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Wednesday, July 21, 2010

On Obama, Pending Doom in Curacao and Basic Human Nature

Columnist Mike Adams reported yesterday about a group of university professors who met recently to formulate a solution to the problem of their students skipping exams...

"The problem was so serious that the handful of intellectuals who first noticed the problem – and noticed others noticing the problem – sent out a mass email inviting others to attend a “brown bag” luncheon to brainstorm. They were searching for “solutions”, which would stop short of actually punishing students for missing their examinations.

I certainly have no problem with professors getting together to find “solutions” to difficult “problems.” But I do have a “problem” with the way these professors were characterizing their “problem.”

A better description of their “problem” – one that better reflects its magnitude – would sound something like this: How can we retain the secular/ progressive view of human nature, which is needed to justify secular/ progressive policies, in light of a wealth of evidence to the contrary?

The thoughts of the professors responding to the mass email were enlightening. One complained that she wanted to give her students the benefit of the doubt, but they constantly pushed and tested her. The more she withheld punishment, the more prevalent the undesirable behavior.

Another observed that the more often she does nice things for students, the more often they take advantage of her. She seemed perplexed by the fact that rewarding a missed exam with another administration, thus giving the student more time to prepare, led to more missed exams."

Gee, imagine that. Witholding any threat or consequences for irresponsible academic behavior actually increased incidences of students skipping exams and taking advantage of lenient college professors. And they are shocked at this?

When the executive leadership of a nation shares much the same "secular/progressive" worldview as the aforementioned university professors, the results can be disasterous. The world is a dangerous place, fraught with thugs in positions of leadership, and such a "nothing but carrots" approach is a recipe for complete, diplomatic failure if ever there was one.

This segues neatly into today's article by Austin Bay in which he relates the following concerning Comrade Chavez and his latest attempt at focusing an increasingly unhappy citizenry of his country due to his failed socialist economic policies onto an invented external threat...

"Chavez rattles sabers and threatens war in order to divert increasing domestic opposition. At the moment, Colombia isn't his primary target -- its military is too strong. The Caribbean island of Curacao, however, lying just off the Venezuelan coast, provides Chavez with a convenient enemy both geographically and politically.

Thus far the bully's threats have been gunboat hype and showboat hoopla. The question is, will bluster give way to bombs? An expansionary ideology propels Chavez, one that inflates his already explosive ego. He bills himself as the new Simon Bolivar, who will reunite the South American continent while cowing the United States and other imperialists -- like the Dutch.

Which is where Curacao enters Hugo's gunsights. Though the Dutch West Indies no longer formerly exists as a political entity, Holland retains responsibility for Curacao's defense and other foreign policy-related matters...

Recently, he accused the U.S. of planning an attack on Venezuelan using the base at Curacao...

A border war to recover allegedly lost territory is a classic tyrant's tactic. In 1982, the Argentine military regime saw its grip on power in Buenos Aires slipping, so it invaded the Malvinas Islands (the Falklands). However, that gambit failed when the Royal Navy and British Army counterattacked. Following a swift and embarrassing defeat, the Argentine dictatorship toppled.

An expanse of open sea separated the Falklands from Argentina. In a February 2007 article, StrategyPage.com concluded geographic proximity, oil power and military hardware give Venezuela a huge advantage over Dutch defenses in the Caribbean. StrategyPage said Venezuela could take the nearby islands, and the Dutch "lack the ability to retake the islands on their own should the "Greater Venezuela" rhetoric from the Venezuelan dictator turn out to be for real."..

To counterattack, however, would mean American leaders are willing to ignore the condemnations of Chavez's fellow anti-American sympathizers in Latin America, Europe and the Middle East. Chavez, when he rattled sabers in 2007, knew President George W. Bush would respond vigorously to an actual attack. The cowboy would pull his gun. President Barack Obama, however, portrays himself as the anti-Bush. Does the desperate dictator see an opportunity emerging?...

I have always been a fan of former President Teddy Roosevelt's "Big Stick" policy and I cannot comprehend why an American president would not wish to subscribe to such a mindset. But what would one expect coming an administration that is much more inclined to expound upon the doctrines of Marx and is probably completely ignorant of the Doctrine of Monroe?


Froggie said...

I'm calling total BS on Mike Adams.
He starts out his article with an unfounded assertion, along with an admission of fact:

"Recently, several “intellectuals” convened to deal with a problem so serious it could not be tackled by just one college professor. The question was this: How can professors stop an epidemic of students missing their examinations without jeopardizing student grades by resorting to point deductions?"

First of all, I have put four kids through college with number five going into his sophmore year next month. I also converse with their friends when they come to visit Mrs. Froggie and me over holidays and summer break, and I can assure that that they all live and die academically by those exams. I can also assure you that will not change.

Having said that, Adams conveniently fails to say who these intellectuals are, and shows no evidence whatsoever that his aseertion that there is an "epidemic" is true.

His assertion (another anecdotal tale) of what happened at this supposed meeting is so vague that it has no merit whatsoever and he merely using this imaginary scenario to go on and criticise liberal policies.

Students are failing out of college/ being remanded to academic probation at the same rate as they always have unless someone can show me evidence to the contrary. It is a fact that by the junior year, almost half of a class will be gone.

If there is a method that would inspire certain students to not skip exams, and thus not fail out, I'd be happy to hear it, but, the fact is that many kids do not posess the wherewithall to keep up with the academic rigour as has always been the case.

Jquip said...

Froggie: Ok, so you're a father of successful college students; such folks tending to hang with other such. I accept your anecdote. Now, what then is your problem with an OpEd columnist speaking of his experience in higher education, witnessing a mass email, as a professor of criminology at UNC Wilmington?

Froggie said...

Mike Adams is passing himslef off as an objective journalist. As such there are journalistic standardsthat he needs to uphold to be taken seriously.

I am merely an anonymous blogger on this venue, and as such I am not subject to those standards.
Even as such I would be happy to put you in touch with my son who will back up my claim that exams are taken completely serious by the vast majority of college professors.

Using anecdotal unsubstantiated random events have no use to a valid journalist and certainly hurts his credibility, or in this case, what little credibility to begin with since Adams comes off as a run-of-the-mill conservative shill.

JD Curtis said...

Thanks JQP. I was going to bring that up, but I got a little busy.

And the entire idea of today's college students being coddled and not having to fear repercussions for academic sloth is nothing new as I've brought up the subject in several forums in the past.

"A full professor at Harvard gets no personal pay-off for teaching undergraduates. That can be left to the junior faculty and graduate students. Research is where the money and the prestige are.

(Lawrence)Summers wanted professors not only to teach undergraduates but to teach introductory courses in a structured curriculum and to stop giving out so many A's that 90 percent of the students graduate with honors.

Giving out A's wholesale saves the faculty's time that would otherwise be taken up by students wanting to know why they received B's, C's, or D's. That time is now available for research, writing and other things with a bigger personal pay-off for the faculty.

Teaching introductory courses in a structured curriculum can provide undergraduates with a far better education than the current cafeteria style of student choices among a hodgepodge of whatever courses happen to be available. But teaching introductory courses in a structured curriculum is also very time-consuming, which is why so few colleges really have a curriculum any more.

It is far easier to teach whatever narrow subject in which a professor is already doing research. Thus in some colleges there may be a course on the history of motion pictures but no course on the history of Britain or Germany.

Students can graduate from some of the most prestigious colleges in the land without a clue as to what the Second World War or the Cold War was about. At Harvard, chances are nine out of ten that such uninformed students can graduate with honors." Link

JD Curtis said...

Having raised several children Frog, can you say that just being nice to young kids will work in every instance and that to not make them accountable to certain consequences of their actions is a bad thing?

Froggie said...

"Having raised several children Frog, can you say that just being nice to young kids will work in every instance...."
That is never the best option. Being direct and forthright is far more important than being artificially "nice."

"..... and that to not make them accountable to certain consequences of their actions is a bad thing?"

Instilling the value of personal responsibility and consequenses of actions is the key to good parenting and paramount to the success of the children.

Jquip said...

Froggie: And this is, of course, journalism rather than a dusty collection of numbers; personal bias will always play a role. Point of fact, your op ed here exhibits the same personal dereliction to critical thinking in regards Conservatives as that recently exposed in Klein's Journolist echo chamber. Don't get me wrong, I take you as a man of much higher decency as you'll at least cop to such openly.

Despite us both being pseudonymous in this venue we've the same reach and responsibility as any journalist.

But I do wonder about your disagreement with Mike Adams since you consider "consequences of actions" part and parcel to good parenting. An amateur teaching career.

Froggie said...

"But I do wonder about your disagreement with Mike Adams since you consider "consequences of actions" part and parcel to good parenting. An amateur teaching career."

That last sentence seems to be dangling in mid air. To what is it referring?

JD Curtis said...

This just in,

As if on cue, Chavez breaks relations with Colombia.