Friday Ephemera
Friday Ephemera

Elsewhere (43)

Theodore Dalrymple on austerity in the UK and the swelling of the state:

For some politicians, running up deficits is not a problem but a benefit, since doing so creates a population permanently in thrall to them for the favours by which it lives. The politicians are thus like drug dealers, profiting from their clientele’s dependence, yet on a scale incomparably larger. The Swedish Social Democrats understood long ago that if more than half of the population became economically dependent on government, either directly or indirectly, no government of any party could easily change the arrangement. It was not a crude one-party system that the Social Democrats sought but a one-policy system, and they almost succeeded. […]

During [Gordon] Brown’s years in office… three-quarters of Britain’s new employment was in the public sector, a fifth of it in the National Health Service alone. Educational and health-care spending skyrocketed. The economy of many areas of the country grew so dependent on public expenditure that they became like the Soviet Union with supermarkets. 

As usual with Dalrymple, it’s worth reading in full. There’s plenty to chew on. Not least his comments on the NHS, on what student protesters took care not to complain about – a subject discussed here - and the image of people taking to the streets “in solidarity with themselves.” 

Related to the above, Mark Bauerlein on pathological grade inflation

The most common grade given to students, by far, is the highest one - an A. […] What used to be a distinctive honour is now the most frequent result. Anything less than a B has become a humiliation. When you have a scale with five measures and the top two scores are nine times more common than the bottom two scores, that scale isn’t working. Without a bell-curve range, grades don’t do what they’re supposed to do, which is distinguish students by their performance and certify to others (such as employers) that students have or have not learned the course material.

Heather Mac Donald on the remarkable imperviousness of  academic “diversity” programmes: 

California’s budget crisis has reduced the University of California to near-penury, claim its spokesmen. “Our campuses and the UC Office of the President already have cut to the bone,” the university system’s vice president for budget and capital resources warned earlier this month... Well, not exactly to the bone. Even as UC campuses jettison entire degree programs and lose faculty to competing universities, one fiefdom has remained virtually sacrosanct: the diversity machine.

Not only have diversity sinecures been protected from budget cuts, their numbers are actually growing. The University of California at San Diego, for example, is creating a new full-time “vice chancellor for equity, diversity, and inclusion.” This position would augment UC San Diego’s already massive diversity apparatus, which includes the Chancellor’s Diversity Office, the associate vice chancellor for faculty equity, the assistant vice chancellor for diversity, the faculty equity advisors, the graduate diversity coordinators, the staff diversity liaison, the undergraduate student diversity liaison, the graduate student diversity liaison, the chief diversity officer, the director of development for diversity initiatives, the Office of Academic Diversity and Equal Opportunity, the Committee on Gender Identity and Sexual Orientation Issues, the Committee on the Status of Women, the Campus Council on Climate, Culture and Inclusion, the Diversity Council, and the directors of the Cross-Cultural Centre, the Lesbian Gay Bisexual Transgender Resource Centre, and the Women’s Centre.

And William Briggs ponders research on a matter of enormous, throbbing import:

Tatu Westling, a doctoral student in economics from the University of Helsinki, has written Male Organ and Economic Growth: Does Size Matter?, a paper meant, in his own words, “to fill [a] scholarly gap with the male organ.” Westling’s paper joins the comedy trend started by the Korean team of Choi, Kim, Jung, Yoon, Kim, & Kim — sounds more like a law firm than a collective of scientists — in their masterwork, Second to fourth digit ratio: a predictor of adult penile length

As usual, feel free to add your own in the comments.