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Muddling Through

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Member since: Fri Jun 13, 2014, 07:54 AM
Number of posts: 20,796

Journal Archives

Betsy DeVos Is Right: Sexual Assault Policy Is Broken

Interesting Op-Ed from the New York Times.

"Leading Democrats in Congress, activists and many survivors of sexual assault are up in arms about possible plans by the Department of Education to overhaul federal policies on campus sexual assault instituted by the Obama administration. They say those changes will weaken protections for survivors, that they will embolden misogynist fringe groups and that they will turn back the clock to a time when rape was ignored.

But whatever one may think of the Trump administration, this is one area in which its initiatives may herald positive change. Federal policies on campus sexual assault desperately need to be revised.

Much of the dispute revolves around a 2011 “Dear Colleague” letter issued by the Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights. That letter recommended that sexual assault complaints investigated by colleges under Title IX, which guarantees gender equity in education, be evaluated under the “preponderance of the evidence” standard. This means that if the school believes it is even slightly more likely — as in, a 50.1 percent chance — that an assault accusation is true, it can deem the defendant guilty. This is a far lower threshold than the “clear and convincing evidence” standard previously used by many schools, let alone the “beyond a reasonable doubt” standard used in the criminal justice system.

This new standard can create a powerful bias against the accused, especially when coupled with the Obama administration’s threat to yank federal aid from colleges that do not move aggressively against sexual assault."

Balance of article at the link:
Posted by Muddling Through | Sat Jul 22, 2017, 09:50 AM (13 replies)

Not a Drill: 'Psych: The Movie' Is Coming to USA Network This December

I loved this show when it was on USA Network; watched it over and over on Netflix until they took it off. Looking forward to the movie; I hope it keeps the same chemistry.
Posted by Muddling Through | Thu Jul 20, 2017, 09:24 PM (1 replies)

Backlash: Right Wing Twitter Begins Digging For Dirt On CNN Employees

I cannot endorse this action, but I have to wonder how it feels to get the "Joe the Plumber" treatment.

"Over the weekend, the hashtag #CNNDirt popped up in my timeline. I clicked on it and found that a Trump operative named Jack Posobiec had come up with a very simple and cost-free method of digging up dirt on current CNN employees--punch CNN into the search function of Linked In, then sift through the personal Twitter accounts attached to CNN employees' Linked In accounts.

It didn't take him long to find a CNN editor who'd tweeted out rape jokes and comments about how watching the movie, Roots, made him hate white people. The editor quickly locked his account, but the tweets had, of course, been preserved with screen shots.

I'm not going to name the guy here. He's not an on-air personality. But I would like to point out that this is a natural and predictable outcome of the war on privacy and free speech that CNN journalists began when they decided to hunt down a Reddit user and threaten to expose him simply for posting a tweet that poked fun at their organization.

Low level, behind-the-scenes CNN employees now find themselves in exactly the position in which their management and on-air people have put conservative America--one of fear, frustration and worry that anything said on social media that could be construed as offensive will be used mercilessly by partisans to damage their careers and livelihoods."

Balance of article at the link:
Posted by Muddling Through | Tue Jul 18, 2017, 07:03 PM (11 replies)


"nuff said".

Posted by Muddling Through | Sun Jul 9, 2017, 08:18 PM (3 replies)

Former Provost: There are lessons to learn from the meltdown at Evergreen College

Interesting read. The expression "Hoist by one's own petard" comes to mind.

"Michael Zimmerman, former provost and vice president for student affairs at Evergreen State College, wrote a lengthy piece for HuffPost Sunday describing how the school developed into a place where students felt comfortable calling professors racist and demanding they resign. Zimmerman argues there are important lessons from the Evergreen meltdown which other college administrators can learn from lest their schools wind up where Evergreen has:

The Evergreen campus has become a place where identity politics takes precedence over every other aspect of social intercourse. It has become a place where it is acceptable for colleagues to levy personal attacks on colleagues in response to differences of opinion and even in response to calls for dialogue. It has become a place where it is acceptable to shout down those with whom you disagree. And it has become a place where the administration watches from the sidelines, apparently fearful of antagonizing anyone.

Zimmerman points out that the blow up we all saw on YouTube, with students confronting biology professor Bret Weinstein actually started building months earlier when Weinstein asked to discuss a new plan created by the college’s Equity Council:

The Council created a plan without any public input and scheduled a meeting in the middle of November to present it to the campus community having announced that it had already received the blessing of President Bridges. The plan, as presented, was built on a statistical analysis of retention, achievement and graduation data and proposed to make significant changes to faculty hiring practices as well as to the structure of the curriculum. The meeting offered no opportunity for open discussion of the plan and was structured as an opportunity to celebrate the plan’s creation. Building on the region’s Salish culture, the meeting concluded with attendees being asked to metaphorically climb into a canoe to embark on a journey to equity. The implication was that if people failed to board the canoe, they would be left behind. Indeed, the sentiment was expressed by some that if you were unwilling to get on board, perhaps Evergreen was not the place you should be working.

Weinstein politely asked for a chance to have an open discussion of the plan. His unwillingness to climb aboard the “equity canoe” led to him being labeled a racist by another faculty member:"

Balance of article at the link:
Posted by Muddling Through | Tue Jul 4, 2017, 02:31 PM (3 replies)

"Im a Naturalized American, and Heres What Strikes Me About America Still"

Here's a take on America from a naturalized citizen and military veteran.

"Early last month, an Irish guy named Benny Lewis summarized his cultural experience after living in the United States for a year. He was struck by 17 things about America he felt were not quite up to snuff for his tastes, and he detailed them in Business Insider.

Now, I have no problem with criticisms of our culture. There are some things I still find odd after 30+ years of living in the United States (late night infomercials and reality shows, anyone?), but what struck me about Lewis’ essay was how little – even after a year here – he understands America and Americans. I don’t doubt his claims that he actually enjoyed his time here. After all, our country is chock full of history, curiosities, neat architecture, and natural beauty that’s hard to beat. We are also a gigantic country that’s diverse in its experiences and cultures – from ethnically diverse foods, to theme parks, to glass and steel skyscrapers and monuments, it’s hard to imagine anyone not enjoying their experience here!

Even though Lewis spent a year in the United States, he seems to have been observing our culture from the outside in. He doesn’t seem to have made an effort to understand us, but rather chose to criticize superficialities that ultimately mean very little.

Americans are too sensitive, he claims. Speaking our mind is a major taboo, it seems. And yet, we are criticized and castigated around the world for being who we are. We are a hegemony. We flaunt our power. We’re aggressive. We’re the quintessential “ugly Americans,” according to so many people! We’re brash, aggressive, loud, abrasive, ignorant, and nationalistic, right?"

Balance of article at the link:
Posted by Muddling Through | Tue Jul 4, 2017, 12:54 PM (0 replies)

A Bunch of White Guys Got Together in Philadelphia and Guess What Happened?

Hint: They didn't riot and assault people with bicycle locks.

"I got thinking about the Declaration of Independence in the course of human events in the course of talking with Sarah Hoyt about the USAian religion. (In her Darkship books, the memory of the United States has been suppressed, but an underground preserves it as the basis of their own religious beliefs.)

This is one of their holy texts, written by a man named Jefferson a long time ago:

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. — That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, — That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness.

Let's start with the first clause:

We hold these truths to be self-evident

Jefferson, along with most well-educated people at the time, was given a "classical education" -- the trivium and quadrivium, along with languages and history. In particular, it almost always included Euclid's Geometry; Jefferson we know read Locke and others, and almost certainly read Spinoza, who constructed his books very much like a geometry text. The point is that Jefferson, as one of the perfect examples of men of the Enlightenment, believed wholeheartedly in science and in, above all, reason, and Euclid was considered the epitome of reason.

If you read Book One of Euclid's Elements you see some definitions and "common notions," and then the five Postulates. Postulates, or axioms, are the starting point in a logical system; they are statements that are considered universally acceptable — or at least are accepted as statements from which deductions can be made. To Euclid, these are universal truths that are held to be self-evident and thus require no proof. (In modern logic, they no longer have to be self-evident, and can merely be interesting. But that's a topic for another time.) So, we start out with "We state these basic beliefs so that our reasoning can be seen to be well-founded."

Balance of article at the link:
Posted by Muddling Through | Tue Jul 4, 2017, 12:18 PM (20 replies)

In Re: Palin v. New York Times, You Have to Like Sarah's Chances

It might be time to revisit the "absence of malice" standard in the Sullivan decision.

"As both Ariel Sharon and Gen. William Westmoreland found out, it's almost impossible for a public figure -- especially a controversial public figure -- to win a defamation lawsuit against the media. For this, you can thanks the Supreme Court's landmark 1964 Sullivan decision, which established the "actual malice / reckless disregard" standard. Thereafter, it was not enough for a printed or broadcast statement to be factually false; the media had to know, or should have known, that the statement was false and then went ahead and published it anyway, either from animus or malignant carelessness.

The Court held that the First Amendment protects the publication of all statements, even false ones, about the conduct of public officials except when statements are made with actual malice (with knowledge that they are false or in reckless disregard of their truth or falsity). Under this new standard, Sullivan's case collapsed.

And that's the problem for the plaintiffs: who knows what went on inside the minds of the writers and editors? As it happens, I lived through the Sharon v. Time Inc. $50 million libel lawsuit in 1984, when I was writing for the newsweekly as its classical music critic. Although the suit involved what the front of the book, specifically the World section, all of us on the staff followed the proceedings very closely.

The key to the suit was a paragraph in the Time story -- stop me if this sounds familiar -- based on a "secret appendix" in an Israeli government report investigating mass killings at two Palestinian refugee camps:

The publication, he says, grievously harmed his reputation by stating that he encouraged the Christian Phalangists in their massacre of hundreds of Palestinians in the Sabra and Shatila refugee camps in the Beirut area in September 1982. Time, which says it based its dispatch on a secret appendix to a report by the Israeli commission investigating the killings, denied Mr. Sharon's charges.

In the end, Sharon lost on the narrow grounds of "absence of malice," although Time later paid a handsome settlement:

In January 1985, a jury in Federal District Court in Manhattan ruled in a libel case filed there by Mr. Sharon that the article -- although it contained a false and defamatory paragraph -- did not libel Mr. Sharon because Time had not published it with ''serious doubts as to its truth.''

Last Sept. 26, the Tel Aviv District Judge, Eliahu Vinogradov, ruled that his court would accept the assessment of the New York jury that Time had defamed Mr. Sharon and printed false material about him. The judge was in the process of determining whether this would constitute libel under Israeli law when the two sides announced a settlement in the suit.

In return for Mr. Sharon's dropping his libel action, Time stated to the Tel Aviv District Court today that the reference in the article to Mr. Sharon's supposed conversations in Beirut was ''erroneous.'' In addition, Time agreed to pay part of the Israeli minister's legal fees. The settlement appeared to offer a wider admission of error on the part of Time than had previously been made.

Which brings us to Sarah Palin and her defamation suit against the Times. (Copy of the suit at the link.) Here's the paragraph in question:"

Balance of article at the link:
Posted by Muddling Through | Sat Jul 1, 2017, 08:33 PM (3 replies)
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