Category Archives: Education

Flashback: What to take to College: Freshman Year-1977

It’s almost time for the kids to head off to college and this always makes me think of when I left for my Freshman year at Washington and Lee University in September of 1977.

I start this post with a sense of trepidation as I fear it may turn into one of those “I walked 5 miles each way to school in the snow and you children have it so easy” posts….

Still, thinking back over this, I’m amazed at how much things have changed since 1977.  So, at the risk of making myself seem ancient, I’m going to try to revisit the list of things that were essential to our college life at that time:

  1. Sheets from the Dan River Cloth Store- I lived in Danville, Virginia and the local textile mill had an outlet store that every single person in town used to go to for sheets, comforters, bedspreads and fabric.  That was one of the first stops to getting ready for college.  Now gone.  Both the Mill and the Outlet.  Long gone….
  2. Towels from the Downtown departments stores-  I remember hitting a sale at Thalhimers on Main Street for my college towels with several of  my friends.  Thalhimers and Main Street Departments stores- long gone….
  3. Clothes- Khaki pants, Lacoste alligator shirts, crew neck wool sweaters, button down oxford cloth shirts, bass wejeens loafers- well, the shirts are now Polo and the loafers Cole Haan, but this hasn’t changed that much!
  4. A fan for the Dorm room- we did not have air conditioning in the Dorms then….
  5. A small black and white TV with rabbit ears antennas-  no Cable TV in the dorms.
  6. A stereo with an 8 track player and a Peaches Records crate full of albums
  7. Bar ware…
  8. Hair dryers- hair was big for both boys and girls
  9. Smith Carona Electric Typewriter-there were no computers or “word processors”….
  10. Posters for the walls
  11. A 1972 Chevy Vega for transportation to and from other colleges for Parties and dances.

That’s about it….

Oh, and Washington and Lee was then an all-boys school.  It would not go co-ed until 1986 or so….

We shared a pay phone in the hall and all chipped in to share another direct dial phone in one guys room.  Cell phones had not yet been invented.  One of our major expenses each month was long distance phone calls to our friends at other schools and dates at the “Girls Schools” like Hollins, Sweet Briar, Mary Baldwin and Randolph Macon Woman’s College.  Most of us made our families track us down at the pay phone in the hall and didn’t give our parents the shared phone number.  We wrote letters and notes home via snail mail.  Mainly to ask for money….

To get said mail, we had to open Post Office Boxes at the Post Office and go by there daily- or sometimes twice daily- to check our mail for checks.  We also had to open checking accounts at the local bank as large state-wide- not national- banks were just starting up….

We shared a refrigerator in the hall.  Thanks to the Honor Code, it was no big deal and nothing was ever stolen.

Note what we did not have:

  1. No Cell Phones
  2. No Computers
  3. No E-Mail or texting
  4. Facebook was an actual book published by each college with pictures of each Freshman.  These were traded so you could shop by mail for your dates and have friends at other schools set you up…
  5. No iPods or iPads
  6. Microwave ovens were too new to think about having one in our rooms
  7. No air conditioning-it was the Virginia mountains before Global Warming, so no one thought much about this….
  8. No Personal refrigerators (but these were starting to catch on)
  9. No Private Bathrooms- our whole hall shared a communal  bathroom and shower on the hall.
  10. No Helicopter Parents- the best part!  We were free!

When we look at the rising cost of education, I can’t help wonder what the breakdown is and how much is driven by the increased amenities today’s students “need”…

We also did walk to class in the snow.  We didn’t cancel classes back then as schools did not have the liability issues they face today…..

It was a different time and place….

And, sometimes, I kind of miss the simplicity and slower pace of those days….

I don’t miss the lack of air conditioning…

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Filed under Education, Scott's Commentary, Uncategorized

Richard III’s Remains Found

I’m fascinated by this story…

Once a History Major, always a History Major….

Another reason to pursue a Liberal Arts Education:  You find lots of strange things fascinating and never get bored!  You will also be really good at cocktail party conversations…

From Slate.com:

The bones found underneath a parking lot in Leicester, England, are “beyond reasonable doubt” those of King Richard III, experts at the University of Leicester announced today.

Richard III, as you might remember from the eponymous Shakespeare play, died in the last major battle of the War of the Roses in 1485, although his resting place remained largely a mystery. At least until now.

Why are the archaeologists so certain they’ve found their man? Well, for starters the skeleton’s wounds are consistent with accounts of the fight that killed the king. According to the New York Times, there were also other potential giveaways. The remains were of the right age—the king was 32 when he died—and showed signs of a diet rich in protein, something indicative of a privileged life at the time. There was also a curve to the spine consistent with scoliosis, said to give Richard his hunchback. Oh, and the bones were found at the exact spot that priest and historian John Rouse identified as the king’s final resting place way back in 1490.*

That was all well and good but not enough for a beyond-reasonable-doubt conclusion. That came only after experts got the results of a recent DNA test that showed samples taken from the skeleton matched up with those taken from two known descendants of the the House of Plantagenet, the royal family that ended its reign with Richard III’s death.

via Richard III remains: bones found under Leicester parking lot are confirmed as those of Richard III, according to DNA testing..

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Is Google Fiber Internet Service Driving Down Time Warner Prices?

God, I hope so…

There are few companies more justifiably hated than Time Warner.  Their combination of outrageously poor customer service, ridiculous prices, poor quality signals, lack of responsiveness, and sheer arrogance is astounding.

And they and Comcast and a few others get away with it because they have a defacto monopoly in so many communities- thanks to their bought and paid for friends in Washington, as well as Raleigh and most other state capitols.

And let’s not even talk about how much better and cheaper internet, cable tv and phone service is in Europe and other parts of the world.  That conversation always makes a few right wing heads explode as they are incapable of recognizing the fact that things aren’t always done best in the USA

Great article from AmericaBlog on what a little competition can do:

 

 

The Consumerist has an interesting story about this, and other similar stories seem to be popping up.  Google Fiber is a new fiber optic Internet service, along with cable TV, that Google is building, with it’s first test cases in Missouri and Kansas.  Google is offering multiple tiers of service, including a free level.  It sounds rather amazing.  And it seems that suddenly Time Warner Cable has found it in its heart to drop its prices significantly in the areas where Google Fiber is operating.  Imagine that.

As it stands today, Americans pay outrageously high prices for Internet services, yet they still receive low quality. Overseas the competition is much greater, as is the internet speed — and our prices are MUCH lower than what you pay in the states for less service.

Thanks to plenty of friends in Washington, DC, American Internet Service Providers (ISPs, aka the Comcasts of the world) have mostly been able to get away with this lousy deal for consumers, but this may be changing. Unfortunately, Google Fiber is only present in Kansas City today, so the reports of pricing and quality are only there. Secondly, Google Fiber itself is pretty darned expensive.

As I’ve mentioned before, in “socialist” France we have numerous options all around €30 per month, that include high speed internet (including fiber optic, which I have), phone calls around the world at no additional charge and more TV channels than most will ever watch. Other countries in Europe have similar 3-pack deals and Asia reportedly has even better internet connectivity.

As much as the US is the center of the world for many things including leading internet companies, the people of the US are being ripped off with the internet services. (It’s not unlike pharmaceutical prices, which are much more expensive in the US than everywhere else.)

Computer guy via Shutterstock

Will Google Fiber drive prices down as some have experienced? Maybe. But the US still needs a lot more competition in more places to break the market apart from the stranglehold of a few players.

MORE:   Is Google Fiber Internet service driving down Time Warner Cable’s prices?.

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Filed under Congress, Education, Internet

NC Gov McCrory Takes on UNC- Wants to Focus Higher Ed Funding on Vocational Training, Not Liberal Arts

What an absolute ass….

My experience has been that the best leaders and managers have liberal arts educations.  It teaches you to think broadly, critically and to problem solve.  A Liberal Arts Education has longterm benefits besides making life much more interesting and enjoyable.

Vocational education teaches specific skills that can easily become redundant as the marketplace, automation and industry moves to different phases.  It’s a short term solution to immediate corporate hiring needs.

This fool may lead to my return to blogging on this site on a more regular basis….

From the News and Observer:

 

Gov. Pat McCrory said he would propose legislation to overhaul the way higher education is funded in North Carolina, putting the emphasis on job creation not liberal arts and taking specific aim at the state’s flagship university.

“I think some of the educational elite have taken over our education where we are offering courses that have no chance of getting people jobs,” McCrory told conservative talk show host Bill Bennett, the former education secretary for President Ronald Reagan, during an interview Tuesday morning.

McCrory echoed a crack the radio show host made at gender studies courses at UNC-Chapel Hill, a top tier public university. “That’s a subsidized course,” McCrory said, picking up the argument. “If you want to take gender studies that’s fine, go to a private school and take it. But I don’t want to subsidize that if that’s not going to get someone a job.”

The Republican governor said he instructed his staff Monday to draft legislation that would change how much state money universities and community colleges receive “not based on how many butts in seats but how many of those butts can get jobs.”

 

McCrory wants to revamp higher ed funding — takes aim at UNC-Chapel Hill | newsobserver.com projects.

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Teen Denied Eagle Scout for Being Gay

This is another example of institutional bullying…

This kid was involved in Scouting all his life.   Now, just as he has earned their highest level of achievement, they are turning on him because he is Gay.

This is the kind of kid who ought to be praised, not put down…

Please read the article, below, from RawStory.com and then sign his Mom’s petition at this link:  

http://www.change.org/petitions/boy-scouts-don-t-let-your-anti-gay-policy-deny-my-son-his-eagle-award

The Boy Scouts of America on Thursday said that they had denied a gay California teen Eagle Scout honors because he had not lived up to the principle of “duty to God” with his sexual orientation.The Scoutmaster for Troop 212 in Moraga decided that Ryan Andresen was “no longer eligible for membership in Scouting” after they learned he was gay, even though he had completed all of his requirements for Eagle Scout, including building a “tolerance wall” to honor those that had been bullied like himself.“I want everyone to know that [the Eagle award] should be based on accomplishment, not your sexual orientation,” Ryan Andresen’s mother, Karen, told NBC News. “Ryan entered Scouts when he was six years old and in no way knew what he was.”“I think right now the scoutmaster is sending Ryan the message that he’s not a valued human being and I want Ryan to know that he is valued … and that people care about him,” she added.Karen Andresen said that the Eagle Scout decision was “a total shock” because the scoutmaster was aware that her son had come out in July and had said nothing.

via Teen denied Eagle Scout for disobeying ‘duty to God’ by being gay | The Raw Story.

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Student Loan Vote: Republicans Block Bill To Extend Low Interest Rates

The GOP is so blatant in their contempt for the Middle Class- or anyone who isn’t part of the 1%….

Could it be more obvious they are only there to protect and help the wealthy and could not care less about the vast majority of Americans?

I can’t believe people who don’t make over a million dollars a year still vote for these guys….

It’s insane!

Their votes are killing the Middle Class and destroying our young people’s futures…

Education is the key to upward mobility, financial security and a fulfilling career- hopefully one that gives back to society.

From HuffingtonPost.com:

WASHINGTON — Senate Republicans on Tuesday blocked a bill that would have frozen student loan interest rates before they are set to double on July 1.

In a partisan vote of 52 to 45, the Senate failed to reach the 60 votes needed to begin debate on the Democratic bill. Sen. Olympia Snowe (Maine) was the lone Republican to vote “present.” A Snowe spokesman told The Huffington Post her vote was related to her practice of voting “present” on legislation that contains the potential or appearance of association with the private business activity of her husband.

The vote wasn’t much of a surprise: Republicans have been signaling they would filibuster the bill because of its cost offsets. Democrats would cover the $6 billion cost of keeping student loan interest rates at 3.4 percent for another year by raising Social Security and Medicare payroll taxes on certain high-earners. By contrast, Republicans have called for nixing a preventive health fund to pay for it.

Ultimately, the vote gives Democrats another chance to try to frame Republicans as favoring the wealthy over the middle class in the midst of intensifying election-year politicking.

via Student Loan Vote: Republicans Block Bill To Extend Low Interest Rates.

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Filed under Education, Elections, Politics

The Next Time Someone Says the Internet Killed Reading Books, Show Them This

It seems more people are reading books now than ever before…

readingrates_615.jpg

This is some surprisingly good news from Alexis Madrigal in The Atlantic.  I encourage you to click the link and read the full article.

My bet is this is due to e-readers, like the Amazon Kindle.  I’ve always read a lot, but the Kindle has put me into overdrive due to the ease of carrying it around and the ability to instantly obtain new books related to one you have just finished.

My guilty pleasure is mysteries set in various time periods in England, but I also read a lot of history, biographies and popular/literary fiction.  I go right from one book to another on my Kindle.

Of course, this doesn’t mention the quality of what people are reading, only the quantity….

Remember the good old days when everyone read really good books, like, maybe in the post-war years when everyone appreciated a good use of the semi-colon? Everyone’s favorite book was by Faulkner or Woolf or Roth. We were a civilized civilization. This was before the Internet and cable television, and so people had these, like, wholly different desires and attention spans. They just craved, craved, craved the erudition and cultivation of our literary kings and queens.

Well, that time never existed. Check out these stats from Gallup surveys. In 1957, not even a quarter of Americans were reading a book or novel. By 2005, that number had shot up to 47 percent. I couldn’t find a more recent number, but I think it’s fair to say that reading probably hasn’t declined to the horrific levels of the 1950s.

All this to say: our collective memory of past is astoundingly inaccurate. Not only has the number of people reading not declined precipitously, it’s actually gone up since the perceived golden age of American letters.

via The Next Time Someone Says the Internet Killed Reading Books, Show Them This Chart – Alexis Madrigal – Technology – The Atlantic.

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