August 29, 2011

"Oh my God, it's beautiful... Everyone here is so much nicer than in New York, too."

The new students are arriving in Madison. And the ones from New York, some of them, don't really get the Midwest yet. Here's a tip: If they're not nice, they won't let it show on the surface, like they do in New York. Don't make the New Yorker's mistake of thinking you're more sophisticated than the rubes in the Midwest. The truth is, you need a new kind of sophistication to detect when folks aren't nice.

But welcome to Madison, everybody. It really is beautiful... and a great place to study. Open your minds. Open your books. And step away from the politics.
Madison's long tradition of student activists included thousands rallying in the spring, during protests over the collective bargaining bill and the state budget. UW students will continue to be active, said Ben Manski of WisconsinWave.org.

"Students are still idealistic, and they should be," he said. "More of us should be. So, they provide inspiration for older folks to try to do things that we may have given up on."
Be wary of the grasp of the Manski! Consider majoring in science. Real science. Not the social kind. Develop your rational mind and learn some hard, useful stuff. Don't indulge what these politicos will flatter you to call idealism.

89 comments:

Drew said...

Short version: Don't become the "Noodles is a dictatorship!" guy.

http://reason.com/blog/2011/03/17/breaking-story-the-dictatorshi

ndspinelli said...

East Coast is direct, and ball busting is just part of how you live. When I moved to Wisconsin I saw it's niceness on a more superficial level. I'm not saying Cheeseheads aren't nice, they are indeed. But they conceal and eat their anger instead of expressing it. The Capitol protests being the exception.

Gabriel Hanna said...

Real science is hard, and is increasingly one of those "jobs Americans won't do".

Gabriel Hanna said...

@ndspinelli:When I moved to Wisconsin I saw it's niceness on a more superficial level.

I find it's often passive-aggressive.

ricpic said...

In the midwest when they really smile at you, hard, you know they're uncomfortable in your presence.

Palladian said...

New York is full of honest assholes. Madison is full of phoney psychopaths.

Curious George said...

"Gabriel Hanna said...

I find it's often passive-aggressive."

You beat me to it. It's the capital of passive-aggresiveness. Of course it's also the mother ship of modern liberalism. That's not a coincidence.

m stone said...

Give me direct, and ball busting any time.

I've lived in Wisconsin for 21 years, a transplant from New York, and see the superficiality everyday.

I notice how polite and "concealing" even Meade is in his videos when we suspect he is veiling contempt for some of the loyalists he interviews.

DADvocate said...

Don't make the New Yorker's mistake of thinking you're more sophisticated than the rubes in the Midwest.

Very important in the South, too. The University of Tennessee generally has a lot of New York/New Jersey students as UT's tuition for out of state students is lower than instate student tuition in those states. If you're a jerk, the friendly smile of a native will be hiding contempt. Most NY/NJ students never have a problem.

Pogo said...

Midwest Nice™ is a residual of the German religious immigrants, small town roots, and farming backgrounds.

Some prefer the blatant unpleasantries of the East coast over the veneer of equanimity.

I see it as the midwesterners trying to get along, but failing here and there, and in the East, not trying at all unless it's needed politically or for making a sale.

Lava said...

Madison is full of people who think that they're the smartest person in the room, no matter which room that might be.

As a result, honest discussions are muted because everyone spends more time than necessary making sure everyone knows that their particular position is the only one that matters.

I appreciate good open dialogue as much as the next person, maybe more.

Hopefully taking 3 years to get to a decision on something at the local level won't upset you too much...better yet, ignore most of the petty local stuff...concentrate on your studies and enjoy the scenery and the opportunities.

Carol_Herman said...

You're overpaying!

If you add in all the booze ... and what's going to be expected of you in "free sex samples." LEARN TO DROP CLASSES WHERE THE NONSENSE IS FLUNG AT YOU FOR GRADES.

Now, if you play an instrument; and have been in band or orchestra; go to the music room. And, see if you can join. You'd be in the safest place on any campus. And, you'll find there's a group there where you can belong. Even if you are shy.

Stay off da' booze!

Think of it in terms of what you're going to OWE by the time you graduate!

And, if you got in on scholarships, GOOD LUCK. There are "tricks" ... where you get IN on scholarships ... And, then by junior year ... they get ya semester by semester. Quarter by quarter.

Once upon a time people had to think of the mates they were marrying, seriously. Because divorces were considered "a fault." And, something to be ashamed of. Lots of people had shotgun marriages. Miserable for all it's length in time.

Today? Easy in. Easy out.

And, maybe, this is just a story from the computer world.

But I heard of a man who worked at Amgen, who said he went to Harvey Mudd. (Only he didn't.)

So, I asked a friend of mine if this wasn't something "checked out" by personnel. And, he said ... "no." Not really. The man had worked at AT&T before he came to Amgen. And, he was gangbusters working IT. Could put systems together and could keep them functioning. (So nobody checked on the credential.)

Beware the Internet as well.

Everyone today uses it like a telephone book. To see if they can look you up. And, down.

MadisonMan said...

The kid has moved into the dorms. Her roomie shows up today. Exciting time for anyone, starting down a new road in life.

House is a lot quieter.

Pogo said...

And I have no idea whether Madison practices Midwest Nice™ or Midwest Personality Disorder™.

They seem similar to the inexperienced; primarily separated by the latter's unfailing urge to be the center of the universe.

J said...

Consider majoring in science, Mad-town. Real science, like agricultural mechanics. The WI farmers need more efficient tractors, combines, harvesters, improved wheat and corn crops--and dairy gear. Milk a cow, scientifically.

Drew said...

Pogo Sez: I see it as the midwesterners trying to get along, but failing here and there, and in the East, not trying at all unless it's needed politically or for making a sale.

Pogo has it. It's not faked. It's that we start everyone at zero, give the benefit of the doubt (often to our failing), and hope that niceness is returned with niceness. When it's not, we are more likely to just cut people off. Some see that as passive-aggressive (and it can be.) I see it more as a protection mechanism.

The New York attitude I've encountered is more that early interactions are colored by dickishness until some sort of parity of dickishness is reached. At that point, you can be said to be using each other in equilibrium.

Curious George said...

"But welcome to Madison, everybody. It really is beautiful... and a great place to study. Open your minds. Open your books. And step away from the politics.

Consider majoring in science. Real science. Not the social kind. Develop your rational mind and learn some hard, useful stuff."

Sadly, too many of these youngsters "want to change the world!" and don't see that science is actually the place to do it.

ndspinelli said...

Gabriel Hanna, passive-aggressive is a great analysis. Maybe that's why alcoholism is rampant in Wisconsin.

My wise East Coast mother had a great phrase, "Better out than in." We were given wide latitude in expressing our anger. I adapted it w/ my kids, using what I coined the umpire rule. Good umpires will let a player vent as long as it doesn't get personal. You can say, "That was a horseshit call." Or.."Only a blind asshole would make that call"[That's touching the line!]. But, if you say, "You're a blind asshole" you're going to get tossed. My kids could say, "That's a horseshit rule" but thay couldn't say, "You're horseshit" w/o consequences. And, when friends of theirs would see this dynamic they were mystified.

Drew said...

I often wonder how New Yorkers managed to reproduce at all. I'll bet it's a very angry process.

geokstr said...

Here's a tip: If they're not nice, they won't let it show on the surface, like they do in New York. Don't make the New Yorker's mistake of thinking you're more sophisticated than the rubes in the Midwest. The truth is, you need a new kind of sophistication to detect when folks aren't nice.

I lived for a decade or more in Brooklyn, then Milwaukee, then Los Angeles, and now Atlanta so I've mingled with all the styles.

Southern California was by far the worst. The entertainment industry permeates throughout the culture there, populated by all the insecure, fame-driven narcissists and egomaniacs who left their own places of origin to pollute the most beautiful part of the country.

They've trained all their lives to convince others that they're being sincere when they're not. That is what acting is. And they're damn good at it too, and don't just use it in front of the camera either, so you never know who to trust about anything.

At least in other regions, people have not practiced as hard at it to pull off such behavior totally convincingly.

Of the four, I like Milwaukee the best by far. Since I was involuntarily transplanted from NY to WI at 14, the culture shock was such that I hated it the entire time I lived there, but within 6 month of moving to LA, I missed those cheeseheads.

I'm in Atlanta now because not many Californians live here.

Joe Schmoe said...

Yes, please learn some science, but temper it with skepticism and humility. If someone questions your research, please consider what they have to say. If your work is strong, you can and should defend it. If they find a weak spot, revisit it with an open mind.

SteveR said...

Madison's long tradition of student activists included thousands rallying in the spring, during protests over the collective bargaining bill and the state budget. UW students will continue to be active, said Ben Manski of WisconsinWave.org.

I hardly think the "thousands" included many full time undergrads struggling with classes like P Chem or Diff E. Underemployed hanger on- ers and Grad students (with benefits? really? benefits?) no doubt.

trumpetdaddy said...

"Now, if you play an instrument; and have been in band or orchestra; go to the music room. And, see if you can join. You'd be in the safest place on any campus. And, you'll find there's a group there where you can belong. Even if you are shy.

"Stay off da' booze!"

-Being in the marching band is the last place you would go to avoid booze. Doing the Saturday halftime show still buzzed from Friday night is a long-standing tradition of most midwestern college bands, my alma mater included.

James said...

Are you joking? I was in Minneapolis the other day, and there was plenty of not-niceness excreting from the surface of the Midwesterners. You'd have to be developmentally disabled not to pick up on it.

J said...

Get those vectors down people!


The DoD always needs Dronetechs.

MarkG said...

DC area people are not "nice," but they're considerate drivers. Madisonians are "nice" in person, but asshole drivers.

Kit said...

m stone, I've noticed that, as well. I certainly don't disavow that I don't go there, either. I prefer the honesty, from myself and from others, while practicing stating it in a way that doesn't invoke harm. Honesty was not too valued in my upbringing, so, knowing where people stand, is pretty important to me. Those who appear to pull the wool over other's eyes, don't get a lot of points, in my book.

J Allen said...

Last week when my wife and I walked a bit of the UW campus I was surprised by the volume of ISO flyers posted on the information boards. I've explained to my son (who is a college student here in NY) what the agenda of the ISO, SDS, and other radical organizations is.

Drew, thanks for the reminder about the Noodles guy. Unfortunately, when the mush minds get around the socialist/communist professor (who obviously know more than the parents) there then becomes an opportunity to see the little darling in a Meadehouse production.

pbAndjFellowRepublican said...

"...you need a new kind of sophistication to detect when folks aren't nice."

I wouldn't want to live in a place where I needed to suss out rampant deceit as I navigate life.

I'll take NY's not-nice, or some other area's genuine-nice. You can keep the liars in Meadehousia.

AllenS said...

Drew said...
I often wonder how New Yorkers managed to reproduce at all. I'll bet it's a very angry process.

For the win.

RonF said...

Engineering, folks. Or one of the sciences. If you are so unfortunate as to have not paid attention in high school to math because "it's hard" you're going to have problems with that, though. Just remember, the easier the courses you take, the more people with the degrees they result in will graduate with you - and compete with you for jobs.

Oh, and about those student loans; ask tough questions from the professors and the guidance office as to what the salary prospects are for the degree you seek. Don't borrow more than you can pay back in a few years. Note that this may mean that depending on what you want to major in you may have to a) get a job in college, b) pick a different major and/or c) take a year off from school to make some money before going back to school.

It's called reality. College is time to prepare for it, not escape it.

sorepaw said...
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Pogo said...

"I wouldn't want to live in a place where I needed to suss out rampant deceit as I navigate life."

Being pleasant isn't deceit.
Being nasty isn't a form of honesty.

Indeed, assholery is, like being pleasant, a protective mask. Acting tough shows you're no pushover. And it is a form of deceit; you still need to suss it out as you navigate life.

Displaying how you 'really' feel would more likely be bland disinterest.

MarkG said...

My advice: If you want to study sociology or anthropology or something like that, there are plenty of books you can read on those subjects after you graduate from college. College is for career training.

traditionalguy said...

Sorepaw...We need to be greatful to Gabriel Hanna. He is the best in his field at discrediting all theory that does not come directly from circa 1880 Darwin.

Remember, "If we want to be the best, we have to beat the best."

I think the TCU football coach said that.

James said...

I'm not a native New Yorker but I lived in Manhattan/Roosevelt Island area for several years when I was with the U.N.

When I moved to Ann Arbor for grad school I was suprised at how different people were there. For those familiar with A2, we rented an apartment on State Street near the Mall. The day after we got there I decided to walk to the b-school to get my bearings of the campus. It was a shocking to me that complete strangers said hello to me; I was so stunned the first few times that I couldn't respond. Of course they probably thought I was crazy to walk on busy State Street.

On another note, my son moves in tomorrow so we're heading up to Madison in a few hours. I have mixed feelings; he was born at U of M hospital and I always assumed that he'd attend college there. But even after all my prodding he didn't even bother to apply. I guess after 12 years in Wisconsin, UW-Madison was his first choice.

On the bright side he will be rooming with his fourth grade teacher's son; they've known each other since first grade and also attended the same middle and high schools.

edutcher said...

Don't forget computer science. All the programmers are being imported because Americans don't want to appear geeky.

They forget the money can be very good.

Ann Althouse said.

Here's a tip: If they're not nice, they won't let it show on the surface, like they do in New York.

Be wary of the grasp of the Manski! Consider majoring in science. Real science. Not the social kind. Develop your rational mind and learn some hard, useful stuff.


Man, this year really has made a difference.

wdnelson93 said...

re: "real science"...Our eldest is a senior in H.S. this year. She did well on her SAT, is considering an Elem. Ed. degree, and planned to attend the local U and live at home to keep costs down. However, I printed up the 4-year plan the U. recommends for the Elem. Ed. degree. One of the classes is titled "Truth, Beauty, and Goodness". Other listings look similarly lightweight and doctrinaire.

Our family is discovering that an inexpensive education can still be costly.

Carol_Herman said...

Wisconsin isn't a "first pick." Many of the students that go to Wisconsin, who had the grades for Stanford, Berkeley and Haarvahd ... Found themselves defeated. They're white kids. And they didn't get picked in the lottery.

So they show up in Wisconsin.

Where I learned, when Tommy Thompson was governor, he'd go to the campus ... at Halloween ... And, invite the really lonely kids back to his mansion.

I got this story from the mom! When her son didn't make the schools he wanted, she said he got a major depression. Going to Wisconsin was a DEFEAT.

Until the end of October. When Tommy Thompson shows up and befriends students. (Yup. Out-of-towners.)

And, like most teenagers ... in a home (the governor's mansion) ... that also has a kitchen ... asked Tommy Thompson if there was anything to eat.

Even back then, there were cell phones. The lad call home. And, told his mom.

Who by the point I heard the story ... was telling lots of high school moms ... (There was a Latin competition being hosted that day) ... that Wisconsin, after all, turned out to be a fantastic choice.

Because Tommy Thompson is a mensh.

Imagine Schwartenegger going in to a college campus ... and doing something like that! Bloomberg? Christie? We've got 50 states to choose from.

Tommy Thompson is a mensh!

He was better than any doctor, too! The kid's depression lifted and flew out the window!

For all others? There's still the hopes of transferring OUT by sophomore year.

Keep the value! And, you can change the minds of kids who are arriving to Wisconsin ... more disappointed than you know.

Paulio said...

Why on earth would you suggest these kids do "real science"? Do you not want them to have jobs? The conservative revolution you support have gutted "real science" in this country. They are much better off learning a technical trade than physics or biology. Chemistry might get them a shot at a pharma company, if they are lucky.

Rob said...

Ms. Althouse:

I agree. This country has wasted a lot of fine minds on the social sciences (and the law). Many folks who would have made excellent engineers have instead spent years chasing each other around in circles in courtrooms. I had a 1360 combined SAT and I should have studied something which would have enabled me to actually produce something useful.

Rob said...

BTW, Paulio, on what basis do you state that the hard sciences are not a good source of jobs? Please also explain how a "conservative revolution" has resulted in less jobs in the hard sciences. I can make no sense of your post.

Chuck66 said...

I know people who moved to NJ or NY to work, but came back because they couldn't handle the jerkiness that people there come across as.

Similiar, I have worked with people from NYC and Philadelphia who moved here. Alone they are okay, but put 3 or so of them together and you will swear you are in an R rated movie. Constantly swearing at each other, non-stop insults and ridicule.

traditionalguy said...

My advice would be to get lots of hands on Fracking practice.

The best jobs will be in oil and gas extraction.

Frack, frack, frack. Doesn't anybody drill anymore?

Titus said...

I love the East Coast directness and bitchiness.

Wisconsin "nice" creeps me out.

Don't say hi to me when I walk in your store.

And don't say thank you when I purchase something.

I want bitchy.

Triangle Man said...

Be wary of the grasp of the Manski! Consider majoring in science. Real science. Not the social kind

No qualifiers for this? Consider majoring in a science if you have demonstrated some capacity to do well in science and if you have genuine interest. There is no sense in being a failure in science to avoid working in a field for which your abilities and personality may be better suited.

On the other hand, I think anyone who wants to be a social worker should sign a pledge that they will never complain about their compensation or opine on economic matters.

Jim said...

UW has the 16th best rated engineering school per USNEWS. Sounds like a good time.

http://grad-schools.usnews.rankingsandreviews.com/best-graduate-schools/top-engineering-schools/university-of-wisconsin-madison-02192

Triangle Man said...

I love the East Coast directness and bitchiness.

Go fuck yourself.


In Boston, that is the appropriate response to the question, "what time is it".

Triangle Man said...

UW has the 16th best rated engineering school per USNEWS. Sounds like a good time.

The School of Medicine and Public health is in the top 10 for primary care and #26 for research.

Titus said...

When East Coast people say Midwest people are "so nice" they say it in a patronizing way.

What they mean is the midwest is simple and a bunch of dullards.

The East Coast is more cranky because it is crowded and it is a bitch to do anything.

Parking, going to a bank, grocery shopping. It's survival of the fittest.

Lines, lines, lines of cranky people.

It the Midwest you can breeze in anywhere and get anything completed quickly. And the parking lots are huge.

tits.

Tits and Clouds

Titus said...

When I moved out to Boston I was a mess driving.

Now I fucking love it.

No directionals, cutting people off, going through red lights. Big fucking Rotary which now Wisconsin has but much smaller and civil. Never staying in your lane. Getting on someone's ass in the fast lane. And tons of honking horns. It's like a race track.

It makes me even a little hard.

Titus said...

I love flying through all the tunnels too.

Tunnels are so European.

Cops in Boston never stop you for speeding.

The pot holes suck though.

I am horny just thinking about all the traffic in Boston.

Titus said...

And then there is the men.

A gym on every corner.

All pumped up.

Hard pecs, amazing abs, succulent biceps, divine triceps, glorious thighs, immaculate glutes.

Totally Hot.

And I love all the hometown sub shops with the hot Italians working. Preparing the chicken parm and penne and "raviolis". Sublime.

Canuck said...

"I find it's often passive-aggressive."

In the upper-Midwest people are polite in a very specific way.

Nice-ness is not the same thing as polite and mannered behavior.

Paulio said...

Rob said...

BTW, Paulio, on what basis do you state that the hard sciences are not a good source of jobs? Please also explain how a "conservative revolution" has resulted in less jobs in the hard sciences. I can make no sense of your post.


Rob, to take the "hardest" science, physics, virtually all "professional" physics is university funded. Sure it often results in marketable products, like the world wide web, but the original research comes out of universities and non-profits. If you trace the funding back, it's almost all the NSF (or European/Japanese/etc equivalents). On the biological side, virtually all the funding is NIH. The cuts in the budget and lack of increases have pushed the NIH success rate down around 5%. Labs are closing and trained scientists are languishing in postdoc positions well into their 40s. It's fine to argue that the government should get out of the science business, but we should also stop encouraging education for fields where there are no jobs.

Hoosier Daddy said...

"... Students are still idealistic, and they should be," he said. "More of us should be. So, they provide inspiration for older folks to try to do things that we may have given up on."..."

Yeah, that's nice. Problem is many of us older folks are busy with things like jobs and raising families. I leave idealism for the idle.

Gabriel Hanna said...

@Paulio: NSF funding since 1991. Good luck with blaming conservatives for "cuts". Other than the ARRA spike in 2008-2009--which did diddly/squat as everyone knew the money wouldn't last--NSF funding is almost exponential growth.

From what I can tell in only 2005, 2006, and 2010 did funding actually decrease in real dollars from a previous year. In every other year the slope appears to be positive.

Richard Dolan said...

"If they're not nice, they won't let it show on the surface, like they do in New York. Don't make the New Yorker's mistake of thinking you're more sophisticated than the rubes in the Midwest. The truth is, you need a new kind of sophistication to detect when folks aren't nice."

The nice vs. sophisticated shtick is overdone as a way of contrasting East (NY) vs. Not-East (WI). I suspect that any validity it might have reflects the differing ways people in the two communities measure the virtuous life -- the objects that make life worth living, how to live such a life and what it should bring those who do.

It's interesting that the stereotype of Eastern (NY) culture emphasizes teh accumulation of wealth as the measure of a successful life. In that vein, the anti-niceness meme is all about the 'do what it takes' approach to dealing with others to achieve it. In contrast, the niceness that supposedly characterizes the Not-East (WI) reverses both poles.

If that were true, you'd expect the East (NY) to have an Ayn Randian-like political culture. Instead, it's true-blue lefty Dem stuff here, all the more so the deeper into hard-core NYC you look. You'd also expect WI to have the opposite -- a softer, social-worker, first duty is to take care of the least among us, political culture. Yet WI is Tea Party friendly territory, and has Governor Walker, a conservative majority, endless confrontational and noisy sit-ins in and around the Capitol, and a dysfunctional and intolerant political culture on full display for all to see.

The images are all jumbled up; all is not what it seems.

Gabriel Hanna said...

@Paulio: As far as physics is concerned, most physics research is expensive and a lot of the low-hanging fruit has been picked. NSF isn't our money that we deserve as of right. It is an investment of our society, and society needs to figure out what it thinks is worth investing in. Physics might no longer be the best use of that money; maybe biology or something is. At any rate, there's only so much money and there was never a time when every worthwhile project got all the funding it needed.

I'm happy to make the case that what I do is worth it, but we have to remember it's not our money, and we are never able to promise that everything we do with it will pay off.

Rob said...

Thanks, Gabriel. I must also question the proposition that hard science jobs are primarily government funded, but it was hard for me to believe that a "conservative revolution" had eliminated hard science jobs. I will acknowledge that REALLY hard science jobs, like physics, may be difficult to fund in the private sector. I would argue that government funding of research and the arts should not be a high priority. The Federal government should fund external and internal defense, regulate commerce between the States, and deal with foreign diplomacy. (These are big jobs, indeed.) Most of the rest of what happens in this country should be handled by the private sector and the States.

I admit I am of the fairly extreme libertarian bent. The Federal Government does way, way too much.

David said...

In other words, learn to think, people!

Gabriel Hanna said...

@Rob: I must also question the proposition that hard science jobs are primarily government funded,

Huh. I wouldn't. Pure research almost certainly is. Depends on what you mean by a "hard science" job. But for pure research I would be bet on Paulio being right, that the bulk of it is government-funded. If it makes you feel better, universities take half the grant off the top before the scientists get any.

However, Paulio is wrong, or at least hyperbolic, when he says "conservatives" are "gutting" science funding. It is true that scientists are not getting all the money they need for what they want to do, but that was always true. NSF funding historically is almost exponential. It was higher than average in 50's, when we had the space and arms races in full swing. Sadly the 50's are not the historical norm. But I wouldn;t wish the Cold War back on us so I could get more money.

Carol_Herman said...

Peter Robinson's book: SNAPSHOTS FROM HELL ... tell of his grad school experiences ... over a two year time period ... Where he used White House stationery (he was working for Reagan). To apply to Stanford.

Where Stanford picks the top 1% of talent from the American "pool."

Robinson's tale is WONDERFUL!

It was written back in the late 1980's. And, I still remember parts of it.

Especially a professor who told Robinson that "it doesn't matter what we teach these kids." Most of them will do well! They're very talented. "We could take them out to the golf course, and do nothing but let them play golf for two years." And, they'll turn out BRILLIANT.

You're getting students, now, from all over ... not just local kids ... like it would be at a high school sports event.

Lots of these kids should have been in the top 1% ... They got the grades! They did the work! They got flying colors on their SATs. But they didn't make the "top tier" schools.

Lucky for you.

But, alas, ALL the kids who go to college ... get locked into the BUBBLE.

When they look around? You bet. They see the administrators ... who wield power.

And, in time? They hear about the faculty lounge "affairs." And, the fights over parking spaces.

Where they may wonder ... why do I have to do this ... to go out into the world?

(Oh, if they're lucky ... they'll make friends!)

I discovered, quite by chance ... that my son kept the friends he made at Harvey Mudd. But not so much ... were all the kids he had met through elementary school through high school.

That's what suprised me very, very much.

And, some schools are better than others.

Mudd was a joy. Small enough where everybody got to know everybody else.

We've all been shown the Rotunda.

Not usually full of students. Just agitators.

Where do the "real people" of Madison hang out?

Rob said...

Gabriel:
I am not doubting you. Perhaps I am too broad in my definition of "hard science", as would think of it as including practical scientists, i.e., engineers.

Where to get funding for physics research is a difficult problem.

David R. Graham said...

"Develop your rational mind and learn some hard, useful stuff. Don't indulge what these politicos will flatter you to call idealism."

Curiously, this advice, particularly of the second sentence, has received, so far, no comment. I think it is the gist of the post.

For What It's Worth: My advice to our offspring was to avoid college/university, especially of the liberal arts kind, and head to trade school. This offended a close friend who wanted one of our offspring to attend Yale. All offspring heeded my advice and have been well and safely employed since age 18, some of them having been paid to attend their trade school of choice. And they are doing now what they want to be doing and have been all along.

So in my view of things, nurtured through long years of Ivy League university and graduate school, if a young person today is attending a college or university, they are already wrongly-launched. For them, Ann's advice here is golden but perhaps too late to help. The only way to redeem the mis-launch of a young person already matriculated at college or university would be for them assiduously to practice Ann's advice. And specifically, I would recommend engineering and its requisites, as long as one has abilities and desires in that direction.

And stay away from English classes and teachers! And shrinks! And Greek orgs, with their boozing and wenching/warlocking.

Better still would be to pull out, pick a trade and launch through its training program. And remember, soldiering is a professional trade. Our nation maintains five academies to teach military arts and sciences and all of them are top-tier in academic and social prestige, personal development and curriculum breadth and content. And with guaranteed employment and high responsibility upon graduation.

Paulio said...

@Gabriel and @Rob--

I tried to be careful to avoid saying what the government should and shouldn't fund. I think it's fine for the government to "gut" science as primarily conservatives and/or libertarians want to do, they should just be honest about it. At the same time, we should stop encouraging people from going into fields that have no future (or a severely diminished one). In particular, if we are going to stop funding government science, the government should certainly stop spending money on training grants and the like to keep funneling graduate students into a dead end.

As to the NSF growing "exponentially" I have a hard time finding a long term inflation adjusted graph. I must admit to being more familiar with the NIH. From 2003 to 2010 the budget has essentially been flat and has been much lower than the rate of inflation. It's true it's not a "real" drop, but nonetheless, it's a real loss. 5% paylines are a tough, essentially almost random funding environment. I work at a well funded non-profit and so I don't have to worry as much as a university researcher. If anything, it makes my lab and work more competitive. I just think we should have an open debate about the direction of the government and if we decide not to fund science, or to sharply curtail it based on historical levels, to be very upfront about where that decision takes us in relation to the last 50 years of who we were as a country and an innovator in basic science. We do spend money on a lot of things, too much right now. I for one would rather give up some of our massive entitlement spending to keep on top of the world in science (especially as China goes full bore into basic science--that's not a race I think we should lose). But who knows, I might be a tiny minority.

And whoever made the point about the ARRA money--I totally second it. What a waste. The worst kind of support for science frankly.

Paulio said...

One other point--I think it was Rob that suggested physics was some sort of outlier as a "hard" science. The hard sciences are physics, biology and chemistry (and I know a lot of physicists who would cringe at biology being on that list). Other things people conflate with science are not: engineering, medicine etc. They are technologies or professional fields, like being a lawyer or a plumber. That's not a judgment, it's just a classification. It may indeed be an odd thing for a government to fund pure science, but we have done it. And Ann specifically encouraged students to study science, not technology. But maybe she was just speaking broadly.

LordSomber said...

I thought Seattle was supposed to be the capital of passive-aggressiveness?

(I've been to both Madison and Seattle, but never long enough to come to any conclusion myself.)

Gabriel Hanna said...

@Paulio: As to the NSF growing "exponentially" I have a hard time finding a long term inflation adjusted graph.

I linked to a series of 8 frames, showing NSF budgets over varying time periods in both nominal and real dollars, each with links on the side to see the others. You can bet Rob, and everyone else who doubts waht you said, clicked on those. I'm sad to see that you didn't bother. Do go and look again, and adjust your argument accordingly...

And whoever made the point about the ARRA money--I totally second it. What a waste. The worst kind of support for science frankly.

Pleased to see we have some common ground. When I was looking for a postdoc I looked at those. What could I do? Move across the country for a 1-year position? I didn't even try for them.

Canuck said...

"I thought Seattle was supposed to be the capital of passive-aggressiveness?"

Swedes settled in the upper-midwest. Some found it too cold and went to Seattle.

Not passive-aggressive so much as quieter. The arguing style is very different from southern Europeans.

deborah said...

Drew,
"When it's not, we are more likely to just cut people off. Some see that as passive-aggressive (and it can be.) I see it more as a protection mechanism."

A real time-saver, too.

Calypso Facto said...

paulio, thanks for coming back and clarifying. When I read your earlier comments I thought you were someone just using the science angle to complain about "cuts" in general. But I like that you're instead willing to agree that it's actually a matter of priorities in government that spends too freely on too many things.

I was surprised to find that your facts about NIH funding were verifiable (rare among those crying "cuts!": current NIH appropriations are about 3% less than they would be if they'd kept pace with inflation since 2003. I'd note however, that the 2003 level was achieved only after years of double digit appropriations growth at the Institute and that from 1999 to 2003, funding outpaced inflation by 37%. 2004 apparently marked the end of the blank check years. You probably have more insight than me into why that might be.

Allison said...

-- The truth is, you need a new kind of sophistication to detect when folks aren't nice.

Well said. It took my husband and me several years after moving to MN from CA to realize how many people in MN hated us. :) We just thought everyone was nice for 5, 6 years, though we were confused why people would never come over or invite us over.

Okay, they may not have hated us, but we'd offended them, unbeknownst to us, and have never known why, and have never known how to rectify it (apologizing for an offense requires referring to it--another offense!) especially when we're never given another oppotunity to interact with them.

Minnesota Nice is passive aggressive to the nth degree. Maybe WI is not quite the same, but they are more similar to each other than to either coast.

It also took about 6 years to parse the phrase "A guy could do that". Do WIers say that? For the first few years, I would say in response out loud "does that mean you WILL, or you WON'T?" Which was definitely the WRONG thing to say. Now I understand that usually the phrase means "you could do that, if you were stupid".

Alex said...

We need more scientists, engineers, chemists. Imagine studying chemical engineering so you can go work for a huge petrochemical company and destroy Gaia quicker!!!

sorepaw said...
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sorepaw said...
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Paulio said...

@Gabriel

Sorry! I had clinked on your link but didn't see the frame with the other links--went back and looked. It's hard to know what to make of the ARRA period and the 2010 and 2011 numbers--otherwise it looks almost flat to me from 2003 on. 2003-2008, representing a slight drop from 2002. Still, it does seem that NSF has fared better than NIH, though they have much larger budget.

@calypso--I did cherry pick some :) There was a big push in Congress, led by Rs and Ds, to double the NIH budget over a period of 5 years at the end of the Clinton admin and carried on by Bush. A lot of this money went (among other things) into new training programs. So there was a huge glut of new people getting trained and feeding off this rapid increase in funding, with very little long term planning for what things were going to be like when the money ran out. I'm not sure whose fault this is, it very likely might be the NIH's own fault or some stupid rules about government budgeting, but there was a steep cliff that we all fell off when it ended. That's when I finished grad school (funded by a private fellowship!) and each year has been progressively worse since.

Again, if we decide it's not a priority, I'd just request we wind things down rationally, rather than cutting back on established science while pouring money into new training.

@Calypso

Paulio said...

@Gabriel--too clarify my point above--NIH has the larger budget so gains in the NSF are in real dollars smalelr.

sorepaw said...
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Carol_Herman said...

David R. Graham, @ 12:35 PM

Yes. I'm really asking this:

WHAT'S A TRADE SCHOOL?

Where people go to learn hairdressing?

I don't think there are ones for mechanics, plumbers or electricians. That's sort of "by the seat of your pants, " I thought.

And, other than "Du-vry?" for computer stuff ... I can't really think of any "trade school."

Which used to be taught as a "commercial subject" ... back in the day I went to high school. Because only some of the kids took Academics.

Computer science, by the way, is the easiest of the engineering classes. At least that's what my son said about Mudd.

Then. I remember hearing Andrew Breitbart discoursing on how when he first got a job ... he chose to be a waiter. Because he didn't want to get out of bed before 3:00 PM.

And, then he added his liberal beliefs were easy. They didn't contain any kind of a sacrifice at all.

I also know that Mort Sahl, when the government used it's muscle to kill his comedy career ... He hit the college campuses. 1971. The draft was still serious business.

Meanwhile, when today's youth grow up ... what do you think they'd tell their children?

And? If a kid takes "hard sciences," and then at home the refrigerator breaks ... are they being equipped with the know how on how to fix things?

I'm alarmed at how much colleges cost these days.

But I can remember back to the 1960's ... when a kid "went" ... and didn't even graduate when they turned 32. They also kind'a just kept hanging out at their alma mater's student union.

Where'd the truth get buried?

fleetusa said...

Good advice about studying hard science. Most of the other degrees won't get you a decent job unless you aim to be a Best Buy store manager, etc.

Gabriel Hanna said...

@sorepaw:blah blah threadjack

Climate science is not the topic here, nor does anyone besides you care about your dislike of my views on it.

They'd have little reason to listen to me, but I would tell the gentlemen you named exactly what I told you. I would tell the same thing to Einstein, to George Bush, to Barack Obama, to God Himself. Because it's what I think, as a scientist and a citizen.

Here endeth the threadjack.

Samrobb said...

Reminds me of something I saw over at Aretae a while back, on the possible reason for differences in small town vs. large town life:

http://aretae.blogspot.com/2011/06/small-town-vs-large-town-life.html

traditionalguy said...

Make the newbies watch A History of Violence in orientation.

Then explain to them that they are not in Philly anymore.

walter said...

"they provide inspiration for older folks to try to do things that we may have given up on."

Like keggers and unprotected sex. Woot!

Bruce said...

Paulio,

You seem to firmly believe that "hard science" is equivalent to "academic research", and perhaps that is why you feel there is no job market for the hard sciences.

There most definitely are private sector jobs available in the hard sciences. I used my physics degree to get a job computing spacecraft orbit and attitude, and planning spacecraft maneuvers, etc. One of my friends with a physics degree went to work at an aircraft manufacturer.

You might argue that we are more engineers than scientists, and I wouldn't really disagree, although I apply an enormous amount of what I learned in my physics classes every day. But I reject your idea that "hard science degree" means "no work without without government grants". It may seem that way to you, because from your perspective it seems to be all about research. It isn't; there are tons of practical applications of science that yield good employment.

Paulio said...

@Bruce
I don't really disagree with anything you said--I'm not claiming that there aren't jobs for those that have studied hard science, but they are often doing something that another degree would have prepared them for as you note. It doesn't mean (nor did I ever claim) that science is not used in plenty of professions. But your phrase "there are tons of practical applications of science that yield good employment" is the very definition of "technology"--practical applications of science. I love technology! I use it every day! My original point was that Ann seemed to be saying something about the usefulness of studying science qua science--hypothesis based inquiry. Maybe I misread her, it's definitely an implication of what she said and not explicit. My only contribution was that for those that want to study and work in science qua science--hypothesis based inquiry--the jobs are drying up. Maybe a new model will emerge. But the point that in the private sector those jobs are essentially technological or engineering just furthers my point.

I'm trying not to make any value-laden statements here. Again, most of science isn't particularly useful if we don't convert it into technology. I think it would be an interesting point of discussion to say--"frankly, we don't need much more basic inquiry, we have a good set of tools, what we need much more of is practical, empirical applications." Maybe that's what we'll decide collectively as a country and in that case people will still need to study science, but more in the furtherance of biomedical engineering, chemical engineering etc type degrees.

Thank you for keeping spacecraft in the sky, rather than falling on us here below :)