Those wacky feminist academics versus rationality

“The author argues that a regime of rationality still operates in the academy and is made evident when feminist course content is met with continual dismissal or disavowal”.

Here’s the link to the article

http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0277539505000178.

I leave it to you whether or not you want to pay for access to this particular bit of drivel.  I do find it ironic that “Women’s Studies International Forum” is published at a website called “sciencedirect.com”.  Yes, I know that the website is a catch-all for Elsevier journals, but from a branding perspective, I think I would keep journals such as Vaccine and Biochemical Pharmacology at this website and move well, dreck like this to a well, less-rational website?

Hat tip to Real Peer Review.

How Rome Fell

Just finished the book by that title, by Adrian Goldsworthy.  Read Gibbon many years ago, and still have my copy.  This isn’t Gibbon in it’s sweep, but it is a fresh look at a question for the ages.  Why did the most technologically advanced nation on Earth, a nation that left traces of its industrial prowess in the polar ice thousands of miles away, lose so much technology and industry so quickly?  Why did the strongest military power of its age, literally unmatched by any combination of its neighbors, eventually fall to relatively small bands of barbarians?

Goldsworthy’s primary thesis is that the political climate post-Marcus Aurelius, where civil war became the primary means of competing for and winning imperial power, resulted in the dissipation of Roman power.

Emperors could not trust in civil society to keep their throne safe.  Their rivals with the most potential power, the Senatorial class, were gradually shunted aside from loci of power such as military and provincial commands in favor of lower-ranking men who were, in theory, more beholden to the Emperor.  However, the lack of clear lines of Imperial succession led to more frequent civil wars and other contests for power such as coups.  The more disordered the political landscape, the greater dispersion of power in order to reduce the ability of any one particular provincial leader to challenge the current Emperor.  The greater the dispersion of power, the larger the bureaucracy and the more room for graft and featherbedding as more and more layers came between the Emperor and the power of the empire.

Additionally, the growth of bureaucracy led to an alternative route to power with less personal risk than the traditional route of a military career.  At the end of a civil war, the military leaders on the losing sides usually were killed, but the bureaucrats associated with the same side may have had a greater chance of survival.

The constant loss of trained military personnel tied to the nearly continual state of civil war in the third century AD would also lead to a gradual decrease of effectiveness, blunting the gladius of Roman military power.  As Roman military power declined, the need to recruit barbarians to “do jobs Romans wouldn’t do anymore” grew.  The need for barbarian troops led to the incursion of additional barbarians.  Eventually, the hollowed-out husk of the Roman military could not adequately control the borders and the Western Empire fell in a series of stepwise conquests by various barbarian tribes in the 5th century AD.

As for the Roman economy, again, the drain of constant civil war gradually eroded trade and drove movement of people from the less secure countryside into more secure towns.  The money needed to pay for the warring armies led to currency debasement and inflation.  All of these factors throttled trade, first impacting luxury items and specialty trade chains, then driving down the trade in staple items that, in the long run, held the empire together.  The loss of Roman Africa to the Vandals in the 420s was the final nail in the coffin for the Western Roman Empire, while the loss of Egypt to the Arabs in the 640s had a similar, if not as extreme, effect on the Eastern Roman Empire.

Summing up, it appears to me that, in the long run, Romans were given multiple incentives not to learn how to fight, leading to a gradual loss of the skills and drives that built the Roman Empire.

 

Trump’s First 100 Days

So far, pleasantly surprised, I am.  So far, he hasn’t acted like Hillary-with-a-penis, which is what I was afraid he would be.  Great Supreme Court Justice, good initial efforts to shrink bureaucracy and drain the swamp, and a non-clown car foreign policy are things to applaud.  Repeal/replace Obamacare 1 was a fiasco, but things haven’t been made worse yet.  Trump will realize that the people who voted for him, by and large, also vote for the Freedom Caucus, and when that happens, he’ll go looking for RINOs to mount on the wall.  His tweets, though, are best ignored.  Good thing that the Democrats haven’t realized that yet, as they are even more distracted by Trump tweets than I am.

When to confront evil

In George Bush Intercontinental today, and the man in front of me was wearing a Maoist fatigue cap complete with not-so-little red star on the front.  Googled the cap description to confirm, and  I was right.  I wimped out and didn’t give the mass-murderer supporter a well-deserved piece of my mind.  I can justify it for a number of reasons, but the long and the short of it is that I feel both angry and guilty about it.

So, pass the original repeal already!

Now that the Trumpcare fiasco has flopped, pass the original repeal that Obama vetoed and dare Trump to veto that.  Promise any RINO squish who voted for the original repeal but threatens to vote no this time around that they WILL have ads running in their district in 2018 pointing out that they could have stopped Obamacare, but failed their constituents and the country.  Find some more Dave Brats and primary their butts.

People’s Republic of Chapel Hill strikes again.

Knickers twisted; schools closed Wednesday.  I had to sleep on this news tidbit, but after mulling it over, I believe the proper response for any parent living in Chapel Hill or Carrboro would be to call your local private or charter school and see if there are any openings, or a waiting list, or something.  Homeschool if you can pull off the time and dedication.  Or sell your house and move out of the city limits to a school district that won’t put up with this nonsense.  Or rent your house out to 6-10 UNC students looking to live off-campus if you can’t sell fast enough.  You could march in protest in front of the school board with your kids on Wednesday, but you probably have to work and have to save your protesting time for the weekends.

Tuition and Fees?

My daughter’s school sent me a link describing the NC Promise Tuition Plan.  Three schools in the University of North Carolina system (Elizabeth City State, UNC-Pembroke, and Western Carolina) have had their tuition reduced to $500/semester for in-state students, starting in 2018.

However, what caught my eye in the link were the fees.  Right now, at Western Carolina, tuition for a semester is $1,946, but fees for the semester are $2,678!  What in the world do those fees cover?  It’s not room and board as those are separate items.  It’s hard to imagine the cost of sponsored activities and recreation running over $100/week (assuming a 14-week semester), so what else could this be except padding the bill or cost-shifting?