Category Archives: Human Accomplishment

UPDATED (10/30/018): St. John’s: The Most Rigorous College In America & What Every Young Mind Needs

Education, Human Accomplishment, Intellectualism, Intelligence, Literature, Logic, Technology

According to data reported by Tucker, only 31 percent of Americans who graduate from college can read a complex text/book.

By the same data’s telling, American kids are the dumbest in the developed world (facts I was reporting 14 years ago, already. In addition to the two hyperlinks provided, click “Education” to go back in time).

While our kids know less and less, their grades are only getting higher. The vaunted GPA is meaningless, except to give an idea of a student’s grades in relation to the inflated marks of his peers.

The most common grade given (the statistical mode?) in American college courses is an … “A.” “Forty-three percent of all letter grades are As.”

An exception to the rule is St. John’s College in Santa Fe, New Mexico (there is a Campus in Annapolis, MD, too), whose core curriculum is centered around what we call The Western Canon:

The great books (and works of art and music) upon which nobody contemporary has improved. (Everybody needs to be humbled by these works. I recently read some Plato abbreviated, after which I felt very small indeed. It’s all been said and thought-out before by the Greats. For example, an insight articulated and carefully thought-out in Into The Cannibal’s Pot; it was there. Plato said it already. Of course I was chuffed; it felt good. But how sad that this heritage—and with it the humility that comes with a recognition of true genius—is not being handed down.)

The video begins 4:22 minutes into the Tucker segment. (Tucker is a gem. The only gem on Fox News.)

St. John’s College admits only 800 and is producing the renaissance men and women of America.

ALL “freshmen must learn ancient Greek. ALL seniors struggle with quantum physics, along the way, as do they have to grapple with calculus, learn how to do differential equations, study Hegel and Kierkegaard, Karl Marx and Adam Smith.”

“St. John’s is sailing against every trend in American higher education.”

Their “students read 200 serious books over the course of their education.”

Only 800 students qualify in admission and all must undergo this rigor.

This is the traditional liberal arts education that our greatest minds (thinkers, scientists, Founding Fathers) would have undergone 100 plus years ago. (Was not Thomas Jefferson a scientist and a philosopher and an all-round genius? Indeed he was.)

It’s an all-required curriculum. Everyone is required to take courses of equal rigor. There are no majors, no minors. No hiding. No skewing the grades Bell Curve.

Minds thus enriched can go on to become whatever they want, having been given the intellectual wherewithal to think, and the tools to both appreciate intellectual history, draw on it and from it.

American education is an exercise in egalitarian idiocy. In my option, educational egalitarianism and idiocy does the greatest harm to the gifted child.

And isn’t that the aim? To give all children the feeling they are equally gifted?

Ultimately, wonderful young minds should not be abandoned to the evaluation standards of what are mostly sub-intelligent, near-illiterate educrats, who’ve been disseminating dumbed-down subject matter, in institutions of “learning” in which everyone is a winner.

UPDATED (10/30/018): Rotting young minds. 

And when I refused to partake in mobile-device mania I was called a Luddite (backwards). When I tell friends their kids (essentially) don’t know how to READ; I am dismissed.

See: “‘Screens are Poison’: Tech Elites Keeping Devices Out of Their Children’s Schools

Hiring The Best People, POTUS? Legal Scholar Jonathan Turley Thinks Michael Cohen Is A Rotten Attorney

Donald Trump, Human Accomplishment, Law, Sex

Legal scholar and quintessential gentleman Jonathan Turley is seldom wrong on the intricacies of the law. He was on Fox News propounding the theory, no doubt anchored in law, that Michael Cohen, President Trump’s fix-it lawyer, has gotten his client into a lot of trouble. (Alas, Turley, like Cohen, makes spelling mistakes):

… In what is now the most famous non-disclosure agreement in history, Cohen sought to silence Daniels with a $130,000 payment just days before the election. He drafted a flawed agreement that magnified the problems for his client. The agreement is entitled “Confidential Settlement Agreement and Mutual Release; Assignment of Copyright and Non-Disparagment (sic) Agreement.” If Cohen hoped to avoid “disparagment,” he could not have gone about it more ham-handedly. Cohen created the shield company Essential Consultants LLC and used anonymous identities for Daniels (“Peggy Peterson”) and Trump (“David Dennison”). However, Trump never signed. Instead, Cohen signed as EC LLC, which appears to be simply Cohen.

The agreement is frought [sic] with errors, including the fact that the arbitration provision seems to be an option for Trump rather than EC LCC. Nevertheless, Cohen (aka EC LLC) filed for arbitration and demanded $20 million in damages (as part of an excessive damages provision allowing for $1 million for every disclosure or even threatened disclosure by Daniels).

Now that Cohen’s counsel has confirmed the lack of knowledge or consent by Trump, the potential fallout from this agreement has become even more apparent and more serious.

… When this agreement first came to light, I wrote that Cohen would face very serious ethical questions over his conduct. First there was the fact that Cohen paid for the $130,000 out of his own pocket – a highly usual and troubling mixing of his personal and professional interests. Second, if Trump was not aware of the agreement, Cohen could be alleged to have made false representations to an opposing party as well as failing to meet his duty of conferral with a client. …

Mark Steyn, hardly a great thinker—although a thoroughly amusing one—made fun of Michael Avenatti, lawyer for porn star Stormy Daniels. Turley, who is a serious thinker on the law, says Avenatti did a superb job in representing his client.

You be the judge.

MORE: “Beware The ‘Lawyer Acquaintance’: How Fifty-Six Words May Have Just Sunk Trump and Cohen In The Daniels Litigation.

NEW COLUMN: Why Trump Pooh-Poohed “S-ithole” Countries (Part 2)

Africa, America, Donald Trump, Human Accomplishment, IMMIGRATION, Individual Rights, Political Philosophy

NEW COLUMN, now on Townhall.com, is “Why Trump Pooh-Poohed “S-ithole” Countries (Part 2).

Part 1 was “Trump’s ‘Shithole’ Controversy Deconstructed.

An excerpt from Why Trump Pooh-Poohed “S-ithole” Countries (Part 2):

… be it Africa or Arabia, the Left labors under the romantic delusion that the effects of millennia of development-resistant, self-defeating, fatalistic, atavistic, superstition-infused, unfathomably cruel cultures can be cured by an infusion of foreign aid, by the removal of tyrants such as Robert Mugabe or Jacob Zuma, or by bringing the underdeveloped world to The West. (Left-libertarian Katherine Mangu-Ward actually told Tucker Carlson that, “If we had a billion people in America, America would be unstoppable. That would be amazing.”)

Alas, bad leaders are not what shackle backward peoples. Not exclusively, at least. And Africa’s plight is most certainly not the West’s fault. Rather, Africa is a culmination of the failure of the people to develop the attitudes and institutions favorable to peace and progress.

However, while human behavior is mediated by values, we’d be intellectually remiss to deny that the cultural argument is flawed. It affords a circular, rather than a causal elegance: people are said to do the things they do because they are who they are and have a history of being that way. See what I mean by flawed?

What precisely, then, accounts for the unequal “civilizing potential,” as James Burnham called it, that groups display? Why have some people produced Confucian and Anglo-Protestant ethics—with their mutual emphasis on graft and delayed gratification—while others have midwifed Islamic and animistic values, emphasizing conformity, consensus, and control?
Why have certain patterns of thought and action come to typify certain people in the first place? …

… READ THE COMPLETE COLUMN. “Why Trump Pooh-Poohed “S-ithole” Countries (Part 2)” is on Townhall.com, where you can read Part 1: “Trump’s ‘Shithole’ Controversy Deconstructed.” 

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Salvadorean Temporary Residents Are Not Being Deported, Only Stripped Of Special Status. For Now.

Crime, Economy, Homeland Security, Human Accomplishment, IMMIGRATION

On January 8th, 2018, “the United States’ Department of Homeland Security had announced that it would end temporary protected status (TPS) for nearly 200,000 Salvadoreans who got” a generous grant of privilege from the US government in the late 1990s:

… permission to live and work in the country after a pair of earthquakes struck El Salvador in 2001. the United States’ Department of Homeland Security had announced that it would end temporary protected status (TPS) for nearly 200,000 Salvadoreans who got permission to live and work in the country after a pair of earthquakes struck El Salvador in 2001. .. The Salvadoreans are not alone. Smaller numbers of Hondurans and Nicaraguans were granted TPS after Hurricane Mitch wreaked havoc in 1998 (see chart).

… Citizens of all three Central American countries had their status renewed every 18 months for nearly two decades. Donald Trump, who promised to get tough on immigrants when he was campaigning for president, has found TPS a convenient way to keep that pledge.

Ditto “Haitians who were stranded after an earthquake in 2010.” Hondurans may be next.

To emphasize, Salvadorean temporary residents are not yet being deported (I doubt they ever will); only stripped of special status.

One wonders: Is the revoking of temporary protected status (TPS) for central Americans an easy issue on which to appear tough on immigration?

Wondering whether El Salvador a shithole country? Of course not. No unless you consider the following facts a hallmark of shittyness:

* It’s gang-ridden, home to MS-13, which has branches across America.
* Its GDP is pitiful. In fact, “Remittances from Salvadoreans living in the United States account for a colossal 17% of GDP.
* “[M]ore than 40% of workers are underemployed and two-thirds are in the informal sector. The economy creates 11,000 jobs a year for the 60,000 people who enter the workforce.”

But hey, “192,000 Salvadoreans children were born in the United States.” This means they can bring in those who may have to leave and many more. And in any case, “around half of the 195,000 Salvadorean TPS holders will be eligible to apply for permanent residence.”

So the question asked above is answered: TPS revocation represents more political optics than authentic change for Americans.

How much exactly do the American people’s legislators care about the  American people?

Enough to write “four proposed bills [which] would offer permanent residency to temporary protected status holders from El Salvador, Haiti, Honduras and Nicaragua. Some of those have bipartisan support.”

That’s how much!

MORE in The Economist.