Academic corruption

I have literally been in this position: consoling a young black man who didn’t get into medical school despite getting straight As and demonstrating a deep commitment to working in community health, and an hour later meeting a young white woman who sailed into medical school despite having marginal MCAT scores and nothing but straight Cs, and who also never showed much concern about her career, just assuming she’d get in. The difference? He was a first generation college graduate. Both of her parents were doctors who had attended the medical school she got into. She was a “legacy”. Jebus, but I despise that casual acceptance of what is actually a corrupt practice.

Here’s another kind of corruption: Trump’s son-in-law, Jared Kushner, is going to have a high position in his administration despite being a bit of a boob, just like Trump. But he is rich, just like Trump.

…a grubby secret of American higher education: that the rich buy their underachieving children’s way into elite universities with massive, tax-deductible donations. It reported that New Jersey real estate developer Charles Kushner had pledged $2.5m to Harvard University not long before his son Jared was admitted to the prestigious Ivy League school, which at the time accepted about one of every nine applicants. (Nowadays, it only takes one out of 20.)

I also quoted administrators at Jared’s high school, who described him as a less-than-stellar student and expressed dismay at Harvard’s decision.

“There was no way anybody in the administrative office of the school thought he would on the merits get into Harvard,’’ a former official at the Frisch school in Paramus, New Jersey, told me. “His GPA [grade point average] did not warrant it, his SAT scores did not warrant it. We thought, for sure, there was no way this was going to happen. Then, lo and behold, Jared was accepted. It was a little bit disappointing because there were at the time other kids we thought should really get in on the merits, and they did not.’’

Basically, this is a story of bribery and nepotism. But no one is going to do anything about it.

Furthermore, it can’t change because of a self-serving cycle. The Republicans have spent decades starving our universities so they’re desperate for funding, and then it’s the Republicans who benefit by providing back-door graft to the schools.

Don’t worry, it’ll change when we get university administrators with honor and integrity who will refuse special favors in return for the donations of billionaires and millionaires. (That’s a joke, son. Laugh. Laugh through the pain. It’s a talent that will serve you well for the next several years.)

Mano is commenting on the same thing. All academics know about this sleazy practice.

He won’t have learned a thing

Good grief, has Mike Pence ever listened to Hamilton before? He ought to have known that everything in that musical is antithetical to what the Trump/Pence administration stands for, from its central hero’s support for a strong central government to it’s praise for diversity and immigration. But he bought tickets (I wonder how much those cost? I know I couldn’t afford to get tickets to that Broadway play, as much as I’d like to), but he showed up anyway, was deservedly booed by the audience, and even got a special message from the cast.

I see you walking out but I hope you will hear us. Nothing to boo here, we’re all sharing a story of love. We welcome you, and we truly thank you for joining us here at Hamilton: An American Musical — we really do. We are the diverse America who are alarmed and anxious that your new administration will not protect us, our planet, our children, our parents, or defend us and uphold our inalienable rights, sir. But we truly hope this show has inspired you to uphold our American values, and work on behalf of all of us. We truly thank you for sharing this show, this wonderful American story told by a diverse group of men and women of different colors, creeds, and orientations.

Keep in mind that that was said by a gay black man, demonstrating more tolerance in a minute than Mike Pence has in a lifetime.

Some of the lines in the musical acquired a special resonance, too. The audience roared when King George sang these lines:

What comes next?
You’ve been freed
Do you know how hard it is to lead?

You’re on your own
Awesome. Wow
Do you have a clue what happens now?

Oceans rise
Empires fall
It’s much harder when it’s all your call

All alone, across the sea
When your people say they hate you
Don’t come crawling back to me

You’re on your own…

The people are already saying they hate you, Mike Pence, and you haven’t even taken office yet.

Sweet Jesus. Trump is already complaining.

Now you want a “safe space”? You asshole.

Also he’s lying again. The cast was not rude, quite the opposite. They were much nicer than I could have been. What do they have to apologize for?

“Nothing to boo here”. SORRY. Lots to boo.

“we’re all sharing a story of love.” SORRY. We shouldn’t share a story of love with you haters.

“We welcome you.” SORRY. You’re not welcome here.

“we truly thank you for joining us here at Hamilton: An American Musical — we really do.” Sorry. We don’t. Fuck off now.

“We are the diverse America.” SORRY. We’re not white straight people.

“who are alarmed and anxious that your new administration will not protect us, our planet, our children, our parents, or defend us and uphold our inalienable rights, sir.” SORRY that you’re so goddamned scary and hate us so much.

“But we truly hope this show has inspired you to uphold our American values.” SORRY. We shouldn’t expect a gang of thugs to support our values.

“and work on behalf of all of us.” SORRY. We don’t really believe for half a second that you’ll do that.

“We truly thank you for sharing this show, this wonderful American story told by a diverse group of men and women of different colors, creeds, and orientations.” SORRY, so terribly SORRY, that we exist.

Still waiting for journalists to learn

It’s not happening. They’re doing their best to normalize racists while calling it “journalism”. Read this NPR interview with Breitbart editor Joel Pollak, in which he fawns over Steve Bannon to a ludicrous degree, and the interviewer fails to call him out.

INSKEEP: I mean, let me just stop you there because I do want to ask about something that you said. You were talking about facts and data and how he ran Breitbart. Why did he make Breitbart the platform for the alt-right?

POLLAK: You know, all I can speak to is the content on the website. And the only alt-right content we have is a single article out of tens of thousands of articles, which is a journalistic article about the alt-right by Milo Yiannopoulos and Allum Bokhari, which basically went into this movement and tried to figure out what it was about. That’s not racist. That’s journalism.

Inskeep presumably thinks of himself as a journalist. Pollak has just maligned all of journalism, and has also outright lied in this interview (Bannon: We’re the platform for the alt-right.), and what does Innskeep do? He let’s it slide and he changes the subject.

No. That’s not how you do it. You do your homework ahead of time, and when you ask why Bannon made Breitbart the platform for the alt-right, you’ve got sources and quotes to back up your assertion, so that when a liar like Pollak makes such a ludicrous and patently false claim, you use that information to fucking pound him into the ground. You don’t change the subject. The interviewee has just exposed his fundamental wrongness, and you tear into that. Shove it in his face and make him address it, don’t let him dodge it. Your job is not to provide a pleasant, soothing environment for the guest, it is to probe down into the guts of the topic to extract some germ of insight, which might be very uncomfortable for him.

Inskeep seems to have an abstract notion of what journalism should mean as he later says:

INSKEEP: I want to mention, you know, actually putting controversial opinions out there is a perfectly fine idea. We’ve had David Duke on this program, but we fact-check, we try to question, we put in context.

Right. So where’s the instant fact-check on Pollak’s lie? Innskeep goes on to try and address a Breitbart article that praises the Confederacy, but then Pollak uses that as a springboard for more bullshit.

POLLAK: I think that we can talk about individual articles out of the tens of thousands at Breitbart, but, you know, NPR is taxpayer-funded and has an entire section of its programming, a regular feature called “Code Switch,” which, from my perspective, is a racist program. I’m looking here at the latest article, which aired on NPR, calling the election results “nostalgia for a whiter America.” So NPR has racial and racist programming that I am required to, I’m required to pay for as a taxpayer.

So that’s our story. NPR, which has just in this segment demonstrated a complete lack of any kind of teeth, is the racist news source, while Breitbart, which is an unremitting stream of hate endorsed by the KKK and the Daily Stormer, is journalism. Who cares about facts? Not modern journalism, it seems.

Oh, well. It’s not like Bannon is literally Joseph Goebbels.

Here’s a quote to keep in mind:

For those covering Trump, the lesson is that adversarial journalism, not access journalism, will better serve the public interest.

Adversarial journalism? What’s that? I don’t think I’ve seen much of that in the wild lately. Maybe it’s gone extinct.

When our institutions fail us

The American Astronomical Society is apparently led by craven suck-ups who don’t believe in standing up for science. They removed a post that was critical of the incoming Trump administration, making bogus arguments about how they are a non-political organization. I’m sorry, but you’re a science organization, and when an anti-science goon comes into office, you decide to hide under your desks rather than opposing him? What use is such an organization? If you refuse to take a stand when your members are under threat, when you actively silence criticism, you become a collaborator. And if you think bowing to the overlords of ignorance will shelter you from their ire, you haven’t thought things through.

We’ve got a Trump coming in who wants to wreck the economy and build a wall and is already complaining about those protesting college kids. You think if you scuttle to do his bidding that that will protect you from the inevitable cuts to science programs, the starving of our universities, discrimination against our students? Have you noticed that his administration is going to be managed by a raving racist and anti-semite? Does the fact that the vice president is going to be a theocrat who thinks the universe is only a few thousand years old trouble you at all?

The AAS has censored one of their own, but it’s not going to help them, because here is Sarah Tuttle’s piece. She’s saying what our scientific institutions ought to all be saying, although they probably won’t.

To those of you preaching appeasement and patience: No. We know what that looks like. We are better students of history. I am not afraid to stand up to protect the existence of those who society has pushed to the margins. I am not afraid to stand up to protect myself.

Everyone needs to rise up, and if our institutions, from the AAS to the Democratic party, are unable to share our outrage and help, then it’s time to throw down their leadership and replace them with people who are conscious of the real threat now facing this country…and facing science.

Cowards and bullies

Such charming people, those Trumpkins. Here’s a coffee shop owner who raged about Clinton:

“Before last week’s election, Heafner shared an image of Trump in the White House, with a caption that read, ‘If Trump wins the election, it’ll be the first time in history that a billionaire moves into public housing vacated by a black family.’

In an earlier post about Hillary Clinton, he wrote, ‘She needs f*cked with a bat! Right up her liberal f*cking ass!’”

The day before the election, when Heafner apparently thought Trump was going to lose, he posted this message: ‘The Coffee Tavern will never recognize a murdering whore for president!! Don’t like it, keep the fuck out!! We don’t tolerate scum!!!’”

Racist and misogynist…but now that people complained and threatened to boycott his shop, he’s singing a different tune.

“The people that know me know I’m not like that,” Heafner said in an interview after the incident. “I just hope that this community can overlook the stupid comments I made.”

Nope, sorry, that is what you are like, and now we do know you. Don’t worry about your business: this is America. The decent people might avoid your place, but you can always draw in the white power crowd. Enjoy your new company!

Here’s another example of a cowardly bully. This deplorable Trumpkin started an argument with a Clinton supporter in a bar and was separated from them, which you’d think would solve the problem. Then, after the “gentleman” paid up and was leaving

“The guy came back almost running, and he started pushing some customer and the high-chair next to him with the baby because he couldn’t reach the girl,” the manager told the Brooklyn Paper. “Then he punched the girl.”

Drost said staffers and locals chased after the man and eventually caught up to him. Leon told the Paper that the man yelled “You don’t know who I am!” before jumping into his car and driving off. The NYPD spokesman said the assailant escaped in a white car, and that no arrests were made. Love said it took at least 10 minutes for cops to arrive.

These are going to be the chickenshit years, aren’t they?