Commencement and the ‘Pseudo Elites’

The other day, Purdue’s president, Mitch Daniels gave a noteworthy commencement address, which came to me via Emily Jashinsky at The Federalist. Let’s check it out but do read it all.

Purdue celebrated its own landmark this year, our 150th anniversary. Since it coincided with the 50th anniversary of the moon landing by our most famous alumnus, Neil Armstrong stories were abundant. My favorite claims that, later in life, Commander Armstrong took to telling corny, lame jokes about the moon, and when nobody laughed he would say, “Well, I guess you had to be there.”

A year or so ago, a major national journalist visited our campus and later wrote a gracious, complimentary article about what he saw here. While I enjoyed his accounts of the progress and successful results he thought he had witnessed, my favorite part of the column was a single phrase, basically a throwaway line. He described Purdue as “a happy place.”

That got me wondering how many college campuses these days would strike a visitor quite that way. I hope it’s been that kind of place for you.

That strikes me. Most of you know that while I am a Purdue Alum, I didn’t graduate. Mot Purdue’s fault other duties just intruded more than was compatible, but for all that, while I never considered going back, it does remain a happy memory for me. Like so many of us, it was my first chance to live on my own, and I loved it. A happy place indeed, even while the Vietnam war was disrupting so many campuses.

But one thing I never expected to worry about, but now do a little, is your being lonely. I have known you and met thousands of you personally in an environment that, despite our size, does a pretty good job of getting people together, creating bonds among them. A thousand clubs. Dozens of faith-based organizations. Our Greek system and, maybe our best examples of true communities, our co-op residential houses, where students not only live but cook, clean and do repairs together. And, most recently, the “learning communities,” where thousands of Boilermakers live in mutual support with others who are studying the same subject matter.

But elsewhere, the academic journals and lay periodicals are now filled with research about the “epidemic of loneliness” in our society. Surveys report record numbers of Americans living alone and suffering from strong feelings of isolation. Many view it as a new public health crisis, linked to rising rates of depression, anxiety, even suicide. A lack of strong social relationships has been found to raise the risk of premature death by 50%.

Obviously, the last few months have really made this worse, and while the liberty-loving people of America are fighting for the right to again associate with others, we have not got it done yet. But it is a real problem, too many of us live our lives staring at our screens. I know I do. But right now, as Audre alluded to yesterday, it is a lifeline, the ability to associate with others like ourselves pretty much anywhere in the world. But I, and I suspect a lot of you, miss the touch, feel, the smell of others, let alone a smile of welcome at our arrival. Soon, I hope.

One of the things Mitch is warning against here is something that  J.B. Shurk wrote about in American Thinker the other day …

When Governor Gretchen Whitmer or J.B. Pritzker or Jay Inslee or Gavin Newsom opens his mouth or any of the exhausting municipal Marxists like Bill de Blasio and Lori Lightfoot starts barking orders, more and more Americans only hear “womp, womp, womp.” That’s a good thing. When elected representatives confuse their “public service” with titles of nobility giving them license to make demands beyond their delegated authority, Americans have a duty to just “walk away.” America is a “safe place” from entrenched aristocracy. We rule ourselves here; elected “servants of the people” are meant to take care of the public chores we’re too busy to perform ourselves. We pay them for this. In America, we’re our own feudal lords and ladies.

For all their talk of the “little guy,” the left sure does gravitate toward nobility and special classes with extra-special privileges. It’s not just their obvious devotion before the altar of celebrity or fashionable “groupthink” causes. They are transfixed by titles of any kind. Because we kicked all the dukes and duchesses, barons and baronesses, earls and countesses back to the other side of the pond, the left confuses education with the “right to rule.” Affixing “Dr.” before their names has become the only opportunity for them to separate themselves from a sea of commoners. And after having spent decades trying to wean society from signaling simple respect by addressing each other as Mr., Mrs., Miss, or Ms., they are now often the only ones who demand verbal recognition of their special status. We have become a nation flooded with so many meaningless and laughable Ph.D.s, it seems, [interestingly at Purdue in my day, it was averred that Ph.D stands for  ‘Piled high and Deep’, something I still believe almost always] not because their holders consider education a path toward greater enlightenment, but so that they can become new members of a noble peerage class entitled to demand newfound privilege and respect nowhere else due.

He makes a lot of sense to me, so I think you should read it all.

And so, Hail Purdue, and our new Alums, and Liberate America.

Sunday Funnies; Are We There Yet?

Farmer George is starting to sound rather reasonable, isn’t he?



And, of course

The Strong Horse, errr Locomotive

Mitch Daniels popped up on many of our radars when he was George W Bush’s chief of the OMB, we should have paid better attention perhaps when he was Chief Political Advisor to President Reagan. He really got my attention when he was Governor of Indiana. A couple of old blogfriends, The Chicks on the Right (and yes, I still read them occasionally) were pushing him pretty hard to run for President in 2012. As you likely know, he refused. I think he did the right thing when he took on the presidency of Purdue University.

He added another reason to all the others, this week, as Joy Pullman of The Federalist tells us.

While other education leaders are waiting for politicians to release their students from the lockdowns suspending their futures, former Indiana governor Mitch Daniels, now head of Purdue University, is making plans to reopen his campus for fall.

“We have every intention of being on campus this fall,” he told the faculty senate on April 20, according to USA Today. “We are sober about the challenges that will bring. We believe in the value of the on-campus experience, and we’re determined, if we’re permitted to do so by the public authorities and medical circumstances. If at all possible, we intend to be open and operating.”

Daniels was appointed president of the highly ranked public research university in 2012 after a cost-cutting, no-nonsense governorship that sparked fruitless attempts to get him to run for president. As president of the Indiana university, he has frozen tuition, deployed innovative online programs, and increased enrollment by about 6,000 students to nearly 45,000. During that timeframe, college enrollment nationwide declined 11 percent.

On April 21, Daniels issued a publc letter detailing the university’s initial plans for reopening campus after Indiana Gov. Eric Holcomb in March banned in-person education due to coronavirus fright.

Purdue, also under Daniel’s leadership, was the first, within days, to endorse the University of Chicago’s extraordinarily explicit letter supporting free speech in the nation’s universities. We’ve talked about this before of course, here, here, and here.

All of that matters, and matters a lot. Joy writes:

He’s making Purdue the place to be for smart students who want as few education disruptions as possible and will select his high-quality university, instead of their competing options, to get it. This will attract smart kids who are comfortable facing controlled risk — precisely the kind of graduates who will go on to make Purdue proud and burnish its reputation in the years to come.

As Daniels wrote, teaching the world and especially the young people under his leadership what it means to be a Boilermaker, “a return-to-operations strategy is undergirded by a fundamental conviction that even a phenomenon as menacing as COVID-19 is one of the inevitable risks of life.”

Inevitable risks of life, you know like Gus Grissom on Apollo 1, Niel Armstrong on Apollo 11, Sully landing in the Hudson, even the 4th president, Winthrop E. Stone, killed while mountain climbing in Canada in 1921, or one of the former Deans of Women, Amelia Earhart, in her plane bought by the Purdue Foundation. Not very many snowflakes amongst the Purdue Alumni, as the huge bronze plaques in Memorial Union of Purdue’s war dead indicate. More Air Force officers come from Purdue than any place other than the Academy. The right of the line, the air force says. Joy is right, risk is part of life, my dad used to say that only the dead have no risk, he too was right.

The wake of our coronavirus panic is likely to erase countless institutions in the long-term, regardless of whether Congress prints them stacks of cash like it is every other interest under the sun. Purdue was already less likely to be one of these lost universities, given its strength going into the crisis, and Daniels’ clear, bold, and anxiety-assuaging leadership during this crisis is keeping it that way.

It’s an absolute win for Purdue to present itself in uncertain times as the strong horse for smart and gutsy young Americans.

I think she is spot on. But I would, wouldn’t I?

Boiler Up

Vocational Education Can’t Be Either/Or

This from The Federalist is pretty good, although when I started it, I thought it would be mostly whingeing, and there is some of that. But do read it.

While I no longer teach in Detroit, the district has formally turned its focus to channeling students into one of seven “industry cluster areas” ranging from hospitality to public safety. Conversations about English credits and required physical education classes have been eclipsed by “real-world experiences” and “industry certification.” All students are now enrolled in a Career Pathways Education Plan — a project that aims to address the city’s educational woes by accelerating all students’ journeys to careers.

The calculation at the heart of the project is straightforward. Jobs exist in the city, and folks aren’t trained to do them — so train them. Isn’t this, after all, what schools do? Answering this question involves more than an argument about course selection. We’re asking if public school students from Detroit deserve an education that develops them as something more than employees.

Put another way, what ought the freshmen English teacher do with his time when he greets 160 students who read on a third-grade level, among whom is a homeless boy scrambling for shelter each night and a girl who will give birth the next semester? The right “industry certification” might change their life trajectory, but there is something frivolous about a school the highest aims of which could be summed up by Dale Carnegie’s “How to Win Friends and Influence People.”

I see nothing inherently wrong with teaching kids what in my day we called vo-ed. In those days it was Industrial Arts (universally called ‘shop’) for the boys and Domestic Arts or some euphemism that meant ‘Home Ec’ for the girls, who also were the target for typing class, and business math, which could just as well have been called bookkeeping, and sometimes was.

It sounds sexist and it probably was a bit, but it also reflected the real world. The world that had Dictaphones that came in two parts, male that had a microphone, and female that had earphones.

The other thing was, those of us that were going to college, and you pretty well knew by the end of eighth grade, and so did your classmates, were able, if we were lucky, to squeeze in a year of shop, it was the most fun class I had in high school because it was doing, six weeks of woodshop, six of metal shop, six of technical drawing, a little about machining, and some practical electrics. A really good introduction to the world of work outside the office, and the neat part, the boys got six weeks of Home Ec. Which did us no harm. Guys should be able to sew on a button, cook dinner, and balance the checkbook. And while we were doing this, the girls were having an introduction to shop.

But the place where Detroit went wrong with this is assuming that only technical education is required, sure you could specialize in shop, and frankly, lots of farm boys did, and may have been right to, and quite a few girls did a  lot of Home Ec and business courses. Good general introductions both of them to the real world. But they also took at least a year of math and a year of general science. Three of what we called social studies, geography, history, some economics, and three of English. You had to, the state required them for graduation. There was even a program where juniors and seniors could work half days for participating employers, who undertook to train them for the business (or the industry) while completing their education. It worked very well and gave them some income as well. Everybody won.

General math was basically a reprise of arithmetic, maybe with a bit of business math. But the average worker doesn’t deal with all that many quadratic equations. General Science much the same. Bur the social studies were the exact same courses designed to fit us for college, and/or life. And that included a year of literature, if I recall correctly, one-semester American, one non (mostly English, if I recall).

In short, we got a fairly good, general education, that fit us to take our place in the real world, both fit to hold a job, and be a citizen of a free country, and even speak (and write) English.

Detroit could, and likely does, do worse.

The Dead Cow Lecture

It’s my oldest friend’s birthday today, and my favorite lawyer, and children’s author as well. She’s also the only classmate I ever considered a real friend, and have since Kindergarten.

Happy Birthday, Shelli! 🎁🎆👍😀

First-year students at the Purdue Vet School were attending their first anatomy class with a real dead cow. They all gathered around the surgery table with the body covered with a white sheet.

The professor started the class by telling them, “In Veterinary medicine it is necessary to have two important qualities as a doctor. The first is that you not be disgusted by anything involving the animal’s body.” For an example, the professor pulled back the sheet, stuck his finger in the butt of the cow, withdrew it, and stuck his finger in his mouth.

“Go ahead and do the same thing,” he told his students.

The students freaked out, hesitated for several minutes, but eventually took turns sticking a finger in the butt of the dead cow and sucking on it.

When everyone finished, the Professor looked a them and said, “The second most important quality is observation. Note: I stuck in my middle finger and sucked on my index finger. Now learn to pay attention. Life’s tough but it’s even tougher if you’re stupid.”

The Dead Cow Lecture.

That’s lesson number one from the Neo school of management: Pay attention to the professor. 🙂

U of Chicago, Principles, and a Whiteboard

Writing in The Salisbury Review, Niall McCrae and M.L.R. Smith McCrae and M.L.R. Smith, say this:

Christopher Lloyd, literature lecturer at University of Hertfordshire, doesn’t like feminists voicing their opinion. Kathleen Stock, professor of philosophy at University of Sussex, is due to present the annual Francis Bacon lecture but an open letter, garnering around 100 signatures, demands cancellation:

‘We have a duty of care to our students, to staff, and to others in the university and the wider community. This duty of care includes making sure that LGBTQIA+ people (especially those who are trans and/or non-binary) feel safe on campus and do not have their lived existence put up for debate. By providing a large, public platform for someone who questions transness, the University is implicitly acknowledging that this opinion is a valid one. We take issue with that stance. To our queer students, staff, visitors and wider community – we stand with you and not with those who wish to curtail or diminish your very being.’

Which as readers here will know (so do the ones at TSR) is pure and simple cattle dung, Piled high and Deep. This is the definition of the University not as a place of learning and knowledge, but as a daycare center for children too sheltered to deal with the real world. Personally, such an institution will never get a voluntary nickel of my money, nor should it ever get a tax dollar. Its mission is a fraud, it says it is an educational institution but it’s not, its a very overpriced daycare center for adolescents who need to grow up. So do their alleged instructors

As educationalist Joanna Williams has highlighted, this is the tactic of CRITICISM = GENOCIDE. This is instrumental, not a statement of fact or reality – nobody at a British university really fears extermination. But this histrionic claim gets heard, bludgeoning any resistance to logic and evidence.

In The Coddling of the American Mind, Greg Lukiannoff and Jonathan Haidt described a tendency to think that WORDS = VIOLENCE. After a Guardian commentary by Suzanne Moore describing transgender rights as a threat to women, a tumultuous editorial meeting was reported by Guido Fawkes: –

Do keep reading their article, they make excellent points.

Bringing this back to my American readers, R.S. McCain writing on his The Other McCain has this to say:

Years ago, when discussing amnesty for illegal aliens, I announced one exception to my universal opposition: “Don’t deport the hotties!”

Send us your supermodels, your Maxim cover girls, your Miss Universe contestants, we lift our lamp beside the golden door. There is no such thing as too much beauty, and America’s immigration policy should make a special exception for good-looking young women. Stephen Green calls our attention to the case of University of Chicago student Evita Duffy:

Now that’s an amnesty I could support. But that’s hardly the point.

The university’s Institute of Politics ran an Instagram campaign last week, giving students a chance to fill in the blank after “I vote because…” Duffy can be seen in the video holding a sign that says, “I vote because the coronavirus won’t destroy America, but socialism will.”
You can probably guess what happened next, but it was serious enough that Duffy — who describes herself as a conservative Hispanic woman — had to take it public with an op-ed in the student paper. She wrote that she hoped her “vote” message might “encourage a lively and robust debate on economics,” but instead she received an “onslaught of online hate and threats of violence” from her tolerant, progressive friends. . . .

Fellow students attacked my character, my intellect, my family, my appearance, and even threatened me with physical violence, using foul and offensive language. I was called a racist and a xenophobe. Some compared me to animals. Others declared that they would personally stop me from voting, and many defended the personal attacks, saying I deserved to be bullied and that I don’t belong at the University of Chicago on account of my beliefs. I was told by many that I was the most hated person on campus. It was frightening. It was also hurtful, since some of the attacks came from people I considered friends.

Now mind you, this is The University of Chicago, the very author of The Chicago Statement, (PDF) perhaps the best ever statement of the reasons speech and thinking must be free on campus.


Apparently, Chicago has its share of snowflakes, both in the student body, but more troublingly in the faculty.

From Stacy:

You might wonder, “How can someone named ‘Duffy’ be Hispanic?” Her father is former Republican Rep. Sean Duffy, and her mother is Fox News contributor Rachel Campos-Duffy, a Latina from Arizona. Evita Duffy’s mother is not only Hispanic, but also a pro-life Catholic, and Evita is one of nine children in the Campos-Duffy family. #Winning!

#Winning! indeed, but not if we lose places like the University of Chicago. Stand Strong!

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