Is Pork Bad For You?

You, too, can be O.K. without pork.

That’s the message of Michael J. Sorrell, president of Paul Quinn College in Dallas. Well, part of the message at least – after all, Sorrell didn’t ban pork from his campus dining facilities arbitrarily. No – the decision to stop offering any pork products was based in a much broader institutional philosophy, the president says.

“When you come to college, you come to be educated,” Sorrell said. “We thought we could do more in the area of promoting healthy lifestyle choices and healthy eating habits.”

In a brief statement announcing the decision Tuesday, Sorrell put it like this: “Eating pork can lead to high blood pressure, high cholesterol, cancer, sodium retention and heart problems, not to mention weight gain and obesity. Therefore, as a part of our continued effort to improve the lives and health of our students, Paul Quinn College and its food service partner Perkins Management have collaborated to create a pork-free cafeteria.”

Why can’t these officious do-gooders try to get at least a minuscule portion of brain matter? In itself, pork is not bad for anybody’s health. You can make it unhealthy by cooking it a certain way. Just like you can render beef, chicken, fish, potatoes and even zucchini extremely unhealthy by rolling them in oversalted bread crumbs, deep frying them, and chugging down an enormous portion of them in one sitting. Eating pork doesn’t lead to weight gain if you cook it in a healthy way and eat moderate portions.

I don’t even eat pork because I don’t enjoy the taste (unless a Spanish person made it because they really know how to do it) but it annoys me to see people trying to pass their weird food foibles for “institutional philosophy”.

Leaving the nutritional value of pork aside, for the moment, let’s look at the following egregious quote from the same unintelligent college president:

“We told our students that we’re going to promote healthy living. We told them that we wanted them to have long, productive and healthy lives,” Sorrell said. “Now, if one or two people don’t like that…. then they aren’t being true to the institutional ethos.”

It’s really sad to see that such a responsible position is occupied by a person who doesn’t realize that it’s not his place to want anything in other people’s lives. All this blabber about institutional this and institutional that only demonstrates that Mr. Sorrell is incapable of respecting his students and seeing them as valid human beings.

Was The Science Education in the USSR Very Good?

Reader luna asks:

I am a big fan of your posts about life in the FSU and would like to know more!

Particularly, what was math and science education like in the FSU? You have said earlier that education in general was quite crappy. But scientific hearsay is that a lot of good physics and mathematics was done in the USSR, take sending humans to space for example. If the science education was also crappy, what would you say is the reason for this success?

I wasn’t sure I wanted to answer this question because this is always a subject of heated discussions between me and N. He got his first degree at one of the most prestigious math programs in the FSU and is the product of the (post) Soviet science education. Naturally, he has  very good things to say about that system of education while I don’t, to put it very mildly.

It is true that there were never any attempts to bring ideology into the study of physics and mathematics in the USSR. As a result, these fields were left free of ideological conditioning and many people used them as a respite from the endless Communist slogans that were hammered into their brains at every step. Mathematics was  an international language that made one feel part of the world instead of a terrified little creature separated from the rest of humanity by the Iron Curtain. Many brilliant mathematicians and physicists came out of this education system.

However, what they received cannot possibly be called a university education. The reason why people go to college is to become well-rounded individuals who have a number of skills and a stock of knowledge in a variety of disciplines. In the American system of higher education – which, I insist, still offers the best higher education in the world- all students have to take a significant number of General Education courses outside of their Major concentration. You can’t come to college, take 40 courses in math, and graduate without ever taking a peek outside of your calculus textbook.

In the USSR, students of all disciplines also had to take a variety of Gen Ed courses (foreign languages, the history of the Communist Party, something called “Scientific Atheism,” etc.) but the value of those courses was non-existent. There were, of course, people who worked on developing their non-mathematical interests outside of the classroom. They were not the majority, however. I can’t tell you how many brilliant programmers and mathematicians I have met who were as intellectually stimulating to talk to as 5-year-olds. They knew their equations, programming languages, and logarithms, but that was all they knew.

The difference between a university and a vocational school is precisely that a university offers you more than an insight into a single discipline. This is why I always say that there was good vocational training in the sciences in the USSR but there was no education.