With all the hoo-hah about rigged admissions to prestige colleges, I thought I would add a very long-term reflection on the process.
My Father was Amherst Class of 1912 (yes, he was born in 1890). His whole interpretation of what a college education meant was just, duh, accepted by me as a little kid, though resisted when it came time for me to do the thing myself.
For Dan Miles, the product of a relatively old-elite family in MA, a college degree certified your presence in the higher WASP orders. Very few were intended to get them.
For Milo Miles, the product of a relatively farmland-elite family in MT, a college degree was what the majority of high-school graduates who had their shit together needed for at least a middle-class future.
I’ve mentioned on Twitter how the news of a gay-rights demonstration at Amherst kept my dad from insisting I go there (that wasn’t all — he sensed that there was more freedom of choice for young-uns at the end of the ’60s). I decided that “going away” to college would shred my worthwhile MT roots (there’s more to it, but Nunya), so went to both MSU Bozeman and U of M Missoula.
I got the degree, with a couple buffs added. Dad died the next year (at 85). I’ve always thought that part of it was that he was determined to hang on until I got that college certificate, which meant that my work life would be taken care of from then on. At once a nice and nasty dream.
Here’s another issue that even Grown Olde me can’t quite sort out.
I was confidently informed in publications for kids that I read in grade school that lotteries were being ended and even outlawed in America because the people who could least afford it spent the largest part of their income buying tickets. The same problem casinos present. I’ve always disliked gambling because I know first-hand it can ruin lives and because ultimately it plays on human weakness.
But now I understand it isn’t as simple as that. Casinos, and more commonly the lottery, can be embraced out of desperation — the only way for true discriminated-against outsiders to grab some real power. I’m not certain how true it is, but I get it that they feel the lottery odds may be long but the straight-life odds are zero.
So I now argue that players can include the frantic as well as the foolish. That lotteries might be eliminated because they give too many undesirables a shot at moving up.
Floating around in my head, still.
I’ll probably need a second life to read this book, but I wish that were more possible. This is a crucial tale and the selected examples are perfect. Abramson was of course correct about how to keep the professional ethics intact, but in retrospect that was not gonna happen under any circumstances. Must note that the one myth believed by too many otherwise smart people was that “local news” was going to be the fiscal salvation of modern journalism: that readers would pay more for hacked-out stories set in their neighborhoods than the most brilliant presentation and explanation of world-sized stories. I thought it mostly reflected contempt for the audience.
This is what I had to say way back in that happier day:
King Donald Day One
but owning a car in MA is good practice for the nasty corners of Purgatory.