Contra Mozilla

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Merry Christmas to All

Merry Christmas to all. And now, a poetry reading from Hillaire Belloc:
Noël! Noël! Noël! Noël!
A Catholic tale have I to tell! And a Christian song have I to sing
While all the bells in Arundel ring.
I pray good beef and I pray good beer
This holy night of all the year,
But I pay detestable drink for them
That give no honour to Bethlehem.
May all good fellows that here agree
Drink Audit Ale in heaven with me
And may all my enemies go to hell!
Noël! Noël! Noël! Noël!
May all my enemies go to hell!
Noël! Noël! 
The Sailor's Carol, from The Four Men, pp. 243.
I can't speak to what my co-blogger is doing, but I am away visiting family and friends in Texas. We wl probably not be posting much over the next week or so.

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Some Secularist Suggestions

Apparently, some secularists have attempted to write their own alternative version of the Ten Commandments. These attempts to improve on Gods' revelations never go well. This set of suggestions (they are hardly commandments) are not an exception. Mike Flynn and William M. Briggs each perform an autopsy. From Mr. Flynn's post:
One senses throughout the article that particular love of theory that is the root of all evil. Unlike the original Commandments, there is a steady whiff not of practicality but of theoretical bromides and academic huff-and-puffery that sound very kool until examined more closely.

It is not clear which of the original ten commandments they find objectionable. Even the commandment to avoid false gods is applied relative to things like White Race, the Almighty Dollar, the Fatherland, and other modern deities. And the commandment against false oaths is presumably acceptable as long as one does not believe they will be caught at it by an all-knowing deity. Otherwise, the court system collapses. Besides, we are all aware of the many words and phrases that Must Not Be Uttered in these, our modern times. Only the staunchest capitalist will demand that people work seven days a week. 
So perhaps they object to honoring their father and their mother.
Secularists are these days desperate to retain morality without God. Perhaps they have realized that some sort of morality, some ethics, is necessary for society to function. They are not anarchists as much anymore, but they cannot quite bring themselves to accept the rule of God. As Chesterton said,
Now who that runs can read it,The riddle that I write,Of why this poor old sinner,Should sin without delight-But I, I cannot read it(Although I run and run),Of them that do not have the faith,And will not have the fun.                              

Progressive Stupidity

As frustrating as it is to see the decline of conservatism, the decline of liberalism (as having something to do with increasing a person's liberty, even while increasing governments' power to supposedly preserve that liberty, whatever that means) is itself a pity. We are left with simple Leftists, and those useful idiots who like to call themselves "progressives."

Useful idiot is a reasonable term to employ for the kind of person who makes a "PSA" video which encourages teens to sneak into their parents' bedrooms, steal their firearms (failing to check whether said firearm is loaded or not, place said gun into their backpacks, bring it to school, and then pull it out and place it on their teachers' desk and ask to have it taken away because they don't feel comfortable with a gun in their home.

The number of laws which this breaks is... well, it depends on the state and local jurisdictions, but a few of these are felonies. It also sows distrust between parents and children and teaches children to place more trust in (state-employed, unionized) teachers than their own parents. And of course, the parents's rights to own firearms are violated in the name of...what, exactly? What this video encourages is anything but safe, so safety is out.

Friday, December 19, 2014

Passive Aggressive Resistance

The Public Discourse recently had an article advocating an interesting sort of passive resistance for faithful Christians who are being increasingly compelled to violate their consciences as regards their participation in so-called "gay marriage."
Although it may not be acceptable to all in this situation, it would be acceptable to many. It is simply this: to obey the law and serve gay weddings, but to make it known publicly that you believe that the law forcing you to do this is unjust, needs to be changed, and is obeyed only under protest and out of your respect for law and the democratic process...
I could well imagine a pious religious couple, running the kind of wedding-focused catering hall that I once worked at in New York, posting on its premises an announcement something to this effect:
[lengthy statement declaring that the store owners are Christians, that they oppose "gay marriage and the "gay lifestyle," and that they will nevertheless provide the demanded services out of obedience to the law, but that they would like to see the law changed]
We are required by the Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity (SOGI) provision of New York State's anti-discrimination statute to make our wedding facilities available to anyone who seeks to use them, including gay and lesbian couples who want to marry under New York's same-sex marriage law. We believe strongly in the democratic process and the rule of law. For this reason, we will obey the state law governing our business. However, we obey this law only under the gravest protest, as we believe it violates our deepest moral and religious convictions. It does so needlessly and with apparent intent to polarize our country and inflame an already overheated cultural war.
Such a declaration would have many advantages over simply giving in silently to an unfair law to save one’s business. It would strike out in a public way against the injustice of such a law and gain sympathy from many quarters for the business owner’s point of view. 
It would also cast the business owner in the sympathetic role of the admirable peacemaker. His opponents would be cast in the role of authoritarian bullies picking on pious religious folks and opposing simple live-and-let-live solutions to the problems posed by American pluralism. Finally, such a declaration would probably discourage gays and lesbians from ever wanting to hold their wedding celebrations at any establishment that posted such a statement. The catering hall owners would have a strong First Amendment right to air their views, and by doing so they would probably end most instances where they are asked to do what their religion and moral sense forbids. 
It’s possible that such a declaration might drive away the business of liberals sympathetic to gay marriage, but it is just as likely that it would gain sympathy from many quarters, including not only from social conservatives who oppose gay marriage on principle, but from many liberals and moderates who resent small guys being pushed around by state bureaucrats. If the declaration were properly worded and sounded a courteous-yet-concerned tone of inclusiveness, it would probably attract and repel equal numbers of people. Most potential customers, I suspect, would not be affected one way or the other.

Suffice it to say that I am on the fence for this one. I think it is a good fallback position*, though I suppose that as a fallback position it loses some of the "we're just trying to leave in peace" overtones. I am also less-than convinced that it is a position that we will be allowed to fallback to--today, compulsion for participation, tomorrow laws against protesting against said compulsions. Today, it's free exercise of religion (and rights of association which are under assault--Constitutional protections thereof be damned--and tomorrow it will be the rights of free speech.

On the other hand, there is a slightly more aggressive version of this, in which the "shopkeepers" post (and state) that all proceeds from providing services to "gay marriages" (weddings, receptions, honeymoon,s etc as applicable) will go to support the National Organization for Marriage (or a comparable pro-marriage and frankly pro-sanity organization).

*Similarly, the idea that the Church should refer to the Sacrament only as "Holy Matrimony" and not ever as marriage," and to the civil institution/partnership as "marriage" but never matrimony, is a fallback position which ultimately leaves much to be desired. In both cases, there are better options even as "fallback" options.

Saturday, December 13, 2014

Conservative Visions: Conservatism after Obama

I have read two articles of interest concerning conservatism and its fight against liberal progressiveness. The first--which I shall discuss here--was on The Witherspoon Institute's Public Discourse site, is is more or-less about the basics of what conservatives should attempt to do to reclaim America, post Obama. The second was on The Imaginative Conservative, and is about reclaiming conservatism from the libertarians (and frankly, from the Randian-objectivists), and I will possibly come back and discuss it later.

In the Public Discourse article, the author, Samuel Gregg of the Acton Institute, suggests that we need to go beyond just enacting legislation or coopting current institutions and laws--that we need to articulate an actual vision of what an America fundamentally transformed by conservatism should like like:
Part of the conservative response will necessarily take the form of something many American conservatives love: policy. Given, however, the scale of modern liberalism’s advances, policy development just isn’t going to be enough. If conservatives are serious about up-ending some of the key assumptions driving American social, foreign, and economic policy since 2008, they need to go beyond framing legislation. Instead, they must seriously consider what a conservative fundamental transformation of America would look like...
In short, conservatives determined to roll back America’s steady slouch toward a progressivist dystopia must be more than just adept at cutting deals, devising legislation, or using social media (as important as such activities are). Without the forceful elucidation of principles that conservatives hold dear, it will be all too easy for conservative responses to the “Obama effect” to become exercises in damage control rather than establishing a full-spectrum conservative agenda as the new normal.
He suggests rooting this vision in the writing of Edmund Burke and Adam Smith--a good pair of choices, though they would need additional thinkers (Eric Voegelin, for example, or for a different emphasis someone like Fr. Schall) to further it.

There are some flaws to this piece, however. The biggest, most glaring flaw is that the transformation of America did not begin with President Obama, though this certainly accelerated things. In a sense, it began with the Fall, with the introduction of Original Sin, which ensures no perfect society can be built nor can a good one long stand. More recently, there are a number of trends which can be traced to times before President Obama, though some of them really started to come to a head during his administration.

The erosion of marriage is one large example. It began largely with the introduction of no-fault divorce and the widespread use of contraception, continued with the easy access to pornography and to the widespread "gentlemen's clubs," and has most recently foundered on the perilous shores of "gay marriage" and the now free-for-all attempts at redefining any semblance of marriage out of existence. The open hostility to religion is another example, and one can find it before the rule of Obama, though things have certainly gotten worse, since we now have gone from lacking adequate protections of religious liberties to the passage or laws (or declarations of edicts) which actively oppose some religious rights (among which I include the rights of conscience).

Friday, December 12, 2014

Intellectual Rape

Where to begin? The more information which is coming out of this UVA rape scandal thing, the more it looks like the Rolling Stone's article about the incident was fabricated. Because narrative trumps truth or something. Sadly, the Rolling Stone isn't the only one guilty of this among media outlets (mainstream or otherwise). Those that don't just makeup "the facts" as they go along tend to be, um, creative in their interpretations, shall we say? And thy are often inaccurate (and outright biased and lazy) in their reporting to boot:
It’s absolutely true that we don’t have a wave of outright fabrication-out-of-whole-cloth. But what we have is much worse. We have a tsunami of inaccuracy that is generally tolerated, embraced and even celebrated so long as it serves the right political and cultural goals. 
Yes, the latest shocking revelations about Sabrina Rubin Erdely and Rolling Stone’s journalism are stunning. They really, really messed up. Even more than we previously realized. They should receive every bit of opprobrium coming their way. But they should not be the scapegoat for a problem that is riddled throughout journalism....
But Rolling Stone’s gang rape story was published in an environment of credulity regarding that statistic [that 1 in 5 women on college campuses are sexually assaulted--more on that in a moment] and everything it suggests. It is likely true that college campuses are some of the most sexually confusing environments young men and women can find themselves in. It is of course true that any rape or attempted rape should be dealt with severely. It’s true that the way we handle sexual assault on campuses couldn’t be more messed up. But good policies are not aided by really bad numbers. And the Rolling Stone article was advocacy journalism designed to get policies changed. Yes, Erdely and Rolling Stone made some major journalistic malpractices. But so did a lot of other media outlets who parroted this claim without any of the skepticism they should have applied. 
It's hard enough to determine what is really going on when information is withheld (or cut), but matters are only exacerbated when the reporting is deliberately biased as it so often is.

The various little "ism" ideologies (racism in favor of one or another non-white group, gay liberation-ism, and perhaps especially feminism) don't really care about things like "facts" or "truth" or "reality": what matters is "narrative," and getting what they want when they want it and from whom they want it, the lives and safety and rights and livelihoods of others be damned:

Where most of us are primarily concerned with whether a given claim is correct, others seem more attentive to how we react to that claim in the first place. Did you ask questions about Jackie’s story as it was reported? If so, you must hate women, work for the patriarchy, or hope to prove that nobody is ever raped. Did you believe Jackie uncritically and with a full-throated roar? Excellent, then you must be a good person who wants to help women, move the country forward, and do something concrete about the issue of sexual assault. It’s really that simple, my dear. 
Amazingly, these presumptions tend to remain intact through thick and thin. In consequence, a person who incorrectly judged the veracity of Rolling Stone’s story can remain on the side of the angels, while a person who was correct to doubt the account is dismissed as a devil who just got lucky. Sure, the zetetics might have been right in a technical, factual, reality-based sense. But that they tried to investigate the matter in the first instance tells us something terrible about their character. And yes, the story may have been completely and utterly wrong. But at least its advocates took a stand for something nice. Did you? Wait, you’re not a rapist, are you? 
....As Slate’s Hanna Rosin noted last night, we are now at a tipping point of sorts. The Washington Post’s latest deep-dive, Rosin writes, “strongly implies, without outright saying so, that the gang rape at the center of Sabrina Rubin Erdely’s article might be fabricated.” Indeed so. And should we subsequently learn that the Post’s implication was warranted, this will mean that Sabrina Erdely and her source have conspired a) to mislead millions of people on a matter of basic fact; b) to potentially damage the reputations of the men they accused; c) to cast a trio of Jackie’s friends as amoral, vain, criminally negligible monsters; and d) to libel the fraternity that is implicated, as well as the University of Virginia writ large.
In the case of this Rolling Stone article, as with the phony "1 in 5 college women are raped/sexually assaulted" statistic (it's actually more like 6 in 1000, according to the DOJ's actual statistics), the point is not to present actual facts, and certainly not with abundance, so that others can form their own opinions (let alone make sound judgments about what is actually happening). Rather, the point is to drive home the narrative, to force this particular worldview and all its ugly consequences down our throats. The people who do this are complete tools. They are tools of the movement, tools of the feminist/black panthers/gay power grab, tools which are helping to cause the downfall of our civilization.

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Vertical MegaCities

I'm kind of a fan of this as an idea: building cities up and not out. I personally wouldn't want to live in one, but I know many people who would. And it it help combat the idiotic whining about overpopulation (or for that matter, climate change, if the buildings are "green" and "sustainable") then count me in.

Monday, December 8, 2014

Certifiable Insanity

That's how I would describe every member of the Minnesota State High School League not named Emmett Keenan. Public showers of the sort used by students in high school gym class (and sports' teams) can be awkward enough as it is. This just goes over the top. Oh, and coed hotel rooms? Not a brilliant idea either.

Sunday, December 7, 2014

The Playoff Selection Post

Ok, one more football post, but maybe I should cap this at three in a row. I may update this one after the actual selections have been made. Suffice it to say that this year feels like a strong vindication for those who said we'd need more than 4 teams for a good play-off. I count myself as one such person, though I don't think there is a magic number which works every year. I did propose a scheme in which we could have a variable number, 6-12 as needed, and which makes use of the committee to 1) choose how many, and then 2) choose the seeding order.

This year there are 6 teams which have good claims to be in--the link lists them, but there are no surprises here, and I don't actually agree with Sports Illustrated's assessment this time. Florida State should probably rank first, by nature of the fact that they are the lone undefeated, and that they played three power-5 foes in their out of conference games (Oklahoma State, Florida, and Notre Dame), with good (though way too close) wins over Georgia Tech (who just beat Georgia...), Louisville, and Clemson (each won at least 9 games).

I would rank Oregon second, much as I hate to do so, because they had the best out-of-conference win (Michigan State), and avenged their only loss (Arizona) in dominant fashion. After those top 2, it gets a little more murky. For one thing, the two conferences with the best records against other power 5 conferences were the Pac-12 (8-3) and the ACC (10-7, 4-0 against the SEC). The SEC west was decent, and went 4-0 against power 5 conference opponents, but given that there are 7 teams in the SEC west, having only 4 power-5 foes seems a little cowardly. Granted, two of those foes were Wisconsin (LSU) and Kansas State (Auburn), but the conference itself didn't seem as dominant: e.g. LSU barely getting the win at home against a Wisconsin team which just lost 59-0 to Ohio State's third-string quarterback, Auburn escaping Manhattan with a with over a good KSU team which was blown out by TCU and beaten soundly by Baylor, and Alabama escaping Morgantown against WVU (albeit a WVU team which was better than its record and which was a brutal teams to play in Morgantown, as witnessed by Baylor).

I would probably put Baylor third, because they have a win over the best opponent (TCU, albeit barely), and I've long loathed that "worst loss" always manages to trump "best win" (see both Texas and USC in 2008, for example, or Oklahoma State in 2011, or Oregon in 2001, or Washington in 2000). I could maybe be convinced that they should get left out over their own cowardly scheduling, but I think that the only really fair way to do that is to also leave out the TCU team that they beat on the field. The thing is, TCU's marquee opponent was Minnesota, which had a decent season this year (8-4, a win over Nebraska), but they're not exactly a top-tier team, nor have they been any time recently.

Other marquee opponents of the top-6 teams not named Baylor or TCU include Oklahoma State, West Virginia, Notre Dame, Florida, Michigan State, and Virginia Tech--all of whom have been consistently decent if not actually good in the recent past. If Baylor is 3rd, Alabama should be fourth given that the world would cry foul over leaving the SEC out, and I could be persuaded to swap the rankings of Baylor and Alabama. Oddly enough, I think that of the three teams which are in likely contention for getting left out (Baylor, Ohio State, and TCU), Baylor would probably actually fare the worst in the playoff itself, so the part of me that wants not-FSU (Winston), not-Oregon (rival), and not Alabama (SEC) to be champion is kind of rooting against Baylor's getting in.

This is not how I think the committee will rank tings, anyway. My gut impression is that Alabama will be ranked first for playing in the SEC, and Oregon will probably get ranked second. I have trouble believing that FSU gets left out, or that the committee will now jump Baylor over both OSU and TCU. I can see the Big-12 getting left out of this one, with FSU possibly getting a 4th place seed. In this scenario I would probably root for Ohio State to win it all.

I called it. FSU got the 3rd seed and not the fourth, and the Big 12 got the shaft, which is I suppose one way to resolve which team (Baylor or TCU) should get in over the other. Alabama got ranked first (for being from the SEC), and Oregon second (for being dominant and for avenging its only loss).

Saturday, December 6, 2014

Some Links and Thoughts on the OSU Coaching Search

Now that the news of Mike Riley's leaving OSU (for the second time) has settled a little, here are a few more links and thoughts about the coaching search.

First, most of my picks seem to be tossed around as possibilities by the media. What was I thinking with Steve Spurrier, though? South Carolina isn't going to fire him, and OSU isn't really a better destination for him. And of course, I mentioned Jim Harbraugh as a possibility (albeit a remote one), but  probably shouldn't have bothered, given that his alma mater is Michigan, who just happen to be in the market for a new head coach. I see that Brady Hoke and Beau Baldwin are both possibilities (or at least that some media outlets consider them as such), and Beau Baldwin is actually the fan favorite, at least according to one poll.

I had actually considered including Bronco Mendenhall as a possibility, but ruled him out since he is at arguably a better job right now. He would be a very good choice, and has some history coaching at OSU. I also overlooked Jonathan Smith, the rising star offensive coordinator at Washington--perhaps best known to Beaver Nation as our Fiesta Bowl season's quarterback. Matt Wells of Utah State and Tim DeRuyter of Fresno State are two other head coaches from the second-tier that I considered but skipped over initially--but they both seem to be on others' shortlists, so there's that.

One thing which kind of surprises me is how few of these lists are including Ed Orgeron--though I did notice that Ted Miller of ESPN suggested him as a possibility. I'm also surprised that virtually no one is listing Mark Banker as a possibility--is Mike Riley taking him to Nebraska and I just missed it? Actually, the defensive and/or offensive coordinators which I am consistently seeing suggested are from UCLA (Mazzone), ASU (Norvell), and USC (Wilcox), plus Oregon's Scott Frost.

I still think that Ed Orgeron would be the best available choice if he can coach like he did at USC. Brady Hoke, Beau Baldwin, or Bronco Mendenhall would all be pretty good choices as well. I think Dennis Erickson (mentioned on a few of the linked lists), Jeff Tedford, and Rick Neuheisel (I'm pretty sure I've seen his name floated somewhere) would all be mistakes, Wells is probably the best mid-major, Frost is probably the best choice of the coordinators, and Jonathan Smith would be the most interesting gamble. Who knows who's actually on Bob de Carolis' list, though?

Update: Woah, didn't see that one coming. And in addition, the beavers not only poach Wisconsin's head coach, they get a $42 million facilities upgrade to go with it. The future suddenly looks bright at OSU.

Thursday, December 4, 2014

Riley'd Up

One of the more shocking developments in college football this year is that Mike Riley has been hired away from Oregon State by Nebraska. Some are calling this a an excellent hire for all parties involved (including OSU), and to some extent it probably is, though some are questioning whether this is an upgrade for Nebraska. A lot of fans at OSU have been grumbling about Mike Riley and the beavers' performance over the last 5-ish seasons, though I'm sure that no shortage of this jealousy comes from looking south and seeing rival Oregon's rise.

I'm left to wonder who will replace him. A few interesting names come to mind, bearing in mind that OSU isn't exactly an A-list destination, though it may be the best opening this year behind Michigan and Florida (who already have their man). Riley was about as good as Beaver Nation could probably get, and get to stay. Here are a few of the names which come to my mind as reasonable possibilities, though I am kind of passing over the mid-major coaches and coordinators--I just don't know enough about them:

  • Ed Orgeron: This seems like probably the best choice on the list. He has experience as a head coach, and was actually pretty successful at USC as interim head. He's also a great recruiter, and would probably be a good choice here.
  • Jim Harbaugh: This is probably the longest shot on this list. He seems like he wants to stay in the NFL; in the event that he does go back to coaching college, what reason would he have to go to OSU? Especially since his alma mater, Michigan, is also looking to hire somebody. Still, it would be pretty impressive if they could snag him, and it does seem like he'll be leaving San Francisco in the near future. He also knows a thing or two about building up a program.
  • Mark Banker: He's been a decent enough defensive coordinator,and I suspect that he would likely stick around at OSU if he turned out to be a good coach. There would be continuity, which is not a bad thing.
  • Brady Hoke: Yes, he was just fired at Michigan. Then again, his predecessor was Rich Rodiguez. How's that going tor Arizona?
  • Bo Pelini: this would be just weird (effectively: OSU and Nebraska would be swapping head coaches), but Pelini hasn't exactly been a  complete failure. He's won about 9-10 games every year, which fall short of the standards at Nebraska, but which would be fine at OSU.
  • Steve Spurrier: This is a stretch, since he would probably have to be fired from South Carolina first. If that actually happens, he would almost certainly be the best choice possible. He's an excellent coach who built South Carolina up from the ground into a perennial contender in the SEC east (this year excepted). He's also been pretty loyal to South Carolina. On the other hand, he's also pretty old (he'll be 70 next year), so he may be more likely to retire, and I can't see his leaving South Carolina unless they fire him (and certainly no for OSU), which seems unlikely.
  • Beau Baldwin: This would be an interesting move, since FBS is a bit of a step up from FCS, but Eastern Washington has been a very good team for quite a long time. One wonders how their coach would fair in the "big leagues" of college sports--especially if they were moved to a program which is already somewhat established (as opposed to, say, Appalachian State).
  • Craig Bohl: Ditto to Baldwin, but with a season in the FBS (albeit, a 4-8 season at Wyoming). North Dakota Sate, his previous job, was every bit as good as (in fact, better than) Eastern Washington.
  • Chris Klieman: Same comments as the previous two; he's been defensive coordinator and is now head coach at North Dakota State
  • Scott Frost: It may seem a little awkward to poach a name from a rival school, then Oregon's offense has been pretty good under coordinator Frost.
  • Pat Narduzzi: Has Overseen some excellent defenses at Michigan State, but then I'm not sure he would leave there for OSU.
  • Justin Fuente: He's done a decent enough job at Memphis.
  • Will Muschamp: Yes, he was recently fired from Florida. He would also be a bit of a personality change after Mike Riley, and I'm not so sure he'd have much success at OSU. Plus, he seems more likely to go become a defensive coordinator for somebody else first (apparently both Auburn and Texas A&M have made some very big offers to him).

This list is already pretty long, and there are a number of names not on it (again, many mid-majors like Utah State, Fresno State, and a few good coordinators from programs like Arizona State, Mizzou, UCLA...). And a lot of these are long-shots, either in that they probably wouldn't work out too well, or they'd leave if they did, or are unlikely to leave their current jobs for OSU.

If I had to rank these options factoring for likeness of being hired and likeliness of being successful, probably the top five would be Orgeron, Hoke, Banker, Fuente, and Baldwin. If Spurrier becomes available for some reason--a very outside chance--he would probably be the best choice of all, if OSU could convince him to move across the country and if nobody else swooped in with a better offer. But of actual names on the table, I think Orgeron would be the best choice, if he could be the coach he was at USC last year. The second trick would be getting him to stay at OSU, which has one of the worst heading coaching salaries--and possibly among the least resources in general--of power-5 schools.

Tough Luck

'Tis the time of semester when I get inundated with students requests for deadline extensions, and frankly for free points. Since many of these requests are for extensions on weekly homework assignments which they had 4-5 weeks to complete, I tend to be unsympathetic.

Better still is the number of students asking for extensions on an extra credit assignment (which improves a midterm grade and covers the same material as the midterm in question). It seems that a number of them let the two week deadline slip by without remembering to ever attempt the bonus test.

Bummer for them. Bummer for me, too, since they keep sending these requests. It's bad enough that I pretty much have to watch a motivational video to keep dealing with them:

Of course, they keep coming, so I get a little exasperated. It's not like this deadline was kept a secret or anything. A few also couldn't figure out how to ass teh bonus to their midterm scores, despite that fact that this is spelled out (with an example) in the actual midterm instructions. Luckily, there's a motivational video for that, too:

Ah, but there are some who are persistent. They feel like a college course should be scored like a video game, or a gameshow, or the like. I'm pretty sure I would get fired (or otherwise disciplined) for treating the course like a gameshow, but if I did:

They also spend a lot of time whining about how there is no curve. The semester will be all over in about a week. A new semester (with the same students) can commence in about a month. And still, I love my job.

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

On Victim-Blaming

I suppose this is not entirely unrelated to the insanity at Ferguson, but it is a sort of different topic: it is intellectually dishonest to dismiss precautions, warnings, and (after the fact) lesson-drawing from one's misfortunes as "blaming the victim." Here is Dr. Budziszewski breaking down the intellectual and moral silliness which pervades most cries of "blaming the victim":
Why is it so difficult to make a few simple distinctions? The perpetrator is entirely to blame for robbery and assault. But the victim in this case is to blame for foolhardiness and indiscretion. The victim’s foolishness does not mitigate the perpetrator’s guilt for his crime. But the perpetrator’s guilt does not mitigate the victim’s blame for his folly. The perpetrator deserves our reprobation, and should suffer the full penalty of law. But the victim, who has already suffered the penalty of natural consequences, deserves our pity -- and a stern talking-to.
In his postscript, the good professor addresses what might be called the opposite fallacy, which is when the victim blames himself for something which actually might not be his fault. Actually, his advice is good general advice to at least a substantial minority, if not an outright majority, of college students today: drop out of college, get a blue collar job for a few years, and then when you have learned what you can form the school of hard knocks, return to the academy ready to earn and education of the sort attainable there.