Men, Women: Reality and Fantasy

It has been building for years but the current hot item in TV shows and movies is for women to beat up men.  Sometimes, like in Stargate SG1, Samantha (Sam) gets to beat up an alien man.  It is a bit of silly fun.  We have recently been watching Whiskey Cavalier (WC) and Blood and Treasure (B&T) where this behavior is happening all the time.  The former is the better of the two although currently, the latter is the only one to be renewed.  Or perhaps not.  Why do we like WC better?  The characters are interesting in WC.  Lauren Cohan in WC looks intimidating but her pictures suggest otherwise.  It may take awhile when looking a Lauren’s pictures but eventually you can bring your focus to her biceps.  Her bulges are elsewhere.  B&T has some interesting flashbacks but the main characters are not very interesting.  In one particularly silly B&T sequence Gwen (Katia Winter check her arms too) beats up Bruno and then Bruno escapes from his cell  by beating up two beefy policemen.

It is great fun having pretty women beat up big guys.  Is it the cause of some of our current confusion?  Men, on average, are stronger and faster than women.  We see amazing women all the time but the strongest and fastest men are much stronger and faster than the strongest and fastest women.  Military .com tells us about some amazing women.  The US Army Ranger school has graduated twelve of them to date.  They also tell us that 40 percent of the men pass but they don’t give a pass rate for women although it seems to be two or three out of nineteen.  Elsewhere, there are assertions that there was an Army thumb on the scale for women:

But whereas men consistently were held to the strict standards outlined in the Ranger School’s Standing Operating Procedures handbook sources say, the women were allowed lighter duties and exceptions to policy.

We take no opinion on these assertions of the Army playing favorites other than to say hats off to the women and men that graduated and that any woman is highly unlikely to be the top scorer in Ranger school.

Sidebar: In running there might be some extremely long distances, like 100 miles where the top women can compete with the top men.  In addition, boys and girls can compete equally at very young ages too.  These exceptions are more proof of the general rule.  End Sidebar

Here is some evidence from sports.  Over the weekend the men (PGA) and and women (LPGA) both had a golf tournament on a par 71 golf course.  The men’s course was 7,353 yards and the women’s course was 6,427 yards for a difference of over 900 yards or 50 yard a hole.  There is a reason for separate tours.  Of course, as Madeline Kearns reports at NRO, the transgender movement has led to unsurprising results.  Connecticut allows men who identify as women to compete with women:

Since enacted in 2017, the Connecticut state [high school] conference policy has enabled two young men to win 15 women’s championships, titles that were held by 10 young women the year before. State athletic conferences in 18 other states have similar policies.

We don’t know if the fantasy of TV and movies has confused folks that women athletes can compete with men.  It is not that a female can never beat a male.  We have seen the women at the handball tournaments and many could hold us to three or less but they can’t compete with the men in the open class.  It is just that the best woman has little chance against a pretty good man.

Let’s bring back Whiskey Cavalier.  It is not a great show but it is interesting enough to renew.  But we shouldn’t be confused that women can compete in athletics with men on the high school, college, or professional level.  We shouldn’t let any group convince us that it is a good idea.

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Agreeing Despite The Insults

One almost got us to the keyboard but two in two days was too much.  Accountants seem to be becoming the conservative version of “old white men” for the left.  See Jay Nordlinger for a discussion of old white men.  Since we are both, we would at least like to stop the friendly fire.

Recently at NRO John O’Sullivan took aim at the Tories and their leader, Theresa May, for their failure over Brexit.  John was worried that Theresa would hang on for a long time but fortunately she has resigned.  We agree with John but we didn’t like his comment about accountants:

That emerged yesterday when she got her new! improved! withdrawal bill accepted by her cabinet colleagues and then revealed it in a speech (and in a mistaken symbolic piece of presentation) to the headquarters of an international accounting company.

It seems he mentions accountants and a major accounting firm as a gratuitous insult.  We are not sure how it is an insult but we took it as one.  Even with the insult we agree with John.  The Tories have damaged their brand greatly by this cock-up on the Brexit front.  Even with Theresa gone we need to ask will they survive?  Should they survive?

Joshua R. Hendrickson is an eco prof who got published at NRO taking Marco Rubio to task for his recent misguided investment report.  We can’t find our earlier comment but we were disagreed with Marco Wants A National Innovation Strategy.  Perhaps we only commented mentally but Josh is right that Marco is confused.  Josh concludes that we might ask:

[A]bout the appropriate policy prescription for declining investment. Yet the report does not take a stand. Instead, it argues for “a renewed emphasis on the business firm as the primary and necessary allocator of capital in the American economy” and “an institutional arrangement order to this end.” The reader is left to imagine what any of that means in practice.  [Emphasis added]

We are worried about the institutional arrangements that we have bolded.  Along with the confusing and leftist stuff that Josh identifies our imagination leads us to believe that the report is looking for methods for the government to become involved in stopping the trend.  The fact that Marco wants a national innovation strategy, cited above, leads us to feel confident in our imagination.

What we don’t like is when Josh says:

None of these questions are asked because the entire analysis is not an exercise in economics, but merely an exercise in accounting. [Emphasis added]

Now we have read Deirdre’s book and understand the rough and tumble nature of economics prose.  We are even guilty of thinking it might be OK if Josh said, “merely an exercise in bookkeeping.”  Still it was a distraction.

We guess the solution is to own the insults.  Josh and John are on target with their analysis.  The confusion that they show about accounting and accountants should not distract us from that.

 

 

Signs

It seems that all the good titles have been taken for odds and ends so we are calling this Signs.  We only have two items.  We are serious about exactly one so you need to pick it so we don’t get nasty comments.

We were shopping with the Lady de Gloves when we came upon a hand bag that was marked “Vegan Leather.”  We dismissed it as an oxymoron but lately we have been wondering if somebody is making handbags out of vegans.

We had a wonderful horoscope today.  It said, “Double-check numbers.  Review financial records and budgets.”  We have little faith in horoscopes but we have already done the Sudoku

Sidebar: We always double-check the Sudoku with 27 check marks.  There are nine vertical checks, nine horizontal checks, and nine checks for squares.   If the center number is blank we do that last and check the center square last.  There will be four tens plus a five.  End Sidebar.

and hope, amongst other things, the Internet delivers our bank statement so we can reconcile and visit the budget.  Fun times!

Porn At The University

There is a big controversy at the University of Wisconsin-La Crosse (UWL) involving freedom of expression.  The facts are, as we understand them, that UWL invited noted sex educator and free expression advocate Nina Hartley to visit and speak at the campus.  Of importance to the tempest is that Nina is, or at least was, a porn star.  Here is the Wikipedia entry on Nina.  After Nina spoke to 70 students there was controversy and Chancellor Joe Gow took to the local newspaper to defend the decision.  As the answer to why did he invite a porn star to campus Joe said:

My primary motive in inviting Hartley was to help promote the UW System’s “Commitment to Academic Freedom and Freedom of Expression,” implemented last fall by our Board of Regents.

You can find the Regents document here.  The Regents saw the policy as a restatement of what they said over a century ago:

“Whatever may be the limitations which trammel inquiry elsewhere, we believe the great state University of Wisconsin should ever encourage that continual and fearless sifting and winnowing by which alone the truth can be found.”

Joe’s response did not quiet the concern and he has taken action:

He agreed to personally compensate the university for Hartley’s $5,000 appearance fee, which was initially covered by student fees and interest.  He is also booking a speaker from Fight the New Drug, a Salt Lake City-based nonprofit dedicated to “raising awareness (of porn’s) harmful effects using only science, facts and personal accounts.”

One of the strange things about Nina’s presentation came out in the story about Joe’s actions.  They said:

The event [Nina’s talk]did not appear on the university’s online events calendar and, unlike many events, was not made known to the press.

It does seem odd to hide away your freedom of expression speaker.

So what do we have to say about this sad story?  First, we think Joe fails freedom of expression 101.  We could have agreed that refunding the money to the students was a grand but silly gesture.  Agreeing to bring in the alternative speaker was absolutely a failure to back free expression.  The Regents say:

Each institution in the University of Wisconsin System has a solemn responsibility not only to promote lively and fearless exploration, deliberation, and debate of ideas, but also to protect those freedoms when others attempt to restrict them. [Emphasis added]

Joe failed to protect Nina.

Second, how did the initial situation happen?   We have suppositions but only those from knowing how universities work.  We do not have any inside details about what really happened.  We think that the administration was looking at the first part of the Regent quote above and realized they were at risk because they had failed to promote the debate.  The administration is heavily progressive so nobody wants to bring in a conservative and the available conservatives often like to stir up controversy and that can lead to violence.  What are the other choices?

Sex.  We can see the meeting.  The students like sex and having a sexy speaker.  The administration thinks we have met the Regents’ requirement without a big controversy of bringing an Ann Coulter type to campus.  Everyone is happy but it still turns out to be a disaster.  Now they have failed to meet the Regents’ expectation.

The answer is that we need to support Nina and Joe.  Freedom of expression is freedom of expression.  The statement says fearless exploration and deliberation as well as debate.  Debate is only part of freedom of expression.

Yet, at the same time, somebody needs to be responsible for some balance over time.  Let us use a real example.  As chair of the accounting department we had a speaker at the banquet each year.  We kept track of each speaker’s affiliation so that there would be a variety types of organizations (Big Four, other public, corporate, governmental/NFP) and actual organizations.  Some organizations would volunteer every year and we told them no.

It is easy to see why administrators fail at free expression.  It is a tough job.  It is also part of their job description.

Research Basics

After we commented on Cass Sunstein’s article about The Problem Of All Those Liberal Professors we recognized that we failed one of the standards of archival research.  You should aways check the original document(s).  The original document that Cass referred to is: Homogenous: The Political Affiliation of Elite Liberal Arts College Faculty by Mitchell Langbert.  It was posted on the National Association of Scholars (NAS) website.  NAS is:

[A] network of scholars and citizens united by our commitment to academic freedom, disinterested scholarship, and excellence in American higher education. Membership in NAS is open to all who share our commitment to these broad principles. We publish a journal and have state and regional affiliates.

Yup, that basically makes them conservatives. It is not a surprise that Mitchell’s article showed up at NAS.  Other outlets might not be interested.

We were concerned that Cass understated the impact of the lack of conservatives on faculty because the faculty run the place.  They set the curriculum and the related courses.  They determine the research standards.  They hire (sometimes with a little help) administrators.  Most administrators were former faculty.  These administrators set accreditation standards.  In short, faculty run the place although not all faculty are equally involved in such activities.

So let’s see what Mitchell said about the impact of the lack of ideological balance in colleges and universities:

So pervasive is the lack of balance in academia that more than 1,000 professors and graduate students have started Heterodox Academy, an organization committed to increasing “viewpoint diversity” in higher education.4The end result is that objective science becomes problematic, and where research is problematic, teaching is more so. [Site added]

To an academic it is reasonable to include curriculum development in teaching but we don’t think that the general public does.  We think it is important to understand that faculty have somewhere between an extensive to exclusive say about what classes are taught and how, what research is acceptable, what outside speakers come to campus, and almost everything else that happens on campus.

Mitchell notes that West Point and Annapolis are two outliers in that they are more balanced that almost all the other schools.  We took a look at the history curriculum for Annapolis (US Naval Academy) and a local school that we have access to.  It should give you a feel for the differences between a school with balance (Annapolis) and one without balance.

Examples of history themes from the US Naval Academy:

Examples of topics include piracy, the development of national identities and the growth of capitalism.

Sidebar: We really, really want to take the course on the history of pirates.  Especially on International Talk Like a Pirate Day.  End Sidebar

Here are some selected history course titles from a regional state school (yes we are aware that Mitchell was surveying Liberal Arts schools):

Women in the Modern United States: 1890-Present

History of Motherhood in the United States

U.S. Reform Movements

You can check the sites and see if you agree with us that the curriculums are very different.  Even when the titles are similar, Peace and War versus History of The Technology of Peace And War, we are willing to wager that the courses are very different.  Mitchell recognizes the connection of balance to research.  Without approved research a faculty member is highly unlikely to earn tenure.  If Military History is not part of the curriculum then military historians need not apply.  Too bad Victor Davis Hanson.  But the impact of the lack of balance is even more.  It is what happens in the classroom.  But it is also the classes that get taught, the speakers that come to campus, and the other services offered by the university.

Cass and Mitchell are right to identify the problem.  It is just bigger than they think.  It has an impact on every student in every major in every way.

 

 

Social Media And The Nomination

The current nominee for the US Supreme Court has led to an epic battle.  The best the left can come up with is a very old and unsubstantiated case of bad behavior.  Of course, social media is awash with conflict.  Two that we saw on FaceBook were shared on the same site:

  1. The posting of the accuser’s personal information leading to more bad behavior toward the accuser and
  2. The expectation that the GOP senators that called for Al Franken’s removal will call for the current nominee’s removal.

The latter tries to imply hypocrisy on the part of the GOP.  Of course, it is exactly the opposite as the accusations against Al were numerous, recent, photographed, and not effectively denied.  Unless things change we hope the GOP senators will do the right thing.  We doubt many Democrats will.

The former is inexcusable.  It is also standard operating procedure amongst Progressives.  The lovely and talented Kamala Harris used her former office as Attorney General of California to try and do just that.  So, if this is the first time you have complained about outing folks that expressed a desire for privacy then you know what you are.  It is that word that begins with an “H” and progressive love call folks.

Academic Freedom And …

Jay M. Smith from the University of North Carolina has an interesting article at the WSJ about “How Sports Ate Academic Freedom.”  We agree with Jay that NCAA Division I sports do pressure academic freedom but the battle to maintain academic freedom has many more fronts.

Jay is the co-author, with Mary Willingham, of the book Cheated: The UNC [University of North Carolina] Scandal, The Education Of College Athletes, and The Future Of Big-time College Sports.  Based on his book Jay tells us:

As these events unfolded [an NCAA investigation and the UNC reaction], I co-authored a book that chronicled UNC’s handling of its scandal and placed the story in the context of the relationship between academics and athletics. Later, I developed a history course on big-time college sports. In that course, students learned about the conflicts of interest that had defined intercollegiate athletics from their beginning in the 19th century. They read about how the prime beneficiaries of college sports—coaches, university presidents, alumni and governing boards, the NCAA—had created a system that kept money rolling in but kept athletes always disadvantaged. They learned about the long-term origins of the systematic educational fraud that the UNC case exemplified.

The course Jay had developed did get taught once:

The course had flown under the radar of academic administrators in 2016, but when they discovered that I planned to teach it again in 2017, they intervened to suppress it.

We find it amazing that the course was taught once.  Jay’s book was published in 2015 and, usually, courses are approved by curriculum committees at a variety of levels.  At the university level there would be input from the relevant parties and the Athletics Department would be one.  There would be no surprise is what Jay was teaching on athletics.  Perhaps, this was what we call an umbrella course that can be taught a couple of times before it is approved for the catalogue.

The administrators were able to override faculty objections and remove the course.  Jay concedes that (emphasis added):

Controversial courses will remain vulnerable to suppression.

Jay is right but, as is rarely true, it is more general than the example at hand.  There are several areas of that cause controversies for academic freedom.  Mark Perry reports that the University of California – San Diego now requires all applicants for faculty positions to submit a diversity statement:

All candidates applying for faculty appointments at UC San Diego are required to submit a personal statement on their contributions to diversity. The purpose of the statement is to identify candidates who have the professional skills, experience, and/or willingness to engage in activities that will advance our campus diversity and equity goals.

Departments and search committees should consider a candidate’s statement as part of a comprehensive and transparent evaluation of their qualifications.

The hired faculty will have academic freedom if they really meant what they said in their statement while others won’t be considered if they are honest.  We wonder if Jay would appeal to them.  We were thinking of applying and using an example of educating a student at a Polish university wearing a Che Guevara T-shirt [We are not making this up.]  It might have been fun for us and the search committee.

Faculty have also given away their academic freedom to a variety of other folks on campus by letting them create required activities without faculty oversight.  Faculty have given up academic freedom cheaply and now folks like Jay lament that it is gone.  It is a major reason why universities are in such a precarious position.  If you don’t think so read Instapundit and check out the recurring Higher Education Bubble post like this one:

HIGHER EDUCATION BUBBLE UPDATE, SELF-DESTRUCTIVE IDEOLOGY EDITION: Montana State’s Faculty Senate narrowly votes down proposed economics research center to be funded by an active Charles Koch Foundation grant.

Balancing the restoration of academic freedom with the becoming a welcoming place for students, faculty, and staff on the right and center too is the challenge of the 21st century.  It is going badly so far.