For what it's worth, more instruction in reading-as-its-own-thing can be counterproductive. What I've seen for reported research is that time spent on raw reading strategies ("find the main point", etc.) is productive up to about 10 hours and then doesn't give any more benefit. More productive is to get kids reading rich-content material in history and science and everything else, developing larger vocabularies, making more connections between more ideas and concepts. Neuroscientist Daniel Willingham phrases this, "Teaching content is teaching reading." Saying that we need to perfect reading in the abstract before broadening knowledge of the world is a waste of time and counterproductive -- like spinning tires in mud or dropping kids mentally into a sensory-deprivation tank.
"Critical thinking" is this mantra that has come to signify almost nothing. A peculiar CS-person fugue seems to be "education is never abstracted enough to satisfy me". People cannot think in the abstract without first thinking about something concrete. Lots of specific knowledge is what allows connections to be made.
"Knowledge comes into play mainly because if we want our students to learn how to think critically, they must have something to think about." [Daniel T. Willingham, American Educator]
My current employer told me, years after the fact, that I got an interview specifically because my cover letter seemed so literate. Quality writing is the level-zero evaluation (quick and accessible) for anyone's level of education and attention to detail.
More specifically, the idea of programming a computer and being simultaneously sloppy on syntax is pretty mind-boggling -- and from experience the code turned out by people like that, not caring about how they communicate with other people (if it compiles, it's committed), is pretty hellish.
"The idea is one is really not too far from zero."
On a percentage basis it's pretty damned* far.
* No pun intended.
My understanding is that's not the case. Satanism at least shares general allegiance to the overall Christian mythology. Atheists' rejection of the whole thing, in its very reasonableness, is far more threatening and terrifying to religious folk. From what I can tell.
'This story makes me think that next week we'll be hearing about massive layoffs, and new openings with the agency."
Your ideas seem to present an arbitrage opportunity. I will bet you $1000 that we will not hear about massive layoffs next week at the NSA.
"The reason the NSA metastasized into what it is now is because that is what the American people wanted. After (and before) the 9/11 attacks they wanted government protection from the big bad world."
There's this thing called "leadership". Yes, the unwashed masses are terrifyingly pliable -- they will go along with most anything the head honchos and media say together. The American people could accept a post 9-11 president saying "we need preventive war, offshore detention centers, and mass surveillance". The American people could also accept a post-Pearl Harbor president saying "the only thing we have to fear is fear itself". The various elements of the Bush/Cheney doctrine existed years beforehand, and were only pushed to the fore by interested parties when they saw a time of volatility and weakness. The majority of the responsibility rests with individual leaders who made specific decisions at specific times to stab us in the back.
Also: "irregardless" is not a word.
You need a passport or something equivalent to a passport. Be useful or pedantic.
You need to carry the passport not to get into Canada but to return to the U.S.:
"Beginning in June 2009, all U.S. citizens will have to present a passport or other secure document that denotes identity and citizenship when entering the U.S. from Canada."
"Otherwise, tenure has outlived its usefulness, at least to university administrators. Go to any major university, and you'll find tenured professors who "retired in place" years ago, and who are worse than useless as researchers or teachers. To them, academic "freedom" translates to "leave me alone, you can't tell me what to do". University administrators have had their fill of those types. It's the old "10% making the other 90% look bad" syndrome, and consequently the other 90% must bear the brunt."
I think you give university administrators too much credit. Good or bad, they just want things cheap, and non-tenured positions are cheaper (and also easier to intimidate and get rid of arbitrarily; quite a bit like H1B visas). I had a dean literally laugh in my face once in a job interview when I said I was an excellent teacher with high student evaluations. "We don't care about that, we can get anybody off the street to teach a class," he said.
You should read this article in the current Thought & Action magazine -- http://www.nea.org/assets/docs/HE/TA2013Rosenthal_Schnee.pdf
Summary: For the first time in 40 years, the City University of New York (CUNY) has started up a new community college, dedicated to novel teaching techniques. As part of that, they've refused to hire or grant any tenured faculty at all, not implemented departments or department chairs, not given faculty a vote in committees or any faculty senate structure, etc. The article writer is a long-time professor of math at another CUNY school, who was so excited by the prospect of trying new teaching techniques that he jumped ship anyway, despite concerns from colleagues. End of the story is that administration took away all their initial promises and there was nothing the faculty could do about it (for example: promise of 40% concentration on math studies, and one-on-one contact time between students and faculty, replaced by peer tutoring). This formerly excited professor is one of several who have now left the new community college and gone back to their old jobs.
Who will care more about the integrity of the academic discipline: Faculty or administrators? The former are the people who have some direct personal contact with students, and have some likelihood of defending their interests as people. The latter are just PHB's looking to increase the bottom line. Shifting power from the former to the latter is one sign that we're not really serious or respectful towards real learning in this country.
Or you might say it's the last bastion where a strong union keeps a voice for the actual workers and experts at the table. And therefore is top on the chopping block for the capitalist enterprise.
Academic freedom, as in, freedom of speech, "free to express their opinions without fear from institutional censorship or discipline".
Also: Jar-Jar Binks wasn't a lame, racist character, there's a well funded anti-George Lucas campaign going on.
Oh, surprise: Not everyone is familiar with the specific UI of your exotic device.
When I was like 14 I had this interaction with my soccer coach on the bus: He was speaking to the team, and I had headphones on. Him: "Take those off!". Me: "But I'm not playing anything, I can hear you." Him: "I don't care, take them off". At which point it immediately dawned on me that from his perspective, he couldn't actually confirm or check that fact. While I needed to think that through one time, apparently others take a lifetime without grokking that. "Trust but Verify", where the only feasible verification for arbitrary devices is to have them put away silently out of sight.