Results of a standardized measure of reasoning ability show many students fail to improve over four years—even at some flagship schools, according to a Wall Street Journal analysis of nonpublic results.
Douglas Belkin writes: Freshmen and seniors at about 200 colleges across the U.S. take a little-known test every year to measure how much better they get at learning to think. The results are discouraging.
At more than half of schools, at least a third of seniors were unable to make a cohesive argument, assess the quality of evidence in a document or interpret data in a table, The Wall Street Journal found after reviewing the latest results from dozens of public colleges and universities that gave the exam between 2013 and 2016. (See full results.)
Some of the biggest gains occur at smaller colleges where students are less accomplished at arrival but soak up a rigorous, interdisciplinary curriculum.
For prospective students and their parents looking to pick a college, it is almost impossible to figure out which schools help students learn critical thinking, because full results of the standardized test, called the College Learning Assessment Plus, or CLA+, are seldom disclosed to the public. This is true, too, of similar tests.
Some academic experts, education researchers and employers say the Journal’s findings are a sign of the failure of America’s higher-education system to arm graduates with analytical reasoning and problem-solving skills needed to thrive in a fast-changing, increasingly global job market. Read the rest of this entry »
From our Japan Bureau comes this exclusive series of commemorative noodle-cup Trump portraits. Created at the Cup of Noodle Museum in Yokohama (yes, it’s a real thing) these hand-decorated cups were then sent through a robotic shrink-wrap machine, ready for delivery to our USA Headquarters, for tasting.
MAGA stands for “Make America Great Again“. Another cup, I’m told, is emblazoned with MJGA, or “Make Japan Great Again”. When you travel to see our allies in Japan don’t forget to visit the Cupnoodles Museum – not to be confused with Yokohama’s famous Ramen Museum – but visit there too, you’ll be glad you did! In the meantime, enjoy the Japanese Donald Trump Commercialトランプ2016.
Massive party breaks out to celebrate Ryan’s spectacular legislative victory, new speaker’s stewardship of $1.1 trillion omnibus budget bill a ‘masterstroke’, hailed as historic success.
Bin Laden’s Right-Wing Reading List Goes Viral
The list includes an archive of radical right wing books, history books, humor texts, and conservative philosophy belonging to the former al-Qaeda chief, some of which are still being withheld by the U.S. government, but leaked online this afternoon.
Among the volumes of books on law and military strategy that were publicly released this week, are a not-yet-declassified list of books by popular conservative authors such as Ann Coulter, Jonah Goldberg, and Andrew Breitbart, as well as scholarly texts by Ludwig von Mises, Milton Friedman, and Friedrich von Hayek. The collection includes:
The End Is Near and It’s Going to Be Awesome by Kevin D. Williamson
Ideas Have Consequences by Richard M. Weaver
Mugged: Racial Demagoguery from the Seventies to Obama by Ann Coulter
The Road to Serfdom by Friedrich von Hayek
Capitalism and Freedom by Milton Friedman
God and Man at Yale: The Superstitions of ‘Academic Freedom‘ by William F. Buckley, Jr.
Righteous Indignation: Excuse Me While I Save the World! by Andrew Breitbart
On Liberty by John Stuart Mill
Human Action, The Scholar’s Edition by Ludwig von Mises
The Conservative Intellectual Movement in America Since 1945 by George Nash
Witness by Whittaker Chambers
The Conservative Mind: From Burke to Eliot by Russell Kirk
Ethnic America: A History by Thomas Sowell
Natural Right and History by Leo Strauss
The leak comes shortly after the fourth anniversary of Bin Laden’s death at the hands of US special forces…
The Hong Kong pro-democracy protesters had planned to have some kind of vote yesterday on how they would go forward. But they didn’t. From the South China Morning Post, Hong Kong’s leading English-language newspaper:
Occupy Central protesters and observers yesterday backed an 11th-hour decision to scrap a poll on the way forward for the month-old sit-in, saying the move made it easier to enter into more talks with the government.
Protest leaders announced the U-turn hours before the electronic ballot was to start at 7pm and apologised for not having sufficiently discussed with demonstrators the poll’s methodology and objectives. But shelving it did not mean they had shifted their stance or intended to end the occupation, Federation of Students secretary general Alex Chow Yong-kang said.
Some protesters had said the poll was redundant. A huge banner that called for delaying the poll was hung from an Admiralty footbridge yesterday morning.
Occupy co-founder Benny Tai Yiu-ting said: “The public may feel there are problems with the movement’s organisation and leadership, and we admit that … I promise that in the future, we will give sufficient notice to and discuss with protesters before making a major formal decision.”
For me, the lesson in this story is that “democracy” is not a self-executing political panacea. Democracy has a value — a high value — as ONE element of a fair and well-ordered society. But democracy can only serve its proper function as a check on the tyranny of the state when it operates within a system of well-defined and transparent laws and institutions. It is not surprising to me that the vote called by the protesters did not happen. There was no framework of law and institutional operation within which it could happen.
The smartest lawyers and statesmen in the rebel colonies worked for many months to draft the Constitution of the United States before it was finally implemented. Doing this created the framework of laws and institutions in which democracy operated as only one dynamic part of a system that was crafted after extremely careful deliberation by some of the wisest men who have ever considered these issues. The Framers of the US Constitution did their work after putting in place a temporary structure — the Articles of Confederation — to ensure a stable environment for long enough to work out the permanent “political operating system” for their country. They did not do their work in the heated stress and passion of an armed rebellion against the Crown. They first made an imperfect compromise in the Articles of Confederation to buy themselves the time they knew it would take to work out a truly well-ordered system. My advice to the protesters: study history.
“For me, the lesson in this story is that “democracy” is not a self-executing political panacea. Democracy has a value — a high value — as ONE element of a fair and well-ordered society.”
The problem, of course, is that there is no time for study. The pro-democracy protesters have been improvising and responding to the largely pro-Beijing government’s actions from the beginning. They are working from a base that is fueled by legitimate passion for liberty and fear of tyranny, but without a well-established leadership operating within a widely-recognized and accepted organizational structure.
“But democracy can only serve its proper function as a check on the tyranny of the state when it operates within a system of well-defined and transparent laws and institutions.”
In any conflict, all things being equal, the side with the more easily achieved strategic goal and the larger number of tactical options will prevail. For better or worse, in this situation, the side with both of these advantages is the pro-establishment side. For the pro-Beijing Hong Kong government, the strategic “victory condition” is maintaining the status quo, and they have a broad range of tactical options along the spectrum of patiently waiting out the protesters on one end to forcefully removing them on the other. I fear the pro-democracy side may not really realize this or, if they do, can think of no tactical response other than “keep doing what we’re doing.” Without regard to the merits of either side’s goals, this makes the pro-democracy side’s strategic and tactical position very weak. Unless they realize this and adjust their strategy and tactics accordingly, the outcome for them does not look good.
“In any conflict, all things being equal, the side with the more easily achieved strategic goal and the larger number of tactical options will prevail. For better or worse, in this situation, the side with both of these advantages is the pro-establishment side.”
This grim picture is playing itself out in a situation where the largest number of the anti-establishment protesters are high school and college students, without strong and experienced leadership that has been tested over time, and without any organizational infrastructure to support the building of strategic or tactical consensus. Unless this situation changes, it looks increasingly unlikely that the pro-democracy movement will put itself into a situation where it can achieve a real “victory.” If their only tool is a “passion for democracy,” they cannot prevail.
EXCLUSIVE: Hong Kong Democracy Demonstrations, Day 17 — The Empire (sort of) Strikes Back (Hong Kong Style)Posted: October 13, 2014
Starting this morning, Hong Kong police executed an operation to clear street barricades on Queensway Road and other major arteries in Hong Kong. It’s unclear to me how the clearing has gone in Causeway Bay and on Nathan Road on the Kowloon side. But in the Admiralty district immediately in front of my office, I’ve been taking periodic trips downstairs to see and photograph the police work methodically all morning and into the afternoon to push protesters back out of the road and systematically dismantle and clear the barricades they had built.
I saw NO violence. The vast majority of the police wore empty holsters — only very senior officers carried their sidearms. No riot weapons (shotguns, tear gas grenade launchers) were evident, but other riot gear was visible — small clear plastic shields and helmets (although none of the police were wearing helmets).
A few students were standing on the sidelines weeping, while others had pulled back to the barricades that protected the approaches to the main protest site in front of the government offices, a block away. Police were making no attempt to clear those barriers. During one phase of the clearing, the police formed a cordon to allow protesters to retrieve their tents and other personal items from the underpass where they’d been camping.
At one key point along Queensway, students were sitting in the streets leading to the main road. A line of police standing at the edge of Queensway faced off against this group to keep the students from moving back into the main road. As of now (1:30 PM Hong Kong time) that is the only large group of police still present on the main road. I suspect this may stay this way to keep the protesters from trying to re-block Queensway.
All of this was done in what I think of as “Hong Kong style:” Compared to anywhere else in the world (including definitely anywhere else in China), everyone was incredibly polite on both sides, there were a minimum of raised voices, and the police force was professional and outright courteous to the protesters and curious passersby and people who work in the area who had to navigate the work of barricade clearing that was underway all along the road. I saw no arrests and have heard of none. I spoke with one police officer who told me that no arrests were planned. The entire operation was very well organized and executed in a very efficient manner — typical Hong Kong.
Now the big question is how the pro-democracy demonstrators will react. Over the last week or so, they have proved themselves to be a largely leaderless movement. Will they try to move back onto the main roads and block them again? If they do, I fear they may lose significant popular support — and that the police response might not be so polite next time.
About an hour and half ago a group opposed to the pro-democracy protesters made a concerted attempt to take down the barricades on Queensway Boulevard near where I work. Hearing the commotion, I headed down and snapped some pics. After about a tense hour, the “Antis” backed down and left in groups of ten or twelve.
The talks between protest leaders and government representatives didn’t happen — the students backed out when they felt the agenda for the first meeting was to be too limited. They called for a surge in attendance at the main blockaded site in front of the government office last night, and thousands showed up. Today, I walked down to the site in the early afternoon. I sensed a relaxed atmosphere among the demonstrators, and more signs that they’re committed to the long haul, including setting up a “study hall” for kids to keep up with the school work they are missing. Also, both Asian and Western comics and cartoons are making their way into more and more of the new posters that constantly pop up around the site. Some of the images below are very clever adaptations of the iconography of American comics — something that would give hardliners in Beijing (is there any other kind now?) serious heartache if they got the jokes.
There is little true “news” from Hong Kong about the pro-democracy demonstrations. The students and others in the pro-democracy movement are being urged by supporters to get better organized before talks with the government begin tomorrow. Meanwhile, various reports have appeared in world media to the effect that there is effectively no support for the Hong Kong democracy movement on the mainland. I think these are accurate. The vast majority of Chinese have no idea what’s going on in Hong Kong other than what is spoon-fed to them by the party-approved media, and a common view of Hongkongers on the mainland is that they are “ungrateful,” unpatriotic and too influenced by Western ideas and media.
My personal opinion is that the demonstrators need to declare a tactical victory, raise the road blockades and think very hard about organizing for the long game — the very, very long game.
Meanwhile, two new signs at the blockade outside my office:
I’ve been busy with work-work and only have time for a quick update and some pics from a lunchtime walk down to the main protest site in front of the government offices. (…and no time to do translations; if you don’t read Chinese, just make something up . . .) The weather has FINALLY begun to change from broiling summer heat and humidity to the golden “Autumn” Hong Kong experiences — clear skies, relatively dry air and temperatures that would be normal in San Diego. This has taken some heat (literally) off the protesters who continue to hold their ground. Local news is reporting that “leaders” of the student movement and representatives of the government have agreed to begin talks on Friday aimed at ending the standoff. It’s hard to see what could come of them but my personal opinion is that pressure is mounting on the protesters from fear that the barricaded roads may be alienating more and more Hongkongers — especially in Kowloon on the other side of the harbor.
Last night the local press was full of reports of scuffles and fights breaking out between demonstrators and groups of men — civilians, not police — who were confronting them in the blockade of Nathan Road on the Kowloon side of the harbour. This neighborhood is far more “blue collar” than the posh areas on the island (where I live) that have been blocked. Some of those attacking the students have been confirmed to be men with “triad” backgrounds. The triads are Hong Kong organized crime gangs that are the analog of the Japanese yakuza or the US mafia. The demonstrators believe the triads have been hired by Beijing’s secret police to create provocations and bad press — to give the impression of popular opposition to the student movement. Police finally stepped in and calmed things down, but the pro-Beijing commenters are out in force on Hong Kong news websites citing the incidents as evidence of popular, grassroots opposition to the street blockades.
A Saturday stroll through the Central/Admiralty barricades to the blockaded government complex revealed significantly reinforced barriers across the roads, and a still impressive number of protesters in front of the main government building. Periodic rain squalls and a week on the streets haven’t undermined what looks like a committed core of activists who seem to give no indication of abandoning their blockades of main roads in Hong Kong.
A noon-time walk through the Central/Admiralty demonstration site in front of the main government offices revealed that the end of the National Day holiday and periodic drenching rain had thinned the crowd somewhat, but that there were still more than enough demonstrators to hold the blockade. Local news sources report that there are some talks going on through intermediaries, but there seems to be no possibility that CY Leung (the Beijing-approved Hong Kong head of government) will resign as the protesters have demanded, nor that Beijing will modify its ruling that candidates for chief executive elections to be held in 2017 will have to be nominated by a body that Beijing will control. At this point it is hard to see how the demonstrators can stand down without seeming to have been defeated. Yet it also seems that many in the city are tiring of the disruptions caused by the barricades across three key roadways in a place where limited space means that there are few, if any, alternative routes.
The leading English language paper in Hong Kong is reporting that “leaders” of the student demonstrators have set a deadline of tomorrow for Hong Kong’s Chief Executive (basically, the governor), C.Y. Leung, to resign. If he doesn’t, they say they’ll start to “occupy” government buildings:
I assume that if this happens, things may well turn ugly again, as they did on the first night when riot police fired tear gas into the crowd and sprayed the students with pepper spray.
But tonight, in the middle of the two-day National Day holiday (ironically, celebrating the 65th anniverary of the founding of the Peoples Republic of China), the crowds at the Central/Admiralty district site swelled and an almost carnival-like atmosphere prevailed:
At noon today I walked through the site of the demonstrations and street blockades in front of the central government offices. There were slightly fewer people there than at the same time yesterday, but they seemed better organized and definitely better provisioned. Below are some of the signs I encountered.
I call it “Day 1.5” because what’s really happened here is that student protests grew beyond anyone’s anticipation last night. The student pro-democracy movement has had a completely different dynamic and wasn’t formally allied with the “official” Occupy Central movement or any of the political actors who are known under the general rubric of “Pan-Democrats.” The students crowded too close to a couple of major government facilities last night and the police fired tear gas into them. This brought out lots of Hongkongers in support who hadn’t been participating before, and forced the hand of the “adults” in Occupy and the Pan-Democrats to move up their plans for demonstrations on October 1 and 2 — the Chinese National Day holidays.
At noon I took a different route around the western edge of the barricaded area, and ended up getting a much better view from above of the main body of the demonstrators directly in front of the central government office. On the way there, I paid a visit to the People Liberation Army’s main barracks on Hong Kong island — which just happens to be a block away from where the demonstrators are blocking access to the central government building.
Also, a note about “Occupy Central” — one of the organizing groups. The choice of the “Occupy” name is unfortunate, because the pro-democracy movement in Hong Kong has very little in common with the unfocused and disorganized “Occupy Wall Street” thing and its mutant progeny in various Western cities. The Hong Kong “Occupy” group is not a vague anti-corporate, leftist gesture, as Occupy Wall Street was. The issues here are real and focused — rule of law and actual democracy (not some vague invocation of “the 99%”).
Support for things like water and basic shelter (umbrellas) seemed ad hoc, but also seemed to be building up.
I could not get down to the scene of the action last night, but this morning I walked down to where things had been rocking nearest to my home — the area right between the Central and Admiralty districts. Here are some pics taken within the last couple of hours:
EXCLUSIVE: Nearing Retirement, Harry Reid’s Unusual Behavior Fuels Increased Speculation about Recreational Drug UsePosted: September 3, 2014
“When I move my hand…like this…pretty colors…”
(WASHINGTON D.C.) Rumors are swirling in both Democratic and Republican campaign headquarters about Senator Harry Reid‘s alleged use of psychoactive drugs, recreationally, including hallucinogens, though what kinds remain uncertain. In the last few months, in advance of Reid’s near-certain retirement as Senate majority leader, Reid’s mood appeared to be melancholy, say sources close to the Senator.
“His attacks on the Koch brothers seemed increasingly insincere, as though he were just going through the motions,” said a campaign staff worker, who spoke to punditfromanotherplanet on the condition of anonymity.
Others near the Senator concur. “Even while blocking bills from reaching the floor, helping to raise money for negative TV ad campaigns, engaging in partisan attacks against Republican opponents in public, and complaining about president Obama in private, his voice seemed hollow, his posture, defeated,” said a reporter who covers the Capitol.
In recent weeks, however, according to close observers, Reid’s demeanor has improved. “He smiles for no reason, sings quietly to himself, and carries on stream-of-consciousness monologues to anyone who will listen”, complained a staff member. Reid’s mood is elevated, some say, to the point of euphoria, which has caused concern among his closest supporters. Read the rest of this entry »
The Chinese central government today announced regulations that would gut Hong Kong’s evolution to real democratic election of the city’s chief executive. In essence, Beijing imposed rules that would ensure that only it’s hand-picked candidates would be allowed to run for the city’s top government post. I attended the beginning of the rally in the park in front of the city’s main government offices today. Here are some pictures:
- Hong Kong Pro-Government Activists Rally Against Occupy Protest (punditfromanotherplanet.com)
- A showdown is looming in Hong Kong, with China threatening to send in its army (chinadailymail.com)
- Beijing Gets Ugly in Hong Kong (punditfromanotherplanet.com)
- Beijing: China Legislature Rules No Open Nominations for Hong Kong Leader (punditfromanotherplanet.com)
- CHINA’S Ticking Clock: Critical Hong Kong Vote Ruling by Beijing Coming Soon (punditfromanotherplanet.com)
- Hong Kong Pro-Democracy Showdown: China Warns Against ‘Foreign Meddling’ (punditfromanotherplanet.com)
- ‘Insufficiency of Mutual Trust’: Hong Kong’s Pro-Democracy Protesters to Get Pro Bono Aid (punditfromanotherplanet.com)
(My apologies for the poor photography — my Hong Kong cell phone has a decidedly inferior camera, and the rally really only got under way after dark.)
Police presence was heavy in the city during the day, with large foot patrols moving around. Interestingly, although Hong Kong’s police usually carry revolvers (.380s – I asked), most cops I saw today had empty holsters on their belts. Read the rest of this entry »
This one is timely again.
Secretary of State John Kerry called Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Wednesday morning to protest insults the Israeli defense minister directed at the Obama administration this week, the State Department said. — thehill.com
Punditfromanotherplanet obtained an exclusive transcript of the phone conversation between Secretary of State John Kerry and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. The following is a declassified portion of a recording of their communication from Wednesday, March 19th, 2014:
Kerry: Bibi? This is John. What the hell?
Netanyahu: John, I was going to call you.
Kerry: Bibi, you tell Ya’alon we’ve had enough of his reckless comments. “Messianic”?
Netanyahu: I understand you’re upset. I spoke to Ya’alon this morning and…
Kerry: That’s not the least of it! Ya’alon said the President of the United States is a “back-scratching, herb-tea-drinking, thumb-sucking Ivy League poser”, and a “golf-playing moron”.
Netanyahu: There’s nothing in the news reports that indicate Ya’alon said anything like that, John…
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[VIDEO] Dinesh DSouza’s Documentary ‘America’ to Feature Megadeth Founder’s Heavy Metal National Anthem ExclusivePosted: July 4, 2014
Is this the new face of conservatism? http://t.co/AsytMmEVtN
For The Hollywood Reporter, Paul Bond writes: Megadeth co-founder Dave Mustaine is marking the 45th anniversary of Jimi Hendrix’s rendition of “The Star-Spangled Banner“ with a heavy metal guitar version of his own that will appear in America, Dinesh D’Souza’s follow-up to 2016: Obama’s America.
“First off, no version of our national anthem is or will ever be better than the original…”
Hendrix debuted his version of the song, also known as the U.S. national anthem, in the summer of 1969 at the now-historical Woodstock music festival, where it was panned by some for its irreverence and heralded by others as an instant classic. Still others assumed it was an anti-Vietnam War statement, but Hendrix simply saw it as patriotic. “We’re all Americans. … It was like, ‘Go America!’ ” he said…
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— Megyn Kelly (@megynkelly) June 30, 2014
It came after six people were shot and killed and many others injured Friday night in the UC Santa Barbara college town of Isla Vista, where a 22-year-old man went on a drive-by shooting spree before ending his rampage with a fatal gunshot wound to the head, authorities say.
“As a student, this outrages me because IV is a place that many call home,” Hernandez told The College Fix about the roughly half-square mile coastal college town. “For someone to barge in, not only to intentionally kill but harm those that were simply trying to enjoy their night, is appalling.”
“This man, whoever he was, does not deserve to be talked about,” Hernandez added. “He’s a mass murderer and that’s all I have to say about him.”
EXCLUSIVE: Feds, Shocked by Sales of Captive Children in Vending Machines, Investigate Criminal Child Trafficking RingPosted: April 16, 2014
An undercover investigation reveals a lucrative child trafficking operation in the American heartland. Hotel chains, bowling alleys, shopping malls, and bingo parlors, all appearing as legitimate businesses, all found to be involved in this alarming new trend: illegally dispensing captive toddlers from vending machines, for profit.
According to the FBI report, leaked to punditfromanotherplanet’s news tip line, agents learned that healthy young white male toddlers are highly prized, with vending machine locations targeted to affluent childless couples in middle America.
“We assigned undercover agents to purchase toddlers from vending machines in several states, before we closed in, and made arrests. The scale of the operation is unprecedented, we were shocked by what we found.”
— Special Agent Daniel McGuffin
Sales of white female toddlers, too, racked up record profits for the criminal trafficking ring, while profits from the sales of minority children showed disappointing growth in three consecutive quarters, attributed to low consumer demand.
“We’ve been trying to have a baby for years, but couldn’t. When we won little Jason, and two stuffed bears, from the machine, we were so happy, it felt like we were in Vegas.”
— Bowling alley customer Susan Sebastian, in a statement to local police
The report reveals details of kidnappers holding captured toddlers in vans, then loading them into vending machines, paying fees to the business owner, and employing hundreds of child-snatchers, operating in cells. Read the rest of this entry »
Exclusive: Melissa Harris-Perry Admits to Using Racial-Detection Hardware Assistance Devices, For Knowing When Stuff is RacistPosted: April 1, 2014
Another popular one. This could almost be true, no?
At a recent forum at the University of Michigan, MSNBC host Melissa Harris-Perry explained to her audience that white people will never understand why things are racist, because they lack an innate “racial trigger,” that instantly tells them when to be outraged.
Harris-Perry, on the other hand, has a very finely-tuned racial trigger.
Sometimes Harris-Perry’s innate racial trigger doesn’t work at all, she conceded, privately, to an undercover reporter allied with Punditfromanotherplanet’s media bureau. Other times, Harris-Perry said, her sixth sense isn’t sensitive enough to detect racism at levels below .04%, (MSNBC policy requires detection at microscopic .0002 % levels) so enhancements are required, to boost otherwise invisible signals.
Punditfromanotherplanet has learned that Ms. Harris-Perry employs additional detection assistance, from miniature electronics, with on-board hardware and software analysis systems, discreetly embedded in her jewelry, clothing, or hair.
For our exclusive report, an inside source…
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