• ZipDialog Roundup for Thursday, September 14

    Articles chosen with care. Your comments welcomed.
    Linked articles in bold purple

    Dreamer Deal Possible: Chuck, Nancy and Donald agree to work on deal to avoid deportations (Washington Post)

    The border wall is not included.

    Democratic leaders announced late Wednesday that they agreed with President Trump to pursue a legislative deal that would protect hundreds of thousands of young undocumented immigrants from deportation and enact border security measures that don’t include building a physical wall. –Washington Post

    Republican leaders are on the outside, looking in.

    And some of Trump’s base is furious.

    In a sign of the potential trouble for the president, Rep. Steve King (R-Iowa), an immigration hard-liner and early Trump supporter, wrote that if reports of a potential immigration deal are accurate, the president’s “base is blown up, destroyed, irreparable, and disillusioned beyond repair. No promise is credible.” –Washington Post

    Post-Irma tragedy: Eight patients died in south Florida nursing home without power during sweltering heat (Orlando Sun-Sentinel)

    Police have launched an investigation.

    Comment: One larger policy issue: Why doesn’t Florida require nursing homes to have generators?

    The Sun-Sentinel reports that 150 nursing homes (out of 700 in the state) are still without power.

    North Korea threats to reduce US to “ashes and darkness” and “sink Japan” (Reuters)

    Regional tensions have risen markedly since the reclusive North conducted its sixth, and by far its most powerful, nuclear test on Sept. 3.

    The 15-member Security Council voted unanimously on a U.S.-drafted resolution and a new round of sanctions on Monday in response, banning North Korea’s textile exports that are the second largest only to coal and mineral, and capping fuel supplies.

    The North reacted to the latest action by the Security Council, which had the backing of veto-holding China and Russia, by reiterating threats to destroy the United States, Japan and South Korea. –Reuters

    Comment: Meanwhile, there are reports North Korea is preparing another nuclear test.

    US News and World Report College Rankings

    Familiar names, great schools. They compete hard against each other and are not just tops in the US, they are tops in the world (along with Oxford and Cambridge)

    Two Comments: First, students can get a great education at many schools. The important thing is to find one that “fits.” Fit depends on your needs, your interests, and your personality, as well as the school’s strengths and weaknesses and the niches it provides for students.

    Second, I don’t see how you can say Harvard ranks above or below, say, Stanford or Chicago. I think you can say that some schools rank in the very top-tier and others are a half-step back. Even that depends on whether you are interested in biology or French literature.

    You knew it was coming: CEO of Equifax called to testify before Congress (The Hill)

    Prediction: Kabuki Theater. The CEO will be contrite, the Congressmen angry.

    The CEO will say his company takes this very seriously, is really working on these problems, and will help those affected.

    The Representatives will posture for the cameras, expressing the public’s genuine anger.

    Meanwhile, this extraordinary piece of news about Equifax’s internal security:

     

    Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-UT) introduces bill to make it easier to conduct medical marijuana research (The Verge)

    The Marijuana Effective Drug Study Act of 2017 would streamline the process for approving research and increase the national marijuana quota for medical and scientific research. Marijuana has been shown to have potential health benefits such as treating seizures and managing pain. –The Verge

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    Hat Tip to

    ◆ Mike Lipson for the Equifax BBC story

  • VERY good news on university free speech: Honoring student Matt Foldi

    The national organization that does the best job promoting free speech is FIRE, the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education. It is tenacious in fighting for students’ and faculty rights to speak freely and to listen to varied viewpoints.

    This year they have selected three outstanding undergraduates for their “remarkable dedication to advocacy . . . to protect free expression and due process in higher education.”

    One, Brittany Wilson, is from UNC-Charlotte.

    Another, Natalie Bao Tram Le, is from Harvard.

    And one is my friend and former student, Matt Foldi, at the University of Chicago.

    Here’s what they say about him (the whole article is here):

    Bravo, FIRE.

    Bravo, the University of Chicago, which is now in the forefront of supporting free speech, with the strong backing of students like Matt, faculty like Geoff Stone and Randy Picker, and administrators with backbone, including Pres. Bob Zimmer, Provost Dan Diermeier, Dean of the College John Boyer, and Dean of Students, John Ellison, whose letter to incoming students a year ago, clearly stating the university’s support for free-and-open discourse, stimulated a national conversation.

    And bravo to Matt, Brittany, and Natalie.

    Your fellow students don’t always know it, but you are really helping them to get a better education and a better platform to enter a world where people have different viewpoints–and need to learn how to engage each other intelligently. 

    ♦♦♦♦♦♦♦

     

  • Celebration in Solidarity: Harvard Black Student Graduation Is Fine. A Guest Author differs with an earlier post criticizing the event

    This guest post is particularly welcome because candid, respectful, informed debates on racial issues are so rare. And so very much needed.  Thank you, Allen. (Charles Lipson)

    Guest Author: Allen Linton II

    Allen is an advanced student in the University of Chicago’s PhD Program in political science. He also holds a BA from Chicago, and attended public schools in the city. His current research deals with youth politics, new/social media, and local elections.  Beyond the classroom, he is a member of the Chicago Global Shapers sponsored by the World Economic Forum and is interested in education, technology, sports, and media.

    Editor’s note: ZipDialog is delighted to include this post. The opinions are those of the guest author. Readers are invited to respond. At ZipDialog, we take dialog seriously.

    Linton’s piece is a response and rebuttal of the ZipDialog post: Harvard’s Black Students Will Hold a Separate Graduation Ceremony.

    The back-and-forth on Harvard’s Black Student Graduation has been insightful, but I think there are some larger experiential differences that can be raised here without driving a deliberate wedge between different groups.

    I’ve never attended Harvard (though I have friends who go there and others who have graduated), but I do attend a peer institution that has similar issues with Black students (staff and faculty) not having the best time. (Those are not only my personal views; they are confirmed in a recent diversity-and-inclusion survey conducted here at the University of Chicago. The report is available here.)

    My perspective is that Harvard’s Black Graduation Celebration isn’t a sign that students want segregation, that they are anti-diversity, that this is a hard-edged stance.

    This is much more a culmination of celebrating what they view has been a unique experience of getting through Harvard – unique in that the experiences on campus as Black students have been dismissed but are real and have affected them in important ways.

    On the discussion thread, someone asked why they attended Harvard if they felt it would be so bad for them. The answer is the same for many people who attend these places: There is a wealth of opportunity to gain in these institutions, that institutions and people in them are not bound to the errors of their past, and one hopes to NOT experience these issues during their time at the institution.

    It’s really awful to experience these things while there. Not everyone has the means to just leave. So they endure.

    Having navigated the University of Chicago as an undergraduate and now as an advanced graduate student, I’m not saying every waking moment is misery here as a Black student. I’ve had an enjoyable time, but I cannot say that my peers have had the same experience.

    It is disappointing to have police follow me or my Black peers around campus in ways they don’t with other students. It is irritating for people to assume that my area of study is on race or that my contributions in class will necessarily be about race. It’s confusing to see a place support serious inquiry but get dismissed when suggesting we cannot discuss [insert American political topic here] without recognizing the perceived differences for minority groups.

    Students do have those experiences and they change the experience at the institution. Some students may have more resolve or grounding to deal with it but the point is that no student should have to experience this at an institution of higher education. (This may sound naive but it’s an ideal, and the pursuit of ideals is how we make tons of decisions. So work with me here.)

    ◆ Ultimately, this graduation appears to be a celebration of succeeding in this particular space among students who have a unique experience. I’m sure not all Black students will be there. It is also not an either/or proposition with the entire graduation. Ideally there wouldn’t be a need for it but there is something going on with how Black students are experiencing their time at these places and that seems worthy of serious discussion.

    Stanford, Columbia, and Temple have these ceremonies. I think the conversation on this thread may be making this celebration into something far more nefarious or radial than it actually is. This quote is pretty notable to me: “Too often at Harvard, there is not cross-discipline contact between black students. So it can feel like you are the only person of color. At this graduation, we can show each other and the administration that we are here, we are strong and we are not going away.”

    So I think the celebration is self-congratulatory, but I firmly disagree with my friend Charles that it is self-congratulation “masquerading as victimization.”

    To put it simply: Harvard’s Black Student Graduation celebrates a unique experience that wasn’t always the best for reasons outside of their control. Enjoy the celebration!

    The opinions in this post are those of the guest author, Allen Linton II.

    He and ZipDialog welcome your response.

  • Berkeley: A Feckless Administration Caves, in advance, to the Heckler’s Veto

    Why not free speech at colleges?

    The Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE) has the story here.

    Since [the riots protesting a planned but cancelled speech by Milo Yiannopoulo], the Berkeley College Republicans’ property has been destroyed, the group cancelled a speech by conservative activist and Berkeley alumnus David Horowitz after the administration threw up numerous roadblocks, and now it has been told that conservative commentator Ann Coulter may not speak as planned due to the danger posed by potentially violent protesters.

    This is a chilling and dangerous precedent. –FIRE

    FIRE has it exactly right, as usual. They are a politically-neutral organization that supports free speech and does more than any organization to promote it.

    Hecklers should never receive a veto. NEVER.

    At Berkeley, the hecklers and rioters not only have a veto, they have established an effective deterrent threat. They can merely threaten to go berserk and prevent speech they oppose.

    The rights (and limitations) surrounding the First Amendment should apply fully on campuses, even at, gasp, the University of California, Berkeley.

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    The three keys:

    1. Universities need to state strong free speech principles. Those are essential, and it is essential to state them without weasel words. But even the best principles are not enough. Berkeley falsely stated its commitment to free speech in cancelling speeches.
    2. Universities need to enforce those on the ground through its deans and safety officers
    3. Students and outsiders who violate those rules need to face sure and serious punishments.

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    To see the right example, look at Purdue, Chicago, or others. I have some positive examples and a wonderful video here. And remember…

  • Drowning in politically-correct language

     Quick tip on how to spot a university drowning in politically-correct ideology:

    ⇒ Your daughter’s acceptance letter calls her “they” so the school can avoid a gender-specific pronoun

    No surprise here, the school is Brown. (James Freeman in the Wall Street Journal)

    Other schools may be equally PC, but none tops good ole Brown. No, siree.

    There were labor camps in the Cultural Revolution that had more robust political differences.

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    Comment: Even tough-minded universities have succumbed. Alas.

    At the University of Chicago, where the Dean of Students sent out the famous “no safe spaces here” letter to incoming students, some Deans end their emails with a standard signature that explains “my preferred pronouns.”

    The last one I received was from a person named Stephanie, and I was shocked to discover her preferred pronouns are “she, her,” and . . . wait for it, yes . . . “hers.” That’s right. These administrators think you are so dumb, so clueless you need to be told the correct possessive. 

    Why? First, they are probably trying to show how oh-so-sensitive they are to people who are “gender fluid” and who, as a personal preference, use other pronouns. I am happy for folks to use whatever pronouns they want. Honestly. I don’t want to hurt anyone’s feelings. So, why not simply let them include that “preferred pronoun” thingy in their letters, without everyone else having to follow them like lemmings? Because, of course, it is crucial to display how sensitive and politically correct you are. Or, perhaps you simply fear your “sensitive” boss, who effectively demands conformity from underlings. That is an all-too-familiar type on campus: sensitive-but-tyrannical.

    Another group that might want to include preferred pronouns are people with names from other languages. Since I don’t speak Chinese, I wouldn’t know “Bojing” was male, “Bingwen” female. Again, if they want to include their preferred pronouns, that’s fine. In fact, I would find it helpful. 

    But don’t make everyone do it to display how earnest and sensitive they are.

    My name is Charles, and I’m going to make a wild assumption here that I don’t need to tell you  I prefer the pronouns “he, him, and his.” 

    As a special bonus, I won’t assume you are such a dunderhead that I prefer the pronoun “he.” An odd choice, I know.

    I will also assume that, knowing I’m a “he,” I gonna go with “him” and “his.”

    But I fervantly hope, dear reader, you could have figured that out on your own.

    Even if you went to Brown.

    ♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦

    Thanks to James Freeman for the article and David Herro for sharing it  

  • ZipDialog Roundup for Tuesday, March 21

    Hand-picked and farm-fresh–
    Linked articles in bold purple

     The top three stories all involve public testimony by FBI Director James Comey

    1. Comey confirms his agency is conducting a counter-intelligence investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 Presidential Election, including any possible contacts with Trump campaign officials. He said no one was excluded from the investigation, but said little beyond that. (Washington Post report here.) 
    2. Comey said no US Government agency authorized any wiretaps or surveillance of Trump Tower. He added that no foreign agencies have been discovered doing such surveillance. Democrats focused on stories #1 and #2. (New York Times report on take-aways from the hearing here.)
      • Comment: Comey’s testimony directly contradict’s Pres. Trump’s tweet. So do the comments of senior members of Congressional Intelligence committees, who have been briefed on the matter. The White House is refusing to back down from its allegations and says it will present evidence later. Perhaps. But no one outside the White House is convinced.
      • Sidenote: Fox News judicial analyst, Judge Andrew Napolitano, asserted last week that British intelligence had done the surveillance and had done so at the request of the Obama White House. That has been vigorously rejected by the British and has not been confirmed by another else. For that reason, Fox News has temporarily taken him off the air, according to the New York Times.
    3. Comey said that a major criminal investigation is being conducted into the “unmasking” of Gen. Michael Flynn’s name from an intercepted phone call with a Russian diplomat.  Republicans focused on this crime, led (as they are so often) by Rep. Trey Gowdy’s skilled prosecutorial questioning. (Los Angeles Times story here.)
      • Comment:
        • The release of Flynn’s name is a felony. US intelligence agencies charged with surveillance of foreign countries sometimes capture their conversations with US citizens. By law, the names of those citizens are supposed to be “masked,” that is, kept secret since they were captured without an appropriate court warrant.
        • VERY few people in the intelligence community, White House, and Department of Justice have access to these “unmasked names.” Professionals say it is probably less that two dozen, all senior political appointees of the Obama Administration, such as National Security Adviser Susan Rice, her number 2, Ben Rhodes, Director of National Intelligence James Clapper, CIA Director James Brennan, former Attorney General Loretta Lynch and former acting Attorney General Sally Yates, as well as the President.
        • One of those senior people leaked Flynn’s name to selected reporters, leading to a bombshell story in the Washington Post (link here), and then to Flynn’s resignation. It is possible, but less likely, that another senior administration official learned the information and then leaked it. But the crucial point is that the information itself was tightly held.
        • The FBI is now under enormous pressure to solve this.
      • My Advice: Once the groundwork has been laid, the Department of Justice should convene a Grand Jury and take testimony, under oath. Every official who had access to Flynn’s unmasked name should be questioned.

     Healthcare Bill: House Republicans unveil changes to bill, on which they expect to vote this Thursday. According to the Washington Post,

    The tweaks addressed numerous GOP concerns about the legislation, ranging from the flexibility it would give states to administer their Medicaid programs to the amount of aid it would offer older Americans to buy insurance. They are the product of two weeks of negotiations that stretched from the Capitol to the White House to President Trump’s Florida resort.

    The bill’s proponents also appeared to overcome a major obstacle Monday after a key group of hard-line conservatives declined to take a formal position against the bill, known as the American Health Care Act. –Washington Post

    Comment: With these changes, the bill should pass the House. It will likely require significant changes to gain 50 votes in the Senate (the number needed for a Reconciliation Budget Bill, with VP Pence breaking the tie). The bill will then go to a conference committee to produce a single joint bill, repealing and replacing Obamacare. That bill will then have to pass both Houses before Pres. Trump can sign it.

    Comment: If this process seems unfamiliar, it is only because Pres. Obama never used “regular order,” even when he controlled both Houses. Until then, it had been the normal way to pass legislation (which, in turn, is the normal way the US passes its laws, not via bureaucratic rule-making).

     Neil Gorsuch hearings for Supreme Court  The NYT lists six highlights. Actually, there were zero.

    Comment: Gorsuch made a calm opening presentation, following by Republicans preening (accurately saying he is supremely well qualified) and Democrats complaining (accurately saying they would not be sitting here if Pres. Obama’s nominee had been given a hearing and a vote).

    That’s why Republicans are secretly so grateful to Mitch McConnell, who saved this seat for them. 

     Kudos to the University of Chicago:

    Free tuition for any children of Chicago Public School employees admitted to the University.

    The parents can be children of teacher, nurse, janitors, counselors–anyone employed by CPS, and do not have to be graduates of Chicago Public Schools. (WBEZ)

    ♦♦♦♦♦♦♦

     

  • ZipDialog Roundup for Saturday, March 11

    Hand-picked and farm-fresh–
    Linked articles in bold purple

    ◆ Comment: The Trump presidency will be in deep trouble if it cannot pass a repeal-and-replace bill.

    Right now, the White House and Congressional leadership face real problems from the right in House (which doesn’t want to keep Obamacare’s big subsidies to the poor, locking in an entitlement) and centrist Republicans in the Senate (who fear they cannot be reelected in moderate states if they repeal these subsidies). Think: small fairway with a water hazard on the right and thick bushes on the left.

    The House Freedom Caucus expresses principled opposition to entitlement expansion. Basically, they want repeal without replace. The members are all in safe districts that Trump won, so the members may be reluctant to oppose a president popular among their voters. It’s hard to know if these members can be pressured by Speaker Ryan and the White House to sell out their principles.

    The moderate Senators are harder to pressure because they fear a wrong vote could cost them their seats. In the past, they could be coaxed by side-payments. That’s what Pres. Obama did with the “Cornhusker Kickback” and “Louisiana Purchase.” Those backfired and they won’t work this time.

    This is sausage-making at its bloodiest. It’s not even clear the pig is dead yet.

     Michael Flynn, former NSC adviser, was paid to represent Turkish interests during the Trump campaign  (New York Times)

    Comment: Although Turkey is a NATO member and the lobbying work was not illegal, it is stunning that he did not register as a “foreign agent” contemporaneously (he is only doing so now) and that the Trump vetting team didn’t catch this advance. He can’t say he forgot. The check was for $500k. It is a very good thing he’s already gone. 

     Top Democrats’ tech aide, now under criminal investigation, had access to their private emails, including DNC emails  The details are here. (Daily Caller)

    Imran Awan — the lead suspect in a criminal probe into breaches of House of Representatives information security systems — possessed the password to an iPad used by then-Democratic National Committee Chairperson Debbie Wasserman Schultz when DNC emails were given to WikiLeaks. . . .

    The FBI requested access to the DNC’s server to find out who was responsible, but the DNC refused, FBI Director James Comey said, according to The Hill.

    Politico reported that New York Rep. Gregory “Meeks and, to a larger extent, Wasserman Schultz, are said to have a friendly personal relationship with Awan and his wife, according to multiple sources.”

    House authorities set their sights on the Awans while investigating the existence of a secret server that was funneling congressional data off-site.

    They also suspect Imran of stealing money and equipment. –Daily Caller

     Good News on Free Speech: Univ. of Chicago proposes ‘free speech deans’ to prevent disruptive conduct (Campus Reform)

    The University of Chicago could soon implement new policies that would severely limit “those engaged in disruptive conduct” from preventing “others from speaking or being heard.”

    A recently-released faculty committee report also suggests establishing “free speech deans-on-call” trained to “deal with disruptive conduct” in order to ensure students are not prevented from expressing themselves on campus. –Anthony Gockowski at Campus Reform

     

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  • ZipDialog Roundup for Sunday, February 19

    Hand-picked and farm-fresh–
    Linked articles in bold purple

     Trump’s HUGE rallies: He is clearly buoyed by the crowds, using the campaign-style rally to push his agenda

    Comment: I watched the enthusiastic, campaign-style rally in central Florida. Here is what struck me.

    • Pres. Trump’s effective showmanship–and his love of being in the public arena. His calling a fan out of the audience and asking him to speak was brilliant. To the cheering crowd, it was not only fun and unexpected, it said “we are all in this movement together.”
    • His ability to move easily between the teleprompter and improvisation; it was difficult to tell when he was reading, and when he was ad-libbing.  That is a skill he has mastered in several months and will serve him well since it allows him to have a more-disciplined agenda in the written text, without constraining his ability to go off-script occasionally.
    • His straightforward appeal to old-fashioned American values: love of country, desire for a strong military and safe communities, respect for law enforcement, and a thirst for economic growth that helps ordinary working people.

    There was not a trace of condescension. These voters can smell the contempt of Beltway insiders and economic elites. They have known that stench for decades. They would grudgingly tolerate it if those elites were delivering the goods. They aren’t.

    What Trump conveyed at the rally was a sense that he is working for people with jobs at a grocery story or auto plant, kids in public school, no retirement savings, lousy healthcare, and clothes from the sales bin at Wal-Mart. They are working hard and want better jobs, not handouts. They want safer neighborhoods, not apologies for the criminals who endanger them. And they damned sure don’t want to be told they are “privileged” by people living off their tax dollars.

    Trump was particularly effective in his attack on the federal courts’ adverse ruling on his temporary immigration ban. Instead of the reckless, personal attacks he used last week, he was substantive. He actually read the law to the cheering crowd. Its plain language, he said, gives the President the power to do what he did in the Executive Order. Then he landed the knockout punch. Because the law is so clearly on his side, he said, the judges didn’t cite any of its language in ruling against him. That is a substantive argument. It says these courts have arrogated to themselves authority over national-security policy that the law doesnot grant them. That is a far better argument than personal attacks, which he continued on the media.

    At these rallies, Trump renewed his campaign promises to his voters, and they renewed their support of his presidency.

    What they have seen in the first weeks has been rocky–did they really buy his lines that his administration is a “smooth-running machine?–but they have been reassured by one crucial thing the media considers a flaw. Trump is showing his base that he has not been sucked into the Washington world. He remains the guy they voted for.

    Now, he has to deliver on those promises.

     CNN is not happy being called “fake news.” They show it with their headline on the rally: “Trump gets what he wants in Florida: Campaign-level adulation”  

     Two important deaths:

    • “Roe” of the 1973 Supreme Court decision, “Roe v. Wade,”
    • “The blind sheik” who waged terror inside the US

     Roe’s real name was Norma McCorvey. She died of heart failure, aged 69. (New York Times)  In 1970, she a young, unmarried mother, pregnant with a third child she did not want. 

    Plucked from obscurity in 1970 by Sarah Weddington and Linda Coffee, two young Dallas lawyers who wanted to challenge Texas laws that prohibited abortions except to save a mother’s life, Ms. McCorvey, five months pregnant with her third child, signed an affidavit she claimed she did not read. She just wanted a quick abortion and had no inkling that the case would become a cause célèbre.

    She had little contact with her lawyers, never went to court or was asked to testify, and was uninvolved in proceedings that took three years to reach the Supreme Court.

    On Jan. 22, 1973, the court ruled 7-2 in Roe v. Wade (Henry Wade, the Dallas County district attorney, was the defendant in the class-action suit) that privacy rights under the due process and equal rights clauses of the 14th Amendment extended to a woman’s decision to have an abortion in a pregnancy’s first trimester “free of interference by the state,” in the words of Justice Harry A. Blackmun, who wrote the opinion. –New York Times

    Her daughter, born in 1970, was given up for adoption, as her second child had been.

    Later in life, Ms. McCorvey became an Evangelical Christian and then a Roman Catholic and a strong foe of abortion.

     The blind sheikh, Omar Abdel-Rahman, plotted the 1993 bombing of the World Trade Center, which killed 6, injured over 1,000, and inspired the 9/11 attacks. Abdel-Rahman died of natural causes, aged 78 (CNN) Before being sentenced, he told the judge (in Arabic), “This case is nothing but an extension of the American war against Islam.”

    Comment: It was, of course, exactly the opposite.

     NATO: VP Pence confirms what Sec. of Defense Mattis said the day before: the US remains committed to NATO  (Boston Globe)

    Comment: Meanwhile, at Trump’s campaign rally in Florida, the President demanded that freeloading nations pay their fair share.  Some would call these mixed messages; others would say they are precisely the mix the US needs to convince European allies to pay up while still deterring Russia.

     With so more controversy surrounding Milo Yiannopoulos on college campuses, it is wonderful to have a thoughtful essay on “Why Milo Scares Students and Faculty Even More” by Prof. Rachel Fulton Brown.  (Personal note: I know and respect Prof. Brown, who teaches medieval Christian history at the University of Chicago Divinity School. She has a special focus on medieval ideas about the Virgin Mary.)

    The issues that Milo talks about are usually considered political, but in fact have to do with people’s deepest convictions: the proper relations between women and men, the definition of community, the role of beauty, access to truth. Milo professes himself a Catholic and wears a pair of gold crosses around his neck. He speaks about the importance of Christianity for the values of Western civilization. As he put it in one interview: “[Western civilization] has created a religion in which love and self-sacrifice and giving are the highest possible virtues… That’s a good thing… But when you remove discipline and sacrifice from religion you get a cult.”

    None of these issues, most especially the civilizational roots of culture and virtue in religious faith, are typically addressed in modern college education in America. Rather, they are, for the most part, purposefully avoided. Judging from my own experience of over 30 years in the academy, it is considered a terrible breach of etiquette, horribly rude even, to mention your religious faith if you are a Christian, never mind suggest that it in any way affects your work as a scholar. This relic of the self-censoring of the late 19th century is now so deeply embedded in American academic culture that most people are not even conscious of it. The real problem, however, is that while discussion of Christian theology may no longer be at the center of university education, religion still is—we just don’t call it that anymore. –Prof. Rachel Fulton Brown 

     

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  • Good News from Higher Education: Wonderful architectural review

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    Chicago loves its architecture and with good reason. The Chicago Tribune recognizes that love and, to its great credit, employs an insightful, full-time architectural critic to evaluate buildings in the planning stages (often leading to significant improvements) and to discuss the final, built versions. In an era when newspapers are cutting back severely on reporting, the Tribune’s decision to keep an architectural critic should be recognized and praised.

    Today, that critic, Blair Kamin, took a close look at the University of Chicago’s impressive new dormitory, designed by Jeanne Gang Studios. The review is overwhelmingly positive, mostly pluses and a few minuses. The headline:

    Jeanne Gang’s U. of C. dorm weaves together a unique example of town and gown (link)

    uc-print-logo-clear-background-200pxMost dramatic of all are 15th-floor reading rooms that offer knockout views of the downtown skyline, Lake Michigan and the university’s neo-Gothic towers. To its credit, the dorm does not ape those towers. Rather, it extends their legacy in a new direction, reflecting the contemporary values of sustainability, transparency and connectivity. Yale may pursuing a different [more traditional] path, but this one is right for the U. of C. — and for the innovative architectural city it calls home. –Blair Kamin, architectural critic for the Chicago Tribune

    On a personal note, I am particularly pleased that Kamin thinks so highly of the new quadrangle, created when the University purchased a small, rarely-used street between the new dorms and some existing buildings. I had initially suggested that purchase and pushed for it. It creates a wonderful new space for the students and replicates the university’s existing quadrangular layout.

    The best stroke is the quad, an outdoor room that occupies land formerly given over to an athletic field and a now-closed portion of Greenwood Avenue. It’s outlined by the dorm and two neighboring buildings, the neo-Gothic Henry Crown Field House and the modernist Smart Museum of Art. There used to be nothing but dull open space between these buildings. Now they frame a lively campus crossroads. –Kamin

    uc-north-residential-commons-1

    uc-north-residential-commons-3

    The traditional, Gothic look of the main Quadrangles nearby.

    UChicago campus labeled big

  • Media Appearance on “Beyond the Beltway with Bruce DuMont”

    I joined host Bruce DuMont and a great panel for a brisk back-and-forth on his long-running political show, “Beyond the Beltway.” The other panelists are

    • Dave Lundy, a centrist Democrat, supports Hillary Clinton.
    • Mike Miller, a conservative economist, dislikes both Clinton and Trump and will vote Libertarian.
    • Michael Lotus, another conservative, supports Donald Trump.

    The program is streamed below, as well as nationally syndicated on radio and broadcast locally on public television.

    Not only were the panelists well-informed advocates, they expressed profound differences while showing respect for each other. That’s testimony to their courtesy and to the way Bruce runs his show. Thanks to them, producer Dan Dorfman, and audio-visual whiz Fritz Golman for providing the streaming video.