Friday, February 17, 2006

Hanging with the Best

Today’s big news story is the recommendation by the University of Hawaii President to join the Big Four -- of Johns Hopkins University, University of Texas at Austin, Pennsylvania State University, and the University of Washington -- which is a coup even if they never do any research here -- because it is the association and branding along with the premier academic research institutions in the world, that puts them into elite company. It’s quite an honor for the University of Hawaii to be offered the opportunity to take its place among the most distinguished names in practical research. The University of Texas at El Paso is not the University of Texas at Austin, or some other Division II school we can beat up on to establish a winning record and be the sole big fish in a small pond.

It was just a short time ago that the University of Hawaii was struggling to maintain its accreditation under the former president, and now they get a chance to play with the big boys, eager show the world what we have to offer. Not to feel that we’re ready for prime time, will undoubtedly ensure that nothing discovered after the 20th century (or is it the 19th?), can ever be discovered or taught at the University. They seem to have a serious collection of Luddites entrenched there, hoping to keep their obsolescent courses relevant by not allowing any new possibilities to compete with the old. It’s shocking that such provincialism and anti-intellectualism should be justified as the way it is around there -- and done on that campus, which many claim is just an extension of high school -- only the “teachers" are more pretentious, authoritarian, and autocratic. Some professors proudly announce to their incoming classes that the notes for their lectures are unimproved for the last forty years -- as though that was some kind of distinction of unimprovable brilliance.

Virtually all the protests have come from those not involved in state-of-the-art research -- but those who don’t want state-of-the-art research done -- under any circumstances, and the navy affiliation is just their pretext. Of course such groups like to call themselves peace protesters, while allowing wars and genocide to rage around the world but they don’t know about it because they choose to ignore it unless it can be used to generate a great controversy over nothing of consequence.

“Liberals” are now disavowing the label and calling themselves “progressives,” while ironically being against everything truly progressive. Somehow, they think that if they could just turn back the clock to the good old days of The Great Depression, they could reel off another run of Democratic victories. Thus they are cheering for every setback to turn into a full blown Armageddon -- for their exclusive benefit, to show that they should be in charge.

Managing prosperity is not what they’re prepared to do -- so will first have to undermine that prosperity -- in order that they might impose their “solution” for the problem they have created, producing the comfortable and familiar boom and bust cycle. First there is overcoming failure, then there is managing success to the next level -- which is the elimination of an age-old problem. The dysfunctional cycle is to destroy that success, so one has a familiar solution to solve the “age-old” problems -- which we never move beyond.


At February 18, 2006 11:45 AM, Blogger Mike Hu said...

It is good to see that independent thought is recognized and rewarded -- as in the test of whether the Navy-affiliated research should be allowed, rather than that narrow self-interest groups should dictate the activities for all. That’s been far too common the prevailing culture of the Islands -- in which a vocal minority is given the megaphone by the media to dictate the terms for everybody else, while suppressing the dissent of the majority not familiar with the issues and so having to rely on what the news media tells them -- which many content providers have complained for years is not what they really said. And with each distortion and suppression, the mainstream press eroded its own franchise on credibility until we’ve arrived to the present state in which one views all such reports with a healthy skepticism and distrust.

That merely indicates a need for a higher level of understanding -- which is something different from just understanding what one overeager and highly-motivated source would have us believe in the exclusive truth of the matter. Generally, a self-serving interest, has a much greater motivation than a contented public in controlling the thinking on all the matters human energies can devise -- and so are much more tireless in coercing the media to their point of view.

In a simpler time, it was possible for journalists to act as some first-line of defense, before it was discovered that many abused that trust in the service of their own career ambitions and expediency. Those without natural talent and ability have been convinced that everybody is created equal in that respect -- and what differentiates one from the others is their ambition, drive, ruthlessness.

For too long, that is what we regarded as qualities of leadership -- rather than more clearly, as the red flags of pure ambition and demagoguery, that the media would set us up to be deceived by. That created the need for alternative forums, publications, blogs, information networks, to counter a mass media of misinformation. It makes everybody better -- but is no longer the exclusive turf of any one self-serving interest. Yet rather than producing even more partisan and biased views, the competition returns to which is the better source of unbiased, non-partisan thinking.

That’s where the mainstream press took a wrong turn -- in thinking that what the public wanted was more distorted, partisan views -- and more controversy and contention on their editorial pages and reporting. Undoubtedly there is a market for perverted tastes -- but its not the prime driver of any society of lasting significance. Even today’s news, has cultivated that deliberate quality of that which is irrelevant and forgettable from day to day.

It’s good to see the symbols of higher thought in the community, reaffirming the leadership that has been long forgotten in the jockeying as one more self-serving interest demanding more money from all those less privileged than themselves.


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