The Week in Picture: The Bombing Starts in 5 Minutes Edition

Hah, Saturday snuck up on me, but I saw it coming. So a bit has gone on this week, as usual, summed up well in pictures. Here’s some of them.


Aws usual, most from PowerLine. Have a better week


Education, Students Loans, and John Adams

quote-education-makes-a-greater-difference-between-man-and-man-than-nature-has-made-between-man-and-brute-john-adams-314611John Adams once wrote this to Abigail:

“The science of government it is my duty to study, more than all other sciences; the arts of legislation and administration and negotiation ought to take the place of, indeed exclude, in a manner, all other arts. I must study politics and war, that our sons may have liberty to study mathematics and philosophy. Our sons ought to study mathematics and philosophy, geography, natural history and naval architecture, navigation, commerce and agriculture in order to give their children a right to study painting, poetry, music, architecture, statuary, tapestry and porcelain.”

Personally, I think higher education in this country has lost its way. Easy money has converted it from what Adams thought his grandsons should study to what he had studied. It has become little more than a trade school, a factory for diplomas, and often a very expensive one.

Now mind, there is nothing at all wrong with trade schools, we must, if we are to live even moderately well, know how to govern ourselves, and defend ourselves, not to mention fix the roads and plumbing. That is all very honorable, but it does not require, although it often benefits from, an education in the classic liberal arts, and the practitioners always do. But it does not require it.

To me, Adam’s second tier, that his sons should study, is represented these days mostly by the so-called STEM courses: science, technology, engineering, math. They are the middle way, more abstract thinking, and vision but rooted in the practical, adding to that an ability to communicate clearly and effectively, and you create the world of tomorrow. This is the realm of the inventor/entrepreneur: the Edisons, the Bells, but also the Thomas Crappers, the Commodore Vanderbilts, the Carnegies, and also Steve Jobs and Mark Zuckerberg, not to mention Dr. Jonas Salk,  those who take ideas, and make them practical, and bring them to market.

But that third tier, has little direct connection with the practical. this is where we learn about ourselves, and learn to make men better. It is the highest expression of civilization, if it is not, something has gone wrong. There is an upper limit, and it is quite low, on the number of people who can be supported adequately to study this. In large measure, the prosperity of Britain and America in the last four hundred, or so, years, has allowed us to lead civilization, because we could afford to think, to question, and to discuss, these matters.

And so, if you are a high school senior, you likely want to go to college. Why? To be a better barista? Well, no doubt you will be, but enough better to justify the cost? Or to be an engineer? That will justify much more education than being a barista will, but not an infinite cost. Always, always, as you enter the job market, your value is based on what you know that is relative to the job on offer. If I’m hiring an apprentice, I don’t expect you to know much about electricity (and most of that will be wrong) as I expect you to have a strong back, and a willingness to learn. Frankly a know-it-all with a degree is less attractive than a high school drop-out who desperately wants to earn a living. And that is the trap, my young friend, when you come out of college, with that expensive degree, in whatever irrelevant (to me) subject, bought with borrowed money, you are worth no more in the market that drop-out working for his next meal, and that’s what I’ll pay you. Will you advance further and/or faster? Perhaps, that’s up to you, your application of your knowledge (and ability to learn) and your attitude in a number of ways.

Hard words? Perhaps, but they’re also true ones won in the school of hard knocks provided by experience. Here are some more

And always remember that you do not go to college to learns stuff. You go to college to learn how to think, and learn.

Facts are stubborn things; and whatever may be our wishes, our inclinations, or the dictates of our passion, they cannot alter the state of facts and evidence.”
John Adams, The Portable John Adams

EU Preps for War Against the Internet: Decides to Lose Again

AAEAAQAAAAAAAANYAAAAJGU4MmZmYjg2LTg5NjQtNDFiNS04MWRkLTcwZmMyNmY0M2RkMAWell, this is interesting, although not very surprising, really. Does anybody really think that Europe (especially Germany and France) can compete with the US on a level playing field? No, me neither. The UK, maybe, but nobody else has a chance, and if good sense ever breaks out in the ruling clique in Britain (or they lose the election) they’ll likely get with the program and with their friends and run away from Europe, again.

I say that because I’ve noticed something. If you look at European technical prowess, especially innovation, in anything from civil engineering to the internet, you’ll find the British leading, and everybody else following, while they whine about ‘the Anglo-Saxons’.

They’re right, as well. The American Interest noted today that the EU wants to regulate Google et. al., much more than they do.


EU Preps for War Against the Internet

EU Preps for War Against the Internet – The American Interest.

As an aside, I’m no huge fan of Google, I think they’re more than a bit intrusive, and I’m not overfond of their data mining and selling my information to all and sundry. But you know what, I use Google products because they work, I don’t have to. There are other providers, just as I no longer use Microsoft products. But it’s remarkable that a company that started in an American garage a few years ago has all Europe scared of them 🙂

Maybe I’m just old-fashioned but I hope they do. Why? because if they do, the US will simply increase our lead over the hidebound, over-regulated Europeans, while the best Europeans will again come to America where they can innovate much more freely than they can at home. (And make us still richer, and more innovative!)

Funny thing, isn’t it? We’ve built this powerhouse of a country (not that we don’t have plenty of problems, ourselves) on the freedom to try new things and see if you can make a living with them. We’ve done this since about 1650,nd we have built the most powerful economy in the world, and protect it with the most dominant military the world has ever seen with our pocket change. We’ve done this by letting people try and fail, and try and fail, and finally try and succeed.

It’s a hard model. It’s follows from that old saying about the Oregon Trail, “The weak never started and the sick died along the way,” But, you know, there was nearly always someone around to feed the hungry and nurse the sick, and the dead got a decent burial. And the ones that made it, built a world that their grandfathers couldn’t have imagined, where one of the consequences of being poor is being too fat, because you eat too much while playing video games.

I don’t condone such a lifestyle but I’m in awe at a system that can take a world that nearly starved for billions of years and in a few generations make that happen.

And that is what America has done, with some British help (and gold) and with the people who were stifled by Europe. It’s a logarithmic curve, if you haven’t noticed, constantly accelerating, if we keep going there is no way to know where we’ll be in twenty-five years, let alone a hundred.

Carroll Bryant once said:

Some people make things happen.

Some people watch things happen.

And then there are those who wonder, ‘What the hell just happened?”

I know where I want to be. How about you?

School Discipline | They did it « All Along the Watchtower

American Education is in the Dumpster

American Education is in the Dumpster (Photo credit: brewbooks)


We’ve done a pretty good job over the last 72 or so hours of talking about the recovery of Richard IIIs body from the parking lot in Leicester, and I think I speak for both of us when I say that while we do fact check, most of what you read came straight out of our minds. The point I am making is that we had teachers that cared enough (and no, I am not trivializing the present problems which I think are mostly caused by administrators and teacher union leadership) to make sure that we had enough discipline to learn and a love for it as well. If you’ve hung out around here you’ve seen both of us write very similarly in commboxes as we do in posts. I’m not bragging, while Jessica and I have fairly good educations, there are many who have far better, sometimes we get to feature their work.


Jessica’s Watchtower with its emphasis on Christian and church history, does a lot of this, and her readership shows it, there have been many times that I have had to Google terms she and her writers use because I may have heard them but, I don’t have a good enough idea of the definition to make sense of it. That’s only one of the reasons I love her site.


Another one is her contributors, which increasingly span the breadth of Christianity from American Fundamentalism to the Church of the East. One of those in between is an independent British Baptist, which many of you know is part of the root-stock of our American Pilgrims. Geoffrey Sales is one of her contributors, and he published an article yesterday on Parliaments decision to allow gay marriage, which I think Britain will come to rue but, if they wanted my opinion, they would have asked. In the course of his article, Mr. Sales who is a retired educator, I think I may daresay, of the old school, had this to say about how schools need to be run, he is talking about boarding schools here but, I find it very applicable to our schools as well. We would be well advised to follow his advice, in my opinion. Mr. Sales:



I taught in boys’ schools for 40 years, some of them boarding schools where we had our problems with what we used to call ‘the usual’. Young men are a lusty lot, and if you don’t civilise the little so and sos, and even if you do, their hormones will run riot, and if they don’t have a lass near by, they’ll find a substitute. There were those who counselled turning a Nelsonian eye; I dissented. Not only was it illegal (as it still is under 18), it ran the risk of letting them think that we approved of it.

Was some poor lad hard done by? No more than some lad at a mixed sex school was was told he couldn’t misbehave with the lasses. Whatever the nut-doctors say, children like simple rules; the more complex they are, the easier it is for them if you keep it simple.

Of course, in all adolescents, hormones run wild; if you don’t stop the little darlings, so will they. Make it clear that infractions of the rules will be punished, and most of them get the message. It makes it easier to deal with those who can’t or won’t, because most children will. The single worst thing which happened over my time in teaching was the decline in confidence amongst the adults. I’m a peaceable man, but would be prepared to take a gun to educationalists who tell us that the children need understanding. To the devil with that, they need boundaries, and they need to understand they are not the centre of the universe. Once that is established, you will get somewhere.

So, telling adolescents that it is fine to do what you like as long as you ‘love; someone, is precisely the wrong message.  We used to hear a lot about repression. We could do with more repression and less license.


Continue reading They did it « All Along the Watchtower.



Hurricane Sandy

English: Map of regions of the Federal Emergen...

English: Map of regions of the Federal Emergency Management Agency (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Well let’s see, the lights are still out on Long Island, FEMA camps suck, and such.

But you know what, I’m getting tired of listening to you whine. Here’s why.

Your power company does suck but, it’s not all their fault either. From what I read they haven’t been trimming trees and replacing poles. No excuse on the poles, really. But I’ll bet that everytime they tried to trim a tree your tree-huggers filed suit and complained and all. Now your paying for it, in my business we call that vegetation management, and it’s a lot of what utilities do to provide dependable electric power. A couple of minutes on Google didn’t tell me where your electricity comes from but, I’d guess most of it comes from Niagara Falls, supplemented by oil and gas-fired plants which are expensive to run which is why your electricity rates are high in the first place. By the way 20 or so years ago your power company built a nuclear station to provide you with cheap power but, you, in your brilliance decided (after it was built) not to let them run it. Maybe that’s why they can’t afford to replace poles. Oh and by the way, you did note that we can’t come help either because your companies are all union.

You had a category 1 hurricane, or maybe it was a tropical storm, that means it rained, a lot, and the wind blew less than 95 miles an hour. OK, all that rain has to go somewhere but the wind, Jeez, two weeks ago out here we had all day steady winds of 60 mph with gusts to 80, you know what, the air was dirty because harvest is over.

Thing about a hurricane is they move slow, you’ve got time to run away. From the time the forecast told you where it was going you could have driven to the Mississippi river but, you sat there feeling sorry for yourselves. Now you don’t like the price of your decision.

You can’t buy gas either, well, I can get gas out of an underground tank without electricity but with common stuff, it’s harder to get it billed as accurately as your precious government insists on though, so it probably would violate some law.

A lot of you ran out and bought generators, I gather and some of you had them before, that’s a good move, if they’re hooked up right. I’ve destroyed five in my career when I grounded a line to protect my people because some fool was feeding the power line with his generator. And, if you had read the book the installer gave you, you would have known that they have to be exercised, which means run, usually monthly, if you’re going to depend on them. I hear a few have died from asphyxiation, which tells me you were running them in your house or your garage, guess you skipped that day in 8th grade, huh. Engines put out carbon monoxide which will kill you, it’s colorless and odorless. Running them in your garage to keep them from getting stolen, I’d guess, well, that’s the society you wanted.  I haven’t locked the house in 20 years, and sometimes I close the windows of my service truck, if it looks like rain. Actually, I don’t know if I have a house key.

And the camps that the taxpayers are providing are chilly and boring, well, you chose to stay there, it’s nice out here, and warm in the south, I hear your neighbor Bill O’Reilly spent last weekend in the Caribbean, why didn’t you leave? Although I’ll admit it would probably cost us less to put you in a hotel. The food sucks too, huh? Sorry , you’ve got food, that’s more than a lot of Africans can say.

In sum, if you had taken responsibility for you and your family’s life and comfort, you’d be sitting comfortably somewhere looking at your family photos. But you chose to vote for a government that would take care of you and then you complain about the care they provide.

Suck it up and take responsibility for yourselves, if you need help, try the Salvation Army or your Church, and think of the stories you’ll have for your Grandkids.




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