Aug 102011

Nazi war criminals

[In response to the June 22 Beth Connors Manke article “On war criminials and resistance fighers.”]

I met an 80+ year old man in Colorado in the mid 70s that was a ranking officer in the SS. He was gotten out by the Catholic church’s ratlines.

I discovered a shrine to the grandfather of a group of Italians that lived in Pennsylvania in the late 1980s. I was looking for a bathroom and walked into a room with a uniform, a Hitler mural, and a picture of the grandfather in a SS uniform.

When I was in New Zealand, I met a Dutchman with a real loose story. He stayed in the same hostel as I, turned up on the same flight to Australia and we split the cost of an air-conditioned hotel room in Sydney. After over 15 hours of continual questioning he finally admitted that he had joined the SS and served as a concentration camp guard before Germany invaded Holland. He was still, after 40 years, wanted for war crimes in Holland and Poland.

Turn them in?

I witnessed three separate massacres of unarmed Vietnamese in my 11.5 months in the hell we created there. I never reported them to anyone. I never even went to the newspapers in New York City when I was stationed there afterward.

41 years later, I still feel worse than any of the war criminals that I met.

friendly, Smirking Chimp blog

River rats and coal workers reunion

Much enjoyed the kentucky river series, particularly the last two installments (“Behold the Kentucky” and “The United Mine Workers v.,” July 27). Sites not mentioned: sweet lick knob (two paintings, one from the river, by paul sawyer; stone piers that supported RINBy trestle at west irvine…in 1894, elic richardson was lynched from the bridge); old cane springs country on madison co. side near lock 11; the mouth of otter creek where all effluent produced by madison co. will soon flow. Also on August 6, the 10th and LAST southeast coal workers reunion will take place in the afternoon on Broadway Ave., Irvine, KY, in the old elementary school that’s been converted into apartments., i think. Thank you–w.r.d.

w.r. dozier, oniline

Editor responds:

Thanks for reading WRD. Recent paddles have taken us west, past Frankfort rushing toward the mouth, but you can bank on us returning east, nearby the forks, by next summer at the latest.

Higher ed’s free market failure

An important and well-written article (“Publishing and perishing in the ivory tower,” June 22) that helped me sort through some of my own unease with the academy. Thanks.

Elizabeth, online

The problem is as old as formal academic institutions. Is academia just a sugar mountain for spoiled rich kids to avoid facing the world? Often it is. The town and gown riots of medieval Cambridge come to mind. Do academics grossly overvalue themselves? Yes, mostly. Though this cannot be seen at the grad student level, inflation in academic costs and professors salaries has far outpaced the rest of the economy. Professors whine but they have not been subject to what the rest of us have for the last 30 years.

Part of the problem with academia is that so many have nothing of value to say. There is a lot of willful blindness in some fields. One professor of psychology and engineering(dual doctorate) would have his students take peer reviewed papers at random from psychology journals and critique them. Then he would wade in. Over 90 percent of any sample he had taken had serious enough experimental flaws to invalidate the studies, mostly assuming what they were trying to prove, but many other issues as well. This was after serious peer review. That leads me to question the value of the entire discipline.

Perhaps one answer is to not allow people to enter college till they have been living independently in the world for a few years. Another answer is to broaden focus. More hands on excercises, more arts, more humanities for technical fields, more mathematical and technical exposure for humanities. The engineering colleges were forced, by industry, in the 1980s to provide more rounded graduates. They did it by increasing credit hour requirements as well as adding writing and presentation requirements to existing classes. It created a very difficult curriculum which may be part of the reason it is getting harder to convince people of the value of the degree today. But few engineers today are illiterate in humanities or narrow focused nerds.

The opposite is not true of humanities majors, a majority of whom are scientifically, technically and often even mathematically virtually illiterate. That is without even considering things like whether they can fix a faucet, build a house or slaughter and dress a pig; things which most academics take for granted as beneath them yet they depend on every day.

Blood Red Sun, Smirking Chimp blog

Austerity budgets

Thanks for your support for Cardinal valley office (“Gray’s Mean Hyzer,” July 13), I was one of the people that worked there. To me the reason they shut it down was, they were expanding the Youth Services program and didn’t have a place large enough so Cardinal Valley had to go to make room for Youth Services.

There was no reason to cut us out. They did not judge us by job performance etc just by an address. So four of us were dumped on the wasteside. Not just that we had to suffer the indifference of knowing in April we may be losing our jobs but told we had to wait til June 23rd until the council had a second reading of the budget proposal, it was very hard to work and still give the job our all but the four of us managed. I feel it is a pity the the Social Services Commissioner did not fight for us to keep our jobs, but the story is she did not.

Christine, online

Oh man good luck with THAT

I’ve taught adjunct many times. Give ’em hell (“Open letter to KCTCS President Michael McCall,” July 13), them Regents — whom we serve at their pleasure (it’s in the one-sided contract). Thanks for your letter and endorsement of support, Prof. Adair. May we prevail.

M Richards, Smirking Chimp blog

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