Posts Tagged rant

Why don’t we Americans value education anymore?

I think the US has stopped valuing education to a large extent. Sure, we still ask for a degree on all kinds of paperwork and jobs. But in reality we don’t value those credentials much. How did we get to this point? I have a (untested) theory.

When looking to hire people, I see a lot of resume’s and almost all of them have some kind of degree. And really, the degree’s don’t matter. Except for a few key schools, candidate without degrees are actually more interesting, since they are taking (or took) a risk to get into the pool.

I can imagine at some point in the past a B.S. or M.S. on a resume indicated a certain level of skill, and some assumptions about what a person would know, or could do. But not anymore. I know many college freshman (as interns or hires) who know or do better than people with 3-4 years more experience than regular interviewee’s with C.S. degrees. Not to name names, but knowing someone went through Drexel’s Co-Op system (which is an amazing system) is a much better indication of young success than a degree from most other colleges. Most degrees don’t indicate any level of skill, or do well to predict workplace success.

The lions share of blame falls to the college/university system themselves. In a hunt for money to build better buildings universities have taken a lot of crap, and put out a lot of crap. It has happened since most colleges are lusting after lucre to become real-estate moguls, by leveraged on sub-market credit of student loans. Teachers don’t get raises, but old buildings get razed then rebuilt. But I digress.

In order to grow, much of higher education have dropped the bar so low, it’s a tripping hazard. In the universal conflict between ‘excellent’ and ‘big’ they chose big, and lowered their standards. Lowering their standards for a short term boost is dragging themselves down, and undermining the trust they use to have in American culture. I think most modern unions suffer from the same problem. The same dynamic has killed consumer product companies, and it can kill whole sectors by destroying trust.

We don’t value higher education, because it has stopped valuing itself.

edited for clarity 2015-01-18

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Rantings on the state of politics

I’d like to understand how the middle class got so stupid. America survived a lot of the ‘capital vs working’ class issues since it has a solid middle class of reasonably intelligent, reasonably sane people. People who might not make $200K a year, but who could do math, figure out their interest payments, and see through the scams and frauds that the money-grubbing class throws their way.

When did we lose that? When did Americans become suckers for the simplistic ‘us vs them’ and ‘right vs left’ politics used to drive us apart. I don’t know one person, left, right or center, who thinks this country is on the right track. I don’t know one person that thinks our schooling system is fair, that our business culture is A-OK, and that the US, or the world, in on a good track to prosper. Given the trade off of ‘what’s more important, our failing education system, or illegal movie downloads’ I can’t think of a single sane person that would say ‘why, movie downloads of course. But SOPA/PIPA is all over the news, and the slow and continual decline of our school system is not.

Folks, there is no ‘left’, there is no ‘right’. The difference between Republican and Democrat in most places is less than the difference between the Boston and Philadelphia accent. I’m disgusted by how many times I start to discuss something, and I get to the unhappy realization the other person doesn’t know socialism from capitalism, or does not know what a republic is, or what a democracy is.

Think people. Take a second, and think. Ask some questions. Read some wikipedia. But don’t believe *any* of the claims mealy-mouth candidates (including Barack Obama) without checking the facts first. And honestly, don’t trust the news sources. Go read the data for yourself. Find the expense report they cite, and see if they lied, or if it came from some dodgy regional India news report. After the 3rd dodgy or blatently wrong report, turn it off, unsubscribe, and don’t go back to that outlet again.

I know it’s a pain to do that kind of thing. I know it seems like a timesink sometimes. But so is brushing your teeth. They are both annoying hygiene tasks, that show no immediate payoff. Just do it, be smart, and know you’ll be better off than the suckers that don’t.

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Required Information? Not from me.

I am sick to the gills of website, organizations, and forms requiring information they do not need, in any legit way, in order to register. The biggest ones that bother me are asking for my gender, my date of birth, and salary level.

First off is gender. If I’m joining a business networking website, or a community group, or getting a SEPTA pass, why in Darwin’s name do you require my gender information? If anything I would want a business website to remove or downplay gender information, and concentrate on skills, results, and abilities of it’s participants. If any website should be gender blind, it should be a skill centric ‘find a collaborator’ website.

Age? OK, I can buy age range to be a part of some services, to know customers, or general age groups. But my date of birth? Seriously? Give me one good reason to send a private company, or political party, my date of birth, just to get their junk email? I’m sorry organization X, but get your snoopy nose out of my life, and don’t require a D.O.B. just to sign up.

And salary? Really? I want to judge people by their abilities and goals, not how well they can milk the system for cash. I know a lot of great people, a lot of great coders, and a lot of fantastic friends that took jobs at nonprofits, or have put helping their community ahead of sucking cash into their own pockets. Also, you may not of noticed it, but a decent amount of rich people have that money from being shady, scum-baggy, or outright fraud. Is that really how you want to categorize your members/subscribers? If you care so much about cash to require that info, I already don’t want to be in your system.

I use to just ignore those fields when they were optional. But a lot of places are starting to require them. Then I started lying on those fields, and that’s gotten old. In fact, I’m signed up as ‘female’ on a lot of crappy social-networking sites…

But that’s not fun anymore, and I’m just sick of it. Now when I run into that info being required I don’t sign up. Instead I cut and paste an belligerent ‘get your nosy self out of my business, I’m not telling you that info, now get off my lawn you damn’d kids’ email to their contact.

In short, if you want me to support your cause, don’t be a nosy busybody and require private info you have no legitimate reason to have. If you respect your own privacy, I recommend doing the same.

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Invisible Hand of the Market

An article at The Register on got me thinking about economics of software infrastructure. Working at an Open Source Hardware company, this intersects my life, and has a bit to do with my professional options in the future. But first some intro economics, for those that want some background.

Part of Economics 101 goes something like this “If you sell hot dogs, you want to help make hot-dog buns cheaper. That way, more people have money to spend on hotdogs!” Or, in other words “Complementary Goods is a good with a negative cross elasticity demand curve.” Which is just a fancy of saying, when buns get cheaper, more folks buy hotdogs.

This math gets really weird when you start to get into software. Read the rest of this entry »

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