SL 679

I’ve got a terrible cold this morning. I’m sitting at my computer wrapped in scarves. I don’t know how much longer I’m going to feel like sitting upright. I might need to retreat to the sofa and a less blogging-friendly-device in a hour or so. So, let me throw out a few links of things that I’ve been reading this morning.

Jeffrey Toobin compares Hulk Hogan with Donald Trump. “In retrospect, Hogan v. Gawker in the courtroom looks in some ways like a dress rehearsal for Trump v. Clinton at the polls.” This is an excellent article. Still reading it.

The New Yorker hit it out of the ballpark this morning. Patti Smith singing Bob Dylan’s A Hard Rain is amazing.

Lots of chatter about this Kristof article about the higher ed bubble. The best response? Oberlin students aren’t the typical college student.

18 thoughts on “SL 679

  1. Talk about bubbles! Try looking at less elite schools–my rural white students mostly supported trump. We’re in Ohio, too, just like Oberlin.


    1. Along the FOR THE LOVE OF GOD WE ARE NOT ALL LIKE OBERLIN lines, I liked this, which takes the form of a letter to Kristof:

      Sorry to use all caps but seriously. Here’s a salient quote:

      “The National Center for Education Statistics reports that of the 17.6 million people enrolled in college in the fall of 2011, only 15 percent were attending a four-year college and living on campus. Thirty-seven percent were enrolled part time, and 32 percent worked full time…More than a third were over 25, and a quarter were over 30.”

      And this:

      “When I look out at a classroom that includes a nineteen-year old, a thirty-ish year-old single mother putting herself through college, a returning veteran, and the handful of individuals who are over sixty and participate in a program my college offers that allows them to take classes for free, I don’t trouble myself much with a worry about a liberal bubble. Instead, I relish their discussions of the assigned material, as each brings to bear a distinctive perspective that educates the others.”

      Mine is not quite this diverse, mostly traditional age college students, who at least live on campus as freshmen, but quite a few veterans and some nontrads, and also many who work a lot of hours, about 30% minority from a big city 3.5 hours away, lots of rural kids from farms, etc. It is a far different kind of conversation than people imagine when they equate us all to the Ivy Leagues and elite liberal arts schools, which I would guess constitute maybe 100,000 students or something? Out of 17 million? And not only a far different kind, but a really, genuinely illuminating kind. Complicated and interesting.

      I really want to do this again and then maybe it’ll be out of my system: FOR THE LOVE OF GOD WE ARE NOT ALL LIKE OBERLIN.


      1. PERFECTLY APPROPRIATE use of allcaps, which are a nice way of communicating emphasis within a generally less strident post.


  2. I thought the Kristol article was all over the place in a way that didn’t address what I see as the key issues in the “insulated bubble”. I agree that the bubble is an issue when it exacerbates the “us/them” (in group/out group, in academic parlance) that is a fundamental human characteristic. I also dislike a lack of fact checking wherever I encounter it (including in protecting targets of racism/sexism/violence). But some views are incompatible with modern society: American-born citizens with the name “Curiel” are entitled to absolutely all the same rights as any other American. There is no asterisk next to their names. Some of what people call compromise means accepting those asterisks, and I don’t think people are willing to accept that anymore.


  3. The New York Times article on the “Google effect” in Oklahoma: the effect of building a google server farm in Pryor, Oklahoma sparked my interest yesterday (as well as sending me on a data search on rural states).


    Google plans to spend about 2.5 billion on the Pryor sites, but the investment didn’t bring many jobs:
    “The Pryor data center has 115 Google employees, 230 full-time contractors for things like security and groundskeeping, and 150 part-time workers, according to Mike Edwards, the data center facility manager.”

    and some taxes (1.3 million), less because of tax breaks from a 1985 law and some “largess” (1.5 million to the schools)

    The Google server farm siting resulted in a bonus to the school district in Pryor, which now has a budget of 18.5 million (plus free wifi, and the Google charitable funds) compared the 14.5 million that another district, Wagoner, works with.

    Overall, Oklahoma ranks 49th in funding/student (at about $7000/student). There’s a shortage of teachers in Oklahoma, with the number of uncertified teachers reaching 1000 (compared to 32 five years ago, when, I suspect, oil revenues were higher).

    The voters turned down a 1% sales tax to fund schools/pay teachers better, almost 60-40%. My take, when I read that choice (though I know, complicated politics play a role, too) is to wonder what the plan of the people of the state is for the future. The manager of the Google facility is quoted as saying “Eventually every job is going to be a tech job.” We (as a family) and as a county are trying to plan for that future (though thwarted by the rural areas of our state).


    1. “Eventually every job is going to be a tech job.”

      Only in the most trivial sense. A school bus driver is going to be a school driver, no matter what. While it’s possible that we might go to having automated self-driving school buses, you’re still always going to need a human attendant when you’ve got 40 kids on the road.

      While there may be a new 5-15% tech component of previously non-tech jobs, the core of the job is going to be non-tech. (And the tech may be very, very simple on the user end.)

      But of course Google thinks every job is going to be a 100% tech job–that’s their dream.

      “We (as a family) and as a county are trying to plan for that future (though thwarted by the rural areas of our state).”

      Maybe the rural areas of your state can’t afford your standards.


      1. I see that you were thinking that even in the age of self driving busses, the children would still have to be supervised. But, that’s a big part of the point of what it means to say “all jobs will be tech jobs” — the relatively skilled job of driving a school bus, which required training and certification will be replaced by a minder, a paraprofessional childcare worker. It’s precisely these “working class jobs” that used to sustain a middle class lifestyle that will continue to disappear and being replaced with work that people call unskilled, and will only pay minimum (or less than minimum) wage for.

        I think we are seeing that trend in every industry — two of the restaurants we go to have added ordering kiosks to their tables (a feature I find strangely annoying, because I would have thought I’d be precisely the kind of person who would like not having to talk to a waiter). Some fast food places are using remote order takers (though I think it’ll be a while before robots can actually do the packing of the food). Amazon is testing a downtown grocery store where people just walk in and walk out with stuff (no cashiers).


      2. “Maybe the rural areas of your state can’t afford your standards.”

        The last income tax proposal planned on income taxes only for joint filers earning more than $400,000; single filers earning more than $200,000. So, folks weren’t really asking the rural counties to afford the standards. The proposal failed resoundingly in those counties that would have received more money for their schools with few paying more taxes.


      3. I don’t know that school bus drivers typically make that much.

        Click to access PstSubBusDr1415.pdf

        That’s an ad for a substitute school bus driver in Aberdeen WA from 2014–the pay is $14.57 an hour.

        That’s consistent with this, which says $15 an hour (and of course, it’s not a full-time job and not year-round):,_School/Hourly_Rate

        They say that school bus drivers make in the neighborhood of $19k-$42k a year, with $31k being the average. About 2/3 of school bus drivers are women.

        So, while a paraprofessional bus attendant would probably make less, it would be within hailing range of a bus driver’s pay.


      4. bj – We were at a local restaurant on the weekend that is implementing an app where you pay and leave without having to wait for the wait staff. I like the human interaction! And I imagine that tips will decrease too.

        I want to interact with people at the shops I go too. I don’t want to do everything myself or have it all automated.


      5. I’m guessing 25K v 35K, now. And, do we think when that job flip occurs that the men who would have driven busses will take over minding kindergartners? Are they raising the boys in the rural counties to be good caregivers, who derive a sense of satisfaction and purpose from that work?


      6. I suspect that we’ll have tech jobs and service jobs. The problem is that service jobs are traditionally low-paid. However, they are increasingly the majority of available jobs. We produce less and maintain/serve more as a society.


    2. I have to add that those kind of new job numbers are HUGE for a rural area, even if every single person were imported from outside.

      Even 20 jobs gained or lost would cause a noticeable ripple in many rural areas.

      Presumably, oil revenues will go up again sooner or later.


      1. The article was actually about the “ripple effect” — of the charitable contribution, the increase in the tax base (not entirely sure how it worked, but it seemed that the state shoulders the tax break they give to Google), the investment (through bonds, which can be offered because of the new tax base), the volunteers at the school, and the exposure to Google (showing the kids, at least, the outside world).


  4. I’ll spread some love for Richard Mayhew, who writes over at Balloon Juice. His self-description, “I am a mid-level bureaucrat at a mid-level full service insurance company with a policy analysis addiction.” It’s really good nuts and bolts about health care and insurance, how the business works from the point of view of people doing things, rather than what C-level execs and the associated corporate PR or trade associations propagate.


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