"J. P. Gilliver (John)" <G6JPGfirstname.lastname@example.org> wrote
| > And probably increasingly common are evangelical
| >schools, with textbooks showing Moses riding a dinosaur.
| I like it (-:
I don't know if you're aware of the reference there.
If you search for something like:
biblical theme park dinosaur
you'll find lots of links to parks and Summer camps that
attempt to beat evolutionists at their own dogma by
fitting dinosaurs in during the early days of creation.
(The 1st thousand years, maybe? I don't know.) There's
at least one place that has dino models with saddles.
| > What I find more striking today is the poor quality
| >of college education. People are getting bachelors
| >degrees who are all but illiterate and can't think
| On the whole, I'm against literacy being considered that important in,
| say, scientific subjects - *provided the candidate can actually
| communicate effectively*, their knowledge _of the subject_ is what
| should be being tested. I particularly find unpleasant the prejudice
| against multi-choice tests versus those in essay form, which seemed (at
| least when I was being educated, 30-40 years ago, in UK) an attempt to
| preserve privilege. (And I _could_ and can still write well, so it
| wasn't just an I'm-being-discriminated-against POV.)
I'm talking about English literacy. College graduates
who speak like teenagers and write like kids. It's
become the norm in the US. They don't have to
have basic skills in order to graduate. The most bright
will pick up these things eventually, but most need
guidance that they never get.
| But I strongly agree with the next bit:
| >analytically. At one time college was meant to teach
| >future leaders to think and to provide them with
| >well-rounded knowledge. Today it's a required step
| Yes, the ability to think analytically is paramount.
| >to get a no-skills office job. The graduating student
| Yes; this has come as a side-effect (UK, anyway - us may be different
| due to the funding model) of the view that "everyone should have the
| opportunity to go to university". I actually agree with the basic
| thought behind that, but it has been translated into "everyone should go
| to university", which is a different thing entirely!
It's the same in the US. Kids are ending up with
massive loan debt but unable to get a job to pay
off that debt. They're operating on an outdated
model. It used to be that a janitor could buy
a house and raise kids. A bank teller could buy a
nicer house. Today, if you're not a couple with
both making well over 100K then you'd better be
househunting in a Kansas ghost town. You won't
be able to afford to buy anywhere else. Or rent,
for that matter.
(And yet there are millions of highly educated,
feminist, female lawyers and doctors, dropping
off their kids at daycare they can barely afford,
and thinking, "I showed them! A woman can be
anything!".... Yes. Even a broke workaholic with
The whole landscape has changed dramatically.
Partly it's due to foreign investment in real estate.
Partly it's due to the age of plutocracy ushered
in by Reagan and Thatcher, among others. But
whatever the cause, the numbers just don't add up.
College costs up to 100K+ per year with graduates
lucky to make $15-20/hour when they graduate.
Meanwhile, the going rate for a plumber where I
live was $150-200/hour last I heard. :)
| > It points to the central American confusion. We
| >idealize equality while trying to escape it. We reject
| >class while pursuing it. In Britain, class is an accepted
| >part of the social order. In the US, we like to pretend
| >it doesn't exist. We'll talk about sexism, racism,
| >etc but it's very hard for people to recognize the
| >fundamental inequality of wealth.
| I think the American perception of the British attitude to class tends
| to be a little exaggerated - as does the British perception of the
| importance of wealth in America.
Maybe. But when I visited Britain that was one of
the things that struck me most. Class was institutionalized.
It's subtle here. The ruling class bluebloods wear jeans and
sneakers, and if you meet one for lunch you'll probably
go dutch. To do otherwise would mean both of you facing
the inexplicable injustice of one person in a democracy
having 4 houses and a private hunting preserve, while
another can't afford a 1-bedroom apt.
You live with monarchy. We flirt with it, always
tipping back and forth between monarchy and socialism.
Monarchy is too animalistic to endure. Socialism is too
demanding to be feasible.
Interestingly, it's typically the very wealthy here who
have a sense of noblesse oblige and tip toward socialism.
(FDRoosevelt and JFKennedy) The plain old Americans
(Reagan, Clintons, Obama) tend to be more supportive
of a king-of-the-hill approach. (For that reason I wish
that Al Gore had got in. He doesn't have the necessary
charm to be president, but I expect he does have a
strong sense of noblesse oblige. That's also a big part of
why Hillary lost to a psychopath. She's in the pocket of
big business, views politics itself as a business, and had
no vision of leadership. People could sense that. Bill
Clinton was the same, but had the charm of a real
The most selfish tend to be the recent immigrants, who
idealize America in the simplest terms and think purely in
terms of king-of-the-hill. The tragedy of Antonin Scalia
being on the U.S. Supreme Court is a prime example of
| > I know very few people today who have a regional
| >accent. That's another thing that college now does.
| It was once said that broadcasting would do similar. But - despite about
| a century of broadcasting, and several decades of widespread tertiary
| education, regional accents seem to be surviving and thriving here,
| despite it being such a relatively small country! On the whole they've
| moderated to the extent that people from the different regions can now
| _understand_ each other, which wasn't always the case (I've met elderly
| Geordies and people from other reasons whom I struggle to understand),
| but there are definite regional accents - and regional identity feeling
| is strong.
That's interesting. Maybe it has something to do with
accent being such an important social signal in England?
In the US we have democratic idealism, with the idea that
everyone should be the same. Coupled with that is a more
recent, superficial kind of "roots" trip. Postmodern ethnicity
and authenticity. Everyone needs to have a unique claim
to authenticity (except for us poor, white males) but let's
not get carried away. Do it tastefully.
It's reached a comical point in the local news broadcasts.
We have one news announcer here named Amaka Ubaka. I
can't remember any others offhand, but nearly all have
uniquely ethnic names. The Hispanics will pronounce
theirs with full Spanish pronuciation, while speaking like
whitebread Ohio otherwise: "This is Maria Allejandra
Castanedo del Toro, reporting from Target at the
Southside Shopping Mall." (Imagine that with extra stress
on the spanish r, n, and j.)
The national, CBS, DC correspondent lately is a Chinese-
American woman with a difficult to pronounce name but
pure American accent.
Of course there's no problem with ethnic news
announcers. But it's become de rigeur to be
glaringly not Anglo or common American mongrel. A
notable majority have very ethic names but not a
trace of ethnic behavior or accent. And of course
they all have that other basic requirement of good
journalism -- great cheekbones. :)
| similarly "eech been ein Berliner". [Which I've been
| assured did _not_ mean "I am a jam do(ugh)nut."
Did JFK say that badly? I'd assumed he was
so slick that he probably would have practiced
it to perfection.
On the other hand, he wasn't so great at
speaking English, either. As a Bostonian travelling
elsewhere it used to be common for people to
remark that I didn't talk like the Kennedys. I
don't know anyone who talks like the Kennedys.
But...bless their hearts... they were a good
example of the kind of "high literacy" one rarely
hears anymore. Ted Kennedy was probably the last
person I ever heard give a speech that was both
rousing *and* deeply insightful. Most are happy
to achieve rousing.