Occupy Wall Street’s latest grievance centers on student loan programs and higher education reform, and the group’s most recent campaign involves a movement-wide boycott on student loan debt repayment. Early Monday afternoon, a crowd of faculty and student organizers assembled at the southeast corner of New York City's Zuccotti Park to announce Occupy Student Debt, a national initiative directed at recruiting student loan borrowers and requesting that they willfully default on their loan payments. The campaign consists of three pledges:
1. A refusal to make loan payments. This pledge will take effect after a million debtors have signed on to the campaign.
2. A faculty pledge of support for the "refusers."
3. A general, non-debtors' pledge of support for parents, the students and other public sympathizers.
"Since the first days of the Occupy movement, the agony of student debt has been a constant refrain," New York University professor Andrew Ross announced to a crowd of more than 100 people. "We’ve heard the harrowing personal testimony about the suffering and humiliation of people who believe their debts will be unpayable in their lifetime."
Roland Emmerich’s new film, Anonymous, tries very hard to persuade us that Edward de Vere, the 17th Earl of Oxford, was the actual author of the works attributed to William Shakespeare. However, there are too many facts that make the Oxfordian thesis quite untenable. While I agree with Emmerich that Shakespeare did not write the plays and poems he is supposed to have written, we disagree on the identity of the person who did write the works we all admire. I believe they were written by Christopher Marlowe, the great poet-playwright who preceded Shakespeare. I wrote a book on the subject, The Marlowe-Shakespeare Connection.
Roland Emmerich’s long-awaited big-screen production of a movie based on the Shakespeare authorship controversy has turned out to be a great disappointment. While technically brilliant, Anonymous turns the Elizabethan era into a heathen, barbaric époque with none of the strong religious values characteristic of the time. Queen Elizabeth is not depicted as the Virgin Queen, but as a lascivious victim of double incest: with her son, Henry de Vere, and grandson, Henry Wriothesley, the Earl of Southamption, who, as the story goes, should have become Henry the Ninth. In short, the story is so historically grotesque as to make of the authorship controversy a gaseous bubble of ridiculous and obscene fantasy.
Back in 1962, Arthur Trace wrote a book entitled What Ivan Knows That Johnny Doesn’t. In that book Trace informed us that Ivan was being taught to read by phonics, and that was why Ivan was able to learn so much better than Johnny. In fact, throughout the communist world, children were taught to read by phonics so that they could read Marx and Lenin and become the engineers and scientists the state needed to enable it to create its socialist utopia and great military power.
When 70 students attending economics professor Greg Mankiw’s Economics 10 class on November 2nd walked out in protest, they wrote an open letter to him explaining why: "Today, we are walking out of your class…in order to express our discontent with the bias inherent in this introductory economics course…...
I suppose you could call me a “right-wing extremist,” although I don’t consider myself an extremist by any stretch of the imagination. But that’s the way the liberals have labeled us, and since they control so much of the printed and electronic media we have no choice but to roll with their punches. I am an individualist as opposed to a collectivist. As a writer, I willingly spend a lot of time alone at my word-processor. In the old days, it was the typewriter. Today it is the much more accommodating word-processor. But in my case, individualism was the reason why I could work so well alone. I was by no means a loner, but I never minded being alone with my thoughts, or while writing, or reading a book, visiting a museum, or traveling to new cities. I’ve always had good friends, but I also enjoy my own company.
I spent seven years writing my book on the Shakespeare authorship controversy, The Marlowe-Shakespeare Connection. I had to read a lot of what others had written on the subject. I had to read all of Marlowe and all of Shakespeare. I probably could have earned a doctorate at some university on the basis of the research and writing I put into the project. Of course, I also had an economic motive in mind. I thought it would be an easy sell and earn me my retirement. That was a big mistake. It turned out to be a tough sell, so tough that when McFarland, a publisher of scholarly books in North Carolina, accepted it for publication without paying an advance, I was happy indeed.
During this last weekend of November 11 to 13, the Boston International Antiquarian Book Fair took place at the Hynes Convention Center. As an antiquarian book collector, I always go to these fairs because I love books, particularly old books, and the dealers who exhibit at this fair usually bring the best they have to offer. And considering the prices being asked, you would think they were selling jewels. And in a sense they are.
If you want to purchase a Shakespeare First Folio, be prepared to shell out over a million dollars. But no First Folio was for sale at this fair. First Folios are usually sold at Sotheby auctions where millionaire collectors or great academic institutions buy the most valuable books being offered.
That books should acquire such incredible value is a demonstration of the free-market at work. So far, there is no government agency that regulates the sale of antiquarian books. The dealers regulate themselves with a rather strict code of ethics.
By the way, not all old books increase in value. Some are not worth anything, or very little at best. Value is created by how much people are willing to pay for an item. The books that increase in value are signed first editions by noted authors, books of historical importance, and beautiful editions of great studies. Several years ago I was able to get an original 1798 copy of Robison’s Proofs of a Conspiracy from a British bookseller for $100. It would undoubtedly cost much more today.
Most Americans who have become aware of the academic and moral decline of public education tend to believe that the humanistic curriculum that now dominates the system is of relatively recent origin. They believe that the great emphasis now placed on the “affective domain”— all of those programs devoted to values clarification, sensitivity training, group dynamics, feelings, sexuality — is somewhat new. Actually, it is far from new. The fact is that the groundwork for what we have in our schools today was laid early in the 20th century by the Progressives who knew exactly where they wanted to lead America: to a socialist society.
The Progressives were a new breed of educator that came on the scene in the late 19th century. These men, members of the "liberalized" Protestant academic elite, no longer believed in the religion of their fathers. They put their new faith in science, evolution and psychology. Science provided the means to know the material world. Evolution explained the origin of man, thus relegating the story of Genesis to mythology. And psychology institutionalized the scientific study of human nature and provided the scientific means to control human behavior.
Many of these progressives studied in Germany under Prof. Wilhelm Wundt, the father of experimental psychology. Among the most noteworthy were G. Stanley Hall, James McKeen Cattell, Charles Judd, James Earl Russell, James R. Angell and Frank E. Spaulding. They brought back to America Wundt’s teachings and methodology and set up psych labs of their own in American universities. In these labs man was to be studied scientifically as one would study an animal. But since human beings could not be experimented on in labs, the psychologists used animals.
The National Education Association (NEA) held its most recent convention in Chicago in July 2011. While they expressed some dissatisfaction with President Obama and his Secretary of Education Arne Duncan, they decided to endorse the President for a second term as the lesser of the two evils. Nevertheless, the delegates did not hesitate to approve of a resolution directing the NEA’s president to “communicate aggressively, forcefully, and immediately” to President Obama and Secretary Duncan that the NEA was appalled with Duncan.
According to Phyllis Schlafly’s Education Reporter: “The resolution went on to lay out 13 charges against Duncan, including focusing too heavily on charter schools, failing to respect and honor the professionalism of teachers, weighing in on local hiring decisions, and focusing too heavily on competitive grants (i.e. Race to the Top).”
The resolution was endorsed by the union’s board of directors, which gave it its highest priority. The union has been screaming bloody murder over the lay-off of teachers and support staff due to budget cuts. But even the NEA has had to trim its own budget by $14 million by downsizing its national staff.
In what is becoming a crucial battle in the war being waged by an ever-expanding federal authority against the sovereignty of the states, Alabama has been instructed to heed the voice of the power on the Potomac. On Friday, the U.S. Department of Justice sent a letter to the Attorney General of Alabama, Luther Strange, instructing him that despite the position taken in his earlier correspondence to the department, the DOJ has authority to conduct investigations into possible violations of the civil rights of immigrants.
Assistant Attorney General Thomas Perez, the author of the DOJ missive, was responding to a letter from Strange penned earlier in the week. In that letter, Strange demanded that the federal department inform him as to the authority granted to it to require schools in Alabama to report demographic enrollment data to the DOJ.