Don't Know Much

… about history:

  • There is content from national treasure P. J. O'Rourke at the Weekly Standard. It examines the American public school system, and advocates…
    Close all the public schools. Send the kids home. Fire the teachers. Sell the buildings. Raze the U.S. Department of Education, leaving not one brick standing upon another and plow the land where it stood with salt.
    Gather the kids together in groups of 15.4 [the current nationwide student/classroom-teacher ratio]. Sit them down at your house, or the Moose Lodge, or the VFW Hall or--gasp--a church. Multiply 15.4 by $15,000 [the current per-pupil cost of government schools]. That's $231,000. Subtract a few grand for snacks and cleaning your carpet. What remains is a pay and benefit package of a quarter of a million dollars. Average 2008 public school classroom teacher salary: $51,391. For a quarter of a million dollars you could hire Aristotle. The kids wouldn't have band practice, but they'd have Aristotle. (Incidentally this worked for Philip of Macedon. His son did very well.)
    Peej deals with many objections to his proposal, including:
    "Wouldn't having just one teacher--without even a qualified teacher's aide--narrow the scope of curriculum being offered to students especially at the secondary education level?"
    Maybe. But our public schools seem to have addressed this issue already. In the article on Education in the 1911 edition of the Encyclopedia Britannica, I found this quaint description of the subjects studied at a typical American high school: "Latin, Greek, French, German, algebra, geometry, physics, chemistry, physical geography, physiology, rhetoric, English literature, civics and history." Or, as we call them nowadays, a smattering of Spanish, Fun With Numbers, Earth in the Balance, computer skills, Toni Morrison, safe sex, and multicultural studies.
    The article will have you chuckling and moaning, at the same time. Check it out.

  • Also interesting is the Moocher Index, produced by Daniel J. Mitchell of Cato: the fraction of each state's population signed up for income-redistribution programs, less the state's poverty rate. So (roughly): "how many non-poor people are signed up for income-redistribution programs"

    New Englanders might want to note: Vermont is the number one moochiest state in the USA!, Maine not much better at #3, Massachusetts #5, Rhode Island #7, and Connecticut #9. New Hampshire comes in way down at #30.

    Mitchell admits it's quick-n-dirty. Still…

  • Arnold Kling is not impressed by The Squam Lake Report, a book detailing the recommendations of "leading academic experts" who met at Squam back in 2008, in order to "come up with ideas to prevent future financial crises." Among other criticisms:
    The authors display considerable faith in technocratic control. Their systemic risk regulator will have God-like powers to assemble and process information.
    Not good. Next time, try Lake Wobegon for such antics.

  • I think The Good Guys is a very clever and fun TV show. Unfortunately, I seem to be the only person in the USA who's watching it.

  • Probably everyone else knows this, but I only recently discovered it: how to use Firefox's spell-checker on any web page. Very useful for spell-checking my blog posts. From now on my only excuse for misspellings will be laziness, … or forgetfulness, … or some combination thereof.

    About the same as before, in other words. It's still neat, though.

  • Another thing everyone probably noticed before I did: Amazon is selling DVDs to order: they burn movies onto DVD-R media and ship 'em out to you.

    I discovered this while browsing for movies on my "fondly remembered and wish I could see again" list. And promptly found three that hadn't been available before: Slither, Between the Lines, and So Fine.

    Pricey! But Netflix doesn't have them. Hm.

    Problem: videophiles seem to unanimously agree that DVD-R is—to use a technical term—"crappy". Still, if it's a choice between DVD-R and nothing…

Last Modified 2012-10-03 11:39 AM EST