Should College Professors Assign Papers to Improve Content on Wikipedia? (The Ethics Sage)


(Today is a guest post from my friend and colleague Steven Mintz, The Ethics Sage.)

Should College Professors Assign Papers to Improve Content on Wikipedia?

Should college professors assign Wikipedia content reviews and edits for course credit? It is an important question because traditionally most college freshmen are told that they shouldn’t use Wikipedia. It’s an unacceptable source for term papers and to assign students a project to check the accuracy and reliability of information on such a site makes me wonder whether professors in their ivory towers have lost perspective on what the purpose of writing is.

The Ethics Sage
The Ethics Sage

In a recent example, students at Emerson College are responsible for Wikipedia’s “theatre and disability” page. The encyclopedia article on minor depressive disorder was revamped by a student at North Dakota State University. And if you ever look up the Wikipedia page on vaccination policy most of what you’re reading comes from a sophomore-level chemistry class at the University of Michigan.

It has been reported that more than 14,000 students have created or edited 35,000 Wikipedia articles as part of a program run by the Wikipedia Education Foundation. The three-year-old nonprofit, a spin-off of the Wikimedia Foundation funded in part by the Stanton Foundation and Google, is determined to convince professors and students that — counter to everything they have ever been told — Wikipedia actually belongs in schools.

In a L.A. Times article on June 20, 2016, Susan Alberts, a biology professor at Duke University who has used Wikipedia in her classroom for the last five years is quoted as saying: “It’s so much better than a term paper, from a student’s perspective. This way, when students write something, someone besides their teacher actually reads it.”

This sounds like a rationalization for a questionable act from my point of view. To say someone else reads it and mean the Wikipedia people makes me wonder what these universities get in return. Is there a financial relationship between those universities that assign Wikipedia projects and the Wikipedia Foundation?

Wiki Ed has developed a program that makes it easier for new classrooms to join up and for hundreds of classes to participate at once. The organization takes care of training students on Wikipedia’s expectations and interface. After that, it works with professors to oversee students as they draft, edit and submit articles, often over several weeks.

I dislike having someone from the organization that is the beneficiary of the writings review those writings as part of the editing process. I believe objectivity may be lost – in appearance if not factually. It’s like having an academic journal work with professors as they write research papers and later decide whether to accept them for publication.

The Wiki Ed website says their Wiki Ed program creates a world where any learner can contribute to open scholarship and education for all and that writing for Wikipedia challenges students into analyzing and interpreting information for fairness, accuracy, and reliability.

I doubt the claim that scholarship improves mainly because, as a professor, I don’t see updating Wikipedia information for accuracy and completeness as a scholarly activity. There is no meaningful analytical dimension to such assignments. Divergent ideas on a subject matter are not analyzed for their relationships. Persuasive arguments are not made. This is the essence of creative writing. By its very definition it is not a creative exercise because the thoughts come initially from content on Wikipedia, not from the minds of the students.

Creative writing should help to stimulate “mental motivation” in which students complete a set of writing exercises that combine expressive writing with goal-setting. What is the goal of Wikipedia assignments? It’s a stretch to say it stimulates the minds of students as they go through the process of researching content they did not first identify. Instead, this is content already there. What meaning does it have for students? Perhaps they feel good about improving content on a major site that college students routinely use in their writings. If so, this is not enough to qualify for a rigorous writing assignment.

Other concerns that I have from an academic perspective are Wikipedia assignments should not replace traditional assignments where writing ability is a critical component of the grading process. In the end, Wikipedia assignments are geared toward adding or enhancing encyclopedic content. Contributions to Wikipedia do not contain original research.

To be fair, I suppose one valid way to use Wikipedia assignments could be to assign an independent research project that requires tight writing, neutral tone and relevant citations and then have students present their research in class. Students would write analytical papers and take that content and use it to update Wikipedia. Professors can then grade the paper and include a comparison with the updates to Wikipedia.

Writing at the college level is a process of writing, editing, revising, editing, re-writing, and so on. Writing pieces for Wikipedia fails to meet these standards although I concede that imaginative professors may be able to structure such an assignment in a useful way.

By Steven Mintz, aka Ethics Sage. Dr. Mintz is Emeritus Professor from Cal Poly San Luis Obispo. He also blogs at http://www.workplaceethicsadvice.com.

Rand Commits Plagiarism and Wants to Kill His Accuser


English: United States Senate candidate , at a...
English: United States Senate candidate , at a town hall meeting in Louisville, . (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

 

Rand Commits Plagiarism and Wants to Kill His Accuser

 

A man commits plagiarism and gets caught. It happens. I’m sure I will make a mistake and use someone’s remarks without properly attributing them. I write several hundred posts a year besides my other writing. It’s just a matter of time. It will be totally inadvertent. I have no intention of stealing material. Should someone point out my mistake, I will apologize and properly attribute the remark. A gentleman can do nothing else. If caught in an obvious wrong, amends must be made.

 

But not everyone understands these rules.

 

Rand Paul has been caught using direct quotes from other authors as if it were his material. And it appears that further research is revealing that he may have been plagiarizing for quite some time. He didn’t apologize. He’s angry. And he says if only the law allowed he would challenge his accuser to a duel with the presumed intent of shooting her down like a dog.

 

A gentleman does not take other people’s writings and pass them off as his own.

 

A gentleman once caught in an obvious wrong does not insist that it is a political attack, and therefore, somehow irrelevant.

 

A gentleman caught in an obvious wrong does not infer that he would kill his accuser.

 

I heard that Paul had borrowed some material without attribution the day after the Maddow’s program aired. I, a longtime political junkie, expected a quick admission of a mistake, a simple apology and the media to forget the whole thing in a couple of days. Imagine, my astonishment when a supposedly seasoned politician decided to hang tough in the face of overwhelming evidence.

 

Rand Paul has made this a big story by refusing to accept responsibility for his acts. And has compounded this with his ridiculous dueling suggestion. Where does he thinks he lives? the South of the Pre-Civil War era? Maybe that’s where he wants to live. But we don’t live there and his antics merely cast doubt on his intelligence, his honor and his judgment.

 

James Pilant

 

Move over, Ted Cruz: Rand Paul’s wacko public meltdown – Salon.com

 

On the one hand, the revelation that he lifted material from several speeches as well as whole pages of his book from other sources, without attribution, isn’t necessarily a 2016 candidacy-ender. What’s most politically self-destructive is Paul’s bizarre reaction to the charges – which really aren’t “charges,” they’re fact. Instead of admitting he or someone on his staff made an error and promising to toughen his standards, he’s attacked Rachel Maddow, who found the first instance of plagiarism, repeatedly and personally.

 

“This is really about information and attacks coming from haters,” he told ABC’s Latino-focused network Fusion. “The person who’s leading this attack — she’s been spreading hate on me for about three years now.” Ew, “spreading hate on me,” that sounds kind of disgusting, Rachel – really?

 

And then, in a bizarre, likely candidacy-ending interview with ABC’s “This Week,” he began talking about a duel.

 

“Yes, there are times when [speeches] have been sloppy or not correct or we’ve made an error,” Paul said. “But the difference is, I take it as an insult and I will not lie down and say people can call me dishonest, misleading or misrepresenting. I have never intentionally done so.”

 

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He went on: “And like I say, if, you know, if dueling were legal in Kentucky, if they keep it up, you know, it would be a duel challenge. But I can’t do that, because I can’t hold office in Kentucky then.”

 

“I think I’m being unfairly targeted by a bunch of hacks and haters.”

 

Paul’s assumption that normal people will hear his reference to fighting a duel and say, “Hell yeah!” betrays his permanent residency on the American fringe. He lives in a world where it’s always the 19thcentury South, and troubles are best handled with guns and guts, not government. Paul acts like nobody’s ever been either smart enough, or brave enough, to tell the plain truth – and once he does, common sense voters will recognize it and reward him. Instead, they recoil and go, “Huh?”

 

via Move over, Ted Cruz: Rand Paul’s wacko public meltdown – Salon.com.

 

From around the web.

 

From the web site,

 

http://cavnews.wordpress.com/2013/10/30/maddow-rand-paul-needs-to-explain-wikipedia-plagiarism-if-he-wants-to-run-for-president/

 

Then on Tuesday afternoon, BuzzFeed editor Andrew Kaczynski pointed out that
this is a recurring problem for Paul. In a speech to a group of
Hispanic business leaders, he gave a note-for-note recitation of the
Wikipedia entry for the movie “Stand and Deliver,” which tells the story
of an inner city math teacher.

 

“When you are running for president, a plagiarism scandal is not what
you want on your resume, especially not something as embarrassing as
plagiarizing Wikipedia, but that is what Rand Paul has on his hands
now,” Maddow said.

 

“And in the face of mounting evidence that this wasn’t an isolated
incident, that this is a repeat thing,” she continued, “Sen. Paul is not
talking. We reached out to his office again today, no response at all.”

 

Maddow pointed out that it’s not just her show now asking questions
about this. On Tuesday night, the Louisville Courier-Journal ran a
headline story called “Rand Paul mum after being accused of plagiarism.”

 

“Rand Paul may not want to answer to me or this show or this network
about this,” Maddow said, “but he’s going to have to answer for this to
his home town press or to somebody. He may not want to answer for it,
but he’s going to have to.”

 

BP Rewrites its History


 

Changing memory
Changing memory

BP Rewrites its History

BP edited its own environmental record on Wikipedia – Salon.com

Wikipedia editors have accused BP of editing its own page entry to whitewash its environmental impact in the public record. As CNET reported Thursday, “angry Wikipedia editors estimate that BP has rewritten 44 percent of the page about itself, especially about its environmental performance.”

BP edited its own environmental record on Wikipedia – Salon.com

 

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The United States and The Imprisonment Rate by William Denton


(Originally put up on May 24, 2012 – now reissued!)

It is my privilege to present my colleague, William Denton. Some days ago he showed me this article and I was very impressed. He has very kindly offered to share it with my readers. It is my pleasure to present the work of our guest columnist, William Denton.

James Pilant

The United States and The imprisonment Rate

By:  William Denton

America is known throughout the world as a place of freedom, where anyone has the chance to do and become whatever their heart desires also referred to as “The American Dream.”  America is considered home to approximately 5 percent of the world’s population, although America is known for its many attributes and liberties it holds 23 percent of the world’s prison population making the United States the highest prison populated country in the world, (“Wikipedia, 2012).  Our prison rate along with our continuous dilemma of overcrowding prisons can be attributed to our enacted draconian laws that make any chance of success to reduce our prison rate and subsequently alleviating our over-crowded prisons impossible.  In a 2009 statistical study 754 per 100,000 American Citizens are incarcerated.  In the previous year, “a report released in February 2008, indicates that more than 1 in 100 adults in the United States are in prison,” (“Wikipedia, 2012).

Each U.S. state is responsible for the United States ranking 1st in the world for its high incarceration rate.  However, when examined individually each state incarceration rate can vary from 854 per 100,000 to 151 per 100,000 citizens, (“Wikipedia,” 2012).  The infamous three strike laws and the mandatory minimum sentencing have caused the explosive increase in the incarceration rate nationwide, leaving each to implement methods if any, to alleviate the growing issue of their overcrowded prisons.  Some will argue that a state with a higher incarceration rate compared to a state with a lower incarceration rate is due to the state that has the highest and lowest crime rate.  Although that can be an arguable point it still doesn’t explain why for example Louisiana incarceration rate is 854 per 100,000 citizens and other states have incarceration rates anywhere from 151-300 per 100,000 citizens, (“Wikipedia,” 2012).  Another aspect that is irrelevant into claiming why one state has a higher incarceration rate than another is because of the state’s population which is going to subsequently have a higher crime rate.  We know that Louisiana has the highest incarceration rate, but ranks 25th for population, while New York ranks 3rd for highest population and is ranked 37th for incarceration rate at 307 per 100,000 citizens, (“Wikipedia,” 2012).  The population of a state and crime can be determining factors of a states incarceration rate, however, other factors that have remarkable results in having low incarceration rates are the states who have sufficient “parole and probation programs; diversion programs, increasing good-time programs for people incarcerated, and sentencing reforms for non-violent offenders,” (Morris, 2009).  Without any implementations to reduce the incarceration rate states will continue to have these unnecessary draconian numbers.

The United States compared to Russia who holds 2nd place for incarceration rates, followed by South Africa ranked 3rd and Europe who ranked 4th is still substantially higher than the runners up.  Russia who has a 611 per 100,000 people incarceration rate compared to the United States is a 134 per 100,000 differences.  That difference alone is substantially higher than that of many other nations worldwide.  The state of Louisiana who again has an 854 per 100,000 incarceration rate is higher than our nation’s current imprisonment rate and every other nation worldwide, (“Wikipedia, 2012).  Although there are multifarious reasons along with speculations of why America has the highest incarceration rate, two factors are true today.  Reason one being that American citizens are “being locked up from writing bad checks to using drugs that would rarely produce prison sentences in other countries,” (Liptak, 2008).  The second reason being the American Citizen is “kept incarcerated far longer than prisoners of other nations,” (Liptak, 2008).

In my opinion only, I think American Law has gotten to the point of everything being political correct and that anyone who commits a crime has to be punished no matter what the crime is.  These draconian drugs laws are really the culprits that are responsible for the major increase in our prison population and overcrowding.  The majority of inmates incarcerated today are for non-violent drug offenses that initially when these laws were enacted during the “War on Drugs” campaign where to mainly target the producers and distributors of the drug trade not the additive customers that are being sentenced today.  As a result of these laws still in effect, although the violent crime rate is decreasing in the country, prison population is still increasing.  I think that is how we stand above all other nations in the incarceration rate because of our drug laws, mandatory minimum sentencing, and three-strike laws.  As I mentioned above, writing bad checks to drug offenses are rarely imprisonment punishments in other countries, and our country has longer prison sentences that contribute overcrowded prisons.  We are punishing for offenses that probably could be resolved through other forms of punishment that does not have to do with imprisonment just like other countries.

I am completely against our statics involving our imprisonment rate and the number of incarcerated inmates we currently have.  There are a couple states that have a higher imprisonment rate than actual countries throughout the world.  These statics need to be pounded into someone’s head and take a hint of what reformalities we need to reduce these harsh rates.  These enacted three-strike rules and mandatory minimum sentences, and all other harshly related drug laws need to change.  They are ruining lives, in lieu of helping people and destroying families for what?  Nothing.  Drugs are an addictive substance that people need help to reform, so putting these non-violent offenders in overcrowded prisons is not going to rectify the problem, but going to make it worse.  I feel like we are wasting our money for no positive gains when it comes to incarcerating offenders for drug offenses and other minor crimes that can be solved in another form of punishment.  Are American laws are in desperate need for reform.

 

REFERENCES

 

Liptak, A.  (2008). U.S. prison population dwarfs that of other nations.  Retrieved March 18, 2012, from

 

http://www.nytimes.com/2008/04/23/world/americas/23iht23prison.12253738.html?_r=2&pagewanted=all

Morris, T.  (2009). Louisianan’s Incarceration rate is No. 1 in nation.  Retrieve March 17, 2012, from

 

http://www.nola.com/news/index.ssf/2009/03/louisianas_incarceration_rate.html

 

Wikipedia.  (2012). Incarceration rates worldwide.  Retrieved March 16, 2012, From

 

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Incarceration_rates_worldwide.gif

 

Wikipedia. (2012). List of U.S. States and Territories by population.  Retrieved March 14, 2012, from

 

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_U.S._states_and_territories_by_population

 

Wikipedia. (2012). List of U.S. States by incarceration rate.  Retrieved March 14, 2012, from

 

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_U.S._states_by_incarceration_rate

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The United States and The Imprisonment Rate by William Denton


It is my privilege to present my colleague, William Denton. Some days ago he showed me this article and I was very impressed. He has very kindly offered to share it with my readers. It is my pleasure to present the work of our guest columnist, William Denton.

James Pilant

The United States and The imprisonment Rate

By:  William Denton

America is known throughout the world as a place of freedom, where anyone has the chance to do and become whatever their heart desires also referred to as “The American Dream.”  America is considered home to approximately 5 percent of the world’s population, although America is known for its many attributes and liberties it holds 23 percent of the world’s prison population making the United States the highest prison populated country in the world, (“Wikipedia, 2012).  Our prison rate along with our continuous dilemma of overcrowding prisons can be attributed to our enacted draconian laws that make any chance of success to reduce our prison rate and subsequently alleviating our over-crowded prisons impossible.  In a 2009 statistical study 754 per 100,000 American Citizens are incarcerated.  In the previous year, “a report released in February 2008, indicates that more than 1 in 100 adults in the United States are in prison,” (“Wikipedia, 2012).

Each U.S. state is responsible for the United States ranking 1st in the world for its high incarceration rate.  However, when examined individually each state incarceration rate can vary from 854 per 100,000 to 151 per 100,000 citizens, (“Wikipedia,” 2012).  The infamous three strike laws and the mandatory minimum sentencing have caused the explosive increase in the incarceration rate nationwide, leaving each to implement methods if any, to alleviate the growing issue of their overcrowded prisons.  Some will argue that a state with a higher incarceration rate compared to a state with a lower incarceration rate is due to the state that has the highest and lowest crime rate.  Although that can be an arguable point it still doesn’t explain why for example Louisiana incarceration rate is 854 per 100,000 citizens and other states have incarceration rates anywhere from 151-300 per 100,000 citizens, (“Wikipedia,” 2012).  Another aspect that is irrelevant into claiming why one state has a higher incarceration rate than another is because of the state’s population which is going to subsequently have a higher crime rate.  We know that Louisiana has the highest incarceration rate, but ranks 25th for population, while New York ranks 3rd for highest population and is ranked 37th for incarceration rate at 307 per 100,000 citizens, (“Wikipedia,” 2012).  The population of a state and crime can be determining factors of a states incarceration rate, however, other factors that have remarkable results in having low incarceration rates are the states who have sufficient “parole and probation programs; diversion programs, increasing good-time programs for people incarcerated, and sentencing reforms for non-violent offenders,” (Morris, 2009).  Without any implementations to reduce the incarceration rate states will continue to have these unnecessary draconian numbers.

The United States compared to Russia who holds 2nd place for incarceration rates, followed by South Africa ranked 3rd and Europe who ranked 4th is still substantially higher than the runners up.  Russia who has a 611 per 100,000 people incarceration rate compared to the United States is a 134 per 100,000 differences.  That difference alone is substantially higher than that of many other nations worldwide.  The state of Louisiana who again has an 854 per 100,000 incarceration rate is higher than our nation’s current imprisonment rate and every other nation worldwide, (“Wikipedia, 2012).  Although there are multifarious reasons along with speculations of why America has the highest incarceration rate, two factors are true today.  Reason one being that American citizens are “being locked up from writing bad checks to using drugs that would rarely produce prison sentences in other countries,” (Liptak, 2008).  The second reason being the American Citizen is “kept incarcerated far longer than prisoners of other nations,” (Liptak, 2008).

In my opinion only, I think American Law has gotten to the point of everything being political correct and that anyone who commits a crime has to be punished no matter what the crime is.  These draconian drugs laws are really the culprits that are responsible for the major increase in our prison population and overcrowding.  The majority of inmates incarcerated today are for non-violent drug offenses that initially when these laws were enacted during the “War on Drugs” campaign where to mainly target the producers and distributors of the drug trade not the additive customers that are being sentenced today.  As a result of these laws still in effect, although the violent crime rate is decreasing in the country, prison population is still increasing.  I think that is how we stand above all other nations in the incarceration rate because of our drug laws, mandatory minimum sentencing, and three-strike laws.  As I mentioned above, writing bad checks to drug offenses are rarely imprisonment punishments in other countries, and our country has longer prison sentences that contribute overcrowded prisons.  We are punishing for offenses that probably could be resolved through other forms of punishment that does not have to do with imprisonment just like other countries.

I am completely against our statics involving our imprisonment rate and the number of incarcerated inmates we currently have.  There are a couple states that have a higher imprisonment rate than actual countries throughout the world.  These statics need to be pounded into someone’s head and take a hint of what reformalities we need to reduce these harsh rates.  These enacted three-strike rules and mandatory minimum sentences, and all other harshly related drug laws need to change.  They are ruining lives, in lieu of helping people and destroying families for what?  Nothing.  Drugs are an addictive substance that people need help to reform, so putting these non-violent offenders in overcrowded prisons is not going to rectify the problem, but going to make it worse.  I feel like we are wasting our money for no positive gains when it comes to incarcerating offenders for drug offenses and other minor crimes that can be solved in another form of punishment.  Are American laws are in desperate need for reform.

 

REFERENCES

 

Liptak, A.  (2008). U.S. prison population dwarfs that of other nations.  Retrieved March 18, 2012, from

 

http://www.nytimes.com/2008/04/23/world/americas/23iht23prison.12253738.html?_r=2&pagewanted=all

Morris, T.  (2009). Louisianan’s Incarceration rate is No. 1 in nation.  Retrieve March 17, 2012, from

 

http://www.nola.com/news/index.ssf/2009/03/louisianas_incarceration_rate.html

 

Wikipedia.  (2012). Incarceration rates worldwide.  Retrieved March 16, 2012, From

 

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Incarceration_rates_worldwide.gif

 

Wikipedia. (2012). List of U.S. States and Territories by population.  Retrieved March 14, 2012, from

 

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_U.S._states_and_territories_by_population

 

Wikipedia. (2012). List of U.S. States by incarceration rate.  Retrieved March 14, 2012, from

 

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_U.S._states_by_incarceration_rate

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Sterling Hayden On “Career”


These wonderful paragraphs are by Sterling Hayden, a Hollywood actor. He was a man of many talents and I’ll think you’ll like the writing. This is from the Wikipedia entry to which I am indebted. JP

The sun beats down and you pace, you pace and you pace. Your mind flies free and you see yourself as an actor, condemned to a treadmill wherein men and women conspire to breathe life into a screenplay that allegedly depicts life as it was in the old wild West. You see yourself coming awake any one of a thousand mornings between the spring of 1954, and that of 1958 ‑ alone in a double bed in a big white house deep in suburban Sherman Oaks, not far from Hollywood.

“The windows are open wide, and beyond these is the backyard swimming pool inert and green, within a picket fence. You turn and gaze at a pair of desks not far from the double bed. This is your private office, the place that shelters your fondest hopes: these desks so neat, patiently waiting for the day that never comes, the day you’ll sit down at last and begin to write.

“Why did you never write? Why, instead, did you grovel along, through the endless months and years, as a motion‑picture actor? What held you to it, to something you so vehemently professed to despise? Could it be that you secretly liked it—that the big dough and the big house and the high life meant more than the aura you spun for those around you to see?

“‘Hayden’s wild,’ they said. ‘He’s kind of nuts‑but you’ve got to hand it to him. He doesn’t give a damn about the loot or the stardom or things like that—something to do with his seafaring, or maybe what he went through in the war . . .'”[2]:151

I believe we all tussle with the issue of whether to write or not to write. I have erred on the side of writing. There may be those of you who think it would have been better if I had remained silent. But here I am. I feel very much like he did some of the time. I think many of you do too.

James Pilant

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When Banks Break the Law, Families Suffer


Half million dollar house in Salinas, Californ...

Image via Wikipedia

We can see from the full article excerpted below that  the banks’ evasion of State recording statutes and poor internal bookkeeping has led many families to disaster.

I have read some bloggers who talk about deadbeat buyers but where are they now when it is obvious that widespread fraud and incompetence were common in the industry for years?

The decision of a family to buy a home is almost always the single most important financial decision of their lives.

Beginning in 2000, that investment became a chip in a Wall Street game of financial speculation. But the industry found that those chips were heavily regulated by law. Not like modern regulations but regulations older than this nation itself. The rules were that property ownership had to carefully recorded, geographically correct and a chain of ownership clearly established. Owning property was considered a critical part in an individual’s life and was protected by the law from injustice.

But this inhibited trading, so the industry created their own system of property transfer (MERS) and we know from the many lawsuits in sloppy or virtually non-existent records keeping to accelerate the process. Today, those injustices have come back to haunt middle class homeowners.

Please read the attached article and get a fell for what economic injustice feels like when the affliction has human face.

James Pilant

Foreclosure From Old Mortgages ‘Most Egregious Manifestation’ Of Broken Housing Market

Diane Thompson, an attorney with the National Consumer Law Center, says she has defended hundreds of foreclosure cases, and in nearly all of them, the homeowner was not in default. “The record-keeping on the part of the mortgage servicers is not to be trusted.”
The problems grew from a lot of sloppy recordkeeping that began during the housing boom, when Wall Street built a quick-and-dirty back-office operation to process mortgages quickly so lenders could sell as many loans as possible. As the loans were later sold to investors, and then resold around the world, the back office system sidestepped crucial legal procedures.
Now it’s becoming clear just how dysfunctional and, according to several state attorneys general, how fraudulent the whole system was.
Depositions from “affidavit slaves” depict a surreal, assembly-line world in which the banks and their partner firms hired hair stylists, fast-food kids and Wal-Mart floor workers, paying them $10 a day, to pose as bank vice presidents, assistant secretaries and corporate attorneys.

Foreclosure From Old Mortgages ‘Most Egregious Manifestation’ Of Broken Housing Market

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The Work of Luke H. Lee


Example of supply chain

Image via Wikipedia

Keeping a web site and maintaining it can be a real pain but one of the great pleasures of it, is that you get to provide support to your friends to get the word out about their ideas. Here is a piece from my blogging friend, Luke H. Lee.

The article is significantly longer than this small excerpt and you probably need to see the diagrams for full understanding. So please read the whole thing.

James Pilant

Realizing a better world

If a public information-based supply chain infrastructure system is developed and fully implemented in the real market, the existing efficiency-oriented market process would be changed to a more effectiveness-oriented market process, which is more suitable for the modern information market. This would significantly contribute to the improvement of employment on the whole. The self-generation capability of the market would improve as well.

Luke Ho-Hyung Lee

With the influence of this new, more effectiveness-oriented supply chain process, the existing competition by size would change into competition by quality and service. The existing efficiency-oriented mass production process and mass-market consumption model would also be altered into a more effectiveness-oriented, diversified, or individualized production and consumption system. Owing to these changes, local employment conditions would improve considerably, and the business environment for middle- and small-sized companies and for the general service industry would improve significantly. Moreover, companies that off-shored and outsourced to lower labor cost countries would come back to the domestic arena

Realizing a better world

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Using Film in the Classroom, Air Crash Investigation: Cleared for Disaster


English: Figure 3 of the NTSB report on the US...

Image via Wikipedia

This particular episode is very interesting and, in particular, very useful for classroom discussion. We have an apparent case of air traffic controller incompetence leading to a runway collision. But is it as simple as that?

Once the program establishes that the controller made a mistake, it discusses understaffing, poor procedures, difficulty viewing the runway and a tempermental ground radar system that wasn’t working at the time.

This is a perfect film to show when discussing where does personal responsibility begin and end.

I recommend it for that purpose. I would be using it in business law but it is a good film to use when discussing ethics.

James Pilant

Here is an article about the crash. It’s a little technical but I recommend you go to the web site and read the whole thing. My thanks to AirDisaster.com!

AirDisaster.Com: Special Report: USAir Flight 1493

As the Skywest Metro awaited its takeoff clearance, USAir 1493 touched down near the threshold of runway 24L and shortly thereafter slammed into 5569. Both aircraft skidded down the runway, the Metro crushed beneath the 737’s fuselage. The wreckage came to rest on the far side of the taxiway against an empty building. All 12 in the Skywest aircraft were killed as were 21 people in the USAir 737, including the Captain.

AirDisaster.Com: Special Report: USAir Flight 1493

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We Win the War on Terrorism by Maintaining Our Ideals!


U.S. soldiers from Bravo Company, 1st Battalio...

Image via Wikipedia

Giving up long held American rights, attempting to copy the worst elements of repressive regimes like the Argentine and the Soviet, are not the way to victory in the “war on terror.” These attempts to discover how low we can go in our own behavior are counterproductive. The America whose ideas have become common across the world was a concept of idealism and possibility. People never turned to the ideals of America because of their similarity to totalitarian regimes and monarchies but because they were different.

We win wars of ideas by having better ideas. The Bill of Rights and Habeas Corpus are persuasive ideas. Disappearing our enemies and holding them indefinitely without charges are the cowardly acts of frightened dictators and incompetent despots.

The great ideas that have made America a light to the world require courage, support and sacrifice. They are not cheap or easy.

But having such ideas is how societies win long term conflicts because having such ideas means that a people willing to hold on to its ideals even when threatened with destruction is a worthy people who live for more than just themselves.

James Pilant

Indefinite Military Detention Of U.S. Citizens Is A Win For Terrorists, Former Admiral Says

“As it turns out, our enemies’ greatest weakness is that they are bereft of ideals,” he added. “If we can maintain our ideals, our sense of justice, in the face of this, we can win. What the enemy, what the terrorists want to do — because they know they can’t beat us militarily — [is] they can try to change us. They can cause us to become more like them, and for them, that’s victory.”

The reason why, he argues, is that if the United States cannot portray itself as the holder of loftier ideals, then it is much harder to convince the rest of the world to stay on its side — and it’s harder to fight wars because even allies are less cooperative.

“Who’s going to surrender to the United Sates if they think they’re going to be detained indefinitely without a trial? Is anybody going to give up?” he asked. “Who’s going to say, ‘You know, maybe the United States isn’t as bad as we think it is, and maybe it’s al Qaeda and the Taliban who are the bad guys, and I’m going to side with the good guys?'”

Indefinite Military Detention Of U.S. Citizens Is A Win For Terrorists, Former Admiral Says

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