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Saturday, January 15, 2005

What I Believe

It's the aim of existence to offer resistance to the flow of time.

I have decided to get my hands on some of the money earmarked for Faith-Based Initiatives coming out of the Bush Misadministration. As faith is more about a strong belief system than anything else, I really think I can step up too the plate in this regard. As Bush has said himself: "I know what I believe. I will continue to articulate what I believe and what I believe--I believe what I believe is right." -- Rome, July 22, 2001. From what he said, it appears that Bush has done his homework on the musings of punk poet Pete Shelley:
"I Believe", The Buzzcocks
I believe in the worker's revolution
And I believe in the final solution
I believe in the shape of things to come
And I believe in I'm not the only one
I believe in the immaculate conception
And I believe in the resurrection
I believe in the elixir of youth
And I believe in the absolute truth
I believe in perpetual motion
And I believe in perfect devotion
I believe in the things I've never had
I believe in my Mum and my Dad
I believe in original sin
And I believe what I believe in
I believe in the web of fate
And I believe in I'm going to be late
So I'll be leavin' What I believe in

I believe that I should be able to grant college degrees for home-schoolers, even grant graduate-level degrees. Given the number of tots going the home-learnin' route, I think a new institution could skim from the cream of the crop, as they will likely steer away from the traditional college route. Note the evidence:
What the educators are really worried about is the fact that a group of kids is not under their control -- and that these kids are showing up their proteges in every field imaginable.
His emphasis, not mine. Even though DuToit has no references for this assertion, you might be willing to believe him as he later compares home-schooling to how mother bears raise their cubs. The last thing we want to do is raise our kids the way a wild lioness would! And what better way to show up proteges than a home-schooled advanced degree diploma!

I will start my home-schooling college with degrees in punk (Buzzcocks undergrad level) and post-punk (Sonic Youth graduate level). I figure that lots of would-be punks are iconoclastic enough that they would be the first to sign up. The historical record is good on punk geniuses:
  1. Greg Graffin of Bad Religion - punk Zoology PhD
  2. Greg Turner of The Angry Samoans - punk Math PhD
  3. Metal Mike Saunders of The Angry Samoans - punk Certified Public Accountant
  4. Milo Auckerman of The Descendents - punk Microbiology PhD
  5. Ethan Port of Savage Republic - funk punk Math PhD
  6. Dexter Holland of The Offspring - metal punk Microbiology PhD
  7. Karl Precoda of The Dream Syndicate - guitar punk Interdisciplinary Studies (highly rated teaching skills)
  8. Bill Graber of Arcwelder - punk Controls Engineer (denies working for NASA though)
  9. Graeme Downes of The Verlaines - post-punk Music PhD
  10. Phil Alvin of The Blasters - roots punk Math PhD
  11. Warren Zanes of The Del Fuegos, roots punk Cultural Studies PhD (bandmate Tom Lloyd at CalTech)
  12. David Grubbs of Squirrel Bait - punk English PhD studies at U.Chicago (DNF)
  13. Sterling Morrison of Velvet Underground - pre-punk English PhD
  14. Steve Taylor of The Fugs - pre-punk English PhD
  15. Mira Aroyo of Ladytron - techno/glam-punk Genetics PhD from Oxford
  16. Robert Schneider of Apples in Stereo - indie Math PhD (pending?)
  17. Michael Gerald of Killdozer - punk Law J.D.
  18. Santiago Durango of Big Black - punk Law J.D.
  19. John S. Hall of King Missile - punk Law J.D.
  20. "Dr." Eugene Chadbourne of Shockabilly - Not really a doctor1
Several things to note from this list. Many of these bands are personal faves (Dream Syndicate, Verlaines, the rest recommended save Offspring). Next, the lawyer John S. Hall from King Missile should not be confused with that other lawyer, Ass Missile (aka HindRocket, aka John Hinderaker), even though Hall is also a political activist and had a great political talk-poem-song on Morning Sedition a few months ago (yeeha! AirAmerica finally has audio archives). A couple of non-punk 70's era exceptions to the list, non-punk Brian May of Queen who pursued a PhD in astronomy but fell short of diploma, and Tom Scholz of Boston who mastered in Electrical Engineering at MIT, made a fortune in arena-rock, patented all types of gizmos, and sounds like a true progressive dude. I bet Scholz could solve some of our energy issues if he put his mind to it.

To gain insight, one could also create the list of supposedly home-schooled historical figures, the ones who "showed everyone else up"; the list includes: George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, James Madison, John Quincy Adams, Abraham Lincoln, William Henry Harrison, Theodore F. Roosevelt, Patrick Henry, Booker T. Washington, Thomas Edison, Andrew Carnegie, John Stuart Mill, George Bernard Shaw, Irving Berlin, Charles Dickens, C.S. Lewis, Abigail Adams, Martha Washington, Florence Nightingale, Agatha Christie, Pearl Buck, Stonewall Jackson, Robert E. Lee, Douglas MacArthur, and George Patton. I believe that the list could go on if we can go back a few more centuries.

Looking at the historical home-schoolers, I first need to distinguish the difference between home-schooling and the early-American one-room schoolhouse. We also need to understand why only Booker T. Washington and Thomas Edison were the lone entries even close to being considered scientists. We also need to ask the question, considering his namesake, why the living Booker T. Jones is continuing his non-home-schooling with other tight timesters. This from a man who finished his original non-home-schooled music degree in the late 60's. Liverpudlian punk Julian Cope is our best bet to analyze in terms of what home-schooling archeological science has to offer.

I also believe in evolution. On this I side with Greg Graffin, the aforementioned PhD from Bad Religion. He only recently completed his thesis about the religious beliefs of evolutionary biologists. The non-home-schooled professor PZ Myers professed concerns about Graffin's methods, and wittily notices the musical prerequisites needed to get a start in evolutionary biology. Clearly, even though we find differences of opinion among all academics, according to Brian Regan author of "Human Evolution: A Guide to the Debates", every biologist agrees in the scientific basis for evolution, and that the Intelligent Design theory would wreak havoc with their entire field of study if true.

I also believe in the free flow of knowledge. The Wikipedia tries to organize the world's intrinsic knowledge, giving the public free reign to self-regulate a repository of all things pertaining to facts and figures. Some thinkers, best represented by Stirling Newberry's "Wingnutpedia?" post, get worked up over the Intelligent Design entry. I agree totally in the absurdity of this entry's existence, and even more that it tries to argue for both sides of the issue. How anybody could populate this entry with "knowledge" while trying to keep a straight face, I don't know. My theory is that home-school teachers hand this out as a morning assignment to their students. "Now kids, I want you, Jeffy, to update Intelligent_design and you, Billy, to update Dinosaurs". I went and edited the "argument for" Intelligent_design section to lead with "This is crap"; but it disappeared a day or so later. I guess I don't have the dilligence of the home-schoolers. In any case, this is all you have to remember about Wikipedia : it has a Festivus entry. This means that the Wikipedia isn't for them, it is for the rest of us.
And I believe in equality, equality for everyone.. no matter how stupid they are, or how much better I am than they are.

I also believe in sticking up for rights in which you believe in. I have the right to go cross-country skiing along the shoreline of every mansion I come across on Lake Minnetonka. And I have the right to ski up to the high-water shoreline without fear of trespassing. So, with a renewed confidence, I took a shot at circumnavigating Minnetonka by XC ski. The lake has many inlets and back bays, which tempts you to take shortcuts across open ice. But, you have to think twice about this, because other skiers have had run-ins with motorized snowtrolls. Sensing dread from somewhere in my memory banks, I could swear that a Lake Minnetonka skier was killed attempting to cross one of the bays. In fact, he was only run over and left for dead by a group of 8 snowmobilers. Granted, it was at night, but no one ever caught the scoundrels:
From a Lakeshore Weekly News editorial: "My question is why are you protecting the person who did this? What does this say about our community and snowmobilers in general? Have you no conscience?"
So we know that snowmobilers like to go out there in droves. Big groups, like the Hugh Hewitt contingent from last year, had the bloviating radio talk show host snowmobiling on Minnetonka with the Northern Radio Alliance (about a group of 8 people) with speeds hitting 75 MPH.

That whole Northern Radio Alliance has strong beliefs. Bill Cooper, Powerline blogger Scott Johnson's boss, shows his meddle:

"Last year, he spent about $10,000 to overturn a ticket he was issued for speeding on a snowmobile on Lake Minnetonka."

Scott Johnson, says "Bill Cooper is one of my heroes". And the other Patriots from the Patriot radio station just mock us iconoclasts. From the Taxpayers League Live radio show hosted by David Strom, on before the Northern Radio show, a guest says "It's no fun to ski on flat land." and "But, we have a whole industry dedicated to saying it's fun to ski on flat land." Well, I don't believe that Strom is a prick, but I believe that I would have a hard time distinguishing him from a fire hydrant wearing a tunic. Strom actually stated the following on his show: "Who are the heroes of the liberals? Castro, Stalin?". Well, I guess that the heroes of the right are CEOs of large banks.

As Short Trunk's rabbi1 relates:
I told him that I had met him (Bush) one time before when he was running for election when he came to Minnesota for a fundraiser, and former Senator Rudy Boschwitz invited me to this estate (CEO Cooper's) at Lake Minnetonka where this fundraiser was held. President Bush gave a speech inside a room that housed an indoor pool. The room itself in this house held hundreds of people.

I also believe I have the right to find out when The Big Trunk blogs. The following is a table of all blog posts made by The Big Trunk since Powerline started. He has posted over 3400 times since the middle of 2002. Over a fifth of his posts occur during what most consider banker's hours (9 AM to 5 PM). Remember that the Big Trunk is Vice President in charge of TCF National Bank's legal affairs.
1 am 8 1 4 1 1 0 1
2 3 4 3 1 2 1 2
3 1 6 1 5 4 2 4
4 2 11 5 5 11 6 4
5 12 24 36 16 30 4 5
6 am 88 98 98 88 98 42 10
7 48 59 64 81 79 98 75
8 31 20 33 31 29 72 50
9 17 29 26 26 26 41 11
10 15 36 21 14 39 42 15
11 am 14 25 26 18 26 28 22
noon 11 18 13 11 12 11 39
1 pm 9 13 14 15 12 8 25
2 18 22 17 16 20 6 21
3 12 17 19 25 13 10 16
4 18 11 17 16 21 18 18
5 21 11 26 22 27 17 27
6 pm 21 16 7 21 15 10 16
7 21 10 18 8 7 5 9
8 35 15 28 26 85 16
9 54 38 29 28 12 8 20
10 26 22 9 18 8 5 19
11 pm 3 8 3 3 2 8 6
midnite 1 0 5 1 3 0 0
Completing the entire exercise, from setting up a Unix shell script to parse the archived pages, and creating the table, was quite educational -- and probably something a home-schooler could do just as easily. But my money is still in that frickin' bank, and I have a right to find out how the suits are wasting their time on their "job". So, even if the amount of time I spend on this task is the same as some financial guru tracking down stock derivatives, it will be well worth it.

I also believe that this is all public information, and my little exercise pretty much sums up what Ashcroft and his successors have in mind for the future. Ashcroft's disciples will likely spend time fact checking every move we make. They will be able to find out that Johnson posts most of the time between 6 and 7 weekday mornings, and that he starts an hour or two later on the weekend. It's curious that his daytime minimum is around lunch time, the usual time for most office web surfing. Chalk it up to PowerLunching for the PowerLiner.

I also believe that CBS News be given a second chance; not that they did anything wrong in the first place. If you consider that Seymour Hersh nearly blew his legendary cred status reporting on the fake Hitler diariesKennedy/Monroe contract a few years back, give him credit for keeping at it over the ensuing years. So, in the end, Seymour Hersh has a couple of fine bookends to his career, first the reporting on the My Lai massacre in the 1970's and now Abu Ghraib ... and his career isn't over. So too, maybe the same portends for CBS's Mary Mapes, who having first reported Abu Ghraib to the public airwaves, will make a resurgence sometime in the future.

Image Hosted by ImageShack.us For now, the Right's belief system has expanded to some sort of Inverted Shroud of Turin; a holier-than-thou proof that something didn't occur. It wouldn't surprise me if replicas of the Killian memos get placed next to a 10 Commandments plaque outside some courthouse. Wasn't it Mel Brooks who said: "I present you the 15 . oops. I present you the 10 commandments." Well here they are, the extra five:
  1. Thou shall not investigate the party in power, IOKIYAR
  2. Thou shall not denigrate educators, IOKIYAR
  3. Thou shall not project, IOKIYAR
  4. Thou shall not frame, IOKIYAR
  5. Thou shall not play the mighty wurlitzer, IOKIYAR

Image Hosted by ImageShack.us
The right's current mantra, "I believe in the inauthenticity of the memos" is basically a topic perfect for home-schooling, and something that has infiltrated the Wingnutpedia. I spent a minute or two updating the "Killian memos" Wikipedia entry to reflect that the CBS Report did not pass judgement on the authenticity of the memos. (The entry actually claimed that the CBS Report stated them as being fraudulent) It will be my life's passion to protect that Wikipedia entry from the untruth. It only pains me that I don't have an army of little home-schooled tykes to do my grunt work.

If the memogate is all just a perceived joke, check the experiences of the punk sound-collage pioneers Negativland. They hatched a simple marketing scheme spun in such a way that the ones targeted for ridicule actually fed the flames.

We can learn a lot from the punks, especially when it has nothing to do with music.

Lastly, I believe that Joel Hodgson reigns over Mike Nelson.

1 "Dr." Chadbourne, although considered a loony genius in his deconstruction of early rock&roll, apparently left a crazed legacy at the Calgary Herald which carries on to this day, as reported in a previous post. According to his CV, the Dr. is the youngest writer and editor in the Calgary Herald paper's history.
2 Hmmm, nickname due to circumcision accident?

My relative motion is just an illusion from stopping too fast


Professor Blogger monkeygrinder said...

Not to detract to much from the head of steam you built up in this article, but this study,
matches my own personal experience as a part time home schooled tot. The fact that my parents had a somewhat religious impulse for our home schooling did not ultimately prevent us children from scoring in the 99th percentile on the ridiculous SAT's. Also, my dad made the mistake of teaching us classical logic, which came in handy when I finally deconverted from his faith after rereading the not so Good Book.

3:55 PM  
Professor Blogger WHT said...

I would be interested in what the scores are for students attending my proposed home-schooled colleges and universities. Given the fact that the study you cite (survey material provided by the reputable Bob Jones University testing services) shows increasing scores up to the 12th grade, I can just imagine how the student's aptitude level will increase as we expand home-schooling to the post-secondary level.


7:37 AM  
Professor Blogger monkeygrinder said...

I hear you, and the Bob Jones stuff made me chuckle too. It is hard to find studies done on this topic that lack an intersection with religion. Your post made me curious 'cause I hadn't thought about home schooling in a while; the first batch of 'studies' I found appeared to have been run by people directly involved in home schooling.

University education is a completely different animal than primary education of course. I wouldn't trade the university experience for anything. The one-on-one model of enthuastic parents teaching their children breaks right down when you get past aljebrah and into vector diff calculus (or whatever).

Also, I suspect I'd be too lazy to homeschool my own children; I'll try and make up for it by making them eat their brocoli.

1:07 PM  
Professor Blogger DJ Ray Liotta said...

Just a little FYI: I'm working on a piece about musicians with PhDs and have done a bunch of research -- turns out Dexter Holland, Mira Aroyo, and Phil Alvin do NOT have PhDs. They're ABDs - All But Dissertations.

5:04 PM  
Professor Blogger WHT said...

Thanks. List is probably bigger too.

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