Friday, November 09, 2007

Full ride

One occasionally-recurring topic here has been private boarding schools and their relationship to class and perceptions of class. As an Exeter alum who was able to attend only because of massive financial aid, I was unendingly irked to go to my expensive private college (also on financial aid) and run into kids from wealthy suburban public schools that call their tuition "property taxes" and have them presume that it was prep schools that were the morally problematic reinforcers of class privilege. The affected moral superiority of the wealthy public school parent has bothered me ever since. On the positive side, I'm always happy to tout prep schools as an avenue of social mobility. Getting into Exeter with a scholarship was the most important event in my educational-professional life, and made everything that followed it possible.

So anyway, I'm happy to see this.
Phillips Exeter Academy is offering a free boarding school education to admitted students whose families earn $75,000 or less.
more stories like this

The change will take effect next fall for current and new students.

Principal Tyler Tingley says in addition to a full scholarship and room and board, the school will cover books, supplies, other mandatory fees and a computer.

"We want to be clear that money does not stand in the way of an Exeter education," Tingley said in a statement. "Students who qualify academically will find Exeter affordable."

The prestigious prep school already provides financial aid to nearly half of its 1,000 students and has a policy of offering no loans, so graduates can enter college debt free.

William Fitzsimmons, Harvard College's dean of admissions and financial aid, called the move "a very significant initiative."

"Colleges and universities depend on a pipelines that promotes opportunity and academic preparation for all students," Fitzsimmons said.

For boarding students, the full cost to attend Phillips Exeter is more than $38,000. The full cost for day students is nearly $30,000.

The school's endowment recently passed $1 billion. A recent $305 million fund raising campaign helped make the new policy possible.

(The "no loans" policy postdated me, and unfortunately was not made retroactive...)

Thursday, November 08, 2007

The rankings game

From the Chronicle; rankings should of course be taken with liberal helpings of salt, but for what it's worth:
Montreal’s McGill University got a double dose of good news within the past 24 hours, as two sets of rankings gave it high marks. A ranking published by the Times Higher Education Supplement and Quacquarelli Symonds called McGill the top public university in North America, and Maclean’s, a Canadian news magazine, ranked it as the No. 1 institution in the medical-doctoral category.

The annual Maclean’s rankings were released this morning. The University of British Columbia and Queen’s University tied for second (last year they were fourth and second), and the University of Toronto slipped to fourth. Maclean’s noted that Toronto topped the rankings from 1994 to 2005 in the medical-doctoral category.
Question of the day

"What have you been reading lately that you learned from?"

For me, very lately: Richard Tuck, Rights of War and Peace, and Adrian Vermeule, Mechanisms of Democracy. And, yes, in the distinction between "edifying works" and "works that challenged me and taught me" Tuck qualifies as the latter-- it's a book that does teach a lot of new stuff but also unsettles a lot of old stuff in a very productive way. Not that there's anything wrong with reading just for the sake of learning new stuff...


I like this exchange from the comments thread, too:

Another equally important question, I think, is "what have you written about lately that you learned from?"

Writing is one of the best ways to learn, especially if it's about what you're reading.

Posted by: Adam | November 05, 2007 at 08:57 AM


Excellent point.

I have always enjoyed writing professional book reviews precisely for that reason ... it forces me to think about what I am learning from what I am reading.

My colleague Richard Wagner often says something to the effect that "Thinking without writing is little more than daydreaming." And Buchanan always stressed to us (his students) that "Writing is research."

Anyway, excellent point about writing and learning.


Posted by: Peter Boettke | November 05, 2007 at 10:19 AM

Wednesday, November 07, 2007

Paper updates

Now forthcoming, Texas Review of Law and Politics: Three Perversities of Indian Law.

Newly posted on SSRN, and forthcoming in Hypatia: Self-determination, non-domination, and federalism.
Taylor-Bouchard Commission quote of the day

From CBC:
André Bissonnette described himself as a "frustrated Quebecer" who said he's tired of watching immigrants impose their religion on Quebecers.

"I'm not a practicing Catholic, so why would I yield to the religion of others? They can go worship in their churches, I have nothing against that, but don't make us follow you."

People keep saying things like this. I cannot begin to understand what they think they mean. The results of the polls on accommodation show that anti-minority-religion sentiment isn't just a matter of misunderstanding; it's not that all will be well if it's made clear that no one's proposing to make Islam the official religion of Quebec. But there does seem to be some portion of the populace who's convinced that that's exactly what's on the agenda.

Tuesday, November 06, 2007


pro and con, by Scott Kaufman and Adam Kotsko at Inside Higher Ed.

I've only ever been an occasional long-distance observer of the Valve- Long Sunday disputes Kotsko discusses (and when I've peeked in, my sympathies haven't lain with him). But he seems to me to get at something important about a couple of shifts in the academic blogosphere, as comments sections have become ubiquitous and group-blogs have become the norm. The tendency toward institutionalization in such a fluid medium is kind of odd, really, and it may come at a price.
There are enough institutional turf wars in academe – if blogs are to play a productive role in academic discourse, they should not gratuitously recreate those same dynamics, and for me that means moving away from having quasi-institutional group blogs with stated missions and back toward conversations dispersed among many blogs.

I haven't ever articulated this to myself as my reason for ending up back here on my low-traffic, casual, comments-free solo blog. But I think he's onto something there.
Remember, remember

By now you've heard the mind-bending political news of the day-- multiply so for someone who, like me, is interested in early modern history and comic books and libertarianism.

Antiwar Republican presidential candidate and sometime Libertarian Ron Paul raised over four million dollars in one day yesterday, breaking the Republican one-day fundraising record and the online one-day primary fundraising record, thanks to a "moneybomb" [think googlebomb] organized by this independent website. The date selected for the concentrated donations was November 5-- Guy Fawkes Day, the old English holiday commemorating freedom from papism and the foiling of the Gunpowder Plot. Guy Fawkes Day did have a certain kind of place in the English Whiggish self-interpretation, since freedom from Catholicism was always understood as partly constitutive of and partly symbolic of English liberty. The fact that it was Parliament Fawkes had tried to blow up only made the symbolism starker-- thedevotee of a slavish religion who wanted to enslave good Englishmen tried to destroy the symbol of English liberty. And that anti-Catholic Whiggish ideology is one of the great-great grandparents of certain kinds of anti-statism in the Anglo-American world, something that entered the intellectual DNA of the U.S. in particular in the 18th century.

But the Alan Moore comic book V for Vendetta inverted the ideology. V dresses in the traditional Guy Fawkes Day mask while conducting his anarchistic campaign against a fascistic British state. "Remember, remember, the fifth of November," the beginning of an old English nursery rhyme about remembering Fawkes' treachery and the survival of the British state, got transformed into the creepily memorable slogan of the quasi-heroic freedom fighter who ends up successfully blowing up Parliament.

I take it that, in the comic (originally published for a British audience), this was all meant to be apparent. It was deliberate irony. The inversion was part of the point: it's now the British state that has become the enemy of British liberty, and those who once rooted against Fawkes should now root for him.

But that was mostly lost on American audiences, I think-- even the politically self-aware nerdy libertarians, anarchists, and socialists for whom V was a favorite work.

Some really weird confusion has resulted, with American anti-statist types celebrating Fawkes-as-commemorated-by-V using the words and imagery of the celebration of Fawks' defeat. ABC writes:

The catchy slogan comes from a nursery rhyme about Guy Fawkes, the 17th-century crusader for Catholics rights caught in the basement of parliament with 36 barrels of gunpowder. He failed in his mission to blow the place up. ["Crusader for Catholic rights" may well have been accurate after a fashion-- Catholicism was prohibited and persecuted in 1605 England-- but is hardly the position of the nursery rhyme.-- JTL]

[...]Asked if it is appropriate to invoke a nursery rhyme about a man who tried to blow up parliament in the 17th-century as a fundraising tool, Lyman said, "Some people want to go that way. We're not going in any way violent."

[...]The date Nov. 5 corresponded with the movie "V for Vendetta" and the Guy Fawkes rhyme.

"If you look at the pop culture feel-good message of the movie," Lyman said, "the people in the end say we are the deciders. That's the best way to describe it. And this is a country of and by the people."

Emphasis added. That sound you hear is my brain exploding and dribbling out of my ear. Over at TNR's Stump we get this quote:
Mr. Benton clarified that Mr. Paul did not support blowing up government buildings. “He wants to demolish things like the Department of Education,” Mr. Benton said, “but we can do that very peacefully, in a constructive manner.”

Something very strange has happened when one's uses of Guy Fawkes Day require some clarification that one doesn't actually wish to blow up government buildings.

Just to finalize the weirdness: notice that V portrayed a fable of a fascistic British state in the 1980s. Anti-Thatcherism ran through the work, in big, boldfaced, highlighted, and underlined subtext. Ron Paul is an anti-statist of an entirely market-oriented variety, who has said of Thatcher that she
"embraced American values such as freedom and limited government", and Thatcher is wildly popular among Ron Paul's conservative-libertarian fanbase.

By now I've lost track of the number of symbolic inversions. The world is a complicated place.