Columbia Climatologist Naysays the ‘Governator’
California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger has proposed rules that would force automakers to bump up their fuel efficiency 30-percent by 2016.
James Hansen – a Columbia University climatologist described by Shikha Dalmia as “a global warming worrywart” – has acknowledged that subjecting the whole country to the Schwarzenegger “warming fix” would not result in any measurable cut in global temperature. (New York Post)
Excellent Article on the Nuttiness of College Admissions
In today’s Wall Street Journal, Naomi Schaefer Riley has this excellent article on the nutty world of college admissions today, where students are much better off if their parents are factory workers than if they’re surgeons.
In order to overcome the “disadvantage of privilege,” students are coached on how to structure their resumes so as to look appealing to the admissions people at the elite schools. It is like the old U.S.-Soviet arms race, with kids trying desperately to outshine others in their “passion” for things that supposedly impress the gatekeepers.
So if a kid from a successful family wants to get into Princeton, it’s not enough to have straight As and a dazzling set of SAT scores. It’s necessary to spend all free time padding the resume with “meaningful” activities. Then, if you’re lucky, you’ll overcome your disadvantages in the eyes of the admissions people and your parents will be allowed to spend a fortune on a degree that won’t make you any smarter than if you’d gone to a non-elite school.
Further on the Use of “Islamo-Fascism”
A reader writes to say that the term is commonly used to deny any problem with Islam itself. In this view, any negative manifestations among Muslims, such as the use of violence in the name of Allah and the enforcement of oppressive laws and customs, arise only from a distortion of true Islam that bends it to achieve despotic,fascist-like militancy and control.
How To Get into College
Naomi Schaefer Riley in WSJ:
Given that, with the arrival of the new year, college applications are now flooding into admissions offices all over the country, it might be a good time to reflect on the absurdity of the whole college-admissions process. Take this passage from Michele Hernández’s “Acing the College Application,” where she assesses the chances of a high-school student getting into a college of his choice. “Best case: Neither of your parents attended college at all, your father is a factory worker, and your mom is on disability. . . . Worst case: Your father went to Yale as an undergraduate and then Harvard Business School and is now an investment banker and your mom went to Brown, holds a Ph.D. in chemistry and works as a research chemist.”
We all understand that being a rich white kid puts one at a disadvantage in the college-admissions process. But it is worth pausing to savor the irony of an institution that charges as much as $45,000 a year asking its applicants to demonstrate their proletarian credentials.
Clarification Needed on Use of the Term “Islamo-Fascism”
It seems the term is being used in two ways. One is to highlight the historical connections between the Muslim world and Nazism and Fascism. For example, the founder of the Muslim Brotherhood was an admirer of Hitler and Mussolini. For another example, the Grand Mufti of Jerusalem met frequently with the Nazis to encourage them in the elimination of the Jews of Europe, and during the war he actually organized some Bosnian Muslim units to fight with the SS.
But the term is also being used in a generic sense, to say that Islamic sharia law constitutes a form of fascism, a form of totalitarian control of society.
The first use is factual and probably unexceptionable. The second is problematic, and forces the uniqueness of Islamic fundamentalism into the familiar mold of European fascism and national socialism.
But in any event, people who use the term should make clear what they mean. Eventually its spelling should be regularized too.
The Value of HBCUs
In this week’s Clarion Call I write about the evidence that historically black colleges and universities are beneficial institutions because of what they don’t do: affirmative action and debasing of the curriculum.
In response to Francisco Nava’s staging of death threats against himself and others at Princeton, a former president of the Anscombe Society, which is dedicated to protecting unborn human life and upholding traditional sexual values, provides full details about Francisco’s “assault.” He adds:
Though deeply saddened by the [event], … the group of which I am proud to call myself a former president and current member will continue to seek the truth about human flourishing and engage opposing conceptions of it with integrity, even cheer.
Atheist Finds God
The New York Times review of British philosopher Anthony Flew’s confession, There Is a God: How the World’s Most Notoious Atheist Changed His Mind, sums up Flew”s conversion so:
[T]hroughout his career, he has, he says, been willing to follow an argument wherever it leads and to be open to new evidence. …Flew now thinks “the world picture … that has emerged from modern science” points to an “infinite Intelligence” that brought the universe into being. He believes the fact that nature obeys precise mathematical laws, the fact that life and mind have emerged from inanimate matter, and the fact that the universe exists at all are best explained by positing a God.
Perhaps predictably, the reviewer, Anthony Gottlieb, who teaches the history of ideas at CUNY’s Graduate Center, finds Flew’s reasoning inadequate.
Recollections of Bhutto’s Years At Harvard
…including her “dabbling in America’s political obsessions” of the late 60s and early 70s. (The New York Sun)
Views on Bhutto’s Education Legacy Diverge
…to say the least.
Husain Haqqani, a professor at Boston University, writes that during Benazir Bhutto’s second term as prime minister spending on education greatly increased
and 46,000 new schools were built.
Thousands of teachers were recruited with the understanding that a secular education, covering multiple study areas (particularly technical and scientific education), would improve the lives of Pakistanis and create job opportunities critical to self-empowerment. (The Wall Street Journal)
Ralph Peters vehemently disagrees:
Educated in expensive Western schools, she permitted Pakistan’s feeble education system to rot – opening the door to Islamists and their religious schools.
During her years as prime minister, Pakistan went backward, not forward … The Islamist threat – which she artfully played both ways – spread like cancer. (New York Post)
A Bit of Progress Against the College Requirement Mania
The Memphis, TN police department is dropping the requirement that applicants have gone to college according to this story in the Memphis Commercial Appeal.
Struggling to hire enough officers, Memphis has done something eminently sensible.
“The big fence was the college requirement,” said department spokesman Sgt. Vincent Higgins. “And we’re knocking down that wall.”
Memphis’ Police Director contends that higher education is neither necessary nor sufficient for good police work. “Just because a person has a college education doesn’t mean they are going to make a good cop,” Goodwin said. “And just because you don’t have a college degree doesn’t mean you’re not going to be a good cop.”
There are many businesses in the United States that could learn from this. Whether or not someone has a college education is a poor screening device for most jobs.
An Indiana University of Pennsylvania professor who has written about faculty-student relationships has settled a lawsuit brought by a doctoral student who claimed the professor sabotaged his dissertation when he spurned her advances.
A Gift of the Spirit
For all those seeking a richer and fuller spiritual life, here is an online book, Spiritual Theology, by Father Jordan Aumann, who died this year, and who will be remembered as one of the greatest spiritual theologians of the 20th century.
This classic, one of the best texts available on the subject of mystical and ascetical theology, has been posted by the Dominican Order to which he belonged, in such a way as to make small sections available for reading on one’s computer screen.
Much of Spiritual Theology is based on St. Thomas Aquinas, St. John of the Cross, and St. Teresa. It demonstrates that perfection of the spirit consists especially in charity, a charity richly rewarded in spiritual graces.
Happy New Year.
Bhutto’s Assassination as Honor Murder
CUNY Emerita Professor Phyllis Chesler describes the slaying of Benazir Bhutto as
a political and cultural version of an honor killing. Bhutto … symbolized an unacceptably Western form of female ambition and achievement … Islamist fanatics decided that Bhutto was unacceptably and publicly too-Western, and they sentenced her to death for this sin.
Pakistan is known for its many bloody honor murders and other atrocities.
To continue reading this article, click here…
Jihadism and the U.S.: 2007-2009
Don’t miss this important “roundup” on the subject from Walid Phares, a Visiting Scholar at the European Foundation for Democracy:
During 2007 several arrests and dismantling of cells within the United States demonstrated the spread of the Jihadi networks at various levels and in different areas … the Jihadi web is much wider and deeper than anticipated … The diverse nature of the Jihadi activities in America lead me to believe that the next waves will be more sophisticated and better inserted in the institutions and society …
[There has been] Jihadi ideological penetration of various spheres of education and decision-making, including at the strategic level. Both Wahabi and Khomeinist funding and influence have been spotted in 2007. The US Congress and the Administration should be spending time and efforts during 2008 to develop a national consensus on the definition of the threat doctrine, Jihadism. Short of achieving a minimal understanding of the Terror ideology, 2009 and beyond will witness a faster mutation of the Jihadi threat inside the country. (The American Thinker)
It is urgent that the academy – so seminal to the ideological formation and thrust of all other institutions – lead the way in fostering this understanding.
2008 and Beyond: Auspicious Time for the Great Books
The University of Texas at Austin has just approved the “Program In Western Civilization and American Institutions,” which will offer great books-based courses on topics such as Greek and Roman Philosophy, literature, and the American founding. As Anthony Paletta notes, “It’s a broad step forward for tradition-minded centers, since Hamilton College’s unceremonious ejection of the Alexander Hamilton Center last year.”
And there are more such efforts to come, thanks to the Manhattan Institute Center for the American University, which provided start-up support for the UT program through its VERITAS fund. The fund has also dedicated $2.5 million dollars to support programs at nine other campuses. (Minding the Campus)
My favorite civil-liberties group, the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education, reviews 2007:
FIRE won many victories for free speech, religious liberty, freedom of association, and freedom of conscience throughout 2007. These successes included:
‘X-Phi’: Philosophizing With
From Princeton’s Kwame Anthony Appiah we learn that a “new, new” breed of philosophers, in a development some in their ranks call “x-phi,” is browsing about and collecting information about what folks actually think and say about the scholars’ work.
Appiah, asking if one can “really do philosophy with clipboards and questionnaires,” answers:
X-phi helps keep us honest and enforces a useful modesty about how much weight to give one’s personal hunches … But — this is my own empirical observation — although [these new methods or] experiments can illuminate philosophical arguments, they don’t settle them. (New York Times Magazine)