Saturday, July 28, 2012

Saturday Santorum: Penn State Edition!

It is the perfect confluence of assholery, Rick Santorum has come out as a Paterno/PSU apologist:
In an interview with Dallas-Ft. Worth’s KSKY 660 AM on Friday, Santorum, a Penn State alum, called the evidence “pretty darn thin” and said, “I’m sort of sitting back and waiting for the facts to come out as opposed to, at least as I’m being told, a version of the facts.”
He criticized the Freeh report, saying “a lot of the conclusions in the Freeh report aren’t matched by the evidence that they presented.” He said he read the 267-page report.
But Ed, you say, he's a bad example, most Penn Staters* aren't like him. That's true. They're worse:
Meet Tom and Sally Price. Tom is a Penn State graduate, and both are die-hard Penn State football fans. In an interview with News Watch 16 WNEP in Pennsylvania, Tom compared the sanctioned levied against his school to one of America’s greatest tragedies – the terrorist attacks of September 11.
“I just can’t put my arms around it. To me, it was our 9/11 today. I just saw planes crashing into towers,” said Tom Price.
Hey asshat, know what our 9-11 was? 9-11...dickweed.

We have Penn State bookstores selling "We are...pissed" T-shirts...these brain-dead yahoos weren't pissed when they heard the football showers were a pedophile rape chamber were they?  There's more, #teamoutlaw and PSU vs the world are trending on twitter. These are the types of morons who would charge artillery for slaveholders....hmmmm....similar psychology there....

Look, I have degrees from two land grant colleges (URI, Oregon State) and a Jesuit Ivy (Boston College).  Each had bad points, some much less than others.  I liked the departments in each one.  But I always understood that any attempt by the university to make the students feel like "they are" the school is really just marketing and  apology to make you forget that you are purchasing the opportunity for an education from them.  My short period of attendance is not who I am.  But I've never witnessed the cult-like devotion to the PSU football program (which in the mind of many vocal Penn Staters IS Penn State). I hate when people who attended Ivy League schools, SLACs and places like BC sneer at the land-grant and public schools, but I do acknowledge that the academics and student scholarship overall is higher at those places.  Yet I've heard engineers, accountants and others tell me with a glazed look in their eyes that Penn State is the best college education in America and that it owes that to Joe Paterno and the football program.

The sad part is that the scandal would not have hurt people who attended the school, but this vocal blind loyalty, victimization (over sanctions to an extracurricular activity) and insensitivity to child rape will.  Keep it up Penn Staters, you're are your own enemy.

*Penn Staters is a catch-all for those who attended the main campus (there's more than one, but they don't  rate, cuz you know, no Paterno) and Penn residents who rabidly follow the team, excuse me, the FOOTBALL team.

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Penn. State Priorities

The Penn. State scandal grabs my attention not only because I am a PA taxpayer, but also because of my disgust at the widespread corruption and incompetence in American higher education.  As I've said before I am very much in favor of the mission of academia and against the attacks from the outside, but that does not excuse it's culture and behavior.

Anyway two unrelated items caught my eye yesterday that together bring into sharp focus that the priorities of PSU.  First, this comment from a student  the head of the university's alumni association chapter in London on CNN on the NCAA sanctions against the football program,
By essentially taking away the main pillar of the university, you are almost pulling the university down," former student Ujas Patel told CNN. What really hurts, he said, is taking wins away from Paterno, known affectionately by fans as "JoePa."
Really, football is the main pillar of a large research university?  Maybe it's true, because I had this in my inbox from the Mineralogical Society of America's listserv:

I am looking for an EPMA facility preferably near southwestern Pennsylvania (Pittsburgh), that is used to dealing with geologic materials.  In the past my company has used the facility at Penn State University, but that is no  longer possible as they no longer provide this service.
Yep, a large research institute apparently doesn't has the staff and or resources to provide availability to their analytical equipment.  Guess what, contract work like that can make such labs self-sufficient and able to afford scheduled maintenance, as well as pay for research on unfunded projects.  The latter is particularly important because NSF grants are very difficult to get.

Fight on Nittany Lions, fight on Ivory Tower. You've met your the mirror.

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Old School Project

Making progress on the house, but doing that at night, yard-work on weekends and trying to focus on the What the Frack blog has kept me away from here.

Our contractors finished their work. Moldy drywall on the walls was replaced by tounge and groove paneling. The drywall ceilings were removed and a rough-sawn pine was put between the joists in the new dining room (my old office). In my new office/pantry (old dining room) the joists and subfloor were left exposed for a rustic look. We also have new windows that open - although it has been too hot many days to do so.

But the contractors didn't do everything.  It's up to me to paint, install lamps and numerous other things. So that's what I've been up to.

This Old House is more fun to watch than experience!

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

For the 4th: John Adams real thoughts on Government

This is the third year in a row I've posted this. It's now my July 4th tradition.

The Continental Congress passed a Resolution declaring the independence of the 13 colonies on July 2, 1776, 234 years ago today.This is why John Adams said, "The second day of July, 1776, will be the most memorable epocha in the history of America. I am apt to believe that it will be celebrated by succeeding generations as the great anniversary festival. It ought to be commemorated as the day of deliverance, by solemn acts of devotion to God Almighty. It ought to be solemnized with pomp and parade, with shows, games, sports, guns, bells, bonfires, and illuminations, from one end of this continent to the other, from this time forward forevermore"
However, the formal declaration was not approved until the 4th, which of course is the day we celebrate. So Johnny was two days off.

Anyway, in these times when a minority of reactionaries twist, color and outright lie about what the American Revolutionary leaders thought (as if they all agreed in lockstep) I want to quote the man from my home town again, John Adams, from his Thoughts on Government:

"We ought to consider what is the end of government, before we determine which is the best form. Upon this point all speculative politicians will agree, that the happiness of society is the end of government, as all divines and moral philosophers will agree that the happiness of the individual is the end of man. From this principle it will follow, that the form of government which communicates ease, comfort, security, or, in one word, happiness, to the greatest number of persons, and in the greatest degree, is the best."
emphasis added

"Laws for the liberal education of youth, especially of the lower class of people, are so extremely wise and useful, that, to a humane and generous mind, no expense for this purpose would be thought extravagant."