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Canada geese are invading the DC’s National Mall. Kevin Williamson writes on the antidote – border collies. We have the humor section first today. Late night humor follows.
… If there is to be a plague of goose poop befouling an American city, it really could not happen to a more fitting municipality than our hideous national capital, and especially to the gallery of architectural malpractice and monumental grotesquery that is the National Mall, that eternal testament to the unfinished work of Major General Robert Ross, who had the good taste to put Washington to the torch but who tragically failed to salt the earth on his way out. …
… The obvious question here — or at least the first thing I wondered about — is: Where do the all those border collies come from? We have a national strategic petroleum reserve and, hilariously enough, a national strategic helium reserve — in case we ever decide that we want to make all those Boko Haram throat-cutters talk like Alvin the Chipmunk — so it is not beyond all conception that we have a national strategic border collie reserve, too. I am sorry to report that my inquiries to the Department of the Interior late last week regarding this critical national resource went unanswered. But I will stay on the story.
In the United States, we have public debts and unfunded-entitlement liabilities equal to the value of all the stocks trading on all the world’s stock markets — combined and multiplied by three. We are beset by the very real possibility of atomic ayatollahs engaging in casual nuclear war — not only in the Middle East, but possibly also in Europe, in Asia, and, given the state of our border security, right here. We have a crime syndicate in charge of the Internal Revenue Service, and a Department of Homeland Security that can’t stop millions of people from crossing the border illegally but does an absolutely awesome job of making sure that you do not bring more than 3.4 ounces of Sensodyne onto an airplane. We have record numbers of people pushed into dependency on an ever-proliferating variety of welfare programs. Washington responds to this array of existential threats with the urgent dynamism and focus of Jabba the Hutt on a glitterstim bender.
But an anatid from up north drops a deuce on the site of the John F. Kennedy Memorial Field Hockey Tournament — “the oldest field hockey tournament in the United States,” hurrah! — and Leviathan arises from his dreamy slumber. Really, given what we know about Washington and how it works, can you blame the birds?
Canada geese: Doing jobs American voters won’t do.
Andrew Malcolm has late night humor.
Conan: A new app is out that helps find missing dogs using facial recognition technology. There’s also a companion app for dogs to find their owners using crotch-recognition technology.
Meyers: In a new video, a lion at a South African safari park has reportedly learned how to open the doors on tour jeeps. The video was taken with an iPhone recovered from the stomach of a lion in South Africa.
Thomas Sowell writes on who is trashing the liberal arts.
An op-ed piece titled “Conservatives, Please Stop Trashing the Liberal Arts” appeared last week in the Wall Street Journal. But it is not conservatives who trashed the liberal arts.
Liberal professors have trashed the liberal arts, by converting so many liberal arts courses into indoctrination centers for left-wing causes and fads, instead of courses where students learn how to weigh conflicting views of the world for themselves. Now a professor of English, one of the most fad-ridden of the liberal arts today, blames conservative critics for the low esteem in which liberal arts are held.
Surely a professor of English cannot be unaware of how English departments, especially, have become hotbeds of self-indulgent, trendy fads such as trashing classic writings — using Shakespeare’s works as just another ideological playground for romping through with the current mantra of “race, class and gender.”
Surely he cannot be unaware of the many farces of the Modern Language Association that have made headlines. And when our English professor uses a phrase like “critical thinking,” he must be at least dimly aware of how often those words have been perverted to mean uncritical negativism toward traditional values and uncritical acceptance of glittering catchwords of the left, such as “diversity.” …
Speaking of the farce on many college campuses, The Economist cover story is on more money spent on education with less to show for it.
… If America were getting its money’s worth from higher education, that would be fine. On the research side, it probably is. In 2014, 19 of the 20 universities in the world that produced the most highly cited research papers were American. But on the educational side, the picture is less clear. American graduates score poorly in international numeracy and literacy rankings, and are slipping. In a recent study of academic achievement, 45% of American students made no gains in their first two years of university. Meanwhile, tuition fees have nearly doubled, in real terms, in 20 years. Student debt, at nearly $1.2 trillion, has surpassed credit-card debt and car loans.
None of this means that going to university is a bad investment for a student. A bachelor’s degree in America still yields, on average, a 15% return. But it is less clear whether the growing investment in tertiary education makes sense for society as a whole. If graduates earn more than non-graduates because their studies have made them more productive, then university education will boost economic growth and society should want more of it. Yet poor student scores suggest otherwise. So, too, does the testimony of employers. A recent study of recruitment by professional-services firms found that they took graduates from the most prestigious universities not because of what the candidates might have learned but because of those institutions’ tough selection procedures. In short, students could be paying vast sums merely to go through a very elaborate sorting mechanism.
If America’s universities are indeed poor value for money, why might that be? The main reason is that the market for higher education, like that for health care, does not work well. The government rewards universities for research, so that is what professors concentrate on. Students are looking for a degree from an institution that will impress employers; employers are interested primarily in the selectivity of the institution a candidate has attended. Since the value of a degree from a selective institution depends on its scarcity, good universities have little incentive to produce more graduates. And, in the absence of a clear measure of educational output, price becomes a proxy for quality. By charging more, good universities gain both revenue and prestige. …
We have been unrelenting during the past years including items about the coming student loan disaster. The Huffington Post reported that delinquencies are much higher than the government has previously reported. The government has lied to us? Who could have seen that coming?
About one-third of borrowers with federal student loans owned by the U.S. Department of Education are late on their payments, according to new federal data.
The figures, released by the Education Department on Thursday, are the first comprehensive look at the delinquency plaguing those who hold federal student loans. By the new metric, which the department has never used before, roughly 33 percent of borrowers were more than five days late on one of their federal student loans as of Dec. 31. (Since the department only released individual figures for its four largest contractors, rather than a total percentage, however, the actual figure may be a few percentage points higher or lower.)
Previous measures had put the delinquency rate much lower, masking the true amount of distress among borrowers trying to make good on their taxpayer-backed debts.
Some 41 million Americans collectively carry more than $1.1 trillion in education loans owned or guaranteed by the Education Department, a total that surpasses every form of consumer credit in the U.S. except home mortgages. Thursday’s figure reflects more than two-thirds of the $1.1 trillion total. The remainder is owned by the private sector as part of a bank-based federal loan program that has since been discontinued.
The new measure of borrower distress comes as the White House urges the Education Department to improve its management of the growing federal student loan program and to give borrowers more protections against unmanageable debt loads.
In recent years, groups ranging from federal financial regulators and Federal Reserve policymakers to chief executives of banks and other industry groups have warned about the increasing risk that student debt poses to U.S. economic growth, noting that debt burdens are sapping households’ purchasing power amid an era of stagnant inflation-adjusted wages. …
WSJ Reviews say the new Samsung Galaxy phone is a good competitor for the iPhone.
In this unpredictable world, it’s the constants in life that I can count on.
The sun rises in the East, Starbucks lattes always taste the same, and Apple’s iPhones are always better than Samsung’s Galaxy phones.
Since the dawn of the smartphone wars, there have been basic truths about Samsungs: They’re made of flimsy plastic, their cameras can’t keep up with the iPhone’s, and their modified Android software is ugly and intolerably cluttered.
With the Galaxy S6 and S6 Edge, which arrive at U.S. carriers on April 10, none of that is true anymore. I am not afraid to say it: I love Samsung’s new phones, maybe even more than my own iPhone 6. Like a child who just found out that Santa isn’t real, I have spent the past week questioning everything I know.
OK, maybe that’s a bit dramatic for smartphones, but I’m serious about how drastic the change is. Samsung has taken direct aim at Apple’s smartphone, this time even seeming to copy some of the iPhone’s design and features.
No, neither of the new Galaxys brings any original ideas to the evolution of the smartphone. If anything, Samsung has actually sucked out the differentiators, including the waterproof design and removable storage and battery. And Samsung still needs some schooling in the software department.
Yet with a series of improvements, the Galaxy now has a leg up on the hardware of other Android phones and the iPhone. It’s got me, a once extremely satisfied iPhone 6 owner, wishing for a better screen, sharper camera and faster charging. …
And, piercing another balloon, NY Times says fish oil claims are not supported by research.
Fish oil is now the third most widely used dietary supplement in the United States, after vitamins and minerals, according to a recent report from the National Institutes of Health. At least 10 percent of Americans take fish oil regularly, most believing that the omega-3 fatty acids in the supplements will protect their cardiovascular health.
But there is one big problem: The vast majority of clinical trials involving fish oil have found no evidence that it lowers the risk of heart attack and stroke.
From 2005 to 2012, at least two dozen rigorous studies of fish oil were published in leading medical journals, most of which looked at whether fish oil could prevent cardiovascular events in high-risk populations. These were people who had a history of heart disease or strong risk factors for it, like high cholesterol, hypertension or Type 2 diabetes.
All but two of these studies found that compared with a placebo, fish oil showed no benefit.
And yet during this time, sales of fish oil more than doubled, not just in the United States but worldwide, said Andrew Grey, an associate professor of medicine at the University of Auckland in New Zealand and the author of a 2014 study on fish oil in JAMA Internal Medicine.
“There’s a major disconnect,” Dr. Grey said. “The sales are going up despite the progressive accumulation of trials that show no effect.” …