Tag Archives: education

Daily Discussion with BQB – College Reform

Hey 3.5 readers.

College sucks.

Let’s discuss some key points.

  1. Never before has a college degree been more expensive in history.
  2. Never before has a college degree been less relevant in history.

You still need one to get into a variety of fields, but honestly, when I add up the cost of my education, I kind of wish that when I turned 18, I’d just gotten an electrician or plumber license and borrowed some money to buy a truck.

I’d be totes loaded now.

Anyway, when I hear courses like “Mating Habits of East Himalayan Tree Flies in 1030 A.D. I want to puke, because such drivel does not help one get a job.

Now, I do understand that colleges and universities are repositories of knowledge.  Thus, I don’t want to tell colleges to ban philosophy or gender studies or any number of majors that aren’t likely going to lead you to move off of mom and dad’s couch anytime soon.

But I feel like everyday I hear about a new, silly course.  And kids take them because they’re young and dumb and just want to party.  And parents pay for it because they assume the kid and the college knows what they are doing.

I just think a lot of these silly courses should be more like extracurricular discussion groups.  You want to learn about ancient monk poetry?  Start a group and read ancient monk poetry together till your heart’s content.

Just don’t dupe kids into taking that shit.  Don’t dupe parents into paying that shit.  Don’t dupe kids into taking out loans for that shit.

Again, I don’t really want to say that unlikely to be profitable majors should be banned.  I do, however, think there should be more discussions with students early on about what they are going to do for work after college.

And, just going to throw it out there.  Jobs are fairly scarce so to graduate quicker doesn’t mean you’re likely to get to a job quicker.  Thus, maybe more colleges should go for the 5 year model where you study for two years, work in an entry level job or internship in your field for a year, then study for another two years.

What say you, 3.5?

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Daily Discussion with BQB – Should College Tuition Be Free?

Happy Saturday 3.5 readers.

New York state recently became the first state in the nation to offer free tuition at all state schools.  You can even move to New York and get free tuition but the only catch is that you must remain in New York for five years after graduation.  If you leave before that, you have to pay the tuition back.

In other words, New York will give you free education, but the state government wants you to contribute to the state’s economy for five years.

It’s a good deal I wouldn’t have turned down at 18.  Hell, if you’re 18 and have yet to sell your parents on the move to New York dream, this might do it.  And five years after is fair.  At worst, you have to stay there five years.  If your dream job in another place comes your way in less than five years then hey, you’ll at least have your dream job that will allow you to pay the tuition back.

Let’s discuss the pros and cons of free tuition, 3.5 readers.

PRO:  College has become ridiculously expensive.  Meanwhile, the economy has been flushed down the crapper.  While in the past, a college degree meant a guarantee of a good job, today’s graduates are competing in a world where everyone and their uncle has a degree and there are fewer jobs to go around.

In short, college has never been more expensive while a college degree has never been less relevant.  Experience is what matters and if students can skip that job at McDonald’s to pay for college, then they can volunteer and intern at places relative to their true passion.

CON:  Holy shit, the nation is 19 trillion dollars in debt already.  Are we just going to keep borrowing and borrowing like some dumbass who can’t say no to a pre-approved credit card until this massive Ponzi scheme we call the American economy goes belly up?

Sure, I sympathize with the plight of the college student.  However, don’t be convinced that the politicians and academic types got together to do a great, noble thing here.

A cynic, like myself, might note that higher education, has for years, been a Ponzi scheme of sorts.  For years and years, those in charge of academia said, “Hey, we need a statue of some guy that used to teach here.  Raise tuition!  We need a big water fountain, we need fancier buildings, a new sports stadium, more computers, more this, more that, Professor So and So needs to be paid to take off three years so he can write a ten thousand page article that no one will read about the mating habits of the East Indian fruit bat!  No problem!  We’ll just raise tuition!”

And so, academics just got into the bad habit of tacking the price of whatever they wanted onto the backs of the students they proclaim to love and care about.  And for a long time, that worked.  College degrees meant something.  Graduates got jobs.  They paid off their student loan debt.  The college gave students legitimacy, i.e. the right to say “I studied this field and now I deserve to work in it.”  And then when the students got jobs, they paid the debt on the loans they took out for the privilege.

That scheme doesn’t work anymore.  Now every waiting room for an open job is packed with like a hundred applicants, many with several more years worth of experience than the recent graduate.  When people with twenty years of experience are looking for work, how can a twenty year old compete?

Graduates aren’t finding those good jobs anymore.  Many aren’t finding any jobs.  And so, they end up on Mom and Dad’s basement couch, saddled with student loan debt, wondering when their dreams will come true.

Where’s my point?  My point is, the politicians who tanked the economy and the academics who never found something they didn’t want to charge off onto the backs of the students didn’t get together and say, “Hey, let’s fix this!  The politicians should make the economy better so graduates can find jobs and the academics should tighten their belts so that college is cheaper.”

Nope.  The politicians will still screw up the economy.  The academics will still build glorious water fountains in their honor and pay Professor So and So to go study the mating habits of the East Indian fruit bat for three years.  They just found a way to preserve the system.  Now, instead of charging it all off on the student, they’ll charge it all off to the government instead.

True, you’ll still be charged an arm and a leg if you go to a big name fancy school.  But the state colleges being free will at least mean there will always be a place where academics can generate all kinds of crazy expenses and they’ll still be paid for.

Meanwhile, state college students won’t have to pay for their degrees, which is fair, because no one is doing anything to fix the economy that renders so many college degrees useless these days.

Sorry.  I channelled Uncle Hardass.

Free tuition.  What say you, 3.5 readers?

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Things That Really Frost My Ass – Class of 2016, Please Welcome Your Graduation Speaker

Hello 3.5 readers.

It’s graduation season and for those of you about to matriculate from any kind of school of higher learning, you’ll probably have to sit through a well-thought out speech delivered by a distinguished scholar.

No offense, but F%&K that guy. Pop on your phone and read Uncle Hardass’ graduation speech instead.

Class of 2016, please join me in welcoming your graduation speaker Uncle Hardass, a retired employee of Salt Mines, Inc. and esteemed grumpy old man correspondent for the Bookshelf Battle Blog.


Uncle Hardass, Your Distinguished Graduation Speaker

Hello graduates.  OK. Yes. Thank you. Stop the clapping please. Some of us have more important things to do than bake in the hot sun like an asshole on a perfectly good Sunday afternoon, so let’s get down to business already.

First thing’s first.  GET A JOB!

Seriously. The Salt Mines are always hiring. Sure, finish up with your silly little ceremony, drink some juice and toss a piece of cake in your cake hole but if you don’t have a job by the time your head hits the pillow tonight then you’re an utter failure and you always will be for the rest of your miserable pathetic lives.

What? Why’s everyone giving me the stink eye?  Oh.  Right. I’m supposed to be upbeat and encouraging.

Sorry graduates.  I meant to say that while you’re failing miserably at life, you’ll do an excellent job of keeping your parents’ couch from spontaneously floating off into outer space because you’ll be on it for most of the day watching Ellen and old reruns of TV shows that were made before your grandparents were even born.

Look, if you want encouraging and upbeat, you should have invited…I don’t know…some guy who had his arms and legs blown off but he still competes in marathons by bouncing up and down on custom built metal springs or something.

If you want to be told how it is, then I’m your man.  And frankly kids, between your parents, your teachers, and every other adult in your lives, you’ve all had way too much smoke blown up your asses for your own good.

So it’s time to gather ’round, take a knee, and let your old Uncle Hardass give you the first dose of reality you’ve ever had.


Graduates, a lot of goody two shoes folk are going to tell you things like “save the whales” or “save the environment” or “end poverty” or some such hullabaloo.

These thoughts are all very nice but alas, I have the misfortune of being the first adult to tell you that if you set out on a mission to save the world at 20, the world will still be the big garbage heap that it is when you’re 30 (except trashier) and you’ll be ten years older with no savings, no job, no employable skills and your parents will probably hate your guts because they had to spend the money they saved to travel the world in their old age on subsidizing your bullshit.

Poor people will always be fucked. Whales and the environment will always be fucked.  They were fucked when I was your age and they’ll still be fucked when your kids are your age.

The world is new to you kids so every time you hear about someone or something getting fucked, you automatically assume it’s the first time a fucking has ever gone down.

Trust me kids. It’s all been fucked up before and it will all get fucked up again.

Stop wasting your time on nonsense that you can’t change.

Get a job.  Make the money. Clock the grip. Stack the cheddar cheese.  Cash money bling dolla dolla bill make you sing y’all.

Get a job doing something important to you if you can’t cure yourself of that do-gooder nonsense. Find some organization that will pay you to clean oil out of whale blowholes or some bullshit.

Whatever you do, and here’s the important thing here, GET A JOB THAT PAYS.

Volunteering isn’t free, kids. For as long as you volunteer your time to dopey causes for free, Mom and Dad are spending the the money they would have spent on visiting Hawaii one time before they get tossed into a pine box on feeding, clothing, and sheltering you.

Bye bye Mommy and Daddy’s retirement dreams.  Bye bye. Mommy and Daddy can’t go to the luau because little Billy and little Suzy want to change the world one oily manatee dong at a time.


Graduates, have you seen the news lately? The world is fucked and it’s only going downhill from here.  You think the economy is bad today? There may not even be an economy tomorrow.

Like a miserly hermit, horde every cent you can and never lend anything to anyone. I don’t care if your own mother is short one penny for a life saving operation, no deal! Sure it’s only a penny today but pretty soon the word gets out that you’re a softy and before you know it you won’t be able to walk three feet down the street without every jackass in the neighborhood treating you like you’re their own personal ATM.

Avoid spending your money on useless nonsense like bubblegum, comic books, and Miley Cyrus records.

Bank that scrilla. Invest it wisely and when you hit your first “What is the meaning of my life?” crisis in your 30s, you’ll have the dough you need to travel the world.

Hell, when you have enough money banked up, you might even dabble in that “save the world bullshit” that you’re all so interested in.  Don’t worry, kids. The world will still be fucked by then.  The fucked-ness won’t be going anywhere.  If anything, the longer you wait, the more fucked there will be for all you do-gooder bleeding hearts to remove.  Plenty of fucked, no waiting.

Save enough money today and when you’re older, you can spend your time pulling plastic soda can rings out of walrus butt holes or whatever gibberish your professors have been getting paid over $100K to spout into your mushy little brains.

Point? Mom and Dad can’t take care of you forever and the older you get, the less acceptable it will be for you to be broke as hell.

Make the fat green wads today and you’ll be able to polish all the oily otter testicles you want tomorrow, two at a time if need be.


Oh Jesus H. Christ.  Are you guys sure you graduated? Because that’s the dumbest shit I’ve ever heard.

What?  Who is this lady trying to get my attention?  No ma’am, I will not stop using profanity in front of the graduates. I have a constitutional right to swear in public.  George Washington did not karate chop the King of England’s scrotum so that I could NOT swear in front of young adults, I’ll have you know.

Where was I?  Oh right.  The terrible, terrible choices you have made about your future professions.

First of all, let me talk to the wannabe writers. You know who else wants to be a writer?

My dumbass nephew, Bookshelf Q. Battler. He just entered year three on his blog and he only has 3.5 readers.

Do you want to end up as a blogger with only 3.5 readers? I don’t think so.

What happened, wannabe writers? Your English teacher slapped a sticker on your report about Hamlet and you’re already polishing your Pulitzer in your mind?

Forget about it. “Oh look at me I’m a writer. I’ll change the world by publishing a record of my thoughts and feelings!”

Sorry.  The world was fucked before writers started writing.  The world be fucked after writers stop writing.

Where are my wannabe actors?  Hello there.  Look at you.  You’re the kids in the drama club that starred in an off-off-off way off broadway production of Rent.

Look kids, your parents only told you that you did a good job because they didn’t want to hurt your feelings. In actuality, your performance was so awful that by the end of the second act they started praying to catch AIDS just so they wouldn’t have to listen to any more of your horrible singing.

What?  What? Why’s everyone booing?  You can’t make AIDS jokes still?  Jesus, what’s it been, like 35 years?

Fine.  Fine. Have it your way, PC police. No AIDS jokes until 2050.

My point is, you wannabe actors might think you are hot shit because you gave a lukewarm performance in your school play, but Hollywood will crush your soul and all your dreams.  Just take it from me and assume your soul will be crushed and report to the Salt Mines for a nice, steady minimum wage job instead.

What else do you kids want to be?  Politicians? Eh, I suppose that’s somewhat doable but remember, only run for office if you’re doing it for the money.  If you’re doing it to change the world, don’t waste your time.

The world is a whore, kids.  It enjoys the deep fucking that it has been getting for many, many years. It obviously does because if it didn’t, it wouldn’t be so difficult to stop it.

So remember graduates, only run for office for all the fancy perks and underhanded graft opportunities. If you want to change the world, you’ll have a better shot at it by signing up to wash oily polar bear gonads.


Graduates, I see my time is up, not just by the clock, but by the sight of the security officers headed my way to throw me off the stage and that’s understandable, because no one likes getting a truth bomb dropped on them.

But that’s just what I do.  I’m Uncle Hardass and I keeps it real, playa.

If you forget everything else I said, remember:

  • Always, always, ALWAYS sell out your dreams in exchange for the most easily obtainable job you can find, then desperately cling to that job for thirty years because believe you me, you’ll never do any better.
  • Horde your money as if the world’s financial system is about to be thrown into complete and utter chaos and disarray at any moment because, let’s face it, that’s not that far fetched, is it?
  • Assume the worst about everyone and everything and you’ll never be disappointed.
  • Odds are that one of you might end up doing something remotely interesting and worthwhile with your lives.  The rest of you will be lucky if you end up selling boat insurance at a strip mall.
  • Never forget that not a single one of you is special.  Had none of you ever been born, there would have been no noticeable effect on the world whatsoever.  The world turned before you got here. It will keep turning long after you’re gone.
  • When you’re feeling stopped up, there’s nothing like a cool glass of prune juice with a bran muffin chaser to get the old turd factory going again.

Finally, I’d just like to say this whole experience of speaking to you today was a complete disaster.  A real misuse of my precious time.  Time that I will never get back because I spent it talking to a bunch of losers like yourselves.

Let me drop the mic.  OK it’s been dropped. Uncle Hardass out.

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Mitch Albom Article – Teacher Fired – Cell Phone Privacy

Hey 3.5 Readers.

If you’re like me, you’re a nerd interested in technology, so this story I found on USA TODAY stood out to me.

It is by Mitch Albom, author of Tuesdays with Morrie, which is a great book by the way.

The synopsis:  Teacher took nude selfie for husband for Valentine’s Day.  Left it on her phone.  Left phone unattended on her desk.  Student picked up phone, went through it, found the naughty photo, took a picture of it, sent it around everywhere, teacher gets fired, eventually student gets in trouble.

Tough case, right? Yes, it is very stupid to take a naked picture of yourself and doubly stupid to leave it on your phone.  There’s no guarantee of privacy on the Internet so anything you don’t want “out there” shouldn’t be created in the first place.

But then again, this is her private phone.  No one has the right to go through any item that belongs to someone and look around through it.

Yet, I can also see the argument that she brought this phone into a school.  When she did, she brought every virtual piece of data on the phone into the school, including the nude photo.

Definitely should have had a passcode on the phone.  Who doesn’t have a passcode on their phone these days?

I can sympathize with the teacher.  Some silly thing she did in passing, something she thought only she had access to, never thought it would lead to anything.

I do think this is an issue where lawyers.have taken away common sense in the workplace.  The common sense approach would have been to give the teacher a lecture to never let this happen again or else you’re fired.

But I assume the administrators felt the safest thing (for them) would be to fire her outright.

Anyway, lessons to be learned:

  • Don’t take nude photos of yourself.  I don’t because no one wants to see that.  You shouldn’t because no matter how secure you think you are, it can always get out somehow.
  • If you’re stupid and do so anyway, don’t leave them on your device. Delete, delete, delete.
  • Keep in mind when you take your phone into a public building, you’re taking everything on it into a public building.
  • As a general rule, since your privacy can’t be guaranteed on the Internet, the best practice is to not do anything on the Internet that you wouldn’t want to explain to the authorities and/or your mother later.
  • Put a passcode on your phone!
  • Don’t leave your phone unattended.  Keep it with you at all times.


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Pop Culture Mysteries: Fan Dime Drops – For the 3.5 (Part 3)


Part 1    Part 2


“Perhaps I was in the wrong to complain about this situation,”  I said.  “After all, being cooped up with the most beautiful woman in the world isn’t so bad.”

That would have worked on my first wife, Trixie, who was all looks and no brains.  Delilah, on the other hand, was the whole package and that meant nothing but disappointment for yours truly.

“Do gain control of your loins and prepare for the next question.”

DELILAH:  Mr. Hatcher, a Ms. Barb Knowles reported this dilemma:

“I have a question for Jake. Can he PLEASE find out how Robert Ludlum has published more books since his demise than he did when he was alive??”

Read Barb’s blog at saneteachers.com 

“Who’s this gal?”

“A teacher,”  Ms. Donnelly explained.  “She writes about ‘the things they never taught her in teacher school.'”

“I don’t envy anyone who has to educate kids in this day in age,”  I said.  “Hell, even my kid brother Roscoe and I were known to drive the occasional chaulk jockey bananas back in our day.  What tricks are kids pulling now?  Whoopie cushions?  Joybuzzers?  Rubber snakes in the peanut brittle can?  Tack on the teacher’s chair?”

“I suppose those are all things that teachers of today have to deal with now and then,”  shutterstock_207933922Ms. Donnelly said.  “When they aren’t busy worrying about drugs and weapons coming into the schools.”

I coughed from surprise.  One of many reasons why I no longer recognized the world I lived in.

“Sorry I asked,”  I said.

I rubbed my thumb and fingers together, making the international sign for money.

“It’s all about the cash-ola,”  I said.  “The green stuff.  The bread.  The lettuce.  The cabbage.”

“Yes, I understand, Mr. Hatcher.”

“An author’s readers are a form of currency,”  I said.  “They’re an asset and like a piece of land, or a house, or a watch, they can be transferred and utilized after the author’s demise.  An author’s name is something his heirs can cash in on and before you’re quick to judge them, you should realize that you probably wouldn’t run in the opposite direction if some extra scratch was coming your way.”

I needed another puff.

“In Ludlum’s case, I bet there are some readers who aren’t even aware he’s gone.  Folks just see ‘Ludlum’ and grab the book like one of Ma Hatcher’s prize winning flapjacks at the county fair.  Other readers are aware but are happy to see stories set in a world they enjoy continue.  And if you’re a writer, and a new writer continues spinning yarns off of a spool you built, don’t you still deserve some credit in the form of your name being slapped on the cover, albeit posthumously?”

“An astute deduction, Mr. Hatcher.”

“Who’s next, sweetheart?”

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