Tag Archives: College

Amateur Hour

The Times is hosting a fun debate on college athletes’ amateur status. Check it out.

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Filed under Sports, Worthy Links

The Old College Try

I’m not sure if Campus Progress dredged up Ross Douthat’s old Harvard articles as part of some misguided attempt to derail his move to the Times, but they’re fascinating reading nonetheless (via). Three quick thoughts:

1.) I shudder to think what I would have done with a newspaper column in college. My only contribution to Mary Washington’s abysmal Bullet was “Three Years of Living Dangerously,” an embarrassingly crude (if   occasionally funny) satire of sharing a room with a lacrosse jock for several semesters.

2.) Douthat matured as a writer before he matured as a thinker. That said, many of his worst rhetorical excesses – “It goes without saying that [Saddam Hussein], too, is busy trying to acquire a nuclear bomb” – wouldn’t have felt out of place in any number of mainstream conservative publications circa 2002.

3.) I liked this passage:

“[A]bsent a remarkable change in human nature, it seems unlikely the American multitudes, more concerned with ‘Survivor’ and stock options than with the details of Al Gore’s prescription drug plan, will suddenly bestir themselves, flip on CNN, and catch up on all the politics they have missed during our comfortable, decade-long Gilded Age. More likely, a sudden and artificially induced increase in voter turnout would only mean an increase in the number of ill-informed, poorly thought out and just plain stupid votes. To be blunt, most of the people who don’t vote, shouldn’t vote.”

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Filed under Conservatism, The Media

Snobbery

Andrew Sullivan is at it again:

How anti-intellectual is Sarah Palin?

Ramesh Ponnuru asks the question. He refers to Noam Scheiber’s devastating piece on Palin’s Nixonian hatred of educated elites. But Ponnuru wants more evidence. Here’s one way to look at the question: how has Palin brought up her own kids? Her eldest son is a high-school drop-out. Her eldest daughter has had, so far as one can tell from press reports, very uneven attendance in high school, and no plans for college. Her other daughters seem to spend a lot of time traveling the country with their mom at tax-payers’ expense. I’ve seen them at several rallies with the Palins this fall. Are they not in school?

The least one can say is that none of her children seems to have been brought up thinking that college is something to aspire to. And her new son-in-law just dropped out of high school as well.

Sarah Palin’s own record of several colleges over several years – ending with a degree in sports journalism – tells you a lot. So does her interest in policing the Wasilla library as mayor and using the town’s money for a sports stadium.

If we’re going to criticize Palin for anti-intellectualism, let’s stick to her obnoxious remarks about civilian casualties in Afghanistan or her nonsensical take on anthropogenic global warming. Knocking her kids for skipping school is neither here nor there, and given the fact that her oldest son volunteered for military service in Iraq, I think we should applaud the Palin family for encouraging certain worthy alternatives to college.

Moreover, attending college in modern America has never been a leading indicator of intellectual curiosity. In fact, questioning the benefits of a four year college degree is one of the more persuasive conservative criticisms of higher education to have emerged in recent years (see this recent Cato Unbound discussion). And if I ever become a parent (God forbid!), I hope to have the good sense not to force my children into higher education against their will.

As for Sarah Palin’s own record of educational achievement, I recommend this LA Times article on her college years. Reading it, I was instantly reminded of the hard-working commuter students I knew at school. They didn’t have the luxury of a parental stipend and usually worked a job on the side, and they rarely (if ever) made it out on weekends. But they always attended class (which is more than I ever did), took copious notes, and generally did everything possible to get a damn good return on their investment. Palin may have come from a parochial background, but she evidently cared enough about her intellectual development to work her way through five years of post-secondary schooling. I can’t imagine it came cheap or easy.

And why the hell would Wasilla need a museum, anyway?

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Filed under Alaska, Conservatism, Education

Just when I thought I was out . . . they pull me back in

I’m currently banging out a file for my alma mater’s policy debate program, whose (sole?) varsity team will be attending the Georgia State tournament this weekend in Atlanta. For those of you unfamiliar with the odd subculture that is collegiate policy debate, Georgia State is the inaugural national tournament of a season that runs until next spring. Mary Washington is usually out-gunned and over-matched on the national circuit, but in college I was fortunate enough to compete at a time when a few brave souls challenged the bigger schools’ hegemonic aspirations.

Now the hopes of this distinguished alumnus rest on one varsity team, known only by their initials, KS. Both K and S are bold, strapping fellows whom I admire greatly. Last year, they made a name for themselves by defeating Cal Berkeley’s top team in elimination rounds of Wake Forest’s autumn tournament. Now these veteran gunslingers have returned for another shot at the national circuit, and I expect great things from them.

As a junior, I was fortunate enough to debate with S at a regional tournament (We were soundly beaten by the Papists in the semi-finals). I never had the pleasure of debating with K, but I can vouch for him as a gentleman and a scholar.

In short, both debaters are the smarter, more articulate kid brothers I never had. I wish them the best of luck, and I look forward to hearing tales of their exploits.

Go Eagles!

A photo of my very last debate round in college. I'm the scruffy-looking fellow on the left. The crypto-Marxist to my right is my famed ex-partner.
A photo of my very last debate round in college. I’m the scruffy-looking fellow on the left. The crypto-Marxist on the right is my famed ex-partner.

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Filed under Policy Debate, Uncategorized