Sunday, February 10, 2008

While sluggards sleep

Rather than trying to describe it to you, boys and girls, here's the opening graphs of Katie's column today, Sunday.

At 6:30 a.m. on a freezing Friday in February, the lights are dark on Frat Row near the University of Minnesota campus. Some students may be sleeping off last night's party, while others are just sleeping in.

An 8 a.m. class? Get real.

But drive down a few blocks, then take a sharp right [get it?] at the U of M Armory. It's a different predawn world there, as 120 young men and women sweat through a grueling workout of timed runs, push-ups and sit-ups.

Katie tells us how thrilling it is that Golden Gopher Army ROTC battalion (now there's a name to strike fear into the hearts of terrorists everywhere!) ranks have swelled from 47 to 120 in recent years.

Boy, that's great, Spotty! How many students go to the University of Minnesota?

You could look it up, grasshopper, but Spot thinks it is about 51,000. And the GGAR draws from other local colleges, too:

These are the cadets of the Golden Gopher Army ROTC battalion. About 75 percent are U of M students; the rest are drawn from nine other metro-area colleges.

Let's lay the other nine colleges aside for a moment, grasshopper. What is 47 divided by 51,000, expressed as a percentage?

Just a second. Spotty, it's .092 percent.

Right, grasshopper. Now, perform the same calculation on 120 and 51,000.

It's .26 percent, if we round that second decimal up.

Right again. Do you think that is a statistically significant difference  to show an increase in student interest in the military life as Katie suggests?

Probably not.

Spot think it may have as much to do with the declining affordability of college for many people as a lust for the military life, although Katie did quote a couple of the more gung-ho types. And the cadets do get paid. Katie asks rhetorically:

Why drag yourself out of bed on a winter morning when your fellow students are still catching zzz's? Is it the free tuition and living stipend that ROTC offers?

College assistance has always been one draw to the military. GI Bill and all that.

But here's the best part yet for Katie:

Army ROTC doesn't have that "everybody's special," feel-good philosophy so prevalent today. Cadets across the nation are ranked from top to bottom during their junior year -- from first to 4,099th.  . . .

As Spot has observed before, Katie loves hierarchy. Katie hates the idea of an egalitarian world; if she can't be better than some people, she has no self-esteem. Spot suspects that she is a product of conditional parental love. Lord knows what kind of a parent she turned out to be.

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