Being out of touch with today’s woke

Oh so long ago, ok, I did my undergraduate work from 1977-1981, and graduate from 1985-1991, there was one thing I wanted: to be treated fairly. As long as I had the some opportunities and was evaluated by the same standards everyone else was evaluated by, I was fine.

Keep in mind that within my lifetime, people were openly denied opportunities solely based on things like race and sex; that is, no matter how much aptitude and willingness to work they had, they were not given a shot.

That had changed when I entered the fray.
I was given a “fair whistle” (saying people use when talking about get treated fairly by the referees)

I was good with that.

Yes, it is possible that some evaluating me might have thought that, statistically speaking, Latinos had lesser aptitude and perhaps I was the one special case that did. But I was judging my experience on an individual level; I really did not care about their thoughts about group norms.

And that makes me an out-of-touch dinosaur.

Culture wars: 2021 style

Yes, I am 61 years old, soon to turn 62. I’ve seen quite a few “culture wars” in my day, so these are nothing new.

The current one centers about talking about race and racism in schools, colleges and the workplace.

Of course, there are some dreadfully bad training programs out there.

I am of the opinion that change comes from “within” and it comes from someone you trust speaking to you in language that you understand.

So, white people wagging their fingers at black people won’t help:

And no…some woke wagging their finger outside of woke academia won’t help either. But I digress.

The Republicans have seized on some honestly dreadful training and decided to call it a war on Critical Race Theory (CRT)

Now CRT was created in law schools as a way of studying the effect that race has on our institutions and how it tends to permeate everything; after all, just who set up the legal framework, or social framework? What was society like then?

And yes, some have built upon this idea to study other institutions; e. g. education.

And some of this is indeed cringeworthy:

So, when the public is criticizing CRT, MOST are criticizing stuff like this and not the actual academic theory.

But I believe the CRT critics are overreaching. IMHO, most Americans want accurate history to be taught; we know that our country has made mistakes and has failed morally at times and we really want to do better. They don’t want our mistakes whitewashed ..nor do we want to be seen as only one mistake either.

This is why I think things like this are overreach and will end up backfiring on the Republicans. They will do well if they focus on the specific genuinely bad things. But maybe they can’t help themselves?

On another note: a journalist was offered a position at the University of North Carolina but, contrary to the wishes of the faculty, she would have not been granted tenure by the board. The board decided to vote and ended up changing their mind, but she decided to take a position at Howard University.

Her supporters are exclaiming “see, she showed them and North Carolina lost!” but it appears to me that upper administration and the big money donors got exactly what they wanted: they were free from a high profile thorn in their side and have plausible deniability. And Howard scored a coup.

Yes, I know that universities and colleges are viewed as bastions of woke liberalism, and some professors and students are. But I think that many underestimate how conservative the big donors are and how conservative many blocks of students are. And this varies from college to college; a hint to which college recruits what can be seen by looking at a list of which colleges will require students to be COVID vaccinated. If your uni isn’t on this list, it is probably because they recruit a conservative demographic.

What irks it wokeness? Or is it something else..

I read this tweet and something came to mind:

I want to make it clear: I see Critical Race Theory (CRT) as an academic construct originally designed to understand law; its basic premise, as I understand it, it is necessary to take race into account when understanding public policy, public institutions, law, etc.
And when one does the calculations to see whether a policy or a law is good, one has to view it from many angles, including from those at the bottom of the economic and social scale.

But I am very much a non-expert; I haven’t even read, much less digested, the primary sources.

And I honestly think the debates over CRT being taught in public grade schools (and public universities) are not completely in good faith; one side points out that what is being taught is NOT CRT..but ignores the genuinely kooky nonsense that is taught in the name of being “anti-racist” and the other side tends to label anything they don’t like as CRT and to exaggerate the amount of kooky nonsense that is out there.

In a country our size, on statistical grounds, we are all but certain to have a few kooks in the educational sector.

Anyway, regardless of what CRT is and whether or not some ideas are closely tied to CRT…these politicians…Republicans…are seeking to BAN speakers on college campuses?

Where have we heard that before? Hmmm….

As I’ve said before, “political correctness” is NOT unique to the left wing; if anything, the right wing variety has a lot more money behind it.

Then I read another post about someone being aghast that their father found out about an “IDW” (Internet Dark Web) person and wants to read their ideas.

You also see some posts about kids visiting their parents and programming their TV sets to NOT receive Fox News.

And that sort of attitude is part of what grates me about “wokeness”. I am fine with people expressing ideas that I don’t agree with. But I bristle when someone thinks that they are somehow qualified to tell me what speakers a campus can book, what speakers I can listen to (sans interruption).

Look: I am as capable as anyone else of determining which ideas are bad and which ones are good. In fact, I see myself as much more capable of making that determination than the mediocrities on social media or of, say, other woke faculty members or students, etc.

So, part of what I object to is the de facto censorship and the fact that the wokes or the Bible Beaters or the right wing Q-anon embracing nut jobs thinking that the rest of us needs protection from corrupting ideas.

Workout notes: weights only; shoulder ache last night. Wonder if the shoulder ache came from positioning on the stationary bicycle?

pull ups: 10 singles, 20 “on the 10 second), set of 10, 3 sets of 5 (last set a penalty set for partial reps). Sissy push ups: 3 sets of 40, one of 20 (miscounted the last set of 40?)

Tons of rehab exercise (30 minutes worth, at least),

curls: 6 sets of 10: 3 hammer with the multi-grip bar, 3 with the curl bar, 3 sets of 10 rows with 134. In the second video, you can hear me talking to my wife…being annoyed that my working out has not given me an attractive body.

Diversity statements and other woke matters

I talked a little about some push back against “required diversity statements” for those applying for faculty jobs here.

So, on a related note, the Florida Governor is requiring students, faculty and staff to complete viewpoint surveys. Now I do NOT know whether these will be anonymous or not and if they are, that makes them a different animal than the required “diversity statement.” And these appear to be “after the fact”; not “to see if we will admit you or hire you” sort of thing.

I will be following this to see what develops.


This was part of a Twitter dust up about women in academia and clothing:

I think this started it all:

Now some of the conversation is that “sexy attire and intellectual accomplishment are independent” and I’d agree with that.

But for me, the issue is: is there event appropriate, situationally appropriate attire?

I’d say “yes”; one can make a statement with attire and how one is dressed can affect how one is perceived (“serious?” “professional?” )

I’d venture to say that some attacking this lady for saying what she did would attack this scientist:

(context: here) “woke friendly” communities, there ARE double standards based on “privilege”: some think that males should NEVER comment on what a woman wears (unless it is something with, say KKK or a swastika) and, due to “privilege”, women have license to do that to men.

BTW, I did think this shirt was a bad shirt for the occasion …but thought the pile on was unwarranted …(maybe some gentle correction would have been better: psst: dude: bad shirt; wear something else next time)

And..this is one reason I think that academics get is so completely wrong when it comes to politics or to getting the public to go along.

Critical Race Theory interesting discussion here:

This won’t change anyone’s mind but it might help the skeptic see what the other side thinks.

Discussions in bad faith

One of the things I’ve followed, at least a bit, is the issue of requiring “diversity statements” from job applicants (common for academic jobs in this era). Here is one example.

What I find discouraging is the bad faith in the discussion. Someone says “I don’t think diversity statements are a good idea” and immediately the crowd attacks them for supporting White Supremacy …or something.

It seems to be “situation X is bad/problematic/should be changed and therefore I propose policy A and if you disagree with policy A, it MUST be because you don’t see situation X as a problem.

And as evidence that policy A is good, they point out self selected testimony from groups affected by situation X think that policy A is a good idea.

Now, as far as the diversity statement stuff: if this policy was billed as “ok, we’ll try this and reassess to see if it worked” that would be one thing.

If they said “after requiring diversity statements”, we saw some tangible improvement, say, better minority student retention, increased minority student GPA, more minority student graduates, or say, a more diverse faculty, or a more productive minority faculty..or more of the “diverse faculty” choosing to stay, then hey, count me as a supporter!

But this business about “you are bigot if you are skeptical of this” or for waiting to see if things change for the better…well, the wokes are acting more and more like the old religious nutters.

Higher education: what is to blame?

I read this article about the troubles that higher education is facing in the UK, and sounds…very familiar.

You know the drill: “let’s get the government out of higher ed and run it like a business.” So, competition for students went up..and so did the amenities …and therefore..price?

The right wingers would say that is because government pays too much and so market pressures will send the students to less ritzy schools. But where that might happen over a long period of time, higher ed is often a “one time purchase” commodity.

And so the race for students goes up..and “customer demands”..and the universities respond by hiring more and more administrators, VP’s and the like.

The actual education: well…that becomes less important in their thinking. So small section classes are discouraged, “hire cheap adjuncts” where possible..misery.

So, it would be easy to lash out at university presidents and the like, but they are trying to keep the universities “in business.” The issue is really the lack of state subsidies that used to exist.

And, at these prices, students are concerned about employment afterward more than anything else and so the “non practical” degree programs suffer..

It really is a society issue..a “problem” as I see it.

Until we meet again

Well, our university just went down..students get an extra week of spring break and then we start online instruction on 30 March and are slated to continue until “at least” April 12.
I said “good bye” to my students as, well, though I hope we guess is that we are over until August.

It was a somber day for me; I gave one final lesson and tried to make it a good one. We went over the SIR model in differential equations class. I kind of felt weepy.

Our gym (pictured above…and this is how I usually see it when I arrive at 6 am) is closed until “at least” April 12 and, realistically, probably much longer. I’ll work out at the Riverplex until that is closed too…though I might be able to do my full routine, except for pull ups, at home. And even then…maybe make space in the garage for a full blown power rack? In my basement I can do light bench presses, curls, trap bar exercises and I have another bar I can take to the driveway to do overhead presses. And I’ll buy some good dumbbell handles too…want to do goblet squats and maybe dumbbell bench presses. I’ll need about 140 lb total (70’s for dumbbell benches and goblet squats…45’s for overhead presses)

And so…I made my “final..for now” weight workout in Markin a good one:

pull ups: 4 sets of 10, 1 of 7, 1 of 5
rotator cuff
bench press: 10 x 135, 1 x 190 (easy), 3 sets of 5 x 170
incline press: 10 x 135
clean and press: previously, I did one clean, then all of my presses in a set. This time, I did a clean for every press rep:
3 sets of 5 x 95. OMG..out of breath after the first set, later sets were better. Yes, these were strict presses, not push presses.
rows: 3 sets of 10 x 200 Hammer machine
standing dumbbell shoulder presses: 2 sets of 10 x 45
head stand and plank

Took about 80 minutes.

Markin…BU Students…..Until we meet again….

Lingering soreness

I woke up with “sore”, well, “low grade sore” legs and wondered if I could shuffle at all. I could..a couple of hours AFTER I had woken up. Doing it right away is just very hard right now.

It was just over 5 miles in just over 1:02 and I felt..ok. It wasn’t the death march last week’s slightly longer “run” was. Why dead lifts would leave me with sore legs is a bit of a mystery..unless it ws because I did some Sumo style.

What this means is that my Tuesday “post yoga” run will have to suffice as my “Steamboat 15K training run”, at least so long as I do Saturday dead lifting for poundage. Or..perhaps do the run every other Saturday (followed by light dead lifts) and do “heavy” (less light?) dead lift every other Saturday..stick with medium ones in between.

Social comments: We don’t learn. Impeachment did NOT hurt Trump’s ratings..

Education: This is a longer article which is a review of two books that interest me. But buried in it is this: Finger. Wagging. Does. Not. Change. Minds.

One fascinating study Klein quotes found that “priming white college students to think about the concept of white privilege led them to express more racial resentment in subsequent surveys.” Anti-racist indoctrination actually feeds racism. So tribalism deepens.

Personally, I wish we stuck to teaching our subjects..and by “we” I mean professors. I try to be “all math, all the time.”

Threading the needle: where is the line between a university adapting to the times and ceasing to be a university?

Workout notes are the end.

So, what is the purpose of a university? But…”not enough students paying enough tuition” means “no more university.”

Where is the balance?

I am NOT putting down job training programs; we need people to do certain jobs and students need to learn them somewhere.
And a “theory only” education doesn’t prepare someone for the workplace.

But a “technology only” education prepares the graduate to be unemployable as soon as technology changes; I’d guess that a firm grounding on the principles of a subject is more necessary than ever.

And there is something else. I think there is a value in: “hey our program is demanding; not everyone can get through. Are YOU one of those who can?” But that seems to be out of favor; instead it is “come here and we’ll get you through..”

But..again, “no students” means “no college.” But “shallow education” means “eventually our graduates won’t be respected.”

I am sorry that I have a lot of questions but no answers.

Yes, these thoughts are inspired by recent events (this is an idea of what happened). I’d rather not get into specifics as it isn’t my intention to attack someone who is working hard and making good faith, but difficult decisions.

Workout notes
rotator cuff
pull ups: 5 sets of 10 (decent)
bench press: 10 x 135, 2 sets of 3 x 185
inline: 4 x 150
decline: 10 x 170 (good)
clean and press: 7 x 100, 10 x 95
shoulder press (dumbbell) 10 x 45
rows: 3 sets of 10 x 115
goblet squats: 6 x 30, 6 x 50, 6 x 60, 6 x 70 (decent integrity)
back squats: 3 sets of 5 x 95 (not a typo); I do better with a medium stance ..not quite legal depth.
plank (2:30)
easy 2 mile walk outside (felt good)
Bodyweight: 198.7 with sweatpants and heavy shoes (probably about 195 undressed)

Not getting it…

Liberals aren’t good at marketing. Yes, one might argue that is ad is intended to get other liberals to contribute to the “Ditch Mitch” campaign.

But I’d imagine that this would be counterproductive, especially when shown in Kentucky. Hint: Samantha Bee and Trevor Noah probably won’t convince many Kentuckians; this is a bit like trying to convince San Francisco people to vote against a Democrat …by quoting Rush Limbaugh and Sean Hannity.

We just don’t get it.

Others do; there are Republican strategists who hate Trump and are trying to help us learn to win elections. This is an excellent article by Rick Wilson on “how to run against the devil.”

Along those lines: the humanities are suffering badly and this article links to a free Chronicle of Higher Education special on the death knell of the humanities. I am sure the problem is deep and has multiple causes, but one thing strikes me: will students and parents want to fork over 6 digits worth of tuition in order to learn how to be offended?

Yes, classical humanities has quite a bit to offer, especially as small as the world has become. But I worry that the outside reputation of the humanities is that it is mostly a bastion of wokeness.. place to learn about the 37+ gender pronouns and the plight of transgender males who suffer through periods.