Saturday, November 16, 2013

At Berkeley

For more on Frederick Wiseman's new 4 hour documentary see here , here , here.
NYTimes: ... Mr. Wiseman has made his share of grim documentaries in which people are processed and oppressed by bureaucracy. “At Berkeley” is not one. Its cautiously upbeat attitude is expressed in a director’s note: “I think it is just as important for a filmmaker to show people of intelligence, character, tolerance and good will, hard at work, as it is to make movies about the failures, insensitivities and cruelties of others.” Amen.
For historical comparison, see below.

Trivia question: What do Chancellor Birgeneau (the leader of UC Berkeley in Wiseman's film) and Mario Savio, the leader of the Free Speech Movement, have in common?


B.B. said...

Just watched the Berkeley in the Sixties documentary. What strikes me is how the protests and campaign of harassment against Arthur Jensen after he published his infamous Harvard Educational Review article has gone down the memory hole. That was a pretty big deal on the Berkeley campus in the late 1960s, yet the documentary's anti-racist eco-feminist narrator/writer didn't see fit to mention it. The whole incident is especially instructive as it helps dispel the pretenses of the participants of the so-called Berkeley Free Speech Movement, like the Students of a Democratic Society which demanded Jensen be fired for daring to say things they didn't like. The hysterical campaign against Jensen is well-documented in Roger Pearson's Race, Intelligence and Bias in Academe & Morton Hunt's The New Know-Nothings: The Political Foes of the Scientific Study of Human Nature.

oregonlocal said...

An unenthusiastic big meh on Wiseman. I graduated from Cal 40 odd years ago and during a visit last spring I was absolutely appalled at how far it has fallen both intellectually and culturally. The vibrancy of student life has disappeared. Telegraph Avenue feels dead and tellingly ***almost all the great bookstores*** like Cody's and Shakespeare & Co. that I spent hours browsing in have disappeared. But with so many so many East Asian grinds having flooded the campus how could one expect anything different? Who needs independent bookstores when your intellectual horizons are limited strictly to what the professor assigns from the textbook.

Browsing the undergraduate catalog of courses in the College of Letters & Science is an exercise in anger and loss. All the rigorous (quarterly - that means being hit with either a mid-term or final every time you turn around) survey courses and foreign language requirements that were formally required to advance to upper level junior and senior courses for one's major have disappeared only to be replaced by "Critical Studies", neo-Marxist, and homosexual propaganda courses best suited for those who want to graduate with less knowledge than they started with.

I was particularly disappointed to see that Michael Spivak's most excellent "Calculus" textbook is no longer used for first year Honors calculus students. We spent the first couple of weeks learning the Theory of Limits prior to diving into solving differential equations. Most enlightening as he is a witty and concise writer and their are plenty of optional really hard problems in each chapter in the course. I guess they figure most honors students have already taken calculus in high school nowadays. What a pity. I found it MUCH easier to learn calculus by understanding some of the underlying mathematical principles as taught in the very first chapters of the Spivak book.

One thing hasn't changed much though, 95% of the professors still hate contemptuously having anything to do with undergraduates. They (probably rightly) see the the whole process of teaching undergraduates as an exercise in winnowing down the flock in order to find the few students who are able to do first rate graduate work. The STEM colleges like Engineering seem to be as rigorous, challenging, and as hard as ever though.

There is no more tear gas in the streets and they finally turned Peoples Park into dorms. It's all strictly dullsville now. One thing hasn't changed: the football team is as bad as ever despite the renovated stadium.

Hacienda said...

Just Googled Savio and Birgeneau and see that Sproul steps where Savio gave his speech has been renamed to Mario Savio Steps. This is exactly were Birgeneau shut down the Occupy Berkeley protests in 2011.

So are you saying that there is a symmetry relationship with Birgeneau ending civil protests and Savio starting them?

That's about as deep as I'm willing to go on this.

steve hsu said...

Both are trained in physics ;-)

Hacienda said...

Telegraph Road. How long did you expect that place to peak? All good things must pass.
Asians are too small in number to offer active culture neighborhoods in the US. The Western Liberal Arts education
is more a burden for Asians- at best a reprieve, not the liberation it's supposed to bring. So as long as STEM's rule, we'll have to be content and grind within the spaces given our lot.

But if you really hunger for peak Asian experiences, you need to go to Asia.

oregonlocal said...

When I was there the leftist swine harassed Edward Teller so much that he moved out his office out to Livermore.

oregonlocal said...

"Asians are too small in number to offer active culture neighborhoods in the US."

You've obviously not spent much time in San Francisco.

oregonlocal said...

"But if you really hunger for peak Asian experiences, you need to go to Asia."

Been there, done that back in the sixties. And I personally left quite a few of them dead on the ground I'm happy to report. I also fought alongside some Koreans once. Those guys were as frighteningly a brutal bunch of SOBs that ever came down the pike.

Diogenes said...

but none could drink like the australians.

Hacienda said...

Not what I had in mind. But glad you get your jollies by killing in asymmetric power relationships.
Korean savagery during Vietnam can be somewhat excused due to historical situation. What's yours?

Diogenes said...

" many East Asian grinds having flooded the campus..."

i wonder what their numbers would be if test scores were the sole criterion. less, but not that much less. there are a lot of white grinds too. btw, all grinds are pushy, but not all pushy people are grinds. however smart you are the genetleman's c is today for the future impecunious gentleman only. all of the smart people i know (all would qualify for the bgi study) have achieved whatever they have (though still young) via elite education.

Diogenes said...

when will ucb be toppled as THE public texas?

oregonlocal said...

"Korean savagery during Vietnam can be somewhat excused due to historical situation"

Marines don't need excuses, just good marksmanship.

Diogenes said...

ol fancies himself a feudal lord. the most distinguishing characteristic of these people is their utter lack of shame. they just can't feel it. thus one sometimes sees his betters behaving like his inferiors.

live and let die.

"fairness" is a virtue of slaves.

Hacienda said...

IOW, you were a tool.

Hacienda said...

Fairness is the virtue of great men. It's slave the slave that cares for it least.

Genghis Khan offered a fair choice and stood by his offer- surrender or die.

oregonlocal said...

A well-honed one at least.

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