Tuesday, June 18, 2013

London-South Africa-Zimbabwe

Today I head off for a trip that will take me to London, where I will be participating in a conference, Boycotts Past and Present, at Royal Birkbeck, University of London as well as conducting research at the Institute for Commonwealth Studies. After a week I will head to South Africa, where I expect Johannesburg, Cape Town, and Bloemfontein to be on the itinerary.

I also am going to go to Zimbabwe, assuming getting in is no problem, for a few days, but absolutely, positively not to practice journalism. Doing so would, under the current dispensation, be illegal in Zimbabwe. I absolutely do not plan to get a feel for the country in the run-up to the elections, to get a sense of whether the population has been cowed by the threat of violence, whether there is any glimmer of hope for the immediate future. I am not going to be observing and watching and gleaning what I can from conversations about the state of Zim today, and I certainly do not plan to write about it while I am in southern Africa, say, when I return to South Africa, or after, when I return to the United States. I'm going in as just a tourist to see friends and to enjoy Harare.

China Radio International

In the last month I was on China Radio International's "Today" show twice. Once to discuss Obama's so-called "scandals" and the other time to discuss the status of the War on Terror.

Monday, June 03, 2013

Mediocrity is as Mediocrity Does

So it turns out that the poster child for the latest challenge to affirmative action, Abigail Fischer, was actually a significantly sub-par applicant to the University of Texas, falling well short of both the top 10% of her high school class that would have guaranteed her admissions and with an SAT score well below the UT average. This mediocrity combined with entitlement makes her typical of so many (though not all) opponents of affirmative action. She would not have gotten into UT anyway, but wants to claim that she is a victim of racial preferences rather than her own undistinguished high school record.

Keep in mind that in college admissions there are admissions rates, but there are also yield rates. And so when someone does not get into an incoming class, they did not just fall short of those who entered the class, but of a whole lot of people who chose to go elsewhere. If a school has a yield rate of 50% it means that the freshman class that enters is only half the number of people accepted.  Abigail Fischer's racialized resentment does not necessarily make her a racist, but it does show someone perfectly willing to play the role of aggrieved white person victimized not by her own limitations but by the supposed privilege that African Americans have in a state with a long history of slavery, segregation, and institutionalized racism, including generations of segregation and a long struggle to combat it at the University of Texas.

The Coaching Treadmill

The Chronicle of Higher Education has a remarkable story about one man's heartbreaking pursuit of stability in the world of college basketball coaching. I've been on several search committees for head coaches here at UTPB and I have been able to see just how many outstanding candidates are out there even for Division II coaching positions. (Of course an American history or American/English literature position will receive even more applications from every bit as qualified people). Good luck, Coach McRoy.