Tuesday, June 09, 2015

Back by popular (albeit puzzling) demand...?

Since I took down SHAMblog about a week ago, perhaps a dozen people have contacted me by various means to inquire about the factors motivating my decision. Several, including one or two media types, asked if I could at least keep the archived content up. Fairly typical is this twitter exchange: 

Another emailed plaintively, "I began my day by going to your blog with my morning coffee and I miss it!" A third reader wrote to say, "You really had a huge impact on my life and the way I think and feel." 

So I find myself wondering, If the blog had that much meaning to people, then why...?

Ah, well, no one likes a martyr, and a whiny one at that. I suppose SHAMblog does represent an enviable body of worka legitimate oeuvreand its place in the history of self-help criticism seems assured. Plus, as noted, I loath the idea that the folks on the other side might giggle with schadenfreude at the fact that my "negativity" and "naysaying" had come home to roost. So, as requested, I'm bringing the archives back up. 

I do want to thank all of you who wrote to express your dismay at the blog's demise. At this time I do not expect to post going forward.

Sunday, May 31, 2015

Fund-raising update. The final hours...?

Fellow SHAMbloggers, I remain $1570 short of where I need to be in my fund-raising goals. The future of this blog (and to no small degree the future course in life taken by the blogger) is dependent on my raising that sum. I could explain chapter and verse of how I came to that calculation, but it represents a very conservative allocation for time/labor that I've expended here on SHAMblog over the past year and must now offset, in light of circumstances. Oh, the circumstances? It's only June and already this year my corporate clients have filed bankruptcy, reneged on deals or simply "had a change in plans"* to a degree that makes my current goal of $1570 look like tip money. As many of you know, there was even an academic appointment that failed to materialize at the 11th hour**. All told, we're talking $37,800 in lost revenue, folks. I remind you, it's only June. (I'd rounded off to $40K in an earlier version of this post, but in something of this nature, one wants to be exact. That missing sum represents about four-fifths of my expected earnings to this point, by the way. Yeah, a helluva year.)

That said, I merely seek just recompense for time actually invested in this blog; there is no intent of "gouging" or recouping all of what I'm short, obviously. Right or wrongly, I figure that if the gurus can attach a dollar value (and a rather high dollar value) to their dubious services, I can assign a modest value to my indefatigable effort to counter their shams, scams and frauds. Only your participation in this outreach will tell me whether or not I invested that time wisely.

If you are in a position to contribute some or all of the requested amount, you have my congratulations as well as my gratitude in advance. If you are not so situated but you know someone else who is a "patron of honesty, decency and common sense," then by all means forward the link, if you would. My thanks to those who have already answered the call. 

I've provided a Paypal tab above right, or if you prefer you may contact me by email, steve@journalismpro.com, for alternative methods.  

I hope we can all continue to meet here in the coming days. Whatever the case it's been a nice run since that tentative first post (July 17, 2005) and I thank you all for your support throughout the past decade.
* said with a cheery smile, no less.
** for reasons having to do with my determination to call 'em as I see 'em. 

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

SHAMblog appeal-athon and fund drive.

Simply put, the blog and its resident blogger could use your help. If you've enjoyed the content through the yearsif my blog has saved you some money or some portion of your sanity that would've otherwise been lost forever to the SHAMsphereplease consider reciprocating. Although I will gratefully accept reciprocal contributions of sanity (some might argue it's my most pressing need), money is the preferred medium of exchange at this time.

A Paypal tab is provided for your convenience at right. Thank you. 

Saturday, May 16, 2015

Dispaches from the SHAMscape... May 16, 2015

Here's another reason why some educators/administrators don't like standardized tests (see yesterday's item): Testing puts a numerical face on the dimensions of America's efforts in the area of social engineering. Given affirmative action's loss of luster in the wake of several damning court decisions and voter referendums, administrators in Higher Edwho were always its most ardent practitionershave tried to fly under the radar in their continuing endeavors to micromanage equality and "social justice" (or their conception of same). If the data quoted in this story are valid, it appears that a given black applicant to Harvard can get in with an SAT score that's fully 450 points lower than a given Asian applicant, and 310 points lower than your everyday white applicant. As the entire exam comprises 2400 points, a 450-point margin is a difference of nearly 20%. That is huge in a society in which major qualitative decisions are made daily on the basis of fractional increments of a single percentage point. As I wrote in an essay back during my senior year at Brooklyn College (1972), which was just then embracing affirmative action, "Even if it's true that the underperformance of minority students is an ongoing vestige of slavery and oppression, it strikes me as fundamentally unfair that a random white [or Asian] student of today, who has never owned a slave and has no personal history of oppressing anyone, should have to suffer for it in recompense. Two wrongs don't make a right." (Apologies for having ended on a cliched note. Hey, I was young.)

Friday, May 15, 2015

Dispatches from the SHAMscape... May 15, 2015

I passed (up) the test!! As background for this news item, I invite you to read or re-read Chapter 10 in this most excellent book someone told me about. I believe it's called SHAM. If you don't have a copy, now might be a good time to order one or check it out at the library. But read it, please. It's like a cheat sheet for everything we do here. The specific chapter I'd like you to look at is titled "I"m OK, You're OK... How Do You Spell OK again?", and it's relevant to our news item. Seems that in today's perpetually helicoptering parental culture we will do almost anything to protect our kids from having to face up to their own failures (or even before that, protect them from being put into a position where they might fail). The latest expression of this is the broad parental rebellion against a new generation of standardized testing (a rebellion that increasingly includes teachers, because the test scores reflect on them). Although our kids' second-rate performance in international tests has been well documented (as you'll know if you've read the chapter in SHAM and/or looked at more recent metrics), many parents tend to shrug that off, since in most cases little Matt and Muffy aren't competing head-to-head with their counterparts from India or Korea...at least until they begin applying to elite colleges and get rejected. But getting an ugly score in some standardized test right here in the good old USA, where others might even find out about it...Quel embarras! It didn't used to be like that. Once upon a time parents wanted to know what their kids were learning, really learning. But back in the 1960s, when the emphasis in education (and culture-at-large) began to shift from genuine excellence to self-esteem-building, it became more important for Matt and Muffy to feel good about their math skills than to be able to add 2 and 2 and get something like 4. (This is also when schools and even some youth leagues stopped keeping score in games. We can't have winners, for that implies losers.) If you do wider reading about today's anti-testing movement, you'll also see all this hand-wringing about the terrible stress and anxiety we induce in our kids by putting them in situations where, horror of horrors, their performance might actually be measured. I don't know. Perhaps we do at times invest too much meaning in numbers. But isn't that the fairest way to evaluate people in a society where there's also nonstop concern about bias and profiling and rater subjectivity?