Re: Suddenly it makes sense

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You'll love this site.


Posted by: ogged | Link to this comment | 06-13-08 9:45 AM
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So awesome. It's like the William F. Buckley wannabe club. Can I join? Er, no, probably not. I'd drag down the value of their Upper East Side floorthroughs.


Posted by: ari | Link to this comment | 06-13-08 9:46 AM
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So Matthew Ygsas + giant forehead = Ross Douthat?

I do get it now.


Posted by: Ardent reader | Link to this comment | 06-13-08 9:47 AM
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Harvard alums and their friends gathered at the Chevy Chase home of Elbridge and Susan Colby to celebrate author Ross Douthat's first book,"Privilege: Harvard and the Education of the Ruling Class" on March 11. Douthat, 25, was in the class of 2002 at Harvard and began his memoir shortly after graduation. His book, which contains much insight about the snobbery, smugness and political correctness of Harvard's students and faculty, has received rave reviews.

Just, wow.

If going to Harvard means not hanging with people like those pictured, it's a miracle anybody's interested.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 06-13-08 9:51 AM
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It's like an advertisement for a safe in which you can keep your pearls while at the Lawn Club playing tennis, in case you need to clutch them.


Posted by: Cala | Link to this comment | 06-13-08 9:53 AM
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If going to Harvard means not hanging with people like those pictured, it's a miracle anybody's interested.

If I was foiled by the misuse of negatives, it was only in tribute to Labs.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 06-13-08 9:54 AM
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4: You can find pretty much any sort of people to hang out with there; that's one of its virtues, but I suppose Douthat went with a pretty clear idea of whom he wanted to hang out with.


Posted by: Flippanter | Link to this comment | 06-13-08 9:54 AM
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|| after last night's gane, where is the basketball thread?? I just want to glory in my prescient comments about Kobe being overrated. ||>


Posted by: PGD | Link to this comment | 06-13-08 9:56 AM
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Also, is 'memoir' a term of art here for 'writing a book that isn't researched' instead of the 'life story and insight into the human condition'?

Because otherwise, a 25-year-old rich kid who went to Harvard is kind of a fun imagining. Struggles over which fork to use. Tearful memories of Dad writing the check to Harvard...


Posted by: Cala | Link to this comment | 06-13-08 9:56 AM
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7: what kind of grosses me out is the mutual interlinked amongst him and Yglesias. I know they write for the same magazine and all, but ew!

9: and, really, insight into the political correctness of faculty? What an unbelievable dipshit -- and he doesn't know! Nobody knows! Because he's a Harvard alum, the dear boy! Ugh.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 06-13-08 9:59 AM
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Did he graduate from Harvard at age 19?


Posted by: Cala | Link to this comment | 06-13-08 9:59 AM
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They've put their self-awareness and irony in a blind trust.


Posted by: Eric | Link to this comment | 06-13-08 10:00 AM
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I'm pretty sure that Labs and Yglesias are the only two people in the world who actually read Douthat.


Posted by: ogged | Link to this comment | 06-13-08 10:00 AM
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10: I think they're both tools, and tools tend to congregate, no matter where they went to school.


Posted by: Flippanter | Link to this comment | 06-13-08 10:02 AM
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All these jokes would be funnier and more credible if you all hadn't copped to liking Metropolitan.

And I read Douthat, too.


Posted by: SomeCallMeTim | Link to this comment | 06-13-08 10:04 AM
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13: There's also Holbo.


Posted by: Josh | Link to this comment | 06-13-08 10:05 AM
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Is it pronounced DOO-that or DOUBT-hat or what?


Posted by: ed bowlinger | Link to this comment | 06-13-08 10:05 AM
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Oh dear.


Posted by: ogged | Link to this comment | 06-13-08 10:06 AM
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And I read Douthat, too.

Given your long-held position on Kwame, this is less of a surprise than it might have been otherwise.


Posted by: Josh | Link to this comment | 06-13-08 10:07 AM
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I'm seriously ever closer to believing anybody who went to Harvard for undergrad should be shunned by the wider world. I realize this is going to be sad for some people here, but should have thought of that at 18, guys.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 06-13-08 10:08 AM
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dsquared's thing on how he should be Ross "I would do anything for love by I won't" "Douthat is 90% of my association with the guy.


Posted by: Cala | Link to this comment | 06-13-08 10:09 AM
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I'm seriously ever closer to believing anybody who went to Harvard for undergrad should be shunned by the wider world.

This is a cause I can get behind.


Posted by: Josh | Link to this comment | 06-13-08 10:09 AM
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Tom Rutherfoord's got the best look.

So true. He looks like Clark Clifford. Or Orville Redenbacher.


Posted by: Populuxe | Link to this comment | 06-13-08 10:14 AM
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More important that this foofaraw, Chuck Norris, for one brief shining moment in 2006, was more popular than boobs.


Posted by: ogged | Link to this comment | 06-13-08 10:15 AM
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I'm imagining all of the pictured people as having just eaten a human baby.


Posted by: ed bowlinger | Link to this comment | 06-13-08 10:17 AM
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24: google trends can really surprise you.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 06-13-08 10:18 AM
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20: I was 17, and well along in my career of shunning the wider world right back.


Posted by: Flippanter | Link to this comment | 06-13-08 10:22 AM
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26: Whaa? Why is bukkake more popular around the holidays?


Posted by: TJ | Link to this comment | 06-13-08 10:22 AM
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28: Same thing that happens to philosophy. Winter break.


Posted by: Michael Vanderwheel, B.A. | Link to this comment | 06-13-08 10:25 AM
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24: Geez, Pakistan and India sure love the boobs.

Out of cities, I'd say Brisbane and Irvine have to win on a per-capita basis. Ari, can you give us any insight on what effect UCI might be having?


Posted by: Po-Mo Polymath | Link to this comment | 06-13-08 10:25 AM
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Ari isn't affiliated with UCI, PMP. However, since I'm in Irvine for the week, I'd be happy to lurk around campus making observations. SEK can come too, if his wife lets him.


Posted by: ben w-lfs-n | Link to this comment | 06-13-08 10:26 AM
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I was 17

I don't think you're helping to change Tweety's mind.


Posted by: Josh | Link to this comment | 06-13-08 10:27 AM
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31: I know, but I was still hoping he had deep insights into the UC campuses.

I also love how no one cares about philosophy when it's summer. Sounds about right.


Posted by: Po-Mo Polymath | Link to this comment | 06-13-08 10:33 AM
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Geez, Pakistan and India sure love the boobs.

Doesn't everyone? Why are India and Pakistan so far ahead of the rest of us?

I'm going to google the word "boobs" a few times just to help America look a little better overseas.


Posted by: rob helpy-chalk | Link to this comment | 06-13-08 10:34 AM
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Roy's comment is in the context of criticizing a post where Douthat clumsily works his way round to a standard Unfogged position on prostitution:

http://rossdouthat.theatlantic.com/archives/2008/03/whats_the_big_deal_about_sex.php

In a slightly (but only slightly) more religiously inflected way, but still.


Posted by: PGD | Link to this comment | 06-13-08 10:35 AM
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Maybe "boobs" means something different in Dari or Pashto?


Posted by: TJ | Link to this comment | 06-13-08 10:35 AM
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35: never mind, main point of Roy's post was something else.


Posted by: PGD | Link to this comment | 06-13-08 10:36 AM
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[gets back] Hey, that was fun.


Posted by: rob helpy-chalk | Link to this comment | 06-13-08 10:40 AM
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Didn't people used to have to get an extra degree or a job in the administration before pundificating? I'm pretty sure he could cart around his library in a Radio Flyer.


Posted by: bjk | Link to this comment | 06-13-08 10:42 AM
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29: okay, explain this.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 06-13-08 10:44 AM
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Does google trends track searches or news stories?


Posted by: ogged | Link to this comment | 06-13-08 10:46 AM
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That is bizarre, Sifu. From Thanksgiving to New Years, all anyone can think about is dicks? But they think about beer all year long.


Posted by: A White Bear | Link to this comment | 06-13-08 10:47 AM
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||

Crazy Monsanto Deposition video at Lindsay's.

I have no idea which of Monsanto's many legal problems are at stake here, or even what is really going on, but it is crazy.

Is what your job is like all the time, Lizardbreath? Will?

|>


Posted by: rob helpy-chalk | Link to this comment | 06-13-08 10:47 AM
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44

White people love Christmas.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 06-13-08 10:50 AM
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43: I loved that video. Too awesome.


Posted by: A White Bear | Link to this comment | 06-13-08 10:55 AM
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It's like an advertisement for a safe in which you can keep your pearls while at the Lawn Club playing tennis, in case you need to clutch them.

Love this.


Posted by: Annie | Link to this comment | 06-13-08 10:58 AM
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This is a rare case of perfect negative correlation.


Posted by: Walt Someguy | Link to this comment | 06-13-08 11:01 AM
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47: lagged, though.


Posted by: TJ | Link to this comment | 06-13-08 11:11 AM
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44 is fucking fantastic


Posted by: Michael | Link to this comment | 06-13-08 11:13 AM
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43: Holy shit. "That ain't your goddamned job, fat boy."


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 06-13-08 11:19 AM
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Hmmm, in 44 ranked by "stand mixer" tells that Louisville KY is the true home of coastal elites. Who knew?

Plus it reminds one of the notorious period in 2004 when uttering "stand mixer" was banned as part of the War on Terror, why didn't that come up in the Free Speech thread?.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 06-13-08 11:20 AM
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44 is genius. This might be a nice way to tweak it, given that there's a correlation but the magnitudes are so different.


Posted by: Gonerill | Link to this comment | 06-13-08 11:47 AM
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From Thanksgiving to New Years, all anyone can think about is dicks? But they think about beer all year long.

They're visiting their relatives. What else is there to do but spank the monkey?


Posted by: Gonerill | Link to this comment | 06-13-08 11:49 AM
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OK, one more.


Posted by: Gonerill | Link to this comment | 06-13-08 11:51 AM
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The second greatest benefit of going to Harvard? Not having a chip on your shoulder about not going to Harvard.

I also read Douthat. Check out the last line of his review of Grizzly Man:

Grizzly Man [about Treadwell] is a film about religious experience, among many other things, but not a form of religious experience that's familiar to most people in the still-Christ-haunted West. Human beings are caught between the animal world and the spiritual world, bound by fleshly requirements, but able to imagine themselves as immortal, freed from bodily concerns, quasi-divine - and in response to this problem, Christianity (and most other mainstream faiths) tells people that the way out is up, and that to escape the conflicts and miseries that come with being half angel and half ape, you need to become more like an angel, and less like an ape.

But the imitatio Dei isn't the only possible solution to the dilemma of being made a little lower than the angels. You could also go in the other direction, and give up on human reason, human self-awareness, in the hopes of returning to a pre-rational, pre-spiritual, entirely animal state. But Nature won't take us back.


Posted by: baa | Link to this comment | 06-13-08 11:57 AM
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Chesterton said it better with the one foot in fairyland business.


Posted by: Cala | Link to this comment | 06-13-08 11:59 AM
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bound by fleshly requirements

Like a truffle wrapped in bacon.


Posted by: Gonerill | Link to this comment | 06-13-08 12:01 PM
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Stand mixer versus charity.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 06-13-08 12:01 PM
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Hmm, now that I realize which line is which, that loses most of its punch.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 06-13-08 12:02 PM
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Yeah that seems a bit banal to me. Flowery prose, though. Matches the sofa.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 06-13-08 12:03 PM
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60 to 56, 55.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 06-13-08 12:03 PM
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I agree that "fleshy requirements" is a problem, but nature won't take us back is an awesome line.


Posted by: baa | Link to this comment | 06-13-08 12:04 PM
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You could also go in the other direction, and give up on human reason, human self-awareness, in the hopes of returning to a pre-rational, pre-spiritual, entirely animal state. But Nature won't take us back.

This betrays a lack of understanding of the spiritual properties of beer.


Posted by: politicalfootball | Link to this comment | 06-13-08 12:04 PM
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Hmmm, in 44 ranked by "stand mixer" tells that Louisville KY is the true home of coastal elites. Who knew?

Home of GE?


Posted by: Blume | Link to this comment | 06-13-08 12:23 PM
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17: It's pronounced "Anything for Love".


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 06-13-08 12:39 PM
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20 gets it exactly right. If we extend the franchise and shun anyone who went to Yale as well, maybe we can also get past this "grades WILL DETERMINE THE REST OF YOUR LIFE" bullshit while we're at it.


Posted by: bitchphd | Link to this comment | 06-13-08 12:47 PM
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'nature won't take us back' is an awesome line.

It isn't particularly euphonious as poetry and as an observation it manages to be banal and untrue, but de gustibus, I suppose. I'm more fond of the phrase "the still-Christ-haunted-West" in that passage, a line which makes Douthat sound like a character from a Walker Percy novel.


Posted by: Populuxe | Link to this comment | 06-13-08 12:47 PM
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66: Yglesias is right there with you, B. The grades he got at Harvard haven't mattered one whit!


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 06-13-08 12:49 PM
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65 pwned by 21.


Posted by: Cyrus | Link to this comment | 06-13-08 12:49 PM
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B, do we want to start this all over again? Especially because you always walk out as soon as I start talking.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 06-13-08 12:51 PM
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68: It's probably true. What matters is that he went to Harvard.


Posted by: bitchphd | Link to this comment | 06-13-08 12:52 PM
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I'm more fond of the phrase "the still-Christ-haunted-West" in that passage, a line which makes Douthat sound like a character from a Walker Percy novel.

Douthat writes like a campus conservative. This is not a compliment.


Posted by: Flippanter | Link to this comment | 06-13-08 12:54 PM
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I claim precedence on the "Anything for Love" joke. Though Dsquared is welcome to use it, as is everyone. Perhaps Douthat's nickname should be "Meat Loaf".


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 06-13-08 12:55 PM
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70: I start nothing. I merely wanted to make the point.


Posted by: bitchphd | Link to this comment | 06-13-08 12:56 PM
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67: Or the John Kennedy Toole novel.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 06-13-08 12:57 PM
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You'll just walk out on me again, won't you?


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 06-13-08 12:57 PM
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76: The anti-relationship candidate, ladies and gentlemen.


Posted by: Flippanter | Link to this comment | 06-13-08 12:59 PM
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Maybe he meant we're haunted by the still Christ, which is to say we have lost our faith in the resurrection, and cast desperately back to a middle school understanding of primitive vs. modern religion to help us regain some faint glimmer of belief? That'd be clever!


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 06-13-08 12:59 PM
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Sure, grades don't matter if you're rich and pedigreed and go to Harvard. And your high school grades don't matter to get you into Harvard (much) if you're already at an elite prep school.

It makes a difference for the rest of us.


Posted by: Cala | Link to this comment | 06-13-08 1:00 PM
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You could also go in the other direction, and give up on human reason, human self-awareness, in the hopes of returning to a pre-rational, pre-spiritual, entirely animal state. But Nature won't take us back.

Ridiculously false dichotomies -- entirely animal or entirely spiritual? The problem in modern civilization is an over-rationalized, high-tech, high-anxiety way of life that has alienated us from our naturally loose, sloppy, and inefficient human nature. You don't have to be an animal not to want to work in a cubicle.


Posted by: PGD | Link to this comment | 06-13-08 1:01 PM
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Douthat writes like a campus conservative.

Y'know, with that forehead and that vocabulary, Douthat stands to become the Allen Tate of the blogosphere.


Posted by: Populuxe | Link to this comment | 06-13-08 1:04 PM
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79: I'm none of those. And my life is quite satisfactory, thank you.


Posted by: bitchphd | Link to this comment | 06-13-08 1:06 PM
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76: Yeah, I will, because I have to run to buy stain remover because I promised to wash the sheets today.


Posted by: bitchphd | Link to this comment | 06-13-08 1:07 PM
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83: There's such a thing as oversharing, B.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 06-13-08 1:09 PM
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In my experience, people often have to compete for jobs with resumes consisting of their work experience and their educational experience. Some people's resumes contain better grades than those of other people. As a result, the former group of people have an advantage, particularly when everyone's work experience is negligible, which is the point (early in life) at which people's career paths become set.


Posted by: Fatman | Link to this comment | 06-13-08 1:10 PM
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B, despite the fact that your life turned out well (n=1), if I were advising a non-elite kid starting college among the main things I'd tell him would be to concentrate on school and keep his grades up. There's more to it than that, but even the difference between an A average and an A- average can make a difference. A bad grade can make a difference even if it's in a stupid class, and even if you really knew the material but blew the grade for outside reasons.

I would love for life to be less competitive and bureaucratic, but that's the way it is. I'm hardly a blue-collar kid, but I learned this stuff the hard way.


Posted by: B | Link to this comment | 06-13-08 1:12 PM
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That was me. The famous Name Line Glitch.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 06-13-08 1:13 PM
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I have to suspect that my grades have had a significant effect, because it sure wasn't my warm and friendly personality or my way with a jaunty tune that got me into college.


Posted by: Flippanter | Link to this comment | 06-13-08 1:13 PM
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Posted by: B

I knew it!! One is an alternate personality of the other!


Posted by: Auto-banned | Link to this comment | 06-13-08 1:14 PM
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But Nature won't take us back.

This isn't banal, it's completely false. Nature will always take us back -- for example, in this movie(which I haven't seen), the bear eats the guy, right?


Posted by: peep | Link to this comment | 06-13-08 1:20 PM
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86: So would I. I would also advise that student to keep in mind that grades are not the end-all and be-all, and that she should also be taking challenging courses, learning, enjoying her time at college, doing extracurricular stuff if she wants to, and having some kind of balanced life.


Posted by: bitchphd | Link to this comment | 06-13-08 1:21 PM
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You should totally watch it, peep. It's good stuff.


Posted by: figbash | Link to this comment | 06-13-08 1:22 PM
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84: I'm just demonstrating that it's actually possible to have a nice life even if you are an utter failure with a B- average.


Posted by: bitchphd | Link to this comment | 06-13-08 1:23 PM
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The guy was making unwanted sexual advances. Canadians learn the right way to approach a bear, but it isn't something you can just go and do. You definitely don't want a sow bear to believe that you think that she's "easy".


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 06-13-08 1:23 PM
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90: Shouldn't a conservative be worried that Nature is doing too good a job of taking us back, considering the post-Christian state of affairs in the U.S. and Western Europe that conservatives are always whining about, the fecundity of the criminal classes, Paul Gigot's description of Haiti as "the state of nature," etc., etc.?


Posted by: Flippanter | Link to this comment | 06-13-08 1:25 PM
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You strike me as having been very lucky. And the grinds really are onto something, especially if they know that they don't have much backup support. A lot of kids get one chance with school, and if something goes wrong they never go back.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 06-13-08 1:26 PM
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86, 93: I'm confused. I thought John was the one who didn't believe in success.


Posted by: peep | Link to this comment | 06-13-08 1:26 PM
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96: It's not so hard to go back. You have to want to, though.


Posted by: soup biscuit | Link to this comment | 06-13-08 1:27 PM
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My sister is a good example of where higher grades would have been helpful. She's the same age as Yglesias (upon whom I cast no aspersions); worked for her school paper; and here is where Douthat would be a better comparison, because as much as he strives to be Chesterton for the Stepford set, her articles in the little campus conservative rag are much better than the writing I've seen him churn out.

She would love to have a job like his. But the pundit class doesn't come from kids who managed to get into a good regional school. And she couldn't have gotten into an Ivy League school because she didn't have the SAT scores for it. Grades shouldn't matter, but they do.


Posted by: Cala | Link to this comment | 06-13-08 1:27 PM
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If anyone actually wants to follow my model, I can advise them too. In general, no one has found my example persuasive.

But most at Unfogged take the upper middle class status for granted.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 06-13-08 1:29 PM
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99 makes the case that high school grades matter. However, it could still be that once safely into college, the quest for future employment will depend entirely on networking.


Posted by: Fatman | Link to this comment | 06-13-08 1:29 PM
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101: You need the grades if you want scholarships, particularly national ones. That probably starts to correlate well with networking if you get them.


Posted by: soup biscuit | Link to this comment | 06-13-08 1:32 PM
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It depends on the school, Fatman. Networking at Last Chance U. is not networking at Harvard. At Last Chance U. you normally needed and A- or better average and a couple of faculty backers to get anywhere. Though you might network your way into a barista or construction job.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 06-13-08 1:32 PM
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100: Ok, I get it...I think.

You have 2 levels of advice. The higher level advice will lead a person to a life of poverty, solitude, and (happiness and/or enlightenment).

The lower level advice will lead a person to be relatively more successful in the rat race.


Posted by: peep | Link to this comment | 06-13-08 1:37 PM
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||

nytimes.com breaking news says Tim Russert is dead of a heart attack.

|>


Posted by: Nathan Williams | Link to this comment | 06-13-08 1:39 PM
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105: At the age of 58. Wow.


Posted by: Mary Catherine | Link to this comment | 06-13-08 1:43 PM
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Yikes. Father Flippanter had survived two heart attacks by 58, so I sort of thought that they were in general survivable by men in their 50s and early 60s.


Posted by: Flippanter | Link to this comment | 06-13-08 1:45 PM
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101: Sort of. From my perspective, what having high grades did is (if I consider a corporate job) help make the case to the company to interview a liberal arts major. And while networking helps, not all schools have as great of a network. Being able to point to something that says 'look at me, network that is not mine, for I rock' helps.

102: Yeah. The difference between me going to my alma mater (needed the scholarship to get there) and not going (not getting the scholarship) was illustrated my senior year by the boy who was exactly once place behind me in class rank. We think it came down to one or two class grades.

Same school, same teacher, and while he has, says the grapevine, done quite well for himself, a small difference in grades was the difference. He went to Pitt. Where he earned stellar grades and went to law school.


Posted by: Cala | Link to this comment | 06-13-08 1:47 PM
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MSNBC's story is remarkably long for something that happened so recently.I guess they had the biography around anyway, and just stuck a paragraph on each end.


Posted by: Nathan Williams | Link to this comment | 06-13-08 1:48 PM
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I'll just point out that it was a tie and technically not pwnage, but I did follow house style for death announcements. So I win. Not to put too fine a point on it.


Posted by: Jesus McQueen | Link to this comment | 06-13-08 1:49 PM
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111

You'll need to take that up with SCMT.


Posted by: Nathan Williams | Link to this comment | 06-13-08 1:51 PM
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109: I believe that's standard. Much easier to keep a file on notable people and add a paragraph to the top, and it's a job you can assign to interns.


Posted by: Cala | Link to this comment | 06-13-08 1:54 PM
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||

The officiating at Euro 2008 is awful.

|>


Posted by: eb | Link to this comment | 06-13-08 1:55 PM
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The officiating at Euro 2008 Soccer is awful.


Posted by: Flippanter | Link to this comment | 06-13-08 1:57 PM
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Also, I read Douthat's piece in the Atlantic year's ago that was either an excerpt from his memoir or based on his memoir. (I got the impression that college - even leaving aside the pure status/prestige question - benefited him more than he was admitting, but I'm not going to go back and re-read it.) Haven't read him since.


Posted by: eb | Link to this comment | 06-13-08 1:58 PM
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year's should be years


Posted by: eb | Link to this comment | 06-13-08 1:58 PM
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I think you guys are talking past each other. Cala et al point out that if you aren't born to high socioeconomic status, the only way to get there is by your grades (like Imperial China!). Bitch is pointing out that being high SES isn't all it is cracked up to be.

I normally side with Bitch on these issues, but I get bolloxed up thinking about my own children. I want them to have perfect grades and go to any school they want. I can't help it. Also, Caroline is going to be an academic, and Joey is going to be a musician.


Posted by: rob helpy-chalk | Link to this comment | 06-13-08 2:06 PM
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The officiating at Euro 2008 Soccer in major sports is awful.

Luckily, it doesn't really matter.


Posted by: soup biscuit | Link to this comment | 06-13-08 2:10 PM
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117: High SES beats the hell out of a lot of alternatives. Seriously, though, the worry is that if someone takes the advice intended for trustafarians seriously --don't worry about your grades! study whatever makes you passionate! -- it can end well, or it can end with a lot of soul-crushing debt. Soul-crushing debt sucks when you have the network to land you a soul-crushing job. It's beyond sucky if you don't.

I do agree that the difference in the overall positions are slight; everyone should try to have a balanced life and not identify their self-worth with their GPA.


Posted by: Cala | Link to this comment | 06-13-08 2:13 PM
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Elbridge Colby? And those picture frames and window treatments... Did he move into his parents house or something?


Posted by: Hoyt Pollard | Link to this comment | 06-13-08 2:15 PM
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111: We had him beat by four minutes. That's an eternity in the news business. He might as well be a historian.


Posted by: Jesus McQueen | Link to this comment | 06-13-08 2:17 PM
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Also, I read Douthat's piece in the Atlantic year's ago that was either an excerpt from his memoir or based on his memoir. (I got the impression that college - even leaving aside the pure status/prestige question - benefited him more than he was admitting, but I'm not going to go back and re-read it.) Haven't read him since.

Huh. Just looked up that piece. I've taught for two of the classes in the Core Curriculum that he mentions specifically. The one of those two that he praises is vapid and superficial, the worst kind of general-ed-for-cocktail-chatter course. The one he disparages provides an amazing general introduction to media and aesthetics using a very specific group of texts.

But I'm an academic; what do I know about the real world?


Posted by: Blume | Link to this comment | 06-13-08 2:33 PM
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the worst kind of general-ed-for-cocktail-chatter course

Well, obviously that would be a useful class to prepare young Ross for his future.


Posted by: peep | Link to this comment | 06-13-08 2:39 PM
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Cala: SES generally ceases to be important for happiness once you get up to the middle quintile. The real problem is that the current economy has been pushing that middle into unsustainable debt.


Posted by: rob helpy-chalk | Link to this comment | 06-13-08 2:42 PM
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I'm none of those. And my life is quite satisfactory, thank you.

Lesson: earn a gentlewoman's C average and marry well?


Posted by: spaz | Link to this comment | 06-13-08 2:48 PM
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The higher level advice will lead a person to a life of poverty, solitude, (happiness and/or enlightenment) and futile ranting.

IIRC "Anything for Love's" first big-time piece whined that Harvard allowed him to slack through. Talk about rewarding mediocrity. (Someone who didn't slack through should have demanded a rebuttal piece. )

124: Not everyone is capable of being happy with middle SES. It depends on expectations and aspirations.

Much like marriage, I think. A high proportion of the happiest marriages are between accepting, affectionate, non-judgmental, easily satisfied people who don't need a lot of privacy. IE, non-Unfoggetarians.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 06-13-08 3:00 PM
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125: Unfair, I think.


Posted by: Flippanter | Link to this comment | 06-13-08 3:03 PM
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126

John, people who think they need higher than middle SES to be happy are generally wrong, and they are better just changing their first order desires.

Of course, I'm exactly the kind of guy cala says shouldn't be giving advice here. I am saved from technically being a trustafarian, in that I have never had a trust fund or been a rastafarian. But the essence of the charge sticks pretty well.


Posted by: rob helpy-chalk | Link to this comment | 06-13-08 3:15 PM
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Not everyone is capable of being happy with middle SES. It depends on expectations and aspirations.


Posted by: soup biscuit | Link to this comment | 06-13-08 3:18 PM
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They may be wrong that they'd be happier if richer, I guess, but they're not wrong that they're unhappy if not well off.

I spent my life in the second quintile and while I never wanted for anything important (food, shelter, medical care, booze, books), I could have given my son more opportunities than I did, and I never enjoyed my work much though at least it was easy. And I never did learn to deal effectively with the screening processes people have which begin with the question "So, what do you do? / What are your career plans?"


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 06-13-08 3:31 PM
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This VF article seems appropriate, seeing as we discuss WASP decline practically every other day.
http://www.vanityfair.com/ontheweb/blogs/daily/jamie_johnson/index.html


Posted by: Tassled Loafered Leech | Link to this comment | 06-13-08 3:35 PM
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Additionally, people of the same SES sort out according to the degree of respect they get and the kind of informal contacts they make at work. Plumbers make lots of money, but the extra-monetary rewards are few, and a lot of smart, successful blue-collar guys feel that they missed out on something.

Even with the best statistical safeguards, a lot of two-factor correlations on complex topics seem somewhat bogus to me, especially if one of them is self-reported happiness.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 06-13-08 3:37 PM
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I think that the WASP advantage is very narrowly located in the upper clas of a few Eastern cities like NYC and Boston where an old WASP establishment survives in non-WASP cities. It doesn't help the average WASP much at all.

I suspect that if I had played my cards perfectly I might conceivably have parleyed my WASP ancestry into entry into that set, but preliminary to that I would have had to have learned a whole foreign code of manners and also to have made a lot of money in the right kind of business. It doesn't seem like there would have been much real advantage in that. And even though he was an MD and WASPier than me, my beloved father would have been an embarrassment.

I got into an internet pissing mass once with a perfectly fine ex-Reedy named Bloix who suspected me of WASP arrogance, but I just had to laugh.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 06-13-08 3:47 PM
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126: Admittedly, I shouldn't be giving the advice either, having no trust fund, weed, or connections, but so far surviving. But I am deathly worried about my sisters who might turn out fine, but might not hit the middle quintile due to soul-raping debt. I will relax a lot more if we get universal health care in this country.


Posted by: Cala | Link to this comment | 06-13-08 3:55 PM
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Health care is so big in decision making. There were several times I would have left the academy to be a full time dad, but Molly's work brings no health insurance with it.


Posted by: rob helpy-chalk | Link to this comment | 06-13-08 4:16 PM
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133: I was always amazed growing up, like John was, learning from the media and from casual conversation what privilege WASPs were supposed to have. I took the term literally, not realizing that the people meant by it are some tiny fraction of a percentage of the people technically described by the term.


Posted by: I don't pay | Link to this comment | 06-13-08 4:18 PM
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1. The higher the SES the better, generally, as almost anyone low SES knows. One of the big benefits -- being able to worry less about money.
2. It would be nice if we could evaluate people by giving them a 1 year internship, and seeing how well they do at the job. But we can't, usually. The costs are too high. That's why people use grades, SATs, etc. There just has to be some sorting mechanism at entry, and a sort for smarts + diligence is far from the worst.
3. So study hard, kids.
4. I am (I must admit) surprised at the Douthat hatred here. Do people think Yglesias or Klein are better writers?


Posted by: baa | Link to this comment | 06-13-08 4:25 PM
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The higher the SES the better, generally,

Only to a point. But up to that point, very highly correlated.


Posted by: soup biscuit | Link to this comment | 06-13-08 4:34 PM
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Do people think Yglesias or Klein are better writers?

No, the prose of all three tends to make me pray for a quick death.


Posted by: Flippanter | Link to this comment | 06-13-08 4:41 PM
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And of course, there's always the chance that one of the Saltonstalls would look haughtily down on me and say, "If I'm not mistaken, John, I believe that my eight-times-great grandfather had your eight-times-great aunt hanged for lewdness and infanticide. That family was always a disappointment to us."


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 06-13-08 4:42 PM
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135: It's probably the thing that keeps me up most at night. I have health care now. I might not in a year. His job doesn't have it and isn't likely to (we're already paying his out-of-pocket because dear old grad program wanted $2000 upfront to add him to my plan), and any program we could afford for me wouldn't cover pregnancy.


Posted by: Cala | Link to this comment | 06-13-08 4:43 PM
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140. I had a crush on Abigail Saltonstall in high school. I assume she was related to your ancestor's tormentor, and not in fact the same person whose witchcraft had allowed her to remain youthful in appearance for 300 years.


Posted by: Tassled Loafered Leech | Link to this comment | 06-13-08 4:47 PM
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140: There is a perfect answer to that one though, immediately hang them for public dickishness. No jury would convict.


Posted by: soup biscuit | Link to this comment | 06-13-08 4:48 PM
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surprised at the Douthat hatred

I've only read him a few times and watched a few minutes of him on bloggingheads, but he seemed to me to be enacting some kind of simulacrum of intelligence, without actually being very smart. That's fine if I agree with you, but if you're saying things I'm disinclined to agree with, you have to have the real thing.


Posted by: ogged | Link to this comment | 06-13-08 4:50 PM
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Douthat is an affirmative-action quota conservative like Jonah Goldberg. With desperate ingenuity he tries to keep his disgraced ideology alive. No branch of American conservativism came out of the Bush administration with the least bit of self respect or dignity. If there is an American conservative party any more, it's the Democratic Party.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 06-13-08 4:50 PM
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137.4: not in the least


Posted by: TJ | Link to this comment | 06-13-08 4:50 PM
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Weren't there any Russell Kirk types? I realize that I don't know any, but I've always sort of constructed an ideal honest conservative in my own mind, and wanted such a person to exist somewhere, however marginalized.


Posted by: I don't pay | Link to this comment | 06-13-08 4:53 PM
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Yglesias can get into and out of an issue amazingly briskly, and often he says the right thing. He's got gaps in his experience and knowledge and his instincts are not always good, but Meatloaf has worse problems that way. (I never read Klein, for whatever reason.)


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 06-13-08 4:55 PM
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If there is an American conservative party any more, it's the Democratic Party.

This seems close to what Peter Viereck was already arguing in the fifties


Posted by: I don't pay | Link to this comment | 06-13-08 4:56 PM
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145. I don't think you can call the Bush administration conservative, JE. Republican, certainly, but very little of what they did was conservative. Like the hard line marxists who claim that the experiment in the Soviet Union was not Communism, conservatives disavow Bush, with the same net effect.


Posted by: Tassled Loafered Leech | Link to this comment | 06-13-08 4:56 PM
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I don't hate Douthat per se, but he clearly got where he is through absolutely no merit of his own.


Posted by: Walt Someguy | Link to this comment | 06-13-08 4:57 PM
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Douthat's cultural/political project is much more ambitious than Yglesias' or Klein's; pity he probably isn't smart enough to pull it off. Not that that's any reason to hate on the guy. But the writer and photographer who produced the item FL linked to: those guys/gals should probably kill themselves, or find less humiliating work like cleaning toilets at the mall.


Posted by: kth | Link to this comment | 06-13-08 4:57 PM
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149: Sounds about right.


Posted by: soup biscuit | Link to this comment | 06-13-08 4:57 PM
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The Bush administration wasn't conservative, but most conservative factions supported Bush until he failed. If the Iraq War had been more successful (if Iraq had been pacified) conservatives would still be supporting Bush.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 06-13-08 5:00 PM
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Many paleocons were against the Iraq invasion from the start. Much like the left. It's the centrists (moderate left/moderate right) who were for it until it started to go wrong. Of course, there were exceptions, but in general the point holds.

I've never found Douthat stupid, and that he co-wrote a book with Reihan Salam makes me willing to given him the benefit of the doubt.


Posted by: baa | Link to this comment | 06-13-08 5:08 PM
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If someone wants to say that Pat Buchanan represents the flower of American conservativism, I'll let them.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 06-13-08 5:13 PM
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I'll read some Douthat. God help you if he's stupid!


Posted by: ogged | Link to this comment | 06-13-08 5:51 PM
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Oh look, he's writing about something I just read. And condemns her with her marginal notation, without quoting this part of the column.

I don't want to take this analogy too far. I don't mean to imply that there's any equivalency between Josef Fritzl's acts and the Purity Ball. Fritzl's actions were uniquely horrific, and I am not accusing the men who danced in Colorado Springs of any crimes.

But this, on his part, isn't precisely unintelligent, so I'll keep reading.


Posted by: ogged | Link to this comment | 06-13-08 5:57 PM
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Different post.

at the very least it's interesting to imagine how the Times would be covering the Steyn case if he were, say, an earnest atheist a la Sam Harris being brought up for censure by a Mexican "human rights commission" created to protect Catholics from hateful or offensive speech. Slightly differently, I imagine ...

Stupid. I didn't even have to go more than halfway down the front page, so I won't hold it against you.


Posted by: ogged | Link to this comment | 06-13-08 6:00 PM
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Last I heard, Mexico was aggressively secular, and the Catholics were the ones who got suppressed.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 06-13-08 6:04 PM
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Or so the whore of Babylon mullahs would have you believe.


Posted by: Not Prince Hamlet | Link to this comment | 06-13-08 6:51 PM
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The Douthat/Pantload comparison is entirely apt. It is to Meatloaf's credit that nobody much besides roy has opted to beat on him yet. Maybe I'll take that on as a project.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 06-13-08 6:58 PM
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The point, I fear, is that paid blogging yields crap, even from people who are capable of doing good work.

My criterion is less "is this person ever stupid" than "is this person on occasion interesting." Douthat is definitely on occasion interesting.


Posted by: baa | Link to this comment | 06-13-08 8:23 PM
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It is possible to be interesting precisely by dint of being stupid.


Posted by: ben w-lfs-n | Link to this comment | 06-14-08 11:54 AM
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I dont, actually, think I was particularly lucky; I think I was (and am) an unusual (lucky, if you wish) combination of very bright and not as upper-middle-class (by raising) as a lot of people in my current social position. The result being that its maybe easier for me not to give a fuck about a lot of upper class norms (another result being that Im pretty shit about saving money, like a lot of lower middle class people who are used to trying to appear richer than they are).

I was lucky in marrying someone who worked, rather than going to grad school, and who himself had no college debt (due to going to, guess what? an obscure public university in Kentucky on a ROTC scholarship), so that we were able to pay off the ridiculous debts I incurred going to an expensive second-tier private college. In retrospect, I would have been *much* better off going to a cheaper state school (see above, re. lower-middle-class people overspending out of misplaced ideas about achieving status).

In any case. Yes, doing well educationally is absolutely a good thing, especially for kids like me or lower. Thats not the same thing as focusing on getting good grades. IME, kids who learn (are told) the former--yes, do the work, yes, take responsibility for learning, yes, take courses that are interesting and challenging--tend to also achieve decent grades as a matter of course. Kids who are told the latter--Get Good Grades!!--tend to seem extremely anxious and unhappy, and often aren't as bright as the other kids. Perhaps because they haven't been clued in to the critical thinking skills needed to distinguish "grades" from "education."


Posted by: bitchphd | Link to this comment | 06-14-08 12:10 PM
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For many career tracks, it's important to understand that grades are important. For other tracks, they're less important. If someone's on one of the former tracks, they should obsess about their grades or change tracks.

If a kid doesn't have much support, often they only get one shot at school, and if they blow their first chance they may never come back. Your advice is good for hyper-motivated neurotic kids whose parents insist that they go to Harvard and become MDs, but that's not most kids. A lot of kids need to be told to keep their grades up, which is a pretty good proxy for "doing the work, taking responsibility for learning" etc., but also includes "getting an A in course even though it's stupid, boring, and useless" and "doing the meaningless memorization required for the test that you'll never return to again."

You may surmise that during my academic so-called career I didn't follow the advice I'm giving right here. Does that make me a hypocrite, or does that mean I've learned from experience?


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 06-14-08 12:56 PM
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Your advice is good for hyper-motivated neurotic kids whose parents insist that they go to Harvard and become MDs, but that's not most kids.

It is, however, most people here--at least the hyper-motivated neurotic part.

I also think that it's good for the hyper-motivated kids whose parents are formerly-homeless-teen mothers, and who end up sobbing in my office because between the full-time job, the 2-hour commute, and the full-time class schedule, they don't seem to be able to crack a B average. Once you've established that they won't take loans (b/c of said prior homelessness and a not-illogical terror of debt), and that therefore they have to live at home, and you've advised them to talk to financial aid about recalibrating their support and maybe looking into finding a really cheap room in town somewhere, about the only thing you can say is that a B average at a good state school is not going to impede their success one whit.

And I actually think this is true, that most med schools would be fucking thrilled to accept students like that in preference to the straight-A kid whose parents were six-figure professionals. And that med schools *should* prefer kids like the one in the previous paragraph.


Posted by: bitchphd | Link to this comment | 06-14-08 1:02 PM
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I'm pretty sure being a regular commenter on Unfogged precludes hypermotivated. Being neurotic is a plus, of course.


Posted by: Walt Someguy | Link to this comment | 06-14-08 1:16 PM
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I'm pretty sure being a regular commenter on Unfogged precludes hypermotivated

At least, at the same time. Burnouts, otoh....


Posted by: soup biscuit | Link to this comment | 06-14-08 1:20 PM
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B, I'm not sure what I would say to a student like that. It sounds to me that they're in a world of hurt and are unlikely to get into med school. You're not on a med school admissions committee.

Doing something to cut the commute and change the work hours would make sense. Getting a loan might make sense. Maybe financial aid can help. Maybe lowering their sights to something attainable would help.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 06-14-08 1:23 PM
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She wasn't trying to get into med school, to be fair. But if she had I still think she would have been a good bet, and that a compelling recommendation letter or three, along with her own statement, might have gone a very long way indeed to "explain" why she "only" had Bs.

The main point, though, is that she was working her ass off and worrying about her grades was only making things much, much worse. She was doing FINE. More than fine. I was damn impressed that she was making Bs. And she needed to hear that.


Posted by: bitchphd | Link to this comment | 06-14-08 1:33 PM
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It is possible to be interesting precisely by dint of being stupid.

Thank goodness.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 06-14-08 1:35 PM
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171: Yeah, that's really tough. In that situation part time study might be better, but really there is no way round the fact they are in a tough situation. Particularly in the first couple years, many of their colleagues are a combination of lazy and disorganized, so they really can do well with much less time in, but it takes a toll.


Posted by: soup biscuit | Link to this comment | 06-14-08 1:35 PM
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She may be on her way to being a HS teacher or a nurse. And I agree that probably Bs are OK for that (not completely sure). But again, she does need those Bs.

Perhaps we've been talking at cross purposes, but some of the stuff you've been insisting on has seemed unrealistic and overidealistic to me. I had to explain to some of my son's friends in HS that "C" is not really a perfectly good grade. And if you get a C, you can say to yourself that you "know the material", but no one will believe you.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 06-14-08 1:46 PM
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C is a bleah h.s. grade, sure. But it depends entirely, doesn't it, on what they want to do. I'm going to go way out on a limb and say that h.s. students who are content with Cs are usually not aiming to go to Johns Hopkins for med school.

And in any case, the issue there would be more about the lie that a C indicates one "knows the material"--if one knows it, it isn't hard at all to get h.s. As--rather than the grade itself.


Posted by: bitchphd | Link to this comment | 06-14-08 1:52 PM
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What I meant was that for pretty much everyone but yourself, your grade is the only thing that tells them what you know and don't know. If you get Cs you're treated as a C student regardless of how much enrichment you've got from school, and regardless of whether you're really smarter than that, and so on. Grades are a big part of schooling, which exists after all in considerable part in order to sort people class niches.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 06-14-08 1:56 PM
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"into class niches".


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 06-14-08 1:56 PM
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Also, again, I got C-s in h.s. math, mostly. And yet I was still accepted to a lot of top schools. In fact, I wrote an admissions essay for early admission to Brown (which I got) explaining that I'd been getting Cs because of excruciating math anxiety, which I'd handled by retaking trig to boost my confidence. Evidence: I got an A in calculus, so obviously I wasn't a total math doofus.

And yeah, blah blah, most kids with Cs in math don't get into Ivy League schools. But good schools are also looking for things like intelligence, self-awareness, and the ability to learn, and those things really do count more than grades. The trick is that if your grades are low you obviously have to be able to communicate that you have the talents that grades are supposed to indicate. Which for a lot of very smart people who sometimes are too smart for their own good, conventional-education wise, is quite possible to do.


Posted by: bitchphd | Link to this comment | 06-14-08 1:58 PM
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If you get Cs you're treated as a C student regardless of how much enrichment you've got from school

By whom? Graduate programs? Professional schools? The people you meet through the course of your career? Nonsense. People don't wear their transcripts around their necks.

Grades are a big part of schooling, which exists after all in considerable part in order to sort people class niches.

Absolutely. And pointing out to students that formal education, including grades, is a *lot* about social class, rather than actual talent or intelligence, is exactly what I mean when i say "grades don't matter." And again, ime (and I have taught for a long time, including teaching non-traditional students, who I prefer), pointing that out in so many words helps mitigate anxiety and improve performance a shitload better than saying "you need good grades", which they've already heard their entire fucking lives.


Posted by: bitchphd | Link to this comment | 06-14-08 2:02 PM
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Grades wouldn't matter if class didn't matter, B. But a lot of people go to school to raise themselves up a notch. For them grades matter. You can't wish class away, or credentialization, by saying that they don't really matter. They do. And a lot of students obsess about that because they understand.

A lot of students put a tremendous amount of effort and money into educations that do them no material good and harm their self esteem. Universities can be bloodsuckers. In one sense your student is wise not to take on any debt, but her situation looks utterly horrible to me.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 06-14-08 2:10 PM
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