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MARCH 11-12,  2023

I WOULD NOT WASTE YOUR TIME WITH TRIVIA, SO HERE IS SOMETHING OF IMPORTANCE AND DEPTH.  PUT EVERYTHING ELSE ASIDE, PLEASE:  From College Fix: 

What’s the first thing you think of when someone mentions robots? “The Terminator”? “The Matrix”? Data from “Star Trek: The Next Generation”?

Most normal folk likely would offer one of those … and perhaps “Battlestar Galactica,” “The Day the Earth Stood Still” and Isaac Asimov’s books.

Will they become self-aware and take us over,  we wonder.

But if you’re on staff at a women’s, gender & sexuality studies department, mechanical beings might have you ponder how they “intersect with race, patriarchy, colonialism and capitalism.”

On March 2, Brown University’s Center for the Study of Race and Ethnicity in America hosted two professors from such departments (University of Maryland-College Park, and Yale) who did just that.

According to the event’s description, Neda Atanasoski and Kalindi Vora (pictured) “trace[d] the ways in which robots, artificial intelligence, and other technologies serve as surrogates for human workers within a labor system entrenched in racial capitalism and patriarchy.”

They also noted “while these new technologies and engineering projects promise a revolutionary new future, they replicate and reinforce racialized and gendered ideas about devalued work, exploitation, dispossession, and capitalist accumulation.”

In an interview before the event, Atanasoski said it’s important to make sure advances in technology don’t just keep “reproducing what we already have.” As an example, Vora noted the U.S. military’s Atlas Robot which can “independently navigate complex terrain, lift heavy objects and recover itself after falling.”

As such, Vora alleged that Atlas “employs fantasies of human autonomy and command, together […] values that we identify with the often violent history of globalism. These robots […] fulfill the fantasy for (a perpetuation) of enslaved labor. They cannot rebel.”

Vora, a “History of Consciousness” PhD who once ran UC Davis’s Feminist Research Institute, was dubbed a “spectacular” hire by Yale last year where she taught the course “Science and Technology Studies: Anti-racist and Feminist Approaches to Technoscience.”

COMMENT:  I just thought you'd like to know.  Your federal education dollars at work. 

March 12, 2023       Permalink

 

A REMARKABLE CHANGE:  COLLEGES ARE LOSING THEIR APPEAL TO AMERICAN STUDENTS:  From Legal Insurrection:

A new trend in education is taking shape. In post-pandemic America, more students are opting to skip college and enter the workforce instead.

Who can blame these students for wanting to earn money rather than go into debt, especially at a time when so many schools are still making COVID-related demands?

The Associated Press reports:

When he looked to the future, Grayson Hart always saw a college degree. He was a good student at a good high school. He wanted to be an actor, or maybe a teacher. Growing up, he believed college was the only route to a good job, stability and a happy life.

The pandemic changed his mind.

A year after high school, Hart is directing a youth theater program in Jackson, Tennessee. He got into every college he applied to but turned them all down. Cost was a big factor, but a year of remote learning also gave him the time and confidence to forge his own path…

Hart is among hundreds of thousands of young people who came of age during the pandemic but didn’t go to college. Many have turned to hourly jobs or careers that don’t require a degree, while others have been deterred by high tuition and the prospect of student debt.

What first looked like a pandemic blip has turned into a crisis. Nationwide, undergraduate college enrollment dropped 8% from 2019 to 2022, with declines even after returning to in-person classes, according to data from the National Student Clearinghouse. The slide in the college-going rate since 2018 is the steepest on record, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Economists say the impact could be dire.

At worst, it could signal a new generation with little faith in the value of a college degree.

At minimum, it appears those who passed on college during the pandemic are opting out for good. Predictions that they would enroll after a year or two haven’t borne out.

The Associated Press seems almost panicked about this. Why? When did it become a rule that absolutely everyone has to go to college?

COMMENT:  And that's the right question.  It's a good thing to be skeptical of the cult of the college graduate.   I'm all for education, and especially a true education in the liberal arts.  But that's rarely given these days.  There are many routes to success and happiness.  Four years in a college is only one of them, and for many students it seems to be a di

appointment.

March 12, 2023       Permalink

 

 

 

MARCH 9-10,  2023

THE DISGRACE, THE ABSOLUTE DISGRACE!  One of the saddest things is to watch the weakness of this country, under this president, displayed before the world.

It started, a few days ago, as an ordinary Friday in Washington, and then, the bolt from the blue – Saudi Arabia and Iran, presumed enemies, announced that they were restoring diplomatic relations in a deal brokered by...China.

China?  In the Mideast?  Isn't that where America used to be dominant?  China, sitting now in glory, drawing Saudi Arabia away from the United States and giving aid and comfort to our enemy, Iran? 

It wasn't many years ago when Barack Obama allowed Russia to return to the Mideast, even though it humiliated us and forced our allies to wonder if their link to the United States is worth it.  I wonder whose American fingers are all over this elevation of China.  I think we can all guess.  From CNN:

Abu Dhabi, UAE CNN  — 
Saudi Arabia and Iran announced on Friday that they had agreed to reestablish diplomatic ties after seven years of hostility, in a deal between the regional archrivals that could have wide-ranging implications for the Middle East.

Riyadh and Tehran plan to reopen their embassies within two months in an agreement mediated by China, Saudi Arabia and Iran said in a joint statement after talks in Beijing on Friday.

They also plan to reimplement a security pact signed 22 years ago under which both parties agreed to cooperate on terrorism, drug-smuggling and money-laundering, as well as reviving a trade and technology deal from 1998.

Friday’s announcement is also a diplomatic victory for China in a Gulf region that has long been considered part of the US’s domain of influence. It comes as the Biden administration tries to notch its own win in the Middle East by trying to broker a normalization pact between Israel and Saudi Arabia.

Talks had been ongoing since March 6 in Beijing between Iranian national security chief Ali Shamkhani, Saudi national security council adviser Mosaed Bin Mohammad Al-Aiban and China’s top diplomat Wang Yi, according to Iranian state media.

Video of the signing ceremony aired by Iranian media showed officials seated around tables on opposite sides with the Saudi Arabian, Iranian and Chinese flags around them.

“We will continue to play a constructive role in properly handling hotspot issues in today’s world in accordance with the wishes of all countries and demonstrate our responsibility as a major country,” Wang said, adding that Chinese President Xi Jinping supported it since the beginning.

In an apparent push back to American influence, Wang said that “the world is not limited to the Ukraine issue” while emphasizing that the fate of the Middle East should be determined by the people of the Middle East.

“The foreign ministers of the two countries will meet each other to implement this decision and make necessary arrangements for the exchange of ambassadors,” the joint statement said. “The two sides agree to respect the sovereignty and non-interference in each other’s internal affairs.”

COMMENT:  I fear we're reaching the point where American officials will have to wear name tags so people in other countries know who they are.  There are just so many signs of a nation in decline, from our rotting school system and contempt for our traditions, to this week's monumental failure of a major bank.

I do believe, and it is not original with me, that the next two years will determine the kind of nation we'll hand to our children and grandchildren.  We must do better, with or without the permission of our failed elites.  There is a point where a nation must stop losing.

March 10, 2023       Permalink

 

MONEY TROUBLES:  Increasingly, Americans at all levels are feeling the squeeze from the Biden economy, and it will get worse.  From CNBC:

More consumers are leaning on credit cards to afford increasingly expensive necessities like food and rent.

That helped propel total credit card debt to a record $930.6 billion at the end of 2022, a 18.5% spike from a year earlier, according to the latest quarterly report by TransUnion. The average balance rose to $5,805 over that same period.

At this rate, households are nearing a "breaking point," according to a separate study by WalletHub.

More from Personal Finance:

Using the Great Recession as a guide, the projected breaking point is the level of household credit card debt that will become unsustainable for most people, according to Jill Gonzalez, an analyst at WalletHub.

"It's when people won't be able to keep up with their bills," she said. "We're inching closer and closer to that breaking point."

Delinquencies are already on the rise, TransUnion found. A delinquency is a payment that's 60 days or more overdue.

"The increase in delinquencies is something to watch," said Michele Raneri, vice president of U.S. research and consulting at TransUnion. As long as unemployment stays down, households are better able to pay their bills, she noted. "If unemployment goes up, and we see a spike in delinquencies, then that indicates a longer-term problem."

For now, the number of job openings still far outnumber available workers, according to the U.S. Department of Labor's recent Job Openings and Labor Turnover Survey.

Credit cards are one of the most expensive ways to borrow money. Currently, annual percentage rates are around 20%, an all-time high.

If the Federal Reserve announces a half-point increase in its benchmark rate at the March meeting, those APRs will climb even higher. That will cost credit card borrowers an extra $3.4 billion in interest charges over the next 12 months, WalletHub calculated.

"Something has to give," Gonzalez said. It's time to rein in spending, pay off debt and avoid any new debt, she added.

COMMENT:  The key point here is that credit card debt isn't an abstraction.  Like inflation, it's faced by individuals and families across the nation.  The pain is growing, and how people will react politically is anyone's guess.  Desperate people can do desperate things.  Theoretically, Republicans should benefit from discontent with the Biden economy, but don't count on it.  The Dems have all kinds of reckless gimmicks to unleash on the nation, like free money of the kind we got during the pandemic.  Kinda keeps the voters in line.  Never solves the problem.

March 9, 2023     Permalink

 

SHE'S ONE HEARTBEAT AWAY:  Vice President of the United States and Heiress to the Kingdom Kamala Harris has spoken.  The whole world is listening, or at least reading the closed captions.  From Fox: 

Twitter users ridiculed Vice President Kamala Harris after she voiced the concerns of young children dealing with "climate mental health" problems.

Harris mentioned the climate change-related issue during her recent appearance at the "Aspen Ideas: Climate Conference" in Miami Beach, Florida.

Harris told the crowd in attendance about how she spoke to young climate activists who claim climate change is affecting their mental health.

Specifically, the activists told her they were struggling with "climate mental health," she said.

Launching into her anecdote, Harris said, "One of the young leaders was talking to me about climate mental health. I said, ‘Tell me what’s going on with your peers.’"

Speaking for the young activist, Harris repeated the concept: "Climate mental health."
he continued, "I said, ‘I think I can understand that but unpack it for me.' And she talked about how her peers are thinking about it."

Harris said the young woman gave her an example to help her understand, saying, "One example is you know whether, when they’re ready, could they start a family – worried about what that would mean and the stress of it."

The vice president continued, saying, "They were talking about in terms of their peers trying to figure out, you know, they’re going to have to get a job and they’re gonna have to make a living – but what they can do and how can they adapt the education that they are having now to their activism?"

Twitter mocked the speech, with some stating that if kids are stressing about climate change, it’s because politicians like Harris have made alarmist claims about it.

Heritage Foundation research fellow Delano Squire rebuked Harris for her anecdote, tweeting, "’Climate mental health’? We are being led by some of the most fearful, neurotic, and narcissistic people in history. Pack animals typically put those types way in the back. In this country, that dysfunction is part of their appeal."

Earth science professor Dr. Matthew M. Wielicki slammed Harris and other climate activists as the ones stressing kids out with this concept. He tweeted, "Climate alarmism is mental health abuse of young people. Many of my students also expressed concern about having children because the alarmists have convinced them the planet is ending. This will be the lasting legacy of climate alarmism."

COMMENT:  The frightening thing here is that Harris, who comes off as a nitwit, is one heartbeat away from the presidency.  If Biden should die, or step aside, she becomes president.  Can you imagine her managing a true international crisis?  Or having her hand on the nuclear trigger?

Kamala Harris is the cost of identity politics.  Eventually, identity politics drives a nation down, for it is based on the notion that mediocrity is fine, as long as the mediocre officeholder checks off the right racial and gender boxes.  And the once-great Democratic Party thinks that's perfectly okay.

March 9, 2023       Permalink

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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