Thursday, April 11, 2019


What ever happened to that fellow we called "Ed"?  You know, Ed Ucation?  I haven't seen him around lately.

GOP Rep. Robert Massie to John Kerry: Isn't true you have a science degree from Yale?
KERRY: Bachelor of Arts degree.
MASSIE: Is it a political science degree?
KERRY: Yes, political science.
MASSIE: How do you get a Bachelor of Arts in a science?"

"Thomas Harold Massie is an American inventor, entrepreneur, and Republican politician who has been the United States Representative for Kentucky's 4th congressional district since 2012. In 2012, he defeated Bill Adkins in the special and general elections to represent Northern Kentucky in Washington, D.C."

If you're "up to speed," you'll realize that people write their own Wikipedia entries.  You remember the cartoon in which one of the characters claims to have a Ph.D. and be a millionaire?  His interrogator asks where it says that. The cartoon character says, "Give me fifteen minutes and you can read it on Wikipedia!" 

Here's Massie becoming a joke.  

The "Young Turks" commentators were even more entertained.    Mr. Massie is representing us on the Congressional Oversight Committee.  I'm not surprised by the man.  I quit attending the town council meetings when I wasted time trying to straighten out the uninformed convictions of one of the members.  It's not that he didn't know things but that he was so stubbornly attached to wrong ideas.

The state of education across the country is emptied at every level.  There are a host of intersecting reasons, large and small, some political and some personal, virtuous and evil, escaping from every effort to control and renew.

Much has been made of the 'Sixties and 'Seventies tearing down convention in order to destroy the moral order.  In the past the professions, including medicine and the law, had been the sources of ultimate wisdom.  Moral inquiry into their values ran up against the Vietnam War, underlaid and motivated with corruption, and lost authority.  War is always politics but love is not always peace. Bright lines were snuffed.  Education was just a way of not getting drafted.

One profession after another was hollowed out.  Religion starved God. Medicine was reduced to insurance repayments according to a code enforced by quasi-medicals like Doctor Assistants with degrees by mail order.  Professors were replaced by adjuncts who had to be barristers as well, in order to make a living.  On the street law enforcement was demonized with reason.  The aspirations of minorities who had been actively denied education (it started with forbidding slaves to become literate) now wanted the best degrees because they were the qualification for the best respected jobs, and they craved prestige, but then their political passion could throw the President of Harvard out of office.

But, like people who said marriage certificates were just a piece of paper, diplomas became just a matter of negotiation.  The connection to morality was destroyed by the knowledge that morality can be radically argued.  Now teachers even in the elementary grades were threatened by people who wanted to "know better," to insist on their grasp of the facts, which often came from cheesy documentaries half-watched from a sofa.

Not all that happened can be viewed cynically.  Computers changed everything.  Not everyone was educated enough to touch-type, much less analyze the shortcomings of random and skewed knowledge presented with all the authority of paper dictionaries and encyclopedias, which were cheerfully discarded without realizing that they -- in their resistance to ephemera -- might be needed again.  How could we find place to start understanding the incredible amount of data without the AI of a computer to make a list?

Much more than that, the change in the assumptions and methods of thinking are utterly different.  I'm very much "into" the shift from an interpretation of science as error-free, untouched by previous experience, and somehow privileged, to the recognition of the physical body entire as a source of thinking.  (Sometimes I wonder whether engineering is a form of autism.)  I'm convinced about metaphor as a bedrock of thought, the portrayal of organic neural system loops of connection, the "third" vagal nerve controlling a kind of presentation panel of face and heart that is the source of empathy -- not just words.  Some people still haven't give up the ideas of Heaven and Hell as actually existing.  Others are immigrants from countries where no such notions exist.  Many more cope with the cacophony by ignoring it all and concentrating on the tasks of the day.  You don't need a doctoral degree to do most of running a community.  Some even wall-off the community.

So this Kentucky man who looks like a child wearing his dad's eyeglasses, thinks that political science IS a science, which would please the people who even think economics is a science.  But he doesn't understand how universities name the divisions and steps of their programs, much less have the sophistication to know the basics of his own school.  "The Massachusetts Institute of Technology is a private research university in Cambridge, Massachusetts. Founded in 1861 in response to the increasing industrialization of the United States, MIT adopted a European polytechnic university model and stressed laboratory instruction in applied science and engineering."  I hope his claim to his degree holds up as real -- so many dissolve under scrutiny these days.

There is a prestige war between MIT and Harvard, partly fueled by the engineers claiming more basic worth and Harvard claiming -- do I dare say it?  Liberal thought.  Both are partial.  Neither is a religion.  The content of courses is less valid than the integrity of the faculties.  We hardly know what integrity means now.

"The state of being whole and undivided."  "Upholding territorial integrity and national sovereignty"  Computer, no other source noted.

PS: I have a BS in Speech Education. Make of it what you will.

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