Category Archives: Yale University

Hot Air

Schools For Tools

An indictment:

Our system of elite education manufactures young people who are smart and talented and driven, yes, but also anxious, timid, and lost, with little intellectual curiosity and a stunted sense of purpose: trapped in a bubble of privilege, heading meekly in the same direction, great at what they’re doing but with no idea why they’re doing it.

These words, written by William Deresiewicz in The New Republic magazine for his piece on the Ivy League brain factories, can be applied to most university programs, including our own Indiana University.

Deresiewicz opens his article by recounting the time he participated in a Yale admissions committee session. That’s where, in his case, five people sat in a room, pored over high school students’ applications and gave thumbs up or down. Yale, the alma mater of the likes of Sinclair Lewis and Paul Krugman, George W. Bush and Hillary Clinton, and no fewer than 17 members of the United States Supreme Court, is, of course, among the toughest of universities to get into unless your daddy-o prints money. But there are only so many Americans who comprise the 1% so that Yale admissions committee had to reach down deep into the poorer-then-Croesus pool for the coming school year.

Yale House Flag

Nevertheless, the lucky few who gained admission to Yale that year were the cream of the cream. Students, for instance, who listed six extracurricular high school activities on their applications, were deemed, essentially, too lazy for the place.

I don’t know about you, but I loathed the type of kid who’d list a half a dozen or more extracurricular activities under his yearbook pic (I went to an all-boys HS, so don’t holler at me for using the male pronoun).

I’ve railed on and on about how our colleges and universities these days seem to be nothing more than glorified vocational schools. Kids strive for college degrees not so they can learn to think and to reason, to learn the rigorous methods of inquiry, to become well-rounded, to be exposed to the dizzying variety of peoples who live on this Earth, and then, so prepared, be an asset not only to the species and the planet, but to get a good job as well. No. Too many kids spend four years setting themselves up as the best little employees they can be. Universities are fast becoming training grounds for adults who are docile, unthinking, and eager consumers.

Yuck.

The Ivy League schools, apparently, are the best at doing this ugly job but it’s a job shared by institutions across this holy land. Read Deresiewicz’s piece and, if you’re like me, weep.

[h/t to John Wasik.]

Just Don’t Get Sick

Up to 15 million people already have benefitted from the provisions of the Affordable Care Act. Nice. That means millions more kids now get better access to preventative and urgent health care than did before Barack Obama came into office. Hundreds of thousands of families now don’t have to worry about financial ruin should a daughter’s liver go kaput or a parent’s brain suddenly sprout a tumor.

Once again, I’m not thrilled with the ACA. I want single-payer, universal health coverage. But Obamacare is the best we could do, considering the extent to which Republicans get itchy when the question of helping people who aren’t richer than certain small nations arises.

The GOP has stood on its head trying to overturn the ACA. The very idea that we as a nation should extend a helping hand to our broke neighbors strikes Republicans as un-American. They characterize those who want to help people who can’t afford $500 or $750 a month health insurance premiums as socialists, commies, or, worse, secret Kenyans.

I’ve known scads of rugged individualist Republicans whose response when asked about poor people has been Fuck ’em. That’s not shorthand; I’m quoting.

Poverty

It’s Your Own Damned Fault!

That is shorthand for what the three-judge panel of the US Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia said yesterday in a ruling on federal subsidies for ACA participants. Check out the ruling and you’ll see that it’s chock-full of high-minded legalese and the splitting of hairs over seemingly inconsequential language in the original Act. The judges sound very knowledgable and Solomonic. But in truth, they’re saying Fuck you to those 15 millions who now have affordable health insurance, the emphasis on the word now. Tomorrow, if the panel’s decision is upheld by the Supreme Court, is another story.

We are engaged in a battle for the soul of this nation. As in, some of us want the nation to have a soul and some of us prefer us to be soulless. Funny, though, how those who seem most soulless are the same ones who talk about god all the time.

To Sleep, Perchance…

And, speaking of courts flipping the bird at one class or another of citizens, Marion Superior Court Judge David Dryer ruled Monday that Monroe County’s newly-approved late-night noise ordinance isn’t worth the paper it’s written on and work can continue on I-69 through the night, every night.

That means a lot of people who live around SR 37 and points southwest in this county will be super cranky at their jobs for the next few months due to the banging, beeping, and clanking that’ll keep them awake all night long. A good night’s sleep is a fine thing but it is nothing at all compared to the desire of the state to lay concrete.

Interstate Road Construction

Happiness Is Wet Concrete

The I-69 brouhaha was aboil when I moved to these parts in late 2009. Plenty of people were protesting and hollering at INDOT officials and then-Gov. Mitch Daniels that the proposed super-road would cause  environmental nightmares.They were certain, several told me, that they could derail plans for the highway. I told anybody who’d listen (most didn’t) that laying concrete is the most irresistible urge the state — any state — has. If the federal government’s primary responsibility is military defense and the overriding duty of municipal gov’t is to pick up garbage, then the state’s biggest task is to build roads. Road building is the lifeblood of a state’s economy, as well as the financial health of whichever political party is in charge. Ergo, no amount of hooting and shrieking would deter Daniels et al from paving from here to eternity.

Natch, work on I-69 continued apace, environmental nightmares be damned. On the other hand, the folks who live around the I-69 construction zones won’t have to worry about nightmares anymore. You have be able to get to sleep to have them, after all.

Your Daily Hot Air

Conviction

“I decided it was worth a life in prison to do it.” — Daniel Ellsberg

Ellsberg

Problem Solved

Yale University has hit upon the magic solution to the problem of rape. Rape culture, at least within the confines of the ivy-covered halls of the institution that has given us Sinclair Lewis, John Hersey, Garry Troudeau, Aldo Leopold, Eero Saarinen, Meryl Streep, and…, and…, um, George W. Bush (nobody’s perfect), has been smashed to bits for good.

Lewis/Bush

Fellow Elis: Sinclair Lewis & George W. Bush

Rape shall be no more at Yale!

That’s because the university has now eliminated the usage of the word from its official lexicon. A provost’s report released this week addressing the Campus Sexual Climate for the school year just past, makes rape disappear by simply not calling forcible sexual contact, well, rape.

It’s now the much more palatable nonconsensual sex. Isn’t that better?

And just in case any Elis still harbor any desire to attempt a bit of the good old violent penetration, why, they’ll be deterred, no doubt by the dreaded threat of the written reprimand.

Wow. That’s tough, man.

And if some male student happens to commit a particularly egregious form of nonconsensual sex, he just might be put on probation or even suspended for a year!

Thank god. The women of Yale can now feel free to walk the campus in the nude, making come-hither gestures without fear of having creepy guys try to force themselves upon them.

Because that’s how women usually become rape victims, isn’t it?

Get healthy — or else!

Let’s stay with academia.

Former football factory extraordinaire Penn State University also is getting tough, this time with employees who refuse to be healthy.

PSU Icon

The Nittany Lion (What The Hell Ever That Is)

See, professors, janitors, and clerks alike are being threatened with hefty — nay, borderline confiscatory — financial penalties for failing to submit to the U’s stringent wellness (a word I loathe) guidelines and reporting procedures.

Chief among those procedures is PSU’s mandatory “biometric screenings.” This means if you refuse to have your waist measured, step on a scale, have your blood sugar tested, and a raft of other peeks inside and around your holy temple, you’re going to have to pay a cool hundred bucks a month extra for your health insurance coverage.

Waist Measurement

Get ‘Em Up!

Say you’re a brand new PSU hiree making $15,792 a year. That comes out to about $850 per month after taxes. Should you consider the university’s health spies poking into your bloodstream or running a measuring tape around your heretofore pleasing girth to be intrusive, well, you’re going to have to pay a full 12 percent of your ready monthly cash flow for your silly little principle.

Which, I suppose, is the U’s intent. You’ll have to slash your grocery budget to next to nil. That’ll shrink your waistline.

British Model

See? Now You’re Healthier!

PSU, of course, is well known for its strict adherence to rules and law. Why, it took the less than a decade for the school to ban Jerry Sandusky from campus after he’d been seen sodomizing a ten-year-old in the shower.

Not My Fault

You know — don’t you? — that scary-looking San Diego Mayor Bob Filner squeezed all those women’s asses, groped their breasts, and pressured them to have sex with him (a nauseating prospect, to be sure) because he’d never gotten harassment training.

Filner

Eek!

At least that’s what he and his lawyer say in an effort to get the city to pay his mounting legal bills in the harassment lawsuits brought about by a number of women whose ladyparts now bear his cooties.

Hell, this revelation ought to cause the judge or judges in those cases to dismiss them forthwith.

How in the world can we expect anyone to know that groping and forcibly kissing co-workers is frowned upon if we don’t have a mandatory training session telling them so?

Palin’s Payouts

Here’s what Sarah Palin’s squealer arm, SarahPAC, spends in a typical half-year, in case you give a good goddamn.

Palin created her PAC for the ostensible purpose of supporting candidates for office who share her (terrifying) views. So far in 2013, SarahPAC has spent a total of a half million dollars. Palin’s action faction in the same time has donated $5000, or 1 percent, to political candidates. That’s some overhead.

Sarah PAC FEC Filing

Click For Full Federal Election Commission Report

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