Friday, November 11, 2011

Penn State Sodomy Quick Hits

(1)  The Musers and The Hardline did a good job with this hot topic on Thursday.  I thought that their efforts to tone down the comedy were notable.  (The Musers generally more sincere, and successful, in this than The Hardline, but the fact that they acknowledged the gravity of situation was to the credit of both shows.)  I felt that they also made an effort to find something different to say about the matter in addition to the obvious.

The seriousness with which both shows treated this topic, and that fact that the Penn State mess was almost the only topic covered, was perceptive.  This is one of those events that changes the way we look at an entire institution, and I'm not talking about Penn State -- I'm talking about sports in general and perhaps even large, powerful institutions of all kinds where horrors are swept under the rug because the consequences of exposure are so vast.  It seems like any time we get past the surface of what we see on the teevee in college or pro sports we find financial, sexual, medical, political, and other-words-I-can't-think-of-ending-in-"al" misdeeds that take our breath away.  The drive shows didn't get all philosophical on us like I'm doing right now, but I thought that their reaction -- being brought up short by the enormity of what took place -- was a perfect mirror of how many of us are reacting.

(2)  I was able to have BaD on in the background on Thursday, but couldn't hear it very clearly.  I got the impression that they didn't devote much airtime to this subject at all, but I may be way wrong about that.  Can anyone give us an account of how BaD handled matters?

(3)  The student riots and support for Paterno are excellent reasons for raising the voting age to 25, and also fodder for the growing literature on the worthlessness of the modern liberal arts education.  It will be interesting to see what happens to applications there.  It's one of the largest universities in the United States, so perhaps it is to be expected that some irreducible core of maroons would be out and about spouting fatuities.

(4)  "With the benefit of hindsight, I wish I had done more."  HINDSIGHT?  HINDSIGHT??  Does Paterno even know what kind of activity is involved here?  Is there a more poorly-worded confession in the annals (yes, that's "annals") of American history?  Who drafted Paterno's appalling statement?  That mouthy lawyer kid of his?  Craig Rosengarden?

"Hindsight":   Astoundingly unfortunate word choice aside, think about what he is saying.  "Hindsight" doesn't mean that you now have more facts than you had back at the time to which you are looking back -- it means that some new circumstance has caused you to interpret those facts differently.   What are those new circumstances here?  Only the threat to his own skin and Penn State arising out of disclosure of the matters he and his staff chose to at best ignore, and at worst to cover up.  

His effort to instruct the Trustees on their duty not to regulate his employment is exactly the kind of tone-deaf arrogance that has now tarnished his legacy.

(5)  OFF-TOPIC:  This site strongly endorses The Hardline's increased references to Green Tail Shiner.

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Jonaessa said...

I have listened to the coverage all week and believe the Musers have done an amazing job covering a very sensitive, very tragic story, so much so that I emailed to tell them how I appreciate the voice they are giving to the victims. I would also like to note how courageous they are in bringing up a subject that many men just aren't that comfortable talking about, in my opinion. So to hear the P1 nation give some pretty positive feedback about it gives me a much more optimistic outlook on the world I'm bring a child into soon.

I've been in and out with BaD all week, and while they stuck with much of their regular programming, they also got into some very serious discussions about the scandal. Of course, there were a few more jokes with them than with the Musers or the Hardline, but I get the sense that it's that nervous, have-to-make-a-joke-to-lighten-the-mood kind of situation. Again, this can be a very uncomfortable subject, especially because it is unbelievable that Jerry Sandusky (and let's not forget that he is the original villain here) was able to continue on with this deplorable, reprehensible behavior for so long. I can understand BaD Radio wanting to lighten the mood without making light of the situation itself.

I caught the Hardline on my drive home each day, and I thought they were just as great as the Musers. They were spot on with their predictions that Paterno and Spanier would be out before the end of this week (I think they even called it the day of), and they certainly gave off the impression that this kind of behavior from anyone was absolutely unacceptable. (In contrast, Curley and Schultz seemed to take a "Protect Penn State" kind of stance. Sickening.) Overall, I thought the coverage was great. It didn't strike me as too much or too little at any time. This case is so enthralling and complex, and I worry that at any moment it could become a punchline because of how incredible it is, but the Ticket has managed to handle it with the care and attention it deserves.

And I also weep for the youth of our nation, especially those at Penn State who participated in the rioting/protesting and tipped over a news van. I'm sure the students really drove their point home with that act. (Wait...what was their point?)

Great quick hits, Mr. Plainsman.

The Plainsman said...

Jonaessa, if I'm reading your remarks correctly, I believe you are due the Nation's hearty congratulations and best wishes!

Please keep us posted.

Anonymous said...

I thought the entire Ticket team handled the issue(s) respectfully. However, until new developments occur - be they new accusers, more charges, court dates, etc. - I hope they back off the subject a bit. The story rightfully dominated the latter half of the week; but I fear it could be turned into a Michael Jackson like phenomenon: very serious stuff turned into a free for all (I'm thinking about the accusations/trials regarding M.J.'s alleged indiscretions with minors). I'm not saying The Ticket will do this, but I am saying that it should relegate its coverage to actual updates and whatnot; and not make it a daily "stop by," if you will.

birq said...

I usually don't take umbrage with any of your opinions on this site, Plainsman, not even your most stodgy ones. I have to strongly disagree with your "get off my lawn" approach to the rioting students. Their actions have nothing to do with the youth of today; there are idiots and douchebags of all ages and in all generations.

1) The voting age being lowered to 18 did almost nothing except reduce turnouts since a large majority of people under 25 don't vote even when they're given the chance. I'd be interested to see any and all evidence you have that those pesky under-25'ers have anything to do with the sad state of our political system. If I recall correctly, by a huge majority, people in power are old white guys. Also, they're put there largely at the discretion of large corporations who are run, by a huge majority, by old white guys.

2) I'd wager that a significant portion of the actual rioters have no feelings for Penn State or Joe Paterno and just wanted to turn a car over or get into a fight.

3) What does a liberal arts education have to do with acting like an idiot or a douchebag? I know people with graduate degrees in the physical sciences who are idiots and douchebags. I know people who never went to college who are idiots and douchebags. I know people who were in the military who are idiots and douchebags. On the other hand, I know people from all of those categories who would step in to stop those aforementioned idiots and douchebags from harming themselves and their neighborhoods.

Anonymous said...

@Birq said it best. I often read but as of yet had never commented on here. I appreciate your coverage of the mothership, but please stick to that and that alone. Your bullet points on voting age and liberal arts education are asinine. - Michael in Carrollton

The Plainsman said...

I had intended to be hyperbolic with those remarks -- I suppose I should have said the voting age should be raised to 40.

No, I don't think the voting age should be raised to 25, and I don't believe that a college education should be valued at zero dollars.

However, the viewpoint that higher education in the liberal arts is increasingly irrelevant, and certainly isn't teaching what anyone much values in the real world anymore (largely, I would argue, because of the corrosive influence of post-modernism, post-structuralism, and other nihilistic critical -isms), is not only not asinine, it is the subject of considerable serious comment these days. I won't go into detail, but I refer you to this most interesting article in the New York Review of Books, by no means a crusty conservative journal, reviewing no fewer than eight such recent books:

I'm not anti-intellectual, I just find the current academic atmosphere adrift in a doldrums of extreme relativism and political correctness. It'll come to its senses sooner or later, or thinking people will find other, better ways to prepare for the world as it is.

But I was disgusted by the PSU student comportment, and I stand by my apparently too-feeble attempts at hyperbole.

The Plainsman said...

Almost forgot: Welcome, Carollton Michael!

The Nation hopes to hear more from you.

Anonymous said...


I appreciate your points. However, one of your claims, in particular, is given without any support whatsoever.

"The voting age being lowered to 18 did almost nothing except reduce turnouts since a large majority of people under 25 don't vote even when they're given the chance."

Would you please provide evidence for this claim? It seems, on surface, to be odd: if the large majority of eligible voters under the age of 25 choose not to vote, then how does their not voting affect the overall voting turnout, since they didn't have "suffrage" prior to it being given to them?

As to the rest:

I'm not sure how you know the rioters' motivations. I do know that they were chanting Paterno's name, screaming their undying love for him into cameras and microphones, and carrying signs. All of which, to me at least, point toward a crowd that knew why they were there.

I don't know why "old white guys" seem to take the fall for so many, well, at least these, ills. Do you feel the same about other races who are perceived to "control" certain industries, etc. that commit wrongs? Just asking. Consistency is a good thing; if you're going to blame, make sure it applies across the board. And if you believe that it is only the "old white guys" who run everything... I've got some land in south-central Florida you might be interested in.

As to douches and the educated, the uneducated, etc... "Right there with you, brother (or sister)!"

I don't intend any of the above as an attack on you or your thoughts. I merely ask out of interest.

birq said...

Quick hit for the last anon: If you increase the size of the pool by 10 (or so) percent and the people you add don't vote, you've lowered the total percentage of people that vote. It wasn't worded very well. Not that it is now, but I hope that sheds some light on what I meant. As for the turnout by age:

The lowest age bracket has fallen to under 30% turnout.

birq said...

Furthermore, Anon, the "old white guy" thing was counter to the point that kids these days are why our country is in the crapper, points made by Mr. Plainsman that I should have recognized as hyperbole. I just overreacted to what I perceived as an unfair generalization.

Plainsman, your point about academia is dead on. I worked for a local university for several years as an IT guy and, while I really enjoyed my time there, I came to recognize how out of touch the administration and faculty are with the "real world". Except during the time I was earning my graduate degree and was exposed to the faculty members who were also leaders in industry and active in the business world, I felt sheltered and it seemed like I was getting strictly textbook information, without relevant context.

birq said...

By the way, the title of this article is not my favorite. Every time someone responds to this thread, I get another email in my inbox with "sodomy" in the subject. I seriously wonder what this is doing to Google Analytics and what kinds of new exciting ads I'm going to see showing up in GMail.

And with this posting, another "sodomy" email for me...

The Plainsman said...

In the words of Rick Perry, oops.

When I title these items I look for a grabber. Never occurred to me that it would be lead to Confessors receiving unwanted email. Hasn't happened to me yet.

Please let me know, anyone, if you notice any unwanted emails that might have resulted from this heading, and I'll change it.

As Bob Knight and cancer monkey have been known to say, we'll soon be moving on to something of more importance, if there is such a thing.

Anonymous said...


Thanks for both the link and the clarification. You're absolutely correct about that particular statistical effect that can possibly occur when a population is expanded.

Again, I was just curious about the "old white guy" statements. I wasn't sure what your motivation was. (I would never try to impute motive, for that matter. That's for psychics and soothsayers. And I'm neither!)

Good stuff, birq.

The Plainsman said...

Birq, one last comment on your last post, which mirrors my own experience, and also my experience observing recent graduates entering the workplace over the last few years.

Got nothing against a liberal arts education. I was blessed with a good one myself that I count as an asset in my "real life" after school.

I'm not a scholar of this topic, but I think the problem facing grads hast two parts:

The first part you and I have both remarked on: Teaching in the humanities has lost its way by emphasizing heavily-politicized, extremely ideological theories. Students who used to leave college exposed to the values of civilization -- not just Western, mind you -- and to habits of thinking and analysis could move into the business world with some on-the-job training. Students emerging now haven't been exposed to those values, but worse, they don't know how to think, analyze, or write.

The second part of the problem is that the business world that used to hire these people has also changed. It has become much more technically demanding, much more competitive, much less tolerant of young men and woman who show up for their first day of work not knowing much.

So, as you have suggested, supply and demand have diverged.

And the demand isn't going to change. It occurs to me that this may be one of the reasons for the much-criticized income gap. Graduates who are work-ready are fewer and further between. They command higher salaries; the rest make less.

I sympathize with Confessors who find this grossly off-topic discussion dreary. I'll try to stick with Ticket-friendlier topics.

ap said...

I'm still 10 days behind in my ticket universe - did the ticket devote most of their week to coverage of this scandal?

Anonymous said...

Start writing more, you bum.

No disrespect

The Plainsman said...

Well . . . as long as you're respectful.

I think this may mark the first time anyone has actually requested more of my deathless prose.

Wait -- awhile back someone complained that they wanted their money back because I wasn't posting enough.

AP: My impression was that the topic dominated the drive shows for only about a day, with each day since featuring maybe a segment on it. I don't know about Norm, and the reports seem to indicate that BaD has spent the least time on it.