Do the American People Need to Become Re-introduced to Science?


Global warming ubx

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Seth Mnookin: The Autism Vaccine Controversy and the Need for Responsible Science Journalism

Last January, Andrew Wakefield, the discredited British gastroenterologist whose 1998 paper sparked the first wave of fears that vaccines might be causally connected to autism, was further disgraced when the editors of the British Medical Journal declared his work “an elaborate fraud.” (By that point, Wakefield had already forfeited his medical license for a litany of moral, ethical, and professional misdeeds — including an incident where he paid children at his young son’s birthday party to donate their blood for his experiments.) With little left to lose, Wakefield seemed to fully embrace the fringe: In June, he headlined a rally titled “The Masterplan: The Hidden Agenda for a Global Scientific Dictatorship” with a cohort of 9/11 Truthers, One World Government conspiracists, and anti-fluoridationists.

So, how are the mighty fallen. This is one of the slender reeds upon with the anti-vaccination movement rests? Has the movement slidden into Internet Conspiracy Theory? (JP)

Seth Mnookin: The Autism Vaccine Controversy and the Need for Responsible Science Journalism

 

Do the American People Need to Become Re-introduced to Science

I’m beginning to wonder.

Last winter, I was getting my haircut during a snow fall and one of the clients said “I guess that global warming is going to get us all; the he hee-hawed like a jackass.

Didn’t hear quite so many jokes during the drought last summer when in the eight county Houston area, 66 million trees are dying roughly 10% of all trees in the area.

The evidence is clear. Get some bad research, a couple of bogus think tanks and compliant media with give you equal credit with internationally renowned scientists. Using this tool, you can confuse enough of the population to keep necessary legislation or in the case in the article above vaccinations from taking place.

I’ve been in college with students studying to be scientists. (My degree is in criminal justice and speech, and I have a law degree.) I was always amazed at how hard they worked to be precise in their conclusions. Their dedication was amazing. For many it was a love of learning, of discovering, and of making a difference. That’s why they became scientists.

Hearing and reading them described as some kind of international plot to disdain God and make people give up their cars is a pretty miserable experience. It’s like hearing a good friend maligned.

Let me tell you something. I was raised in a fundamentalist church. Do you know how many times I was lied to in their literature; how often the material was simply made up whole cloth? Do you know how often when I went and studied history and science and discovered that the things they told me were non-existent or distortions of the facts? It was a regular experience.

When I compare that to the number of times that scientists have deliberately misled me in my lifetime, there is simply no contest.

You make better decisions with facts and science than you do with wishful thinking. Whether it be secondhand smoke or global warming, I’ll line up with the best knowledge available.

James Pilant

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Are Your Children Likely to Make More Money than You?


No. The statistics are clear.  The ability to change class to move upward is very, very limited. Most people on average and most commonly will make about the same money as their parents.

Why are we in this situation? Well, education is no longer a likely venue to higher income. The privileged have access to Ivy League schools and privately educate their children from the nursery to college. Currently we have what is essentially two education systems in the United States, one for the upper class and public education for everyone else. God help anyone self-educated like Abraham Lincoln. People like that aren’t even in the ball game.

What else? Well there’s hiring practices. The upper middle class reassured by such books as “Emotional Intelligence” hire on the basis of comfort. And comfort by and large means hiring your own social class. It diminishes the importance of ability and makes skilled work annoying to others.

Contacts are another critical factor. I’ve heard many people say, “It’s not what you can do, it’s who you know.” I don’t think that knowing the plant manager is that big a deal down in the lower class where I dwell. That’s not what I’m talking about. I’m talking about access to Congressmen and Governors. I’m talking about the heads of corporations and the deans of business schools. I’m talking about knowing the players in the financial sector, of knowing where the levers are when it comes to getting loans, jobs and influence. Those are the contacts that make a difference.

Tell me, what’s all A’s at state U, compared to Harvard or Georgetown? What is raw ability when you don’t golf, wear the right clothes or speak the language of the upper class? What is your chance of moving up in the world when maybe you know a state representative and the other guy has a letter from the White House?

We can do better.

Ability should be the measure of success. Social class shouldn’t be a burden borne only by the workers. The cozy club atmosphere of the privileged should be open to all comers.

James Pilant

Here is the article title and a paragraph explaining the numbers behind my claims.

The Rise and Consequences of Inequality in the United States
Alan B. Krueger
Chairman, Council of Economic Advisers
January 12, 2012

More research has been done on intergenerational income mobility. Studies find that your
parent’s income is a good predictor of your subsequent income. Studies that use income data
averaged over longer periods of time for parents and children tend to find higher correlations
between parental and children’s income. A reasonable summary is that the correlation between
parents’ and their children’s income is around 0.50. This is remarkably similar to the correlation
that Sir Francis Galton found between parents’ height and their children’s height over 100 years
ago. This fact helps to put in context what a correlation of 0.50 implies. The chance of a person
who was born to a family in the bottom 10 percent of the income distribution rising to the top 10
percent as an adult is about the same as the chance that a dad who is 5’6” tall having a son who
grows up to be over 6’1” tall. It happens, but not often.

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Ban the Box Picking Up Momentum?


CRIME Suicidal Tendencies by Yaia
CRIME Suicidal Tendencies by Yaia (Photo credit: YAIAGIFT™)

 

Ban the Box Picking Up Momentum?

 

“Ban the Box” is a movement in States and communities to have employers eliminate questions about whether or not an applicant has a criminal background. These questions keep millions of people from even being considered for employment.

 

America’s passion for imprisonment driven by the “war on drugs” has resulted in a truly incredible proportion of the population with a criminal background.

 

So, we as a nation are confronted with a policy decision, “Do we make them unemployable as former criminals with all the costs that entails or do we facilitate re-entry into society?” It’s an important decision. The productivity, the potential, of millions of Americans is huge. Equally, the loss in tax money and social disruption of creating a permanent underclass is also huge.

 

I worked in criminal justice for some years. When I’m teaching my classes, I tell my students that it’s okay to tell me if they have committed a crime but never tell their classmates. I get that people who commit crimes have to re-enter or be some kind of pariah. Most people don’t. Media stoked fear of the other is a vicious ratings builder.

 

If someone has done their time and paid their penalty, they should have a second chance. Second chances are in a real way what America is about.

 

James Pilant

 

Target Will Stop Asking People Their Criminal Histories On Job Applications | ThinkProgress

 

The big box retailer Target will stop asking prospective employees about their criminal records on job applications, the company announced over the weekend. The decision signals an important move toward helping former inmates who struggle to find work because of employment discrimination.

 

Advocacy groups for ex-offenders’ rights have pushed for years to “Ban the Box,” a phrase referring to the box on an employment application that asks about someone’s criminal past. The question, administered before a person has a chance to even land an interview, can disqualify otherwise eligible candidates off the bat.

 

But, starting at the beginning of next year, Target will wait until making a provisional job offer before inquiring about a prospective employee’s criminal record, giving candidates the chance to make their case before an employer passes judgement. The company’s decision comes just a few months after Minnesota — where Target is headquartered — approved a “Ban the Box” statute.

 

“The Box” can be one of the main barriers of re-entry for people with a criminal past. When an employer sees that box checked, it can be an automatic disqualifier. And the practice is so widespread that it can really hurt the chances for employment for ex-offenders. Surveys show that%

 

via Target Will Stop Asking People Their Criminal Histories On Job Applications | ThinkProgress.

 

From around the web!

 

From the web site, Out and Employed ( I recommend this site – quite good. jp)

 

http://outandemployed.wordpress.com/2010/07/10/ban-the-box-update/

 

As I noted in my last post, this week is devoted to checking on the status of legislation affecting  ex-offenders.

 

 

One of the more effective strategies — and one that seems to be  gaining steam —  is the  ”Ban the Box”
grassroots campaign.  The box, of course,  is that section of the
employment application that asks about whether you have a criminal
record.  The question can come in a variety of forms as  blogger James Walker notes in his very comprehensive post. Sometimes
it’s even a series of questions, as I discovered when my son recently
applied at our local grocery store for a job as a bag boy.  These are
usually yes/no questions, typically followed by a space where you’re
asked to explain any charges in further detail.

 

The problem is that once you check ”Yes,” your application often
goes no further.  One human resources professional recently told me
that in cases where someone answered yes in an online application at
his former employer, the application was automatically deleted.

 

Since 2003, some 30 cities states and counties have eliminated the box and the question from applications.

 

 

Stakeholder Pets?


A cat and dog, the two most popular animals ke...
A cat and dog, the two most popular animals kept as pets. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

 

 

Stakeholder Pets?

 

Are pets stakeholders under business ethics analysis? Yes. Why is that? Theoretically a pet cannot buy a product. However, a pet does express preferences in products, particularly what they eat. So, pets do exercise choices as consumers as pet owners all know.

 

But they are stakeholders in another sense, by their existence they establish a need. So, when a manufacturer of pet treats kills pets, he kills his market.

 

I do not believe a rational argument can be made on behalf of pet killing by purchased treat. It might be a Friedman type thing where profit is foremost and you don’t kill enough of the market to mar your income. Of course, once again, that would suggest that businesses are not any good at or are very bad at self-regulation.

 

Simple business ethics, and I’m talking very simple here, very basic says, “Don’t kill the client.”

 

When businesses fail this basic test, and do not act to fix the problem, then the government has to step in. While this government action is late, it is welcome. I hope it works.

 

James Pilant

 

Amid pet deaths, FDA finally proposes new food safety rules – Salon.com

 

http://www.salon.com/2013/10/25/amid_pet_deaths_fda_finally_proposes_new_food_safety_rules/

 

As the Food and Drug Administration continues to come up short on a possible explanation for the deaths of nearly 600 pets nearly six years after they were first linked to imported jerky treats, the federal agency is at last getting around to passing rules for pet and animal feed that would help prevent contamination before it begins. The Associated Press reports:

 

The proposed rules would require those who sell pet food and animal feed in the United States — including importers — to follow certain sanitation practices and have detailed food safety plans. All of the manufacturers would have to put individual procedures in place to prevent their food from becoming contaminated.

 

The rules would also help human health by aiming to prevent foodborne illnesses in pet food that can be transferred to humans. People can become sick by handling contaminated pet food or animal feed.

 

via Amid pet deaths, FDA finally proposes new food safety rules – Salon.com.

From around the web.

From the web site,

http://thewoof.wordpress.com/2012/11/28/reports-of-pet-illnesses-to-fda-increase-hundreds-more-dogs-fall-ill/

On Sunday, Senator Brown held another news conference  at the Ohio Humane Society in Hilliard Ohio about tainted chicken jerky treats from China. It was Brown’s second public statement to the Food and Drug Administration regarding the treats that are reported to have been causing illness and death in pets across the country.

 

The conference on February 19 came in the wake of 400 new complaints to the FDA about pets becoming ill after eating the treats. Although the FDA has been trying to find the contaminant causing the illnesses, they have been unable to pinpoint the specific toxicant. As a result, manufacturers have not been required by law to remove the products from store shelves, keeping the potentially dangerous treats readily available to the public.

 

In December of 2008, when pets began falling ill in Australia, University of Sydney researchers made an epidemiological connection linking the illnesses to the consumption of chicken treats imported from China. Australian dog treat importer KraMar withdrew its Supa Naturals Chicken breast strips  from the Australian market as a precaution, even though a specific toxicant wasn’t pinpointed.

 

TV Goes Downhill


Picture taken at Georgia Aquarium, pictured is...
Picture taken at Georgia Aquarium, pictured is one of the two resident male whale sharks (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

TV Goes Downhill

The lowest common denominator. That apparently is the demographic television programming is looking for if these reinventions are to make any sense. Of course, maybe doing real programming is hard. After all, how much brains does it take to do “Shark Week?”

I have some old VHS tapes with programming from the Discovery Channel and the History Channel, powerful learned television shows with meaning. Now, my college students complain about the low quality of the programming and how little science or history is being covered.

Is there a business ethics issue here? Well, there is something wrong about advertising yourself as dealing with serious scientific, cultural or historical matters, and then producing junk designed for the inquisitive mind of, “Well, nobody.” Inquisitive minds aren’t wanted there.

And there is the lost opportunity of appealing to what is best in humanity, thrown away endlessly seeking higher ratings or a younger demographic. Whether that is a business ethics problem depends on your interpretation.

I don’t watch those programs anymore. I don’t think anybody should.

James Pilant

TV’s 10 most bizarre reinventions – Salon.com

http://www.salon.com/2013/10/25/tvs_10_most_bizarre_reinventions/

All across the dial, cable networks have shed their identities in order to become things far stranger — and, often, a bit less highbrow — than they’d been initially. The network formerly known as History Channel (now it’s just History) has defined the academic subject as including ancient aliens and truckers; TV Land’s reruns have gone from old-school classics to stuff from 10 years ago; just about every fine-arts channel broadcasts reality TV now.

It makes sense — in a crowded market, no one’s going to subsidize a network that does something unpopular. All these networks once did slightly different things, but now many have shifted toward the same model: broadcasting unscripted shows depicting a particular corner of the American experience (trucking, pawnbroking, being a pampered wife of one variety or another). Still, there’s something a bit wistful about imagining each of these cable networks’ original iterations frozen in amber — rather than a dial full of similar-looking broadcasts, we could have a gleefully out-of-step Bravo and A&E doing British costume drama, and medical oddities all over TLC. Oh well–there’s always reading!

via TV’s 10 most bizarre reinventions – Salon.com.

From around the web.

From the web site, Blogs, Discover Magazine.

http://blogs.discovermagazine.com/science-sushi/2013/08/05/shark-week-jumps-the-shark-an-open-letter-to-discovery-communications/

While there may be a debate about what “sightings” may be, there is one thing that scientists are sure of: Megalodon is extinct.

Part of me is furious with you, Discovery, for doing this. But mostly, I’m just deeply saddened. It’s inexplicably depressing that you’ve gone from “the world’s #1 nonfiction media company” to peddling lies and faking stories for ratings. You’ve compromised your integrity so completely with this special, and that breaks my heart. I loved you, Discovery, ever since I was a child. I grew up watching you. It was partly because of you that I became transfixed by the natural world and pursued a career in science. I once dreamed of having my own Discovery Channel special, following in the footsteps of people like Jeff Corwin. Not anymore. This is inexcusable. You have an obligation to your viewers to hold to your non-fiction claims. You used to expose the beautiful, magical, wonderful sides of the world around us. Now, you just make shit up for profit. It’s depressing. It’s disgusting. It’s wrong.

I won’t be watching the rest of Shark Week. I simply can’t.

From the web site, From New York to San Francisco.

http://gcaggiano.wordpress.com/2013/03/31/history-channels-chasing-tail-are-you-kidding-me/

I’m not even going to bother sliding into my regular shtick about how far the network has fallen, or how I would take the 24/7 Hitler and Nazi Germany program broadcasting of the 90′s any day over this garbage, because it is a fruitless effort. Apparently, I am in the minority when it comes to opinion on programming. I guess I should feel silly for wanting the History Channel to stop putting on shows where toothless red-necks blast alligator brains out with shotguns and then jump up and down in their little boats hootin’ n’ hollerin’ with unintelligible grunts like they just won the lottery. I am amazed, after seeing shows like that, at how surprised people from the Deep South are when they are looked at as being backwards hicks. Do not blame northern ignorance, my friends, blame the media and popular culture that has turned your society into a hole of filth and slime. At least Chasing Tail is going to do something to repair the damage done: it will show that northerners can be hicks too!

I do not know what is even left anymore. H2 used to always be the safe haven when the History Channel started going to hell, but even that is being corrupted with asinine, pseudo-historical shows like America Unearthed, where the host, Scott Wolter, can make an entire episode centered around a microscopic carving on a rock and lead the viewer on a baseless quest around the country to misrepresent far-reaching theories as fact, and then find absolutely no concrete evidence to back anything up. This show, in format and principle, is identical to Ancient Aliens. The latter attempts to say that everything the ancients built on earth was really built by aliens, while the former attempts to say that everything ancient Americans built on this continent was really built by foreigners. Is there a difference? I acknowledge that the history books are wrong and there is more than meets the eye, but without actual evidence, the shows are absolutely useless. Maybe if I carved a cross onto the tree in my backyard I could get the crew to come down to try to prove that the Knights Templar hid the Holy Grail in Hazlet, New Jersey. Maybe if I find a really big squirrel climbing that same tree I can get Monsterquest to come out of retirement and have a double whammy!

 

No More Salmonella


Salmonella Bacteria
Salmonella Bacteria (Photo credit: NIAID)

No More Salmonella

This is not a problem that requires deep analysis. What’s in the balance? On one side, people’s lives and health and on the other profits from selling chicken. I think holding the industry to higher inspection standards is not going to double the price of chicken. This is not a problem that can’t be successfully dealt with. Let’s have the poultry industry finance a testing program to eliminate salmonella contamination. If other nations can do it, certainly we can.

It’s good business ethics to protect one of the principle stakeholders in your business, the consumer. We may safely assume that sickening or killing your customer base is unethical, and probably unwise.

Some will claim that the market will solve this problem, a concept I have ridiculed with some regularity. People will stop buying chicken from a company when that chicken makes them sick?

But the average consumer doesn’t know which chicken brands are safe and which are not. The safety can vary from one shipment of chickens to another from the same company. It’s a job only the government can take on. We, as consumers, cannot police the market. We may not often know what’s making us sick.

We live in the richest nation on earth. Surely we can afford to inspect chicken for salmonella poisoning.

James Pilant

Keeping salmonella out of chicken

http://www.mcclatchydc.com/2013/10/22/206084/keeping-salmonella-out-of-chicken.html

Sweden has virtually eliminated salmonella in store-bought chicken, even though poultry there is industrially produced, just like in the United States. And even in this country, a 2010 Consumers Union study found no salmonella in the organic store-brand chickens it tested.

In other words, consumers shouldn’t have to accept salmonella-tainted chicken as just one of those unavoidable things. Yet that wasn’t the attitude of Foster Farms and the U.S. Department of Agriculture in response to the recent salmonella outbreak that sickened more than 300 people, most of them in California, and sent close to half to hospitals with antibiotic-resistant infections. Foster Farms refused to recall the suspect chicken shipped from its problem plants, saying that salmonella-tainted poultry is safe to eat if thoroughly cooked. The USDA refused to close the plants on the grounds that, unlike certain strains of E. coli, salmonella is not an adulterant, a poisonous or harmful substance.

From later in the article –

For too long in the United States, the agriculture industry has successfully pushed and prodded Congress and regulatory agencies into accepting practices that are literally sickening to the public. At minimum, we could begin to improve food safety by declaring salmonella an adulterant so that the USDA and agricultural operations are compelled to recall infected products.

From around the web.

From the web site, Salmonella enterica WILL RULE THE WORLD. (This purports to be Salmonella’s actual web site – I had no idea bacteria could type!)

http://salmonellaenterica.wordpress.com/about/

Hi, I’m Salmonella enterica! I’m plotting my way to rule the world, so if you don’t watch out… One of my masses of minions will INFECT YOUR SOUL. BWAHAHA. Ahem.

I’m a gram negative rod, and I’m working hard on mutating so I can
infect you no matter what you are! My goal isn’t a W death curve that
everyone seems so worked up about… MY GOAL IS TOTAL INFECTION. EVERYONE
WILL BE AT MY MERCY.

So far, I’ve gotten a decent amount of publication, but in the
future, No One will be able to deny my Very Impressive and Unavoidable
Impact on Everyday Life. I’m thinking of making this plan into the
acronym: NOVIUIE. Sounds evil. And French, with all the nasty letters
at the end for no apparent reason.


For right now, however, while people still have preventative measures
and disgusting medicines to combat my existence (as well as some odd
resistance here and there).. I plan to lay low and infect without
conscious effort. I mean, I keep my publicity up every now and then, but
that’s just because I can’t STAND being out of the spotlight for too
long.

From the same web site, Salmonella enterica WILL RULE THE WORLD. (Apparently bacteria can type but aren’t that much into spelling and capitalization, although they do like emoticons. jp)

curse this Swine flu thing! Such an attention hogger! :( These emerging diseases all think they’re little hot-shots, I swear! I was an emerging disease once!

I have History! I have a Track Record! People haven’t gotten rid of me yet!

“The CDC estimates that 1.4 million cases occur annually (CDC, 2005, October 13). ” –About Salmonella

:-\

*disgruntled * I used to be a real big deal with that Typhoid Mary Lady. Maybe it’ll happen all over again.

Hannity Obamacare Attack Non-factual


Fair & Balanced graphic used in 2005
Fair & Balanced graphic used in 2005 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

 

Hannity Obamacare Attack Non-factual

 

Lies, Damned Lies, and Fox News – NYTimes.com

 

http://krugman.blogs.nytimes.com/2013/10/19/lies-damned-lies-and-fox-news/?_r=0

 

The other day Sean Hannity featured some Real Americans telling tales of how they have been hurt by Obamacare. So Eric Stern, who used to work for Brian Schweitzer, had a bright idea: he actually called Hannity’s guests, to get the details.

 

Sure enough, the businessman who claimed that Obamacare was driving up his costs, forcing him to lay off workers, only has four employees — meaning that Obamacare has no effect whatsoever on his business. The two families complaining about soaring premiums haven’t actually checked out what’s on offer, and Stern estimates that they would in fact see major savings.

 

You have to wonder about the mindset of people who go on national TV to complain about how they’re suffering from a program based on nothing but what they think they heard somewhere. You might also wonder about what kind of alleged news show features such people without any check on their bona fides. But then again, consider the network.

 

via Lies, Damned Lies, and Fox News – NYTimes.com.

 

I’m kinda’ in the same boat here with Paul Krugman. A major television network does three interviews with couples explaining that Obamacare costs more than what they had before without any actual knowledge of what their costs would be. An analysis of what they said and later interviews convincingly suggests that all of them would save money under the program. Someone is falling down on the job here.

 

Doesn’t the concept of a “news” imply knowledge? .. at least a little knowledge?

 

As a matter of business ethics, it’s very similar to skipping interviewing actual participants in an event because you don’t want to drive that far. Why do your job when it’s hard? Why work up intelligent news coverage when half-done and half-baked with do?

 

In short, this is a spectacular ethics failure. Interviewing people who don’t know anything about an important subject and acting as if what they are saying is factual is unethical unless your intent is to purely mislead.

 

James Pilant

 

From around the web.

 

From the web site, The Secular Jurist.

 

http://thesecularjurist.wordpress.com/2013/10/19/fox-news-obamacare-victims-werent-at-all-victimized-by-obamacare/

 

A recent Obamacare special on Fox News’ Hannity illuminated the
network’s political bias, pattern of misinformation, and questionable
use of anecdotal evidence, brought to light when a former adviser to
Montana’s governor fact-checked the special and found that not one of
the show’s guests–who lamented the horrors of the Affordable Care Act
(ACA) on air–had directly suffered from the law or even visited the
insurance exchange. Hannity’s reliance on guests who condemned Obamacare
due to existing political bias demonstrates Fox News’ habit of
misinforming on the ACA and raises serious questions about the
credibility of other guests that have recounted the “consequences” of
the law.

 

International Implications of Shutdown


United States Capitol, Washington, D.C., east ...
United States Capitol, Washington, D.C., east front elevation (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

 

 

 

 

International Implications of Shutdown

 

Did you notice how odd it was that during the shutdown and the subsequent debt ceiling game of chicken that there was precious little discussion of the international implications? I did. It worries me.

 

Thinking that the United States is invulnerable like Superman might make you confident but it can also make you dead.

 

What other nations think and do matters? How much was put at risk overseas by actions here? Did we put our allies at risk and give our enemies an advantage?

 

A few brains in Washington would be good, some working ones anyway.

 

James Pilant

 

BERLIN: Europeans agog at Americans’ inability to compromise, aghast at likely long-term impact | Politics | McClatchy DC

 

http://www.mcclatchydc.com/2013/10/18/205712/europeans-agog-at-americans-inability.html

 

No one was amused, however. The United States, after all, is not a bit player on the international stage like Greece. It is the unquestioned global leader. And while after a decade of controversial war it’s not so unusual for Europeans to express hostility toward the United States, many were shocked to see how hostile Americans seem to be to one another – and disinterested in how their internal fight might affect the rest of the world.“This is pure domestic politics,” said Xenia Dormandy, an expert on the United States and its place in the world at the London think tank Chatham House. “Nobody cares about any of the international implications. There’s a lack of desire to even think about the repercussions.”The discord will have long-term consequences, even if the United States is able to see its way through this crisis to yet another battle over spending and the debt ceiling that will come early next year, some predict.

 

via BERLIN: Europeans agog at Americans’ inability to compromise, aghast at likely long-term impact | Politics | McClatchy DC.

 

From around the web.

 

From the web site, Phoebe Rees, JN 325.

 

http://phoebereesjn325.wordpress.com/2013/10/07/7-british-misconceptions-about-the-us-government-shutdown/

 

On Tuesday, the US government shut down. If you’re a fellow Brit like

me, you might be thinking, “how can this happen – can Democrats and

Republicans not even be charged with the simplest task of keeping the

government open?” undoubtably leading to “the system has collapsed, the

apocalypse is now!” Alas no, this isn’t some sort of Anarchist utopia,

it happens reasonable frequently and can be explained a lot more simply

than you think. Here are the most common misconceptions about the US

government shutdown answered.

 

1. The government has shut down. Does this mean that the system has collapsed? 

 

No. Constitutionally, congress must pass laws to spend money. If they

can’t agree on a spending bill, they don’t have the authority to spend

money. Most of the ‘system’ is still in place, but non-essential

services such as gun licensing, zoos and national parks will close for

the duration of the shutdown. So basically, no guns and no zoos for the

foreseeable future. …

 

China Attacks Academic Freedom


English: China, Peking
English: China, Peking (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

China Attacks Academic Freedom

Shouldn’t this case cast a little doubt on so many American Universities’ desire to build branches in China? Won’t they insist on running schools in their country they way they run the current ones?

After all, they are communists who run a dictatorship.

Yes, that is not a nice thing to say, and the fact that literally thousands of American corporations are aiding and abetting this regime is regrettable but under free market fundamentalism perfectly understandable.

I mean, does it really matter if the nation is an enemy of democracy when there is money to be made?

The business ethics implications are fascinating but largely undiscussed. For all you students out there, this is primo paper territory. If you want to write something controversial, this is where to go. Think of it, business ethics and American Investment in the Chinese economy. If I were you, I would start the story by going back to China just a few years after the Great Cultural Revolution as its economy lurched from one disaster to another. Start the story there and then begin the American involvement, investment and then sharing patents and partnerships. Compare job losses in the U.S. to job gains in China. Discuss the willingness of the Chinese government to simply not bother with environmental and worker safety problems. Put in some material on a couple of the bigger coal mine disasters. Faculty love stories. Then, when you reach the end, wonder out loud if the regime could have survived with American corporate money. I bet it’s a solid A. (If you would like to see it published once it is written, send me an e-mail – we can work something out!)

James Pilant

SHANGHAI: China’s Peking University fires professor who criticized government | Asia | McClatchy DC

http://www.mcclatchydc.com/2013/10/18/205836/chinas-peking-university-fires.html

One of China’s top universities has notified an economics professor known for his outspoken criticism of the Chinese government that his colleagues have voted to expel him from the institution.The move against Xia Yeliang, who teaches at Peking University in Beijing, appears to reflect a crackdown on liberal academics that’s become more severe since President Xi Jinping came to power in March.Several well-known universities – including the London School of Economics and Yale and Cornell in the United States – have partnerships with Peking, though few have taken up Xia’s cause. Other institutions, including New York University and Duke University, have opened campuses in China recently or are about to amid worries that they’ll sacrifice academic freedom for the sometimes lucrative opportunity to partner with Chinese institutions.

via SHANGHAI: China’s Peking University fires professor who criticized government | Asia | McClatchy DC.

From around the web.

From the web site, educhina.

http://educhina.wordpress.com/2012/04/28/a-speech-under-the-national-flag/

April 9th, 2012, as usual, after raising the national flag and singing the anthem, the students in Huilong middle school stayed in square, listening to the weekly speech under the national flag by a selected outstanding student. They all knew it was a routine that every Monday, school had this assembly, so did most of the schools in other parts of China. And the speech, always presented by disciplined peers with excellent academic performance, was basically the same each week that about hard-working, obedient, respecting schools, teachers and parents etc. Thus, no one would pay attention to the speech but hoping the ceremony could end earlier. However, students, also teachers, soon realized today’s speech was different when they heard “we are not machine, even if we are, school should not treat us as tools to improve the enrollment rate of universities”. The senior two honorary student, Chenbo Jiang, was emotionally criticizing the school system and Chinese education. He continued: “what we are fighting for, under this education system, and what kind of people we will become?” He blamed the education deprived their dreams and turned them into indifferent people who only cared about the scores; he blamed parents blindly forced them to study all the time while neglected their true feeling and failed to give enough care and love; he blamed the teachers for pushing them so hard in doing endless homework in order to increase the enrollment rate of universities that few students actually loved and respected their teachers. Everyone stunned for a while and then students started to applaud. Some teachers were laughing and some were in shock. The school principal was so surprised because the draft of the speech had to be examined by the teachers every time before the students went up to the stage. This should not happen.

The news quickly spread out through internet with the titles like “high school student changes the speech under the national flag” or “high school student criticizes education system” and caused heated discussion among Chinese netizens in Sina microblog as well as in other social networking sites. Many people thought Chenbo Jiang was courageous to speak out the “truth” and they agreed that Chinese education was problematic. On April 20th, 2012, Nanfang People’s magazine, an influential weekly magazine of Southern China Press, published a commentary on this event. The report compares Chenbo Jiang to the boy in The Emperor’s New Clothes who points out the truth that no one wants to acknowledge.

I’m Beginning to Like Josh Barro


speaking at CPAC in Washington D.C. on Februar...
Ted Cruz speaking at CPAC in Washington D.C. on February 10, 2011. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I’m Beginning to Like Josh Barro

This guy can take this kind of nonsense and instead of being hurt or offended, he turns it into informative and, in a way, defiant essay. I’m impressed.

And he has a good point, this kind of passion (hatred, rage?) is frightening. As a fellow writer, I find this kind of thing daunting but as a politician it must be far more threatening because not only do these people wield influence power in the party, encountering them personally must be an exciting and memorable experience.

James Pilant

One Look At These Emails, And You’ll See Why Republicans Let Ted Cruz Lead Them Off A Cliff

http://www.businessinsider.com/heres-why-congressional-republicans-let-ted-cruz-lead-them-off-a-cliff-2013-10

Read more: http://www.businessinsider.com/heres-why-congressional-republicans-let-ted-cruz-lead-them-off-a-cliff-2013-10#ixzz2i1i1VxFE

The people whose letters I’m printing below are literally the people Republicans depend on to re-elect them to Congress. Keeping these people happy is their job — which is why the Republican Party has become so inept and crazy.

Jim Kennedy says I’m a “low information voter” in league with “the black racists”:

Senator Cruz is right on. I am one of those “crazy people” the liberal left does not like, being former Marine, a supporter of Tea Party, college graduate, member of NRA, member of Sons of Confederate Veterans. It is you low information voters and the black racists that hate us conservatives. Watch out in 2014!

William Neisser found me on Facebook and sent this frank message:

do you really believe the crap coming out of your mouth so 2 million people who think this Obama care isn’t good are wrong and living on another planet wow. life for you must be hard when did it become American to make people eat there vegetables. everyone has something to say but please stop talking your breath stinks like the crap you write come back to reality like the 2 million that are wrong an don’t like Obama’s health care academy for idiots thank you again yours truly screwed middle class living on another planet oh an have a great day

Read more: http://www.businessinsider.com/heres-why-congressional-republicans-let-ted-cruz-lead-them-off-a-cliff-2013-10#ixzz2i1hj93is

From around the web.

From the web site, The Left-handed Nib.

http://lefthandednib.wordpress.com/2013/10/12/the-gops-messiah-complex/

The GOP’s Messiah Complex

To paraphrase Dana Milbank, the Republican Party is Cruzifying itself.

Lots of good reads on Cruz in the last few days:

  • Josh Barro writes at Business Insider that “Ted Cruz is living on another planet” — and the Tea Party base is more than willing to hang out with him there.
  • This AP article is one of many I’ve seen lately that talk about how fed up establishment Republlicans are with Cruz and his Tea Party fellow crazies. But look at the establishment Republicans they’re quoting by name! …