Ivy League Zombies

Ivy League Zombies

William Deresiewicz has a fascinating article at NewRepublic.com regarding the type of people our elite education system our producing.

“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,” he says.

By elite education system, he means places like the Ivies and Stanford along with what feeds them which he describes as: the private and affluent public high schools; the ever-growing industry of tutors and consultants and test-prep courses; the admissions process itself, squatting like a dragon at the entrance to adulthood; the brand-name graduate schools and employment opportunities that come after the B.A.; and the parents and communities.

He mentions a young woman who wrote to him about her boyfriend at Yale who she describes as someone who spent his time reading and writing short stores before attending college. She told him that after three years he is painfully insecure, worrying about things my public-educated friends don’t give a second thought to, like the stigma of eating lunch alone and whether he’s “networking” enough. No one but me knows he fakes being well-read by thumbing through the first and last chapters of any book he hears about and obsessively devouring reviews in lieu of the real thing.

Deresiewicz said that obscure religious colleges “that no one has ever heard of on the coasts” often provide a better education.

On a quasi-related note Professor James Tour of Rice University, one of the 10 most cited chemists in the world and a pioneer in nanotechnology,  described his experiences after expressing skepticism about Darwinian evolution:

Let me tell you what goes on in the back rooms of science – with National Academy members, with Nobel Prize winners. I have sat with them, and when I get them alone, not in public – because it’s a scary thing, if you say what I just said – I say, “Do you understand all of this, where all of this came from, and how this happens?” Every time that I have sat with people who are synthetic chemists, who understand this, they go “Uh-uh. Nope.” These people are just so far off, on how to believe this stuff came together. I’ve sat with National Academy members, with Nobel Prize winners. Sometimes I will say, “Do you understand this?”And if they’re afraid to say “Yes,” they say nothing. They just stare at me, because they can’t sincerely do it.

I was once brought in by the Dean of the Department, many years ago, and he was a chemist. He was kind of concerned about some things. I said, “Let me ask you something. You’re a chemist. Do you understand this? How do you get DNA without a cell membrane? And how do you get a cell membrane without a DNA? And how does all this come together from this piece of jelly?” We have no idea, we have no idea. I said, “Isn’t it interesting that you, the Dean of science, and I, the chemistry professor, can talk about this quietly in your office, but we can’t go out there and talk about this?”

If those who train our future leaders our cowards and our future leaders are trained to be cowards, this country is in trouble.


Ivy League Zombies

Avoid Ukraine Conflict

Chris Freind

By Chris Freind

Stay away. Far, far away.

Unless America wants to see the powder keg of Europe ignited once again — and it’s not a stretch to say that actively opposing Russia in its conflict with Ukraine could potentially start World War III — it will steer clear of that region. Avoiding another global war (this time with nuclear weapons) should be reason enough, but here’s another one: It’s not our fight.

Right now, it is a limited brawl between those two nations, and, despite the spin that Russia is the bad guy, it is not at all clear who is “right.” Either way, those powerful nations dominate that region; we don’t. To march in as a self-righteous superpower thinking we can “fix” the problem is arrogant, naïve — and dangerous.

Let’s analyze the situation:

1. Malaysia Airlines: They have now lost two 777s in the past couple of months. It’s enough to bankrupt any airline. In a span of four months, Malaysian Airlines planes have been involved in two of the worst airline tragedies in decades.

In the first incident, the jury remains out on just what happened to the missing Flight 370. While some conspiracy theories are absurd, others cannot be so easily dismissed. One thing is certain: The problems that have dogged the Malaysian government and Malaysia Airlines officials was on full display after Flight 370’s disappearance. A few months later, most experts believe Flight 17 was blown out of the sky by a surface-to-air missile. The tragedy over the Ukraine took place even after airlines had been repeatedly warned since April to avoid flying over that conflicted region. The Malaysian jet failed to heed that warning.

2. Apparently the concept of “innocent until proven guilty” has been lost on many American leaders clamoring for more action against the pro-Russian rebels and Russia itself. Last time we checked, it remains unclear who fired the missile, especially since the Ukraine military operates the exact same SA-11 system.

And it’s not unprecedented for missiles to be fired at the wrong targets. Iraq killed 37 sailors on the USS Stark in 1987 when one of its airplane missiles mistakenly hit the Navy frigate. Similarly, the American cruiser Vincennes mistakenly shot down an Iranian airliner, killing nearly 300 people in 1988. We can’t have it both ways, stating that the Malaysian jet was unmistakably a passenger jet, yet excusing how one of the world’s most sophisticated radar systems (AEGIS) thought a jumbo jet was a small, attacking fighter. Our credibility on the world stage is at stake, so let’s think before we speak.

3. The question of which country the predominantly Russian-speaking people of Crimea want to be aligned with is not new; these ethnic and nationality issues don’t just transcend borders, but time, with allegiances going back hundreds, even thousands, of years. We are a nation barely over 200 years old, with absolutely no concept of how far back, and how strong, these European ties are. To think we can provide the solution is naivete at its worst.

We used the same approach for engaging Iraq and Afghanistan. How’s that working out for us?

4. Here a news flash: The Cold War is over. For those warmongers who missed it, perhaps we should declare victory again and move on, and out, of Europe. It’s been pointed out here before it’s time for America to stop policing the world, and start its exodus from Europe. Only four NATO countries meet their paltry requirement for defense spending, yet the U.S. always exceeds its obligation to pick up the slack. If the Russian-Ukrainian conflict is anybody’s business, it’s Europe’s. It falls entirely within their sphere of influence, so let them deal with it.

That’s not to advocate isolationism, as it is in America’s interest to have a global presence. But an aggressive and all-too-often misguided interventionist foreign policy (one advocated by both parties) leaves the perception of the U.S. as imperialistic aggressors, which creates exponentially more problems down the road. Time to stop expending blood and treasure in foreign lands while our protectees default on their end of the bargain, leaving us holding an empty bag.

5. We haven’t done too well choosing sides in other regional conflicts. We backed the Libyan rebels (the largest foreign force in Iraq to fight the U.S., by the way) who overthrew Moammar Gadhafi, after which 10,000 surface-to-air missiles disappeared and the Benghazi tragedy occurred. Bet the ranch neither would have happened had Gadhafi remained in power.

We are backing the Syrian rebels, who are unquestionably more radical and anti-American than the government of Bashar Assad; the Iraqi government we helped install is worthless; and Afghani President Hamid Karzai is astonishingly ungrateful. Instead of meddling in foreign affairs so much, maybe it’s time to focus on the people who should matter most: Americans. In America.

6. You know we’ve reached a low point when politicians bash the other side just to score cheap political points for some perceived gain, especially when doing so risks an expanded armed conflict in Europe, potentially putting American lives on the line.

For those hammering President Obama (with some even blaming him for the Malaysian shoot-down), one question: What exactly do you want him to do? Send “advisers” to the Ukraine, which always leads to more troops? Send more Navy ships to the region? Arm the Ukraine to the hilt? All will antagonize Russian leader Vladimir Putin and cause him to escalate the crisis. We cannot win a war there. Period. Since the outcome doesn’t affect us, let’s wait this one out on the sidelines.

As far as sanctions, good luck standing alone. Western Europe chose not to become energy independent, or at least dependent on friendly nations like Canada and the U.S. (which could be energy independent but is not). So it must rely on the Middle East, and even more so, Russia, for its lifeblood: natural gas. Watch for them to cheat on, or rescind, any sanctions.

Putin’s economy is sliding, but his people are rallying behind him and he is holding the better cards. Let Europe figure this one out.

Russia is not the superpower it once was, but it is still a powerful player that must be respected (after all, it’s the only ticket to our space station, but that’s another story). Warmongers’ cries of “appeasement” notwithstanding, playing “chicken-Kiev” with Russia is not sound foreign policy. It’s a recipe for disaster.


Avoid Ukraine Conflict

William Lawrence Sr Cryptowit 7-24-14

William Lawrence Sr Cryptowit 7-24-14




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Wuehwu Ehmubb




Answer to yesterday’s puzzle: Can anything be stupider than that a man has the right to kill me because he lives on the other side of a river and his ruler has a quarrel with mine, though I have not quarrelled with him?
Blaise Pascal



William Lawrence Sr Cryptowit



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Phillies Players Among Best Paid (In World)

The Philadelphia Phillies last night, July 22, blew a lead in the top of the ninth to the San Francisco Giants when ace reliever Jonathan Papelbon gave up a home run to Buster Posey.

In the bottom of the inning, they squandered a chance for victory when clean-up slugger Ryan Howard struck out with Jimmy Rollins on third with one-out.

The Giants would go on to win 9-6 after 14 innings.

Forbes magazine, last month, published a list of the world’s top paid athletes for 2013. In fairness to Papelbon, he wasn’t on it. Howard was, however, ranking 53 with a income of $22.4 million of which but a mere $700,000 came from endorsements not unsurprisingly.

The top paid Phillie was Cliff Lee coming in at 30 with a salary of $25 million of which $200,000 came from endorsements. Lee has spent most of this season on the disabled list returning Monday to lose to the Giants 7-4.

Cole Hamels is the other Phillie on the world’s top 100 ranking 70th with a salary of $20.7 million of which $200,000 came in endorsements.

The world’s best paid athlete last year was boxer Floyd Mayweather who earned $105 million none of which came in endorsements. He was followed by Portuguese soccer star Christiano Ronaldo who earned $80 million of which $28 million was endorsements and basketball star Lebron James who earned $72.3 million of which $19.3 million came in salary and $53 million came in endorsements.

Imagine that, Howard, Hamels and Lee all have higher salaries than LeBron James.


Phillies Players Among Best Paid (In World)

Phillies Players Among Best Paid (In World)

Adopt Swiss System

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit stuck down a significant part of Obamacare yesterday, July 22, in their ruling on Halbig v. Burwell ending federal subsidies to those who purchased insurance on the federal exchange.


Because the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act as written only allows subsidies for insurance bought on state-exchanges. This stipulation was an important reason why the law got passed as Sen. Ben Nelson of Nebraska insisted on it for his necessary vote.

What the D.C. court did was declare that the IRS had no power in passing an edict overturning these words written in law.

Since 34 states — including Pennsylvania — have refused to create health exchanges the cost for many who have bought Obamacare insurance will rise dramatically because of this quite right decision.

It should be noted that the 4th Circuit Court of Appeals also ruled on Halbig v. Burwell deciding in favor of the government and the case is bound for the Supreme Court.

Obamacare was poorly conceived and written with mind-boggling hubris. However, as the lollipop may be snatched away with Halbig resulting in crying until it is returned, it is imperative for the adults in Washington — namely the Tea Party Republicans — to act prophylactically  and not merely repeal the pollution but replace it.

A good model is the Swiss health care law.

It mandates the purchase by all of basic insurance to be used in the case of illness or accident or pregnancy and prohibits insurance companies from making a profit on this insurance.

The insured pays a premium of up to 8 percent of his income for this plan, and if the premium exceeds this the government gives him a cash subsidy to cover it.

Insurance companies can make a profit on supplemental policies covering things like birth control, private hospital rooms and routine dental care.

Notably businesses are not involved.  Switzerland has the highest life expectancy in the world. Healthcare costs there are 11.4 percent of GDP compared with 17.6 percent in the U.S.

Adopt Swiss System

Adopt Swiss System



Recidivism Reduced By Act 122

The Pennsylvania Department of Corrections has received recognition from the United States Department of Justice’s National Reentry Resource Center for programs aimed at reducing new crimes by those released from the prison system, reports State Rep. Jim Cox (R-129)

The programs were spawned by Act 122 of 2012.

The legislation requires the Department of Corrections to  assess each offender’s needs for successful reintegration, including developing a plan and implementing that plan, and providing the offender with access to community organizations which are available to provide assistance, specifically for finding housing and employment, Cox said..

The Justice Department had specific praise for the the Recidivism Risk Reduction Incentive (RRRI) program which offers eligible, non-violent offenders the chance to reduce their minimum sentences if they complete recommended programs and practice good conduct and remain misconduct free during their incarceration. The reduction provided is a percentage off their minimum sentence that is based upon the sentence length.

The Justice Department also credited the reduction in recidivism to performance incentives that reward private operators of halfway houses who hold down recidivism, specifically by revoking contracts for those that fail to accomplish this. Those measures alone are credited with reducing recidivism by 16 percent among residents of the halfway houses.

A fully report can be found here as a pdf file.
Recidivism Reduced By Act 122

Recidivism Reduced By Act 122

William Lawrence Sr Cryptowit 7-23-14

William Lawrence Sr Cryptowit 7-23-14



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Answer to yesterday’s puzzle: You can double your happiness by sharing it
Ed Brophy



William Lawrence Sr Cryptowit



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