No argument there, but that wasn’t the distinction I was drawing.

  • Mark

    (your earlier comment, that is)

  • Well, Mark, perhaps my biases are also showing through as per #278. It may have got to do with an intellectual trying to justify his or her existence since in an important way, he is superficial to the process and outside the struggle.

    So yes, I admit that my defense of liberal arts education, however rosy face I tried to put on it, may have been affected by the aforementioned concerns.

    And since the cat is out of the bag, so to speak, where does it leave us? Do you have to become a part of the working class to make a difference? Are you or Les are doing that? And if not, is the solution trying to outshout one another as to which one of us is more “radical” and more truly representative of the proletariat?

  • Mark

    Different paths. The source of wealth and the mechanism of its ‘theft’ have been vaguely clear to me for a long time. I viewed capitalism not as a benign force from which to derive thrills but as an international system of oppression from a tender age.

    You might call this a bias.

  • Mark

    Personally, I eventually picked up an archaic form of production and have limited my participation avoiding income based on the exploitation of others to the best of my ability.

  • OK, Mark, but when I was running my little newspaper distribution business out of SF and hiring homeless for the job, trying to do best by them I possibly could, I was doing good. And I felt good about myself.

  • Mark

    (Don’t get me wrong; I do realize that all income is tainted at the source. Those who pay me got there money how?)

  • Well, you acted on your principles. My awakening to the evils of the system came much later; perhaps even as late as some of our discussions on this thread and reading Foucault. But it isn’t to say I was indoctrinated into its values. They were always foreign to me.

  • Sure it’s tainted at the source. But my workers were better off, way better off, working for me than panhandling on the street. Not to mention lots of them ended up living way longer than they would because of the workout they’d get. Walking over twenty miles a day while distributing fliers. I did not exploit them.

  • In fact, I came up from the ranks, doing the same they were doing working for another firm. Then I “stole” a few accounts and started my own independent operation. Everybody was happier, except my former boss.

  • Mark,

    [I’m sorry I did not get the chance to say thanks you for your explanation. Been away from the internet. I understand what happened–been a wee bit high strung lately. Italian curse… :-)]

  • Mark

    The fact is that you lived high on your workers dime, isn’t it, Rog? Nothing personal (seriously), but isn’t that how the system works? Did you consider paying them at their full value, or would that have just sounded absurd?

  • Mark

    Cindy, please know that I wish you and you husband only the best.

  • Mark, They were averaging 75 to 80 a day in the early eighties – no deductions. I haven’t become rich at their expense. I had to have some money when trucks would break down, and they always would. But yes, I was paying as much as I could possibly afford. Many were my friends.

    So what is full value, now? It was piecework – a way higher rate than anywhere in the industry.

  • I haven’t had such a good job myself for the past fifteen years and would gladly take one if opportunity presented itself.

  • Mark

    Geeze, Rog. I’m going to stop drawing any conclusions from what I thought I knew of you. I thought that you, personally, ‘made a lot of money’ through this business.

  • I was living off the cash-flow, Mark. Not the dollar but the cash-flow was king. So yes, I always had money in my pocket, but no bank account to speak of. The bank account was for the purpose of clearance.

    The only money I really had was when NY property was refinanced and I bought a commercial property in SF (live-work) and had thirty grand to spare for emergencies (against which I had a credit line). But a Citroen Maserati (used), Loma Prieta and a divorce made it necessary to foreclose and I got out in time with 20 grand to my name.

    But yes, I lived a high life for a stretch, going to the best SF restaurants and bars and having a jolly good time. Out of the cash flow.

  • Mark

    So how’d that ‘cash-flow’ end up in your pocket and not spread amongst your employees? Who made that decision?

  • I was paying myself, Mark, too. I was the driver. You know the basics of piece-work – there’s always got to be a margin. Was I making more than my workers, sure. But then again, many a payroll they’d get pay and not I. Surplus value – no doubt.

    I suppose the alternative would be to set up a co-op venture. In that line of work, it would have been possible.

  • Les Slater

    Homeless? Panhandling?

    A deliberately created, by the capitalist class, reserve army of labor. It’s a mechanism which broadly decreases the value of labor of the working class as a whole.

  • Roger,

    Re Mark’s 269:

    You emerged from Universities ready to become a capitalist.

    I think I probably made a list of 6 things yesterday (which was eaten by the internet) to make that point. Very simple and succinct.

    And that is really the point, Roger. We can have ‘academic’ challenges to capitalism in universities. But really, everyone knows they are academic. Try applying them and see if you are not marginalized. Harvard (and every other university in this country–likely the world) teaches an economics of domination and subjugation as reality and the only acceptable ‘fact’. All other curriculum concurs. There is permitted a certain argument (perhaps mainly in philosophy)…even that has its limits and remains academic.

    One thing universities do, aside from delivering the dominating wisdom, is divert our attention to another game. They convince us that we are brighter than, say, non-college educated people. Then we can look at those people and compare ourselves and come up feeling superior. They help to create a division between people in this way. (You may think I am pointing out something I think about you, and I am. But it is also something that was also about me too, before I knew to question it. There are no super humans. We are all subject to indoctrination, no matter how bright or kind. Unless we challenge it, or happen on an experience that forces our minds to challenge it, we stay stuck there.)

    There is a homeless group called Picture the Homeless (who’s web site the system won’t allow me to post), whom I’ve mentioned before. They have a saying on their site that goes: “Don’t talk about us; talk with us.”

    We seem to be taught to separate ourselves from other people, in universities. Even when we started out wanting to help people, we learn to talk about ‘them’.

  • I wasn’t only a driver, I was also a bookkeeper and a marketing man and a sales person. I used to work up to seventeen hours a day, Mark. And live in the warehouse, no kitchen and only cold water (one of my workers installed a make-do shower) not in some fancy apartment, until the property deal later on.

    I earned my keep.

  • Read my #282, Cindy.

    And BTW, can we all make eternal peace?

  • And #278, I should add.

  • 273 – whooops, I should have read further.


    Your business aside, do I hear you suggesting that you did not accept and take for granted the value and ‘fact’ of capitalism?

  • [Personal attack deleted by Comments Editor] Les, I was sharing my personal experiences, and not with you, BTW, but you never cease coming across as an ideologue.

    [Personal attack deleted by Comments Editor]

  • Never gave it much thought, Cindy, because it was foreign to my upbringing. I never valued money. So my first introduction to it was via my own little small operation, and as I’ve told you before, I was rather proud of myself for doing some good.

    As I said to Mark, most of the people who worked for me were my friends as well; before I started my own business, I was one of them. So obviously, I was always doing my damnedest to do my best by them while keeping my own head above the water.

    That’s why I resent Les taking the high road here and pontificating in this context about the evils of capitalist society. Thanks, Les, for informing me of the facts of life.

  • Are you sure you want to be defensive re Les’ comment about the homeless? His stating it was helpful to me. I didn’t see it as being aimed at discrediting you.

  • Les Slater


    It is always interesting to pay close attention to what the FED says. When employment wasn’t so high I remember Allen Greenspan fretting about unemployment getting too low. He said such would be inflationary. He meant that it would objectively strengthen the working class.


  • It’s the timing of the comment, Cindy, that I find offensive. He’s not telling me anything that I or you don’t know.

    WTF was I supposed to do? Could I have eradicated the fact of homelessness from the face of the earth? Could Les? Did he? Did I? Of course not. It’s easy to talk.

    Anyway, I was doing some good. And I didn’t go into business saying, “Gee, there are some homeless here that I can exploit and make a whole bunch of money in the process.” In fact, one of the main reasons was that I see how much they were being underpaid (myself being one of them) and I knew I could do better.

    If you have difficulty understanding what I’m saying, then let’s quit this discussion. But I certainly don’t need Les’ lectures about the various means by which capitalism keeps itself afloat.

    Again, it’s his timing and taking the high road that I resent, not that I disagree with him.

  • #308 – very good point.

    Using economic indices and rationale to hide real concerns.

  • But then again, Greenspan is a disciple of Ayn Rand. What else could one expect?

  • So to get back to my former question, Cindy, are we all OK?

  • 309 – I understand, Roger. I only was lamenting potential renewed division. Completely selfishly. 🙂 We have been looking forward to Les’ return. I’d hate to see a real stalemate.

    308 – Les,

    Yes, I recall learning about how capitalism requires unemployment to function (avoid inflation). I didn’t quite think of it like that–the working class getting stronger. Is inflation good for the working class then? Doesn’t it make it impossible to afford necessities? I always assumed inflation was bad for everyone.

  • 312 – (Hugs everyone…and then runs away to rejoin the non-computer world.)



  • TTYL*, Roger.

    (*talk to you later)

  • I am with you, and in spite of a snotty comment I made about him being a drop-out, I very much respect his thinking. He should know that, but I insist he also respect mine.

    What I think we all need to keep on reminding ourselves is that truth is relational more than anything else. It’s persons that we try to reach and if possible, win over. Ideas mean nothing to me unless they can be shared. And to focus on the ideas while ignoring the person is the greatest obstacle to true communication.

  • Great. But I still see you haven’t answered my question.

  • Mark

    Rog, I’m not questioning your hard work building your business.

    The problem rests with a system that enables/depends on the privatization of: Surplus value – no doubt.

  • As I said, Mark, a kind of co-op was a natural extension in this line of business. In fact, some people tried to go that route, offering housing, food, etc. in lieu of part-pay, but they were exploiters. It was still a “company store.”

    If it were today, I might have gone that route just for the hell of it. But I wasn’t as aware then as I am now. So what can I say: Shoot me for my past errors.

    But of course I agree with you in principle. I’m not exactly convicted yet that surplus value is totally and under all circumstances unjustifiable. With an ethical component in place – a big if – it’s possible it just might be.

    But we’re no longer there, of course. And given present conditions, it’s definitely a curse.

  • Reminds me of John Lennon’s Imagine.

    Imagine a world without profit.

  • Les Slater

    “Reminds me of John Lennon’s Imagine.”

    I’m a Lennonist too. Also a fan of Groucho.

    Speaking of music and class I noted Glenn’s comments (I think it was Glenn), much earlier in this thread. Where it was said, paraphrasing, ‘the Stones said it best, You can’t always get what you want.. and if you try…’.

    I remember the lyrics including:

    “And I went down to the demonstration
    To get my fair share of abuse
    Singing, ‘We’re gonna vent our frustration
    If we don’t we’re gonna blow a 50-amp fuse'”.

    What an elitist, arrogant SOB. I still love the song though.

  • Well, Les, it does seem like elitism is the curse of the intellectual.

    The question is, what can we do about it?

  • Les Slater

    It’s also a curse of the working class. That’s what is a big part of what workers get out of going to college. Or getting a higher paying job.

  • Well, it is you who is talking about developing leadership from within. Can you think of outstanding examples?

    It still seems to me that things have to get considerably worse before they get better. More hardship and misery are the necessary ingredients, and it’s surely coming our way.

    Only then, solutions might emerge from the ground up.

  • from ground up (omit the article)

  • Roger,

    I had to pop on the computer again for directions. But, if 317 is for me, then I did answer your question.

    312 – So to get back to my former question, Cindy, are we all OK?

    314 – “Yep…”

    Shoot me for my past errors.

    I have to butt in (even though you are talking to Mark). He offered in #269, remember, his own indoctrinated actions.

    I, myself, knew there was something terribly wrong with the world. I went to school to try to become something that would help. Regardless, I never questioned capitalism or domination as the main problem. I came out a capitalist, taking for granted how things operate. It’s no criticism or insult that I came out so, nor that Mark, the pacifist, found himself engaged in pursuits for the military.

    It’s that we are not super human. I never cared about money either. I almost never ended up with my husband (who pursued me relentlessly–and with bipolar energy–until I realized he actually was nice–even though he did have money) because he owned a business and drove a Lincoln…I wanted to live on a commune and in the meantime figure out if a wood-stove could be installed in a van for “home-heating” (boy did I get laughed at for that idea).

    I think you are conflating the idea of money worship with the ‘fact’ of capitalism. Even nice capitalists are still capitalists. It is no criticism that you were a capitalist. You live in a capitalist system. It doesn’t suggest you were not good to people. I have always been good to employees. Still, I didn’t question the system of capitalism.

    But I wasn’t as aware then as I am now.

    So college did not make you seriously aware of the problem after all. You came out a capitalist, despite being a very humane and caring human being.

    (sorry about the dead horse…I am practicing beating it as I need some exercise…)

  • Les Slater

    It is immigrant workers that are the most class conscious and taking the lead in struggle. I’ve pointed out for some time that is where we should look for leadership.

  • No, because capitalism was still “respectable,” or at least wearing a respectable face, in those times.

    The outrage was against the superstructure, the imperialistic government.

    As I said, Foucault awakened me to the evils of the insidious system, whereby politics and economics were two sides of the same coin.

    And no, I didn’t emerge a “capitalist” out of college. I wasn’t one before, and certainly not after despite my little stunt. So I don’t really know what you mean.

  • Sure, Les. They carry the greatest brunt.

    Witness the Cesar Chavez movement and the like.

  • And if you mean, Cindy, that I emerged a “capitalist” because I was unaware of it or sufficiently critical of it, as you had been, than I don’t disagree.

    But as I said, it wasn’t the issue at the time. Not until the election of Reagan and the deregulation. It wasn’t till then – better lights such as Mark or Les excepted – that the evil system showed its true colors.

  • Les Slater

    “…Mark or Les excepted…”

    I can’t speak for Mark but my coming to a certain level of class consciousness had a very high degree of the accidental in it.

    Much could have changed where I ended up including personal relationships. Some of those relationships propelled me forward on that accidental course.

  • But it has shown its true colors since it was created. Its true colors were merely marginalized out of the awareness of the portion of the population that was best fed on the ‘American Dream’. White folks, mainly.

  • Do we disagree here, Cindy?

  • It’s a matter of when a person comes to their awareness, no? Yours came relatively late, and so was mine.

    So what’s your point?

  • Les Slater

    It’s NOT just a matter of time. It is very dependent on circumstance.

  • When and where a person awakens depends on circumstance. I fail to see the import of the distinction, unless, again, you’re trying to impute false consciousness on people.

  • Les Slater

    The turning point for me was when I was 28. Late? Sure, but that was more than 39 years ago. Much happened in 1971. Much before and much since.

  • Well, in my case it was Kent State. But it was against the government, not against capitalism as such.

    That came later.

  • We are the same age, more or less.

  • Les Slater

    I was actually 27 at the time.

  • Which means, I should show greater respect than I have.

  • Les Slater

    66 going on 67.

  • Is that what you require, or shall I bang away the same old way – throwing all caution to the wind?

    Same here!

  • Les Slater

    I was pretty well radicalized by 1968, anti-capitalist even, but did not understand much. Had some pretty stupid ideas at the time.

  • Pretty much the same timeline. But I submit that the capitalist system in the seventies wasn’t quite rearing its ugly head.

    In my case, it was the election of Reagan and the era of deregulation and mergers and acquisitions that opened my eyes. And my concern was, the corporations world over were about to become a major geopolitical force. I abhorred the development, and it made me see the old world with new eyes.

    Robert Reich’s The Wealth of Nations, Preparing Ourselves for 21st Century Capitalism, was one of the key texts.

  • Clavos

    66 going on 67.

    When’s your birthday, Les?

  • Don’t tell me, Les, you’re a scorpio.

    That would explain why we’re butting heads. Cindy is one, too.

  • Les Slater

    The Vietnam war was quite ugly. It had been going on fore more than a decade by the time 60’s ended.

  • Les Slater

    September 5, 1943. Virgo.

  • Les Slater

    re 348, that was U.S. direct involvement, much longer if you include Japan and then France.

  • Mark

    I was first radicalized in an alienating sort of way in 1964 at age 14 when my father was dragged in front of the vice-principle of my high school to listen to him accuse me as a seditious communist for writing against our involvement in Vietnam.

    In ’66 I was somewhat incorrigible and was sent to study (poetry) with a mad Marxist in the north woods where things began to get clearer.

  • Les Slater

    In 1964 I was in the U.S. Air Force and just beginning to question the war. In ’63 I volunteered for combat. By ’65 I was passively against the war. When I got out at the end of 1965 I quietly did not register, or report for, my 2 year obligation to serve in the reserve.

  • 333 –


    I don’t think we disagree. I was bringing my indoctrination thing full circle as I think you are seeing part of what I mean now.

    Capitalism always showed it’s true colors. To anyone who has not been privileged to benefit from it. But the dominating culture indoctrinates the privileged so that we are blind to it.

    If we saw it, I like to think we couldn’t accept it. We aren’t really evil and selfish by nature, as capitalists like to think. We could not have survived as a species as antisocial creatures. Even right-wingers mostly try to make their position a moral one. If they actually clearly saw the evil they are indoctrinated to support, I don’t think they would tolerate it.

  • Clavos

    I’m six weeks older than you, Les.

    In August, 1964, I was one of only two guys drafted from Broward county (Ft. Lauderdale) Florida. Exactly one year later, in August, 1965, I was in Vietnam, where I remained until August, 1966, when I returned to the World and was released from active duty at Oakland, CA. A month later, I enrolled in college at the University of South Florida in Tampa, and graduated three years later with a BA in English Lit and a minor in writing. I met my wife at USF and lived with her (both unmarried and later, married) from 1967 until she died last September — a total of 42 years of bliss.

  • Hmmm. A pack of old geezers.

    Hiya Clav….um, not to single you out or anything! 🙂

  • Virgo? Duck Roger, Les is even more stubborn than me…er…I mean…never mind…

    (at least my head is a bit soft, makes butting more tolerable)

  • Clavos

    Hey Cindy. Geezerness is only a state of mind.

  • Les Slater

    Sorry to hear about your wife. I met who was to become my first wife in Tampa while I was stationed at MacDill AFB. She died in November ’06.

  • State of mind, my arse. Now I see why all of us are so contrary and impossible be to get along.

    If Clavos has got anything for the state of mind thing, I’d gladly inhale it or whatever.

  • So Cindy, are Virgos known for being stubborn?

    I thoughr fastidiousness was their main trait.

  • Les Slater

    Clavos does have something that, from my experience, can do wonders for the state of mind, just come up with a few hundred K and he will sell you a sample.

  • Clavos

    Bingo, Les!

  • Well, whatever it is, it does seem to work for him. I know that when I reached fifty, I thought it was up against a brick wall. I wish I had that kind of brick wall to deal with now. Nothing would make me happier.

    Worst part is, I’m secluded from all meaningful human contact. The little town I happen to live is an emotional and cultural desert. I think I’ll just pack the few belongings I have in my little Camaro and haul my ass back to California. I’d do infinitely better than, even when homeless, than here. My only problem is – my over 2000 books library. Hate to leave it behind.

    So if there are any takers, let me know and I’ll ship it to the addressee.

  • Doug Hunter

    #353 Oh, the old right wingers are just ignorant stooges bit. You know they say the same things about you.

    Maybe you anti-capitalists (it’s apparent that’s the one thing that unites you guys) should consider spending less time plotting how to tear down what others have created and instead more time on how to positively create a viable alternative. Us capitalists have no problem allowing you that freedom although the feeling is not mutual, in your view we must be destroyed.

    You should think about the implications of the last statement and consider why that is so. How come we must be destroyed from the top down, but our system affords you all the freedom and legalities neccesary to create the world of your choosing right here and now and you can’t/won’t take advantage of it. Other .—isms must actively police the population to ensure no free markets are being created, yet in a capitalist system we have no need for regulation to prevent communes or other alternative from popping up. You can sign the legal agreements right now and do anything inside your world you want. Provide everything free to everyone if you believe that can work. People will see how great what you have is and want in and who knows, maybe you will take the world by storm.

    How can you hold your ideology to such a low standard? Given what you require, any system could be substituted as ideal. You need to remove all existing authority structures by force from the top down and reeducate the entire population. By that standard tribalism, or nazism, or oompaloompaism could flourish. That’s as pointless an exercise as pointing out that if we could all just agree then we’d be in agreement. If that’s what it takes to bring your ideals to fruition, if people won’t freely choose to join, if your ideas can’t compete while the alternative still exists and is an option, maybe they’re just not that damn good of ideas to start with.

  • 360 – If you go with the zodiac stuff Virgo is the strongest sign, Scorpio is only 2nd rate.

    So, strong not really stubborn. (I mean, if you believe that sort of thing…)

  • Les Slater

    Roger, buy a used cargo van, for the books, tow the Camaro, sell the cargo van. You might come out ahead.

  • Doug Hunter

    “Worst part is, I’m secluded from all meaningful human contact.”

    That sucks. What generic area of the country are you in? People always try to sell me on places based on the natural beauty or amenities, etc, etc. That’s crap that you ignore after you’ve been there a month. What matters to me is maximizing the number of ‘meaningful human contacts’ (unfortunately, you can’t bring em all to one place except on facebook)

  • You’re so right, Doug. I never realized how much I need it until it happened. Retreats are fine, but never if they’re forced on you. I’m thinking of Robinson Crusoe and the deserted island.

  • It isn’t the money part, Les. Just hate to part with my books – the things I value most.

  • Les Slater

    Don’t part with the books, take your own advice from 363, ship the books to the new address.

  • If I had an address, I would. But I don’t see the prospect. California rentals are not only high; they’re scrutinized like you wouldn’t believe, and I have an eviction going back three years. It’s still on record. Besides, $750 a month income ain’t going to land me a studio unless I pull resources together with some other people. I think the Haight is a possibility, but I’ll have to get there first and rough it up until it happens.

    At least I’ve got a car (only 40,000 miles on it) to carry me through.

  • Les Slater

    Maybe you “…should consider spending less time plotting how to tear down what others have created and instead more time on how to positively create a viable alternative.”

    I think we are looking for a viable alternative, maybe one where those that have actually productively created can reclaim control over what they have created.

  • Reference please, comment number?

  • Mark

    tear down?

    destroyed from the top down?

    Provide everything free to everyone?

    remove all existing authority structures by force from the top down and reeducate the entire population?


    But we agree here: if people won’t freely choose to join…maybe they’re just not that damn good of ideas to start with.

  • The last line is not grammatical.

  • “Maybe you anti-capitalists (it’s apparent that’s the one thing that unites you guys) should consider spending less time plotting how to tear down what others have created . . .”

    Doug, no one is doing it. But can’t you see the system is disintegrating on its own?

  • Roger,

    You might want to look on sublet.com for a share. That is THE site for that sort of thing.

  • Thanks, Cindy. But I think I’ll just make my move to CA and take it from there. For a while at least, I’ll be able to live out of my car.

    I’d like to ship you my books, until further notice if and when I can retrieve them back. I really don’t need much by way of physical comfort, just being able to work and think.

  • Just as well Roger, I only found one thing you could afford on there. For $350/month you would have to share a studio apartment with a nudist! There is one futon and one bed. He prefers someone fit and happy and joyful and used to sharing. My guess is anyone who could answer an ad that requires living in a single room with a nudist is likely comfortable sharing.

  • Oh, and he says overnight guests are negotiable!

    (Pictures Roger brining his date home! lmao!!!!!)

  • Wow, Cindy. You made my day.

    I did experiment once upon a time, sun-basking in upstate NY. It was fun.

  • But to tell the truth, Cindy, connecting with you guys, Mark and Les too, would be preferable. We could start a community.

  • I used to go to the nude beaches in CA and in HI. Probably because I was fit and happy back then. 🙂

    My boyfriend introduced me to the CA nude beach scene. The first time I went he introduced me to his friends saying, “That person lying on her stomach trying to pretend she is invisable is my girlfriend.”

  • Roger,

    I’m game…could you all please wear clothes though? I also require my own room.

  • Well, NJ is not exactly California. California is where my heat is at. But if we could get something going, I’m game.

    Don’t worry, I’ll wear my clothes until my body gets tip top. Then I’ll shed to everyone’s delight.

  • Not my heat . . . I’m speaking like Jet.

    My heart.

  • 364 – Doug,

    You are missing something.

    Oh, the old right wingers are just ignorant stooges bit.

    That was not the point I was making.

  • Forget about the phone call. I’m not in the mood.

  • Mark, check this out, specifically the part that relates to Roger Penrose’s notion of “three mysteries.”

    It’s a modification of Popper’s idea of “three worlds,” I’ll provide the link later.

    My puzzle concerns the nature of “mathematical objects” and the formalist-intuitionist controversy concerning such. The larger problem concerns the the discover versus invent distinction with Rorty (along with most pragmatists, I presume) tends to obliterate or at least dismiss as insignificant.

  • Here is a pertinent excerpt re the formalist-intuitionist controversy from a review of Penrose’s recent The Road to Reality:

    There has been a contentious debate for upwards of a century between “Intuitionist” and “formalist” approaches to the foundations of mathematics.

    The intuitionists, spinning off from Kant and Hegel, ultimately from Plato, insist on the inherence in thought itself of certain mathematical concepts, somehow allied to the a priori intuition of time. That at least is my understanding of the claims of L.E. J. Brouwer, founder of this school in the philosophy of mathematics.

    The formalists, following David Hilbert, see mathematics as a collection of essentially arbitrary formal systems of axioms, to be juggled and manipulated in the production of theorems.

    All research mathematicians, including Penrose, use a combination of both approaches in their work.

    My objections to his idle crib on Platonism are not so much concerned with his trite, gut-feeling and free-wheeling version of the “story of philosophy” ( Ask most Christians and Marxists what they really think happened in history.) but rather to the obvious disdain that so many research scientists manifest towards philosophy and the history of science. Somehow it never seems worth their time and trouble to “get it right”.

  • And here is the relevant passage (from the same source) concerning Penrose’s “three mysteries”:

    Most unfortunately, he now devotes all of section 1.4 to a rank travesty of serious philosophy in his meditations on “the three deep mysteries”: the connections between the physical, the mental and the Platonic mathematical. The shift from line-item Platonism to penny-ante neo-Platonism has been made without anybody realizing it.

    In attempting to clarify the discussion, he gives us the two silliest drawings in the book, on pages 18 and 20.

    The threadbare, simplistic quality of this ramble makes it abundantly clear that he’s done no serious reading of Aristotle, nor Descartes, nor Leibniz, nor Locke, nor Hume, nor Kant, nor Russell, nor Wittgenstein… no epistemology to speak of… and little of Plato himself. It’s Scipulp at its worst, from the hands of a brilliant mathematician and major scientific figure.

  • And now, to Popper’s idea.

    Finally, Popper’s own lecture, 1978, a pdf file.

  • Les Slater

    390, 391 – Interesting.

  • I wasn’t aware you’re interested in such things as well, Les.

    Good to know.

  • Cindy,

    this should be of interest to you too.

  • Les Slater

    I’ve stated here on BC a few times over the years that one of the books that has influenced me greatly is “A Mathematical Theory of Communication” by Claude E. Shannon, written in 1948. It has enhanced my intuitional perception.

  • Les Slater

    And perception of intuition.

  • Mark,

    Do you happen to have a copy of Essays on Wittgenstein, E. D. Klempke, ed?

    One of the articles in that collection, either by Straud or Dummet, I think, dealt specifically with Popper’s “Three Worlds” view. It was a fairly incisive critique and I even wrote about it years ago.

    Do you have any recollection?

  • Shoot, was it you who provided a link way back to a text in “communication theory”?

    That was over my head.

  • Les Slater

    It’s over my head too. Thinking about it, it was actually a 1963 edition with introduction by Warren Weaver. Weaver is the one that got me thinking. I have since attended lectures on coding theory where Shannon’s theories was discussed at length where I got further insights.

  • Anyway, here is a relevant passage from the interview of Mr. Livio (as per link in #389):

    Mr. Livio: So there is no square root of -1. Yet mathematicians invented a new concept, which they call an imaginary number, and they denote it by the letter I. OK? Now, once they invented this concept, then they start to discover all kinds of relations that this concept has and those are true discoveries. The discoveries are essentially forced upon them. So that’s the difference.

    Ms. Tippett: So, and, you know, like the question “Is God a mathematician?” the longer you think about this question of whether mathematics is invented or discovered, you find that just the act of asking the question itself is so rich, right? I mean …

    Mr. Livio: It is, yes.

    Ms. Tippett: … and you end up with all these puzzles or mysteries that feel to me that they’re verging on the philosophical and the theological as well, right, by implication. So you can say that our minds give rise to mathematics but then mathematics are found to explain the physical world.

    Mr. Livio: That’s right.

    Ms. Tippett: Which is a very mysterious thing to think about.

    Mr. Livio: Yeah. You’re absolutely right. And, you know, my colleague Roger Penrose, I don’t know if you’ve ever interviewed him …

    Ms. Tippett: I haven’t, but I know his work. Yeah.

    Mr. Livio: Yeah. So he’s a very famous mathematical physicist. So he once said that there are at least three worlds and three mysteries.

    Ms. Tippett: Mm-hmm.

    Mr. Livio: So the three worlds are, one is the physical world. You know, this is the world where we exist. There are chairs, tables, there are stars, there are galaxies, and so on. Then there is a second world, which is the world of our consciousness, if you like. You know, a mental world, a world where this is where we love, where we hate, you know, and so on. All our thoughts are there and so on. And then there is the third world, which is this world of mathematical forms. This is the world where all of mathematics is there. You know, the theorem of Pythagoras and so on and so forth, all the imaginary numbers and all that. So these are the three worlds. And now come these three mysteries. One mystery is that somehow, out of the physical world, our world of consciousness has emerged. That’s one mystery.

    Ms. Tippett: Right. Right.

    Mr. Livio: A second mystery is that somehow our world of consciousness or mental world gained access to this world of mathematical form. You know, that we were able to invent and discover all these mathematics. And third, and maybe most amazing mystery, is that we find that this world of mathematics provides the explanations for the physical world.

    Ms. Tippett: Right. Right. So it’s that circle again.

    Mr. Livio: Right. So there are these three worlds and three mysteries which, you know, of course at the end of the day they are all part of one universe, right? But it’s an interesting way of posing the question.

  • Les Slater

    When I was in Detroit a week or so ago, I was trying to explain to my landlord friend that there is more to a message than what is explicitly uttered. She asked for an example. I said ‘To be, or not to be’. She responded with ‘That… is the question’. I said, ‘see’.

  • If that’s your cup of tea, Wittgenstein’s Lectures on the Foundations of Mathematics might be the best start (it takes off from Frege).

  • Well, a more direct and simpler route would be via Austin and Searle’s work on “speech acts.”

  • Remarks on the Foundation of Mathematics is W’s the original work.

  • Les Slater

    “And third, and maybe most amazing mystery, is that we find that this world of mathematics provides the explanations for the physical world.”

    Not amazing at all. Both the second and third ‘world’ are both of, and reflection, of the first. We SEE the first THROUGH the second and third.

  • Les Slater

    Which is all part of the first, and only world.

  • Les Slater

    There are no other worlds.

  • Well, explain then real world applicability and explanatory power of, say, an imaginary number.

  • To amplify my question – why should a (n artificial?) concept – such as that of imaginary numbers – a concept arrived at from pure play, as it were, via incursion into theoretical mathematics – eventually become an adequate description (of the physical world)?

    A matter of coincidence, a fortunate happenstance? Kind of makes one think.

  • This fellow is a hoot!

    (But I don’t see where if the student knows he has pain and does not doubt he has pain then he can’t have pain. To me it seems that all the student needs to do is compare his feeling now with his feeling in the absence of pain. It does not require any doubt, in my mind. But perhaps I haven’t got his meaning. He does act sort of like a big jerk. I mean, if he believes what he says, then he’s getting angry because things work exactly as he expects them to. It would be like Newton getting angry at gravity.)

  • Les Slater

    Square root of minus one? You know I’m a high school drop out. When I was young I had fun with ‘i’. All my years as an electronic engineer, I never understood the the significance, or the necessity, of imaginary numbers. I solved many a complex, no pun intended, problem, without the resort to the imaginary.

  • Les Slater

    410, a useful abstraction for some.

  • 410 – Speaking from pretty much ignorance, this is what I initially think.

    It is a ‘closed system’. By that I mean in the sense that we define it, we invent it.

    Example: I have a stick. I decide to partition the stick and then call that ‘half’. I apply that idea of ‘half’ (etc) to everything or anything and it will always work. It’s still my own construction. It’s all in my head, a way I conceptualize, it’s not out there at all.

  • Well, but apparently, the imaginary-number concept ended up having an explanatory value.

    Which poses the question as regards the reality of “mathematical objects” – I would like to say as something apart from a mere language game, but something stops me from saying so.

  • Les Slater

    Mathematics, even useful, don’t explain reality in perfect exactness. They approximate.

  • Interesting observation, Cindy. Got to think about it.

    My problem is as follows: I tend to accept an irrealist view of the world (a la Goodman, that is) – which is to say, there are only experiences (although we can act, talk and live as if there was a real world, aside from our experiences); and corresponding to our experiences, there are different descriptions (as per Davidson), each of these descriptions serve different purposes (pragmatism, a la Rorty).

    But descriptions are a matter of human accretion, of our interactions with the world, which in turn, are linguistic accretions. That’s how language develops and grows.

    But here, when it comes to “mathematical objects,” we seem to develop the language of mathematics without any particular application to “the real world” but only, say, as a result of play. And later, lo and behold, we find these abstract objects useful when explaining the world, even though they do not derive from any such intent but simply from within the mathematical system itself.

    You’re may be right. The idea of a closed system (to the extent it is closed) may be the solution to this puzzle.

  • No description is “perfectly accurate,” Les, I would think.

    And what would it mean to say that it is?

  • Again, the pragmatic view of descriptions has to do with their usefulness.

    That’s the pragmatist’s criterion.

  • Les Slater

    Also, imaginary has a certain, loaded, quality to it. It may historically provide a placeholder, like the concept of God did to explain much, until we find a more useful approach.

  • Les Slater

    In electronics, signals can be described, and worked with, in more than one ‘domain’, time, frequency, etc. It’s just a matter of convenience. It’s still the same signal. Which is the most convenient is quite historical. Some perspectives become arcane and then extinct.

  • Interesting point.

    I have no problem with say, “mathematization” of physics, to mean, mathematics has become the predominant if not the only language of modern-day physics. So far so good, which only means that mathematics is the language physicists use to describe the world and offer explanations.

    So no, coming to the area of “abstract mathematics,” it is perhaps mathematics is a closed system of a kind – like Cindy noted – discoveries/inventions in abstract mathematics may eventually find their application/s later on.

    Can anyone think of a similar type of case in natural languages – when an originally fictitious/imaginary concept finds eventual application in real life?

    And as to your notion of approximations, Les, algorithms do that.

  • Les Slater

    re 421 …is quite historically conditioned.

  • It’s almost like trying to think of an armchair philosopher trying to intuit something which eventually finds an application.

    Did Descartes engaged in something of that nature in the course of his Meditations?

    Did Freud with respect to the unconscious?

    As regards the last example, one would like to argue that Freud stumbled across the concept of the unconscious as he was gripped by clinical data which evaded the orthodox explanation(s).

  • “is quite historically conditioned” … and therefore responsive to different purpose(s) that come into play, no?

  • Les Slater

    Of course.

  • Interesting point, Cindy, about a stick. It’s what we do with the stick in real life, say, cut it in half, than a quarter, etc – before we even have those concepts in our head. Ergo – mathematics itself is a product of our interaction with the world and conceptualized as a result. So mathematics itself not only “derives” from the world but also (and because of that) “describes” it.

    Same with geometry – having its origin(s) in say, land measurement(s) – again, practical concerns.

    Good show, Cindy.

  • Les Slater

    re 427, that’s why I thought 401 was such bunk. Not so amazing after all.

  • Les Slater

    Other worlds, my ass.

  • Well, it caught me off guard first, Les. Which is why I raised the question.

    Still, I think there may be some uses of Popper’s classification without buying into wholesale. Got to rethink the problem.

  • Never mind Popper, now (not certain yet what axe he had to grind, and W’s critique of his notion, I referred to earlier, is a decisive one).

    It still goes to show how even the most brilliant physicists and mathematicians (and Roger Penrose ranks among the top) are guilty of philosophical naivete.

  • Les Slater

    There’s a lot of quacks running around. This is one of the problems with academia.

  • But Roger Penrose, Les, is the foremost mathematician-physicist today, the equivalent of Stephen Hawking.

  • Les Slater

    We should not expect them to be either philosophically sophisticated, consistent or accurate. It’s their right to be philosophically naive. It’s another thing to take them seriously on philosophical questions.

    Another thing is we should be suspicious that their philosophical naivete distorts their ‘science’.

  • Les Slater

    Stephen Hawking? How seriously should we take his alien warning?

  • Penrose, he is reputed to have the best grasp of the state-of-the-art physical theory today. But you’re right, of course.

  • Les Slater

    Anyway, I’m going to watch the dramatization of Carl Sagan’s Contact this afternoon.

  • You mean the movie with Jodie Foster?

  • Les Slater


  • #411 Cindy was a great parody of Wittgenstein. The problem with pain is a problem with sensation words. It’s a very complex argument, and it touches on the idea of a “private language” argument and “beetle in the box.”

  • Here’s a link to the beetle in the box.

    And here’s one to probably a comical video.

  • Enjoy then.

  • Guys, I think you’ll love this.

    History of Western Philosophy under 5 minutes.

  • Les Slater

    Pleasurably poetic, though not that useful.

  • Of course – but rather funny.

  • Les Slater

    I enjoyed it.

  • BTW, Les, some good video on that site: some are comical (but to the point) and others quite serious. You might sift through them for yourself.

    Too bad I don’t understand sufficient French – some great Foucault videos without subtitles, and plenty other thinkers (even Heidegger, I believe).

  • Les, let me know if you find anything of interest on that site. If not, I could direct you to some worthwhile stuff.

  • Les Slater

    I’m out of here for a while. A worker who is studying Capital is coming over in a while for late lunch, discussing politics and watching ‘Contact’.

  • OK!

  • Are you there, Cindy? Talk to me!

  • Cindy, I’ve got some great videos for you.

    They’re riveting.

  • Cindy, this one is just a teaser.

    I ain’t posting the important stuff till I get your attention.

  • Roger,

    I am thrilled that you watched that. That is Buddhagem. He’s an anarchist. He and Jonathan Shockley (aka mr1001nights) host the nightly anarchist radio program on blog talk radio. It’s on from 9-10 5 days. You can chat with him on twitter or, even better, in the chat channel during the radio broadcast. They are two devoted guys to the cause.

    I hope you will consider watching The Evilness of Power: An Examination of the Effects of Power and Hierarchy – by mr1001nights If you do, please let me know what you think. It is really an incredible presentation. My favorite to date.

    Jonathan has lot of video discussions on youtube also. You can look them up by searching for mr1001nights.

    There area couple links to the anarchist radio show on the sidebar of my blog, if you are interested. They are both the same show, one says ‘listen to Buddhagem’ and one says ‘listen to the Authority Smashing! Hour’.

    I just realized you’d probably really get into the chat during the radio show. Good discussion there.

  • As I said, Cindy, that’s just a teaser. It’s too late to post it tonight, but I’ve got some unbelievable video for you. Will post tomorrow. You’ll be thrilled. The general site you provided (with a W’s caricature) is a treasure.

    BTW, I re-watched Foucault and I see how I was too stubborn defending liberal arts colleges – they have possibilities but also, as Foucault reminds us, they’re also power centers.

    There is so much more one can get from real-life interaction(s) – and videos are only a facsimile of a real thing – than through mere reading. I’m going to have to enroll in a major college specializing in French thought studies. I’m looking at Sorbonne and College de France, but for that I’d have to learn French. I’d give my right arm to be able to go there. Perhaps Mark can suggest some places in the US.

    I see one thing. I can’t do it alone, writing all by myself but need ever-present freed back. Even if I had time on my hands, that’s not how you reach your highest potential; you have to have colleagues and be able to immerse yourself in the subject matter every minute of your stinking day. And since I don’t (have infinite time on my hands), I must make my move one way or another. I believe I’ve still got sufficient mental prowess and can make a contribution.

    So we’ll talk about it and other things later.

  • Irene Wagner

    Cindy – I return the “hi” here. Hang in there, Dancing Queen 🙂

  • Mark

    Interesting conversation, yesterday. I’m sorry to have missed it.

    “Gotta go to work. What a bummer.”

  • Catcha later then.

  • Mark,

    A long time ago you referred me to a Marx study resource. I forget the exact one you recommended because my zillions of bookmarks haven’t been accessible for some time. So, I am not actually sure if Prof. Wolff was the one you referred me to. (Though I do recall, now, you mentioning him in other contexts.) But, I thought you might like to know, if anyone needs lessons, he has presented his classes online free via his graduate lectures in video format on his web site. I think he is wonderful and amazing.

  • OK, this is the first of required videos in the series
    “Sociology is a Martial Art.”

    Five or six more segments to follow. Pay attention because there will be a test at the end.

  • correcting the link.

  • part 2;

    part 3;

    part 4;

    part 5;

    part 6;

    part 7;

    Finally, you might want to start with this brief introduction to his major concepts:


  • Mark, required for you too. You WILL enjoy it.

    BTW, I’m glad there’s no longer trouble in paradise.

  • And let’t not forget Les so he can amplify and refine his already highly-advanced system of Marxist/Lenininist analysis.

    Don’t forget the final exam: it pertains to this very subject.

  • Yep, Cindy, that’s a great site (#459).

    The trick is to fit Marx within the overall context of “social theory.”

  • The trick is to fit Marx within the overall context of “social theory.”

    What do you mean? Do you mean something academic and therefore outside my experience? If I say that Marx fits in seamlessly with my own social theory or framework, or personal understanding of the social, will that be understandable? Or will I be guilty of not addressing some information that you take for granted?

  • If I say that Marx fits in seamlessly with my own social theory or framework, or personal understanding of the social, will that be understandable?”

    That’s what I mean.

  • Les Slater

    Just got off a 47 minute call to Amazon Kindle tech Support. I ordered ‘History of Madness’ by Faucault. They could not get it to open even after several tries. They are investigating the file for corruption. I suspected this author may be corrupting. It’s going to take a couple of weeks or so for the investigation. I guess I’ll have to wait.

  • Many texts are available through Google books, though not in their entirety.

    I would try Power/Knowledge instead – a representative collection of essays covering the arc of his intellectual development – and then go into individual texts for amplification (if you think you need it). I will provide you will a link once I get home.

    In fact, I made it a point to get a scanner so as to be able to transmit selected texts to Cindy and Mark as pdf files.

  • If you want to get a head start, Les, much some of it is available on google books. History of Madness

  • Hey, Roger, look what I found–a journal called Foucault Studies and all are free online.

  • Great find, Cindy.

  • Roger,

    I have been watching the videos. I am up to #4. I have to think about #3 a little. I am interested in the part where he claims that ‘feminine’ qualities are, in total, determined by male domination. Then he reveals what he considers ‘feminine’ qualities and his list excludes any qualities of strength. Interesting to realize that my sense of what is ‘feminine’ excludes those qualities that are clearly resultant from male domination (pretty much his whole list)–like passivity. So, I am saying, I only noticed now that have developed a view of what is ‘feminine’ that is seems largely outside the ‘male’ (not all males of course) definition. My list of ‘feminine’ qualities seems to not be determined by what men might consider feminine at all. My list, unlike his, contains only positive and active qualities unrelated to male approval…I realize they are tendencies also found in men to a degree and in some more than others.

    Here is how I explain this. I have categorized as feminine, those qualities that are NOT traits of domination. Why? Because domination is a fact of maleness not femaleness. That is historical. So, those traits that escape domination I see as being held in protective custody by women (for the health of the male and the female alike). They are not really ‘feminine’ traits at all. They are ‘healthy’ traits, being traits that are NOT derived through domination.

    I did not develop this idea until I read Staughton Lynd. When he spoke in praise of the feminine as representing the wiser way to follow I was skeptical. It sounded sexist to me. After considering the problem over time, I realized my first reaction was, well reactive and based on bias. So, I think women (generally speaking–as men also have these same qualities, though they don’t have much capital value in the culture and are often discouraged) have had the advantage, not having to have molded themselves as dominators, to retain qualities that are what I merely call ‘feminine’, but in a sane society (a non-dominator society), I would consider them just plain human.

    (Did I say that clearly enough? It’s hard to tell. So, if you disagree, please let me at least get feedback that suggests you understand it the way I mean it.)

    Great stuff, Roger. I like him. 🙂

  • By ‘not traits of domination’, I mean traits that are neither domination themselves nor the result of being dominated.

  • Notice how subtle the forms of dominations are – in terms of capital. The symbolic violence he gets to talk about last is the one that seems to eludes us most – precisely because of the deeply ingrained way it is in our culture.

    These are fairly sophisticated concept: it would be rather difficult to bring them into ordinary conversation, like the kind you’re having on the other Ms America thread.

    But yes, I was hoping you would appreciate his thinking.

  • As to the rest of your comment, I have to think on it.

  • I am going out now, but let me give you something that might help you see how I am thinking about it.

    Think about women and men and crying or expression of tender emotion.

  • Later then.