We are a commune of inquiring, skeptical, politically centrist, capitalist, anglophile, traditionalist New England Yankee humans, humanoids, and animals with many interests beyond and above politics. Each of us has had a high-school education (or GED), but all had ADD so didn't pay attention very well, especially the dogs. Each one of us does "try my best to be just like I am," and none of us enjoys working for others, including for Maggie, from whom we receive neither a nickel nor a dime. Freedom from nags, cranks, government, do-gooders, control-freaks and idiots is all that we ask for.
Our Recent Essays Behind the Front Page
Thursday, June 27. 2013
The fact is that the meaning of Higher Ed has changed in the past 100 years in the US. In 1900, around 2% of Americans had BA degrees. That was a meaningful socio-cultural marker, but as the numbers now exceed 35%, and as even the most elite schools do not seem to know what their mission is, it no longer means very much more than a piece of paper required to manage a McDonald's store.
For a couple of decades, as BAs became commonplace, graduate degrees seemed to become more meaningful and popular as markers. Now, however, we are overrun with unemployed and marginally-employed MAs, PhDs, JDs, D. Divs, and MBAs with huge loans and no way to pay them off. And, assuming that MOOCs begin to take off thanks to the internet, there will be far less need for Profs.
Voegli has written a very important essay on the topic: The Higher Education Hustle
Like most of us Maggie's Farmers, I get my education now via a pre-MOOC. If you like to learn, that's what you do. It used to be called The Teaching Company, but now it's called Great Courses. Once you're hooked, you will never waste time on TV or movies again.
Books are good, too. Some students give it up after a paper credential, but some use it as a launching pad for a lifetime of curiosity and intellectual pursuits. In my view, the latter are the only ones deserving of a liberal arts education.
Friday, May 17. 2013
Via Powerline, Prof. Kagan's Yale retirement speech. A fine gentleman.
Wednesday, May 8. 2013
If you have the ambition to energetically create the life you want, clarify your goals, clarify your principles, learn all you can from your errors, be a helpful but tough manager of yourself and of others. It worked for him.
Monday, April 29. 2013
Do not miss this speech - it is fascinating video: The State of White America. It's 60+ info-packed minutes. Murray is like a statistically-armed de Toqueville for our time. I needed to hear it twice. The guy is delightful to listen to.
It's not really about politics, but he does mention American principles, American Exceptionalism, and what is required for a self-governing citizenry. "Self-governing," of course, has a dual meaning.
A lot of it is about class and "social capital" in America.
One quote from him: "The upper middle class seems to be keeping all the good stuff to itself: religion, marriage, morality, civic and social engagement, industriousness, and long work hours..."
Another: "The federal government can be accused of confusing itself with the rooster who believes that his crowing is what makes the sun rise..."
Another: "Marriage civilizes men." (Yes, the gals do try, don't they? And we guys fight back, pathetically, by not shaving on Saturday morning.)
Another useful phrase: "The people who makes things more difficult for their fellow citizens..."
All very interesting and relevant. I don't care much about class, college degrees, or elitism, but I do care about integrity, responsibility, curiosity, industriousness, and a number of other character traits. And of course I do care about traditional American culture and the work ethic. Like Murray, I do not buy into the European "relaxation" ethic and the aspiration for a stress-free life: humans are not cattle, and cannot have dignity or pride without being productive or constructive in whatever ways they can find. Anybody can make themselves useful if they want to.
Saturday, March 23. 2013
h/t Ace's Michael Crichton on Politics as Religion
Monday, February 11. 2013
A wonderful read. From Bird Language:
Sunday, December 30. 2012
That's the title of Mead's latest. He should have used a more provocative and engaging title, but it's not his style to do so.
Mead is a sort-of open-minded Liberal (I think) and an academic. One quote from this excellent piece, which (take note, BD) deserves to be on our Best Essays of the Year thing. A quote:
And later in his essay:
Do me a favor by reading his whole essay. Better yet, read it and ask your Lib friends to consider it. If Obama is a personal friend, email it to him and Valerie Jarrett too. These Progressives are stuck in the past, and have not had an interesting new idea since Marx, who died in 1883, and who could never have been able to understand modern America where the poorest have wide screen TVs, two cars, washing machines, and the right to bear arms.
You know my view: Liberalism, aka Progressivism, is over 150 years old, and way over the hill - policy residue from the early nasty years of the early Industrial Revolution.
Pic is Walter Russell Mead, who looks the way I thought he would.
So claims Peggy Noonan, and I think it's darn good and enjoyable too: George Will on Religion in Politics at Washington U on Dec 4. (You have to click the link to video playlist for the speech, on the right)
"Do 'natural rights' presuppose religious faith?"
Will is not a man of faith and he is an old-fashioned Liberal. It's not a political speech; it's a wonderful historical-philosophical survey from the Greeks to Woodrow Wilson and the notion of progress, and it goes a long way towards explaining the historical underpinnings of the Maggie's chronically anti-statist and revolutionary view of the world.
Every 6th-grader to high school kid in America should know this basic stuff, but I bet many do not. "Should the State have a monopoly on social and civil authority?"
The Q&A after is excellent too. Family disintegration. Do not skip it. He speaks slowly and methodically, but it still deserves two listenings. George Will, like us, is a Madison and de Toqueville fan. Those guys were smarter and wiser than all of us. Those who think they know better need to beware of hubris: they were wary of all power.
America has indeed been exceptional in world history, and, we hope, will stick with it. I hate the idea of people voting without knowing their history.
Thursday, December 27. 2012
A powerful report from Heather MacDonald: Chicago's Real Crime Story - Why decades of community organizing haven't stemmed the city's youth violence.
I cannot pick out one juicy quote because the whole sad thing is of a piece: moral, family, and cultural breakdown since the 1960s. These kids are growing up in something between anarchy and Lord of the Flies. One quote:
Saturday, September 8. 2012
It's a wonder how many physicians are natural writers. Dr. Marsh is one.
Tuesday, September 4. 2012
Investing in Higher Education Will Not Bring Democratic Equality:
Monday, August 20. 2012
Deirdre McCloskey on The creepy new economics of pleasure. A quote:
It's a major essay. As I have said here many times, "happiness" cannot be defined in an applicable way beyond simple-minded gratification, but unhappiness is easy to recognize. It's everywhere.
Friday, August 17. 2012
His essay/post summarizes many or most of the Maggie's political concerns about America. The government is making it too difficult to be a mule, but it is the mule who pulls their electoral wagon and pays their bills.
Wednesday, July 4. 2012
Leftists harp about the corruption in free markets, but rarely about the corruption intrinsic to centrally-controlled or -manipulated systems (see Solyndra, or Fannie Mae, for recent American examples).
Who better to discuss these topics than the great Gertrude Himmelfarb? Adam Smith - Moral Philosopher. One quote:
Monday, April 30. 2012
From Fred Siegel. A quote:
Tuesday, April 17. 2012
Gertrude Himmelfarb: Civil Society Reconsidered - Little platoons are just the beginning. A quote:
Wednesday, April 11. 2012
That's a question I have discussed often here, along with the history of higher ed. Yes, we all understand that college has become a job credential, a social credential, and a professional prerequisite. Why that is has never been clear.
It's not long. Read it all.
Sunday, March 25. 2012
The more governments prove themselves incompetent to do something, the more resources they demand to do it. From Hubris heading for a fall:
Sunday, March 11. 2012
Codevilla's America's Ruling Class -- And the Perils of Revolution (with thanks to Never Yet melted for reminding us of this essay). On the faith in (or of) the ruling class, he says:
Monday, February 20. 2012
A major essay from Mead: Beyond Blue 5: Jobs, Jobs, Jobs:
Thursday, January 12. 2012
"Bullshit" is the title of a well-known 1986 essay by Princeton philosopher Harry Frankfurt, now expanded into a short book.
Two of Frankfurt's main points seem to be that, 1, the bullshitter is more motivated to create an impression of himself rather than to communicate substantial true material and 2. bullshit may be more insidious than lying. From a review of the book here:
Besides being a very bright fellow, his life as an academic gives him unique experience with the world of bullshit. We are all bullshitters, to some extent, but some make a career of it.
Frankfurt's original 6-page essay can be read here. One quote:
Sunday, January 8. 2012
Charles Murray on Belmont Vs. Fishtown, about social class in America and the Founding Virtues: marriage, industriousness, honesty, religiousness.
It's a major essay. One quote:
Study the whole thing. It rings true to me. Even in a small town where we know all sorts of people, we tend to hang out with people who play tennis and golf, own guns, read lots of books, discuss Plato, Marx, Freud, Adam Smith and Hayek, go to church, have gardens, and love opera. Otherwise, what is there to talk about except the weather? It's not defined by financial status, but rather by common interests and, sometimes but certainly not always, similar backgrounds and similar world-views (but excluding political views, generally, untiil one is clear about where one's companions are coming from).
Friday, September 16. 2011
Roger Kimball on G. K. Chesterton: master of rejuvenation - On the vitality of the Jolly Journalist's work. A quote:
His wife was phobic about sex. That is probably why he got so fat.
Saturday, August 20. 2011
From our archives -
To create blissful Socialist utopias, we need smart, strong, deeply caring men in charge. Lefty men, like Robespierre, Stalin, Hitler, Mussolini, Mao, etc. Geniuses to rescue us from our pitiful fates as little people.
A quote from Fred Siegel's review of Flynn's A Conservative History of the American Left in City Journal, re 1820s socialist Robert Owen:
My, my. How little has changed in the Left in 200 years. Utopians always condescend to us ignorant, feckless, unwashed, irrational "masses," don't they?
My personal utopia is all about freedom from utopians and power-seekers. I wish to control no-one - unless they are trying to harm me.
Monday, August 8. 2011
A re-posted quote from the piece at New Criterion:
It gets better: