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PERMIT ME TO RANT, PART ONE: AMAIRICUN EDGYKAYSHUN AND THE STYLE ...

April 6, 2013 By Joseph P. Farrell

Ok, I confess. It's Saturday morning and I'm in the slow-burn mode of livid and frustrated. I even debated whether or not to indulge in a rant this morning, or to blog about something timely and transhumanist, but I figured everyone would understand if I allowed myself some unbridled ranting time.

My rant concerns the ever plummeting standards of Amairicun edgykayshun and the nitwit doctors of edubabble in the teachers' colleges and their compliant lap-poodles in the federal government, and the more-or-less stupid people coming out of teachers' colleges with "certificates" to teach this or that "subject" in an Amairicun skool. And this will be a two-part rant, so bear with me. Those of you who want the usual fare offered here can tune back in on Monday.

And a caveat: for those of you in the edgykayshun system who are good teachers and professors, who struggle on a daily basis to actually teach to the real and quickly-vanishing academic standards that used to exist in this country, I doff my hat, for yours - as you know all too well - is a daily act of defiance, of subversion, of a tightrope walk of balancing the mandated nonsense of government with the real pedagogy of handing down for future generations the vast inheritance of human knowledge and western culture. All of you know who you are, and each of you, I know, bears your scars from a system designed to do nothing less than lobotomize the future of the great stinking sinking garbage barge that modern American culture has become (my thanks to a friend's friend for that observation about American culture).

What provoked this slow-burn-livid-and-frustrated mood were two events that spelled out the laziness and shoddy standards of America as nothing else could. One was occasioned by an encounter with the Modern Language Association's "style manual" for "referencing and citing" materials. This encounter occurred in a book I was reading for research for a book I am currently writing. The other occasion was, two days later, an exchange with an individual on Facebook who had run into the same "system" in a composition class. He informed me his professor  forced him and her other students to use the MLA's citation "system."

I will pull no punches: this "system" of referencing is for the intellectually lazy, vapid person. It is the system required in almost all education and certification programs, and hence, American teachers themselves, unless exposed to the older standard, think they're properly referencing sources, when all they're really doing  is pointing a finger in "the general direction." This is modern American "scholarship", and it has invaded every aspect of academic publication now, from the hard sciences to the liberal arts.

To put it in language an MLA advocate or recent graduate of an Amaircun teechur's collage can undurstand: it's crap.

Hold on Farrell, what the heck are you talking about? This past week I was reading a book on UFOs by a lady with an American PhD. I will withhold the title of the book, and the lady's name. I ran across this "reference" in "accepted" MLA style:

"As to flying, the atmosphere has no more than nuisance value to unconventional craft, which unlike aircraft, use the atmosphere neither for support or locomotion. Unconventional craft don't fly. They are vectored (accelerated in a direction) along trajectories (paths in space). (Hill 1995)"

Turning to the bibliography in the back of the book, one discovers that the reference is to former NASA scientist Paul R. Hill, and his book, Unconventional Flying Objects: A Scientific Analysis, published by Hampton Roads Publishing Company, Inc. of Charlotesville, Virginia, in 1995.

That's the reference. That's all there is to it. A four hundred and twenty-nine page book is cited, with absolutely no indicator given to the reader from what page the quotation comes from, and in what context it occurs. This is what the Modern Language Association, and so many colleges of education in the United States, and hence, American teachers, say and think is adequate academic citation.  And in addition, you'll note that the "citation" is given as a parenthetical "reference" in the main text itself.

Now, if you're a footnote-manic(Freud 1907, Jung 1956) with obsessive-compulsive reference mania (Rogers, Wilkins, Lambert  and Wackadoodle 1961), like me(Freud 1914, Jung 1919, Frost and Gook, 1970), you might end up (Farrel, 2006) with a text that might(Farrell 2008) look like this (Ferrell 1947) or this (Farrel 1908) but that would really be closer to another famous study (Feral 1413). (Failures to comply to the MLA should result in those people so refusing being put in a re-education center [Wyoming vs. Farell, Ferrell, Farrell, Ferell, Feral, Farel, et al 2001].) All this would be cited with not a single page reference in the whole motley MLA parade! (By the way, the Rogers, Wilkins, Lambert and Wackadoodle 1961 study was a 3,301 page tome commissioned by the Rockefailure Brothers' Sinking Fund for Edubabble.)

There. Wasn't that a lovely main text? Wouldn't it be so nice to read page after page of this MLA clarity and detailed accuracy (and by the way, if you want to read page after page of parenthetical commentary [within other parenthetical commentary{with references}] you can always read any edgykayshunal profeshunal journal [where they do it all the time{See Teechurs Are The Fuchure 2014}].)

This is "the standard" now in Amaircun edgykayshun.

No, seriously.

It is!

It's the prevailing "standard" in the "sciences," be they soft, or hard. And how convenient, too. Without page references, it takes longer to track citations down. So much time (in the case of Paul R. Hill's 430 page book), that most simply won't bother to do it. What a golden opportunity to make up quotations, to fudge a number here or there... to create references that don't really exist. To manufacture data and studies at the highest academic levels. Sound familiar?

Simply put, the MLA's "system" is unum magnus fumantemque testa tauri cacas.

Adding insult to injury, two days after I read the above "referenced" book by an Amaricun PhD I received a message on Facebook from a frustrated American student who informed me his composition teacher insisted on this method  for citations, and she informed him that it was the standard. She's right, it's the bureaucratically-enforced standard, but it is not the standard for citations.  It's the standard for an intellectually lazy, academically fraudulent, and pathetically incompetent and vapid educational culture. It's exactly the sort of "standard" one would want to enforce on students in order to send them the subtle message, "you're stupid, you're not capable of anything more." It's exactly the sort of "standard" a lazy and stupid person would enforce on a smart one. It's exactly the sort of "standard" one would expect to be shoved into a failing system in order to dumb it down even more.  It's exactly the sort of "standard" one would expect to be imposed on a vapid and incompetent system to prepare students to regurgitate pre-selected answers on standardized computerized tests. It's the standard for Amairicuh.

Yes, the system you see in my books is the system I learned in a public high school in Sioux Falls, South Dakota, from Mrs. Joan Connors in her English Composition classes, in my junior year. It is the system that used to, and still does, prevail in many universities in one form or another. It stuck with me from high school, though I once  had an irate English teacher write me to tell me I had misused one of the old-style standard abbreviations. It was a picky, fussy matter. A nuance. Hardly worth bothering over. But she was right. And bless her for it, and bless her for bothering about it, because she  knew that the old system still existed, and how to use it, and how important the littlest details are. One hopes that teacher was and is defying the system like so many others, and teaching that old" and "archaic" system to her students, for it is the product of a long academic tradition that worked and still works, no matter what the subject matter is. And none of the modern American substitutes for that system encapsulate that detail. In short, academically, the AP and MLA style manuals are shoddy and academically substandard.

Period.

End of discussion.

So before all you products of and believers in the irrational edubabblers' MLA and AP style manual fads write me and tell me what a dinosaur I am, and how I need to accept change and get with the program: save your breath, and your ink. I am, and intend to remain, in this respect, a dinosaur.

And herewith a plea to Canada, Great Britain, Ireland, Australia, New Zealand(and for that matter, the rest of the world): please don't allow your universities and schools to tie their tow-lines to this stinking sinking American academic garbage barge.  Use the system that works, in all its archaic, detailed, fussy traditional glory. It works, and that's why scholars in all disciplines have been using some form of it for...oh, say a couple of centuries now.

...By the way, there's more bad news coming from the Amairicun edubabblers, but that has to wait until tomorrow.

See you on the flip side.