WEDNESDAY, MARCH 30, 2022
Planet of the chimps: It happens every once in a while. By that, we mean "extremely rarely."
Every once in a while, in the 5 A.M. hour, we receive a tiny glimpse of the ultimate anthropology. It happened early this morning, as we executed our standard pre-Morning Joe rounds:
[W]e are living today in the aftermath of the Industrial Revolution and the Economic Revolution, which makes the world profoundly different from any previous era. And now, having barely mastered basic science and economics, we're barreling toward the Digital Revolution with hardly a thought about how that will change the world just as profoundly. Mass unemployment will prompt revolts that make the Luddites look like monks and will likely kill off liberal democracy. With luck, we'll avoid being too stupid and greedy about this transition and both liberal democracy and market economics 1.0 will be replaced with something better and far more rewarding for future generations. But there are no guarantees. It's usually not a good idea to bet against greed and stupidity whenever the overclocked apes h. sapiens are involved.
To peruse the full post, just click here.
For the record, we don't have the slightest idea what our source was talking about. We don't know if our (highly-regarded) source knows what he himself was talking about!
That said, the analysts cheered. They rarely get to see our species analyzed / critiqued on the species level. They rarely get to hear it said:
The sheer stupidity of our species is one of its prime calling cards.
(With respect to the meaning of "overclocked," you can just click this.)
The power of the stupidification has been general this week. We'd start by citing the primal need to comment, endlessly and at length, about what happened on Oscar night.
We have the war in Ukraine to discuss. We have the death of Antarctica.
We have the report about Los Angeles schools, a report we'll cite below. But what do our "journalists" really want to discuss?
Our "journalists" really want to discuss the behaviors of famous celebrities. They'll talk about it, then talk and talk. It's all we humans care about. It's all we really know.
Let's move to something you'll never see discussed, except at this site next week. We refer to this report in the Washington Post by someone we've never met but are strongly inclined to admire.
We share the old school system tie with Jay Mathews—also the old college tie. When he was at Hillsdale, we were at Aragon, three miles up The Alameda. For a couple of years, we were enrolled at the very same college at the very same time.
We love his "born in California" vibe, and he's had an impressive career. We strongly tends toward opposite instincts. The headlines atop his report in the Washington Post say this:
Big urban school districts can improve, but it’s complicated and messy
Why did Los Angeles get better? Scholars say it’s because factions cooperated, sort of.
The report appeared in Monday's print editions. Because it doesn't deal with the minor behaviors of Tinseltown stars—because it deals with the actual lives of the nation's children and teenagers—you will never hear this report, or this topic, discussed.
The topic in question is public schools—the public school of our low-income kids. The report is based upon a new book. You can get the basic gist here:
MATHEWS (3/28/22): How are the schools doing in your neighborhood?... A meaningful account of what’s going on requires many more words than most readers have time for.
Still, it’s worth doing. The best new example is a project that unleashed several scholars on our nation’s second largest city and culminated with this book: “When Schools Work: Pluralist Politics and Institutional Reform in Los Angeles.” The author is Bruce Fuller, a professor of education and public policy at the University of California at Berkeley....
I was born in the Los Angeles area. I live there now. I have done many stories about schools in that big district, including one so intriguing I decided at age 43 to spend the rest of my life as an education reporter. But I have never seen any book dive as deeply as this one has into how Los Angeles achieved, at least for a while, an elusive goal: significant improvement in student achievement even among disadvantaged children.
Like all such gains, the results in Los Angeles over the last two decades have to be qualified. The book’s most interesting conclusion is that a combination of more spending, better lessons and new kinds of schools correlated with improved learning for all groups...
Fuller summed it up this way: “The behemoth institution of L.A. Unified, written off as hapless and ineffectual, came alive with a pulse, a beating heart. Reading and math scores for Latino and white students proceeded to climb (more than one grade level) over the subsequent two decades, as gauged by a careful federal assessment of learning in L.A., finally leveling off in 2019.
The "careful federal assessment" in question is, of course, the National Assessment of Educational Progress (the Naep). See page 64!
Is it true? Has the Los Angeles Unified School District "achieved significant improvement in student achievement even among disadvantaged children?" Did a specific array of reforms really produce "improved learning for all groups" over the course of two decades?
You'll never see our media stars discuss such tedious questions. The reason is simple. Our media stars don't care about the good, decent kids who attend the Los Angeles schools.
They care about Will Smith and Chris Rock. They care about Jada Pinkett. They long to discuss minor events involving such wealthy and famous Tinseltown stars. In the end, were the truth to be told, they long to do nothing else.
We were surprised by Mathews' report, but also by Fuller's book. That said, we only attained that state after we'd fact-checked the explicit and suggested claim that the Los Angeles Unified School District has shown unusual test score gains over the past twenty years, caused by a specific web of reforms.
We'll report our specific findings next week. In the meantime, every media star you know is discussing Will and Chris and Jada and all the other angels and saints.
(Amy Schumer? She's still "triggered and traumatized," "in shock and stunned and sad." Or at least, so the modest Tinseltown star has been willing to admit. We learned these key facts at The Daily Beast, which then directed us here.)
Everywhere we looked in the 5 A.M. hour, we encountered the world of the chimps. We're going to avoid specific examples. Thanks to our powerful inner ear, we hear the way our overclocked species' voices howl whenever prime script is challenged.
Our media stars have been chattering about Will and Chris and Jada. As a general matter, they have little to say about these events, and a contractual obligation to say it. Inevitably, the New York Times assembled this ridiculous Gang of Four to beat this event half to death.
The chimps have been running through the streets, just as they did last week. This week, they're all about Will and Chris. Last week, it was the confirmation hearings.
At CNN, our chimps gathered in a group to chase their chimps around. Having watched large parts of the hearings, we thought our chimps very strongly tended to overstate the misbehavior exhibited by theirs.
Nowhere was this tendency put on display more than on CNN. Also, on The Last Word—though MSNBC has apparently pulled the plug on reporting what Lawrence has said.
(As we type, it has been more than two weeks since the channel posted a transcript.)
Our source this morning spoke the truth—our comically self-impressed species is numbered among the apes. We humans have a hard time with "basic science." For our ranking journalists, statistics are boring and hard.
Tomorrow, we'll return to the quest of showing you what our chimps said last week.
This week, they're chattering about Will and Chris. Will and Chris are very rich and famous. Truth to tell, the high-ranking chimps of our own gong-show tribe care about no one else.
Tomorrow: First statements by our own tribe's chimps
Friday: "Help me understand"