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Random Fashion Thoughts (Part 3: Style farmer strikes back) - our general discussion thread

Fuuma

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I think people are a bit too mad about it, tbh. I think it's bad and these people should be prosecuted, but all the outrage right now feels over the top and more about how this is just as easy thing to point at. Unlike Fumma, I think the US system is more meritocratic than most, Other countries are much more protective of their class system. But it's true that we could be more meritocratic. Real problems in our system aren't about rich kids going to Yale or USC -- the 33 kids who got pushed out will still be fine in life. The real problems are more deep-seated and hidden, which I know everyone here knows. It's about school funding in poor communities, job prospects for people who graduate from state colleges (not Yale), and things like the prison system.

To me, this is like the fur debate in fashion. Fur is one of those things that easy for people to point to and be upset about because you don't have to give up anything. Few people own anything made from fur ("I'll never buy anything made from fur," says the person who was never going to buy anything made from fur anyway). Then there's this debate about whether leather is a simple byproduct of the meat trade (it is and isn't, as it's still part of the economy). But answering whether consuming leather is ethical, especially when it comes from baby cows, is a much harder question. So people get upset at fur and make up excuses for leather. IMO, it's the same with this school scandal. Easy to get mad at because we can prosecute people and feel like we, in some way, have been wronged. But harder to think how our middle-class upbringing comes with its own privileges, what a more meritocratic tax system would look like, and how we can privileged children in different schools based on real estate zones.
  1. We're talking about the USA university admission system which is demonstrably less meritocratic than say the French or even Chinese system (party royalty sure sure).
  2. For the record I'm not even for "meritocratic" systems, makes more sense not to hide what is going on...
  3. I own fur and leather and eat meat,only the last one is problematic from a practical perspective although my fucking transhuman startup whatever crew is all about putting forward lab grown meat right now. From a more idealistic point of view anything encouraging animal suffering should be avoided, yeah.
  4. Your last point partly explains why meritocracy isn't meritocratic.
 

Fuuma

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hmm define most. A lot of studies in the last 10 years (OECD seems to have a whole department churning out intergenerational class mobility research) show that the US has been overtaken by many other rich countries
OECD people do whatever it takes to stay relevant so they get to work in one of the only intl orgs operating near Paris, I'm pretty sure that if eating your neighbours becomes the thing to do they'll embrace it with gusto.

 
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erictheobscure

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I think people are a bit too mad about it, tbh. I think it's bad and these people should be prosecuted, but all the outrage right now feels over the top and more about how this is just as easy thing to point at. Unlike Fumma, I think the US system is more meritocratic than most, Other countries are much more protective of their class system. But it's true that we could be more meritocratic. Real problems in our system aren't about rich kids going to Yale or USC -- the 33 kids who got pushed out will still be fine in life. The real problems are more deep-seated and hidden, which I know everyone here knows. It's about school funding in poor communities, job prospects for people who graduate from state colleges (not Yale), and things like the prison system.
i think there's a weird bait-and-switch here. the point that people shouldn't be so upset by one particularly visible symptom is fine, i guess. but then you switch from the actual problem at hand (unfairness in college admissions) to much, much larger problems--problems that are far in excess of the topic at hand. yeah, access to college is seen as an engine of class mobility. but that doesn't mean that, somehow, people can only be legitimately upset if they're upset about class/racial inequality in toto ("things like the prison system"). this just seems like a posture of being wiser than the public or something.

since you took people to task (gently) for being too upset about just a symptom, i feel licensed to make an interpretive leap about your switch in focus (from the broader problem of college admissions to the much broader problem of inequality writ large). my guess--and it's only a guess--is that you made that leap because thinking just about merit, class mobility, and college admissions is really, really hard. as in: do we agree that being really good at sports (especially marquee sports?) counts as being a deserving college applicant? do we agree to that because being an athlete is somehow one way of succeeding in college? (i have the luxury of teaching at a school with shitty athletics, but even so, we do get some annoying jocks. my own inclination is to sunder the link between athletics and college--but i know that's a pipe dream given the realities.) are we okay with athletics being a pathway to college because we think that's one pathway to social mobility? &tc.

i could say more about what i take to be general assumptions about what counts as merit in college applications, and how those assumptions are partly misleading precisely because they seem so patently correct.

tl;dr: i'm perfectly fine with people being pissed off about these rich cheaters. at least it draws some attention to a complex problem without an easy fix--we just need to keep recalibrating.
 

Fuuma

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Wait, this sounded intelligent, I don't speak intelligent and certainly didn't come on sf for that, you fucking Nazi!

Most people OUTSIDE USA are like well you can give money to get in anyway (which is like a summary of the American system). Ok most people outside USA have no idea this went on...
 

am55

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  1. We're talking about the USA university admission system which is demonstrably less meritocratic than say the French or even Chinese system (party royalty sure sure).
Depends on your definition of "system". We park the unwelcome into social housing projects far from cities with crappy schools. Sure, we keep the high school system hard, targeting a mean score of 10/20, still teaching abstract maths to teenagers, and competitive entrance exams not once but twice. For those who had the 10+ years of proper schooling. Hell we even have a selective breeding system.

The yanks are more meritocratic in a way: by destroying their (state) high and middle school education equally ("everyone gets a gold star" or "nivellement par le bas" as we call it), they force universities to teach the material at undergraduate level instead, which makes it possible for a sprinkling of the unwelcome to get in through the various quota systems and catch up. Yes, that means US graduates need to rely on aggressive visa policy to remain employed, but you can't argue with the effective meritocracy of the thing.

I think the problem is intractable once a country is prosperous, and from a purely cynical perspective it is bad for the country because those with more selective pressure become more competitive internationally, create more wealth and then buy up all your land and corrupt your politicians.
 

erictheobscure

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Depends on your definition of "system". We park the unwelcome into social housing projects far from cities with crappy schools. Sure, we keep the high school system hard, targeting a mean score of 10/20, still teaching abstract maths to teenagers, and competitive entrance exams not once but twice. For those who had the 10+ years of proper schooling. Hell we even have a selective breeding system.

The yanks are more meritocratic in a way: by destroying their (state) high and middle school education equally ("everyone gets a gold star" or "nivellement par le bas" as we call it), they force universities to teach the material at undergraduate level instead, which makes it possible for a sprinkling of the unwelcome to get in through the various quota systems and catch up. Yes, that means US graduates need to rely on aggressive visa policy to remain employed, but you can't argue with the effective meritocracy of the thing.

I think the problem is intractable once a country is prosperous, and from a purely cynical perspective it is bad for the country because those with more selective pressure become more competitive internationally, create more wealth and then buy up all your land and corrupt your politicians.
here are my incredibly reductive views about how france, the united states, and the world work. surely you will not have noticed how reductive they are since i asserted them so confidently. now let us discuss!
 

mmmargeologist

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Does 10 to 15% of Princeton really need scholarships to sports like crew? If there has ever been a regressive scholarship system that rewards the rich, it’s awarding scholarships to sports with staggeringly high cost barriers to entry. I wonder how many Ivy League students actually feel their experience was enriched by rowing and sailing teams?
 

erictheobscure

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just a guess: rowing and sailing are probably activities that are strongly correlated to income after college and likelihood of contributing to one's alma mater out of a sense of loyalty. those are criteria that are almost never talked about openly but almost certainly govern (a part of) admissions decisions

another guess: this is partly why admissions offices operate with such minimal contact with faculty (the chumps on campus who think success in college is all about learning a discipline!)
 

mmmargeologist

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just a guess: rowing and sailing are probably activities that are strongly correlated to income after college and likelihood of contributing to one's alma mater out of a sense of loyalty. those are criteria that are almost never talked about openly but almost certainly govern (a part of) admissions decisions

another guess: this is partly why admissions offices operate with such minimal contact with faculty (the chumps on campus who think success in college is all about learning a discipline!)
I’m sure that’s all true but it doesn’t remove the fact that poor and middle class kids are almost completely precluded from participating or that sports like these arent particularly popular.
 

am55

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I’m sure that’s all true but it doesn’t remove the fact that poor and middle class kids are almost completely precluded from participating or that sports like these arent particularly popular.
Can't speak for the US but at Cambridge at least the vast majority of college rowers were new to the sport. That some subjects may have been designed to import yanks for the Boat Race crews is a different matter but we accept it as an oddity of the system. Anecdotally a friend learnt to sail at MIT.

The network is very good. Rowing Oxbridge style involves enough shared pain and teamwork (such as turning up every weekday morning at 5am in the dark and getting attacked by untouchable swans) to create strong bonds for a long time.
 

FrankCowperwood

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Does 10 to 15% of Princeton really need scholarships to sports like crew? If there has ever been a regressive scholarship system that rewards the rich, it’s awarding scholarships to sports with staggeringly high cost barriers to entry. I wonder how many Ivy League students actually feel their experience was enriched by rowing and sailing teams?
Minor point of clarification: Princeton isn't giving out scholarships for sports. Nor are any of the Ivy's. Yes, you can be guaranteed admission way earlier than someone who doesn't know what a gunwale is or how to reef a mainsail, but they aren't paying for you to come if your parents can already pay for it.

Other elite schools do offer athletic scholarships (in addition to the admissions preference given recruits), AFAIK.

Also these schools will give admissions preference for all kinds of reasons unrelated to the ostensible core intellectual purposes. Could be that you are a legacy, could be that you play the French horn. Not sure why either of those really merits preference anymore than what sport you happen to be good at.
 

mmmargeologist

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Minor point of clarification: Princeton isn't giving out scholarships for sports. Nor are any of the Ivy's. Yes, you can be guaranteed admission way earlier than someone who doesn't know what a gunwale is or how to reef a mainsail, but they aren't paying for you to come if your parents can already pay for it.

Other elite schools do offer athletic scholarships (in addition to the admissions preference given recruits), AFAIK.

Also these schools will give admissions preference for all kinds of reasons unrelated to the ostensible core intellectual purposes. Could be that you are a legacy, could be that you play the French horn. Not sure why either of those really merits preference anymore than what sport you happen to be good at.
Ah okay. I went to the best Ivy (Utah State University) and they gave out scholarships for sports. Regardless, preferential treatment to students for things that have a correlation to class is regressive imo - scholarship or not
 

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