September 2006, Part 4

Jim Miller on Politics

Pseudo-Random Thoughts

Worth Reading:  Debra Saunders discovers something interesting about our universities:
File this under: Why am I not surprised?  Seniors at the University of California, Berkeley know less about American history, government and politics than Berkeley freshmen, according to a study, "The Coming Crisis in Citizenship," released by the Intercollegiate Studies Institute (ISI) on Tuesday.  It's odd to think that those Cal students who think they know it all more likely know less about America after three years at Berkeley.
And the researchers found similar results at other elite universities, including many that charge enormous amounts.

You'll want to read the whole thing.  But I will add this point:  the results may be even worse than Saunders realizes.  Many students drop out between freshman and senior years.   Those who drop out tend to be poorer students than those who remain.  So you would expect some gains just from that, but the study found almost no gains overall, and actual losses at some schools, including Berkeley.

(Minor technical point:  One way to avoid the bias from the selection effect is to do what is usually called a "panel" study.  In this case, you would interview the same students year after year.  This takes longer and is a lot more expensive, but it does give better measurements of changes.)
- 8:47 AM, 29 September 2006   [link]

Phantom Ship:  Since my last post, I have driven the Cascades Lakes highway to Crater Lake, circled Crater Lake twice, taken a side trip to Fort Rock, and returned to Bend, taking pictures as I went.  I'll be doling out the pictures one or two at a time over the next few months, but this one showing the "Phantom Ship" in Crater Lake is too good to keep for later.

You might think that the Phantom Ship is, like Wizard Island, a recent intrusion, created after the eruption 7,700 years ago.  In fact, it is much older, about 400,000 years old, say geologists.  It was exposed by the eruption that created Crater Lake and has survived ever since.

And now back home, and back to writing on politics.
- 7:35 AM, 28 September 2006   [link]

Lava Butte:  Mt. Jefferson is one of the most beautiful sights in Oregon; Lava Butte has a good claim to be one of the ugliest.  Unlike Mt. Jefferson, Lava Butte is not cloaked with dazzling white glaciers, and has not been sculpted by erosion into a beautiful shape.  Instead, it is still the raw cinder and lava cone that you see below.

Ugly, but interesting, because you can see so clearly how the lava and cinders built the cone.  And there are some beautiful things to see there, the Cascade volcanoes on the skyline, and at this time of the year, some lovely flowers.

And, now, after a quick review of my camera manual, off to Crater Lake
- 8:03 AM, 25 September 2006   [link]

Is Bush The Devil?  Letter writers to Saturday's Portland Oregonian differed on that difficult theological question.   Beverly Burke says yes:
Kudos to Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez for truth telling in his United Nations address of Sept. 20, where he repeatedly called President Bush the devil.  Undoubtedly he will be labeled as crazy for saying in public what many of us have been saying privately for the past six years.
Though she then retreats, and says that the charge has a "kernel of truth". Larry Olstad also liked what Chavez said, but for a different reason:
All the talking heads on cable news are up in arms about Hugo Chavez calling George Bush the devil.  It should have been clear to anyone watching, whether they speak Spanish or not, that Chavez was satirizing Bush by giving him a well-earned, well-placed kick in the fundamentalism.
Perhaps if Ms. Burke and Mr. Olstad could sit down together, they could come to some agreement on this difficult theological question.  If I had to guess, I think they would come to something like this position:  President Bush is not actually the devil, but they loved hearing the Venezuelan leader say that he is.

That view, and similar views, are all too common on the American left — which shows why they can not be entrusted with power.  They know that they hate Bush, but they are not thinking seriously about our problems.  And they don't intend to start.

(Those who know even a little about theology will know that President Bush is not a fundamentalist, in spite of Olstad's sneer.

And I am sure that I am not the only one who suspects that theOregonian would never have published a similar slur — against a Muslim politician.)
- 7:06 AM, 25 September 2006   [link]