18 April 2014

IF THEY’RE BROKE, WHY FIX IT…?

0527 by Jeff Hess

Mano Singham writes:

The issue of college athletes being recognized as employees and having the right to unionize has resulted in a lot of information coming out about them. I had not realized that athletes at those universities that have big sports programs have to practice and watch game films and the like for fifty or more hours per week. That is shocking because that would leave them hardly any time to attend classes, let alone study for them. No wonder that this breeds the practice of bogus classes that they sign up for in order to maintain their academic standing.

It is a far cry from my university where we field teams but academics come first. We are nerds and proud of it. Some of my best students have been athletes and I have had students who, if an exam conflicts with a game, would skip the game and take the exam, even though I was willing to give a make-up exam. (There was a widespread belief among students that physics make up exams were harder than the regular ones.)

In his post, Mano embeds Jon Stewart’s commentary and Keith Knight nails the hypocrisy.

18 April 2014

ON THAT FREEDOM OF SPEECH CONCEPT…

0508 by Jeff Hess

xkcd 140418

18 April 2014

NOT THE MARIETTA TIMES

0400 by Jeff Hess

What’s going on here

Today’s headlines include:

Local News

Flood of criticism
Insurance fraud alleged
Oak Grove Christian school forming
Beverly-Waterford 225th anniversary falls on Easter Sunday
Reminder on Armory Square parking

Top Headlines Poll: Will Congress adjust flood insurance premiums to benefit Marietta?

Previously

17 April 2014

NO ON ISSUE 7 RALLY WEDNESDAY 23 APRIL…

1150 by Jeff Hess

[Update @ 1445--In addition to the rally next Wednesday, 23 April, there is fundraiser this evening beginning at 7 p.m. See the details below.]

sin tax party 140417

From Coalition Against The Sin Tax:

Issue 7 Brings People Together…

TEAM UP WITH
The Coalition Against the Sin Tax
For a “Vote NO on Issue 7” Rally.
April 23rd, North West corner of Carnegie and Ontario @ 6pm

April 17, 2014 – Cleveland, Ohio – On Thursday, April 23rd, at the north west intersection of Carnegie and Ontario #clesintax hits the streets. We will be debuting the coalition’s Yard Signs and dancing to beats from local hip-hop artist B No Good, who is featured in our latest video.

Peter Pattakos, leader of the Coalition against the Sin Tax (C.A.S.T.), said “it’s time to hold our county and city leaders accountable. It‘s time to hold the big money that controls them accountable.” From the perspective of the residents of the Cuyahoga County and in particular, the City of Cleveland, we no longer have representation ‘of the people, for the people and by the people.’” He continued, “this rally will begin the process, leading up to the vote on Issue 7 on May 6th, of how and why we want our elected officials to represent the interests of the county and city residents over billionaire team owners and special interests groups.”

Peter and the rest of the volunteers of The Coalition against the Sin Tax invite all who feel underrepresented to join us in this rally.

PRESS CONTACT: Erin McCardle: 216.450.7574 or email

17 April 2014

WELSHMAN STUNNING GOAL FOR REAL MADRID…

1141 by Jeff Hess

This must be a Welsh kind of week…

17 April 2014

CODE BLUE…

1133 by Jeff Hess

Over at The Marietta Times (not to be confused with Not The Marietta Times) the conversation is all but over. I just took a peak and there are two, count them two, polls (and no articles) in the What’s Hot box: How interested are you in seeing so-called faith-based movies? (three comments, one each from LovesBuckeyes, chugger and flintnapper) and How often do you skip breakfast? (two comments, one each from ea333555 and LovesBuckeyes).

In the weeks leading up to the paywall around the Marietta Times, there were articles and polls that ran for dozens, if not hundreds, of comments. Granted, many of those comments were unenlightening, but still, readers were engaged.

In the Forums, the Latest Topics and Most Popular Topics sections, the vitality is even lower. The most popular topic: Union fat-cats…myth or reality? was last commented on 25 days ago and the latest topic: Barack Obama Legacy has devolved to the point that even John Wayne would have left the mud pit and walked away (as an aside, I love the sponsor of this clip).

Here’s my prediction: by the end of 2014 the Marietta Times will realize that the income (most likely the only standard of measurement that the folks at Ogden care about) from the web presence simply doesn’t cover costs and the decision will be made to shutter the online wing of the paper.

17 April 2014

BURY THE DEAD, FIGHT LIKE HELL FOR THE LIVING…

0639 by Jeff Hess

zen pencils 140417

17 April 2014

FLEXIBLE, AS IN: BEND OVER, GRAB YOUR ANKLES…

0627 by Jeff Hess

I noted yesterday, a transcript of Noam Chomsky’s speech to a gathering of members and allies of the Adjunct Faculty Association of the United Steelworkers in Pittsburgh, Penn. The 1 percent are bent on ruling by fear. We see it everywhere and all the time. Sometimes the only response to fear is to slay the dragon.

Noam Chomsky wrote:

“Flexibility” is a term that’s very familiar to workers in industry. Part of what’s called “labor reform” is to make labor more “flexible,” make it easier to hire and fire people. That’s, again, a way to ensure maximization of profit and control. “Flexibility” is supposed to be a good thing, like “greater worker insecurity.” Putting aside industry where the same is true, in universities there’s no justification.

So take a case where there’s under-enrollment somewhere. That’s not a big problem. One of my daughters teaches at a university; she just called me the other night and told me that her teaching load is being shifted because one of the courses that was being offered was under-enrolled. Okay, the world didn’t come to an end, they just shifted around the teaching arrangements-you teach a different course, or an extra section, or something like that. People don’t have to be thrown out or be insecure because of the variation in the number of students enrolling in courses. There are all sorts of ways of adjusting for that variation.

The idea that labor should meet the conditions of “flexibility” is just another standard technique of control and domination. Why not say that administrators should be thrown out if there’s nothing for them to do that semester, or trustees-what do they have to be there for? The situation is the same with top management in industry: if labor has to be flexible, how about management? Most of them are pretty useless or even harmful anyway, so let’s get rid of them.

On models of education, he continues:

One image of education was that it should be like a vessel that is filled with, say, water. That’s what we call these days “teaching to test”: you pour water into the vessel and then the vessel returns the water. But it’s a pretty leaky vessel, as all of us who went through school experienced, since you could memorize something for an exam that you had no interest in to pass an exam and a week later you forgot what the course was about. The vessel model these days is called “no child left behind,” “teaching to test,” “race to top,” whatever the name may be, and similar things in universities. Enlightenment thinkers opposed that model.

The other model was described as laying out a string along which the student progresses in his or her own way under his or her own initiative, maybe moving the string, maybe deciding to go somewhere else, maybe raising questions. Laying out the string means imposing some degree of structure. So an educational program, whatever it may be, a course on physics or something, isn’t going to be just anything goes; it has a certain structure.

But the goal of it is for the student to acquire the capacity to inquire, to create, to innovate, to challenge-that’s education. One world-famous physicist, in his freshman courses if he was asked “what are we going to cover this semester?” his answer was “it doesn’t matter what we cover, it matters what you discover.” You have gain the capacity and the self-confidence for that matter to challenge and create and innovate, and that way you learn; that way you’ve internalized the material and you can go on. It’s not a matter of accumulating some fixed array of facts which then you can write down on a test and forget about tomorrow.

17 April 2014

BUT THEY ARE CHANGING, VERY SLOWLY…

0410 by Jeff Hess

keef 140417This very situation arose two weeks ago in one of the schools where I work. Fifty years ago there would have been no discussion. In 2014 there was a discussion and the situation was redressed, but change does not happen until people stand up and declare “No. Not here, not now. Not while I live!”

17 April 2014

NOT THE MARIETTA TIMES

0400 by Jeff Hess

What’s going on here

Today’s headlines include:

Local News

Small & historic
Forum gathers area views on public schools
Safety campaigns aimed at motorists and motorcyclists
WCCC student excels in welding
Life of crime, addiction

Top Headlines Poll: Who do you think makes more driving mistakes: car/truck drivers or motorcyclists?

Previously

16 April 2014

OUR MAJOR SEDER TOPIC MONDAY NIGHT…

1208 by Jeff Hess

Mano Singham writes:

Another factor is that competition for students has resulted in universities spending a lot on enhanced residential, dining, and recreational facilities, all of which cost a lot to build and maintain.

Mano is riffing on a speech given by Noam Chomsky titled: The Death of American Universities. I’m reading it now.

Chomsky wrote:

[T]here are other aspects which are also quite familiar from private industry, namely a large increase in layers of administration and bureaucracy. If you have to control people, you have to have an administrative force that does it. So in US industry even more than elsewhere, there’s layer after layer of management — a kind of economic waste, but useful for control and domination.

And the same is true in universities. In the past thirty or forty years, there’s been a very sharp increase in the proportion of administrators to faculty and students; faculty and students levels have stayed fairly level relative to one another, but the proportion of administrators have gone way up.

16 April 2014

ISAAC ASIMOV ON LIFE-LONG LEARNING…

0802 by Jeff Hess

From Brain Pickings

MOYERS: Do you think we can educate ourselves, that any one of us, at any time, can be educated in any subject that strikes our fancy?

ASIMOV: The key words here are “that strikes our fancy.” There are some things that simply don’t strike my fancy, and I doubt that I can force myself to be educated in them. On the other hand, when there’s a subject I’m ferociously interested in, then it is easy for me to learn about it. I take it in gladly and cheerfully…

[What's exciting is] the actual process of broadening yourself, of knowing there’s now a little extra facet of the universe you know about and can think about and can understand. It seems to me that when it’s time to die, there would be a certain pleasure in thinking that you had utilized your life well, learned as much as you could, gathered in as much as possible of the universe, and enjoyed it. There’s only this one universe and only this one lifetime to try to grasp it. And while it is inconceivable that anyone can grasp more than a tiny portion of it, at least you can do that much. What a tragedy just to pass through and get nothing out of it.

16 April 2014

NOT THE MARIETTA TIMES

0400 by Jeff Hess

What’s going on here

Today’s headlines include:

Local News

Pets for Easter
Burglar/thief says he’s ‘the fall guy’
7th, Pike bid above estimate; project still a ‘go’
Food pantry’s new director a dietitian
Hands-on Earth Day activities made for families

Top Headlines Poll: How often do you skip breakfast?

Previously

15 April 2014

I’M CELERATING A BICENTENIAL TONIGHT…

1804 by Jeff Hess

Photos by Mary Jo Hanlon…

200 years ago today, in North Wales, my great, great grandfather Thomas Evans was born.

Iechyd da!

I have no idea if any of my Welsh ancestors or living relations ever served in the South Wales Borders or the Welsh Guards but since I first saw Zulu in California back in 1978, I have been fascinated with this scene. The tradition, of course, continues.

15 April 2014

I DON’T CARE IF CONVERSATIONS ARE NOT CIVIL…

1641 by Jeff Hess

I think that the conversation, regardless of any rancor, venom or bile that may be spewed, in important because we build our communities with our conversations and if we shut down the conversations because a few trolls haven’t left the playground, then we endanger the social health of the community.

A choke hold on comments lead me to create Not The Marietta Times two weeks ago and, while the only a handful of individuals have chosen to join the experiment, I’m pleased with the results at present. Larger venues, such as The Chicago Smut Sun Times and The Guardian, however, are not so positive.

Craig Newman writes:

The world of Internet commenting offers a marvelous opportunity for discussion and the exchange of ideas. But as anyone who has ever ventured into a comment thread can attest, these forums too often turn into a morass of negativity, racism, hate speech and general trollish behaviors that detract from the content.

In fact, the general tone and demeanor is one of the chief criticisms we hear in regard to the usability and quality of our websites and articles. Not only have we heard your criticisms, but we often find ourselves as frustrated as our readers are with the tone and quality of commentary on our pages.

From The Guardian:

We want to know if you would defend below-the-line (BTL) discussion. What positive things have you seen as a result of internet commentary? Would you agree with the Sun-Times that comments are all too often negative and trollish, or do you belong to strong and productive online communities? Has anyone online ever made your offline life better? Tell us about the merits or otherwise of BTL commenting and share your stories of how online debate has changed your life.

I adhere to Sturgeon’s Law: Ninety percent of everything is crap. (Yes, that does include my own work. That’s why all good writing is rewriting.) I’m willing to plow through the crap to find the diamonds.

15 April 2014

TOO BAD THEY’RE PEEL AND STICK

1036 by Jeff Hess

harvey milkI have a new favorite Forever Stamp.

15 April 2014

PULITZER AWARDED FOR SNOWDEN REPORTING…

0602 by Jeff Hess

From this morning’s The Guardian:

The Guardian and the Washington Post have been awarded the highest accolade in US journalism, winning the Pulitzer prize for public service for their groundbreaking articles on the National Security Agency’s surveillance activities based on the leaks of Edward Snowden.

The award, announced in New York on Monday, comes 10 months after the Guardian published the first report based on the leaks from Snowden, revealing the agency’s bulk collection of US citizens’ phone records.

In the series of articles that ensued, teams of journalists at the Guardian and the Washington Post published the most substantial disclosures of US government secrets since the Pentagon Papers on the Vietnam war in 1971.

The Pulitzer committee praised the Guardian for its “revelation of widespread secret surveillance by the National Security Agency, helping through aggressive reporting to spark a debate about the relationship between the government and the public over issues of security and privacy”.

Snowden, in a statement, said: “Today’s decision is a vindication for everyone who believes that the public has a role in government. We owe it to the efforts of the brave reporters and their colleagues who kept working in the face of extraordinary intimidation, including the forced destruction of journalistic materials, the inappropriate use of terrorism laws, and so many other means of pressure to get them to stop what the world now recognises was work of vital public importance.”

First, congratulations to both The Guardian and the Washington Post. The Guardian has been my daily newspaper for a few years now. Second, while Glenn Greenwald is mentioned in the story–

At the Guardian, the NSA reporting was led by Glenn Greenwald, Ewen MacAskill and film-maker Laura Poitras, and at the Washington Post by Barton Gellman, who also co-operated with Poitras. All four journalists were honoured with a George Polk journalism award last week for their work on the NSA story.

–I find it odd that only Snowden is quoted.

Curiouser and curiouser.

15 April 2014

MANY HAPPY RETURNS…!

0500 by Jeff Hess

non sequitur 140415

15 April 2014

IS THE//INTERCEPT IN A DEATH SPIRAL…?

0434 by Jeff Hess

[Update at 0732: So, this story is beginning to spin off into Never Never land. I was working on an unrelated bit just now and had call to reference Eric Blair's Bugaboo and that gave me pause as I remembered John Cook's odd choice of art to illustrate his letter yesterday. I think I need more coffee.]

Glenn Greenwald last posted to The//Intercept on 4 April. After that, nothing. From no one.

Then yesterday John Cook posted a Passover Greeting From The Editor with a very odd and un-Passover graphic (Beta? Really?). What is going on here?

Cook wrote:

Hello. My name is John Cook, and as of three weeks ago I became the editor-in-chief of The Intercept. Since then, we haven’t published much material on the site, and that’s been on purpose. I’d like to take a moment to catch interested readers up on where we are and what you can expect from us over the coming weeks and months.

The site launched in February with an announcement from co-founders Glenn Greenwald, Laura Poitras, and Jeremy Scahill that The Intercept was coming online with an initial short-term focus on stories about the operations of the National Security Agency, based in large part on an archive of documents provided by former NSA contractor Edward Snowden. The decision to begin publishing at that point was based on a commitment to continue the work of reporting on, publishing, and explicating those documents. It was not based on an assessment that everything that one needs for the successful launch of a news web site–staff, editorial capacity, and answers to questions about the site’s broader focus, operational strategy, structure, and design–had been worked out.

Those things still have not been worked out, and over the past three weeks I have begun the process of resolving them in collaboration with the remarkably talented team that has already been assembled here. Until we have completed the work of getting staffed up and conceptually prepared for the launch of a full-bore news operation that will be producing a steady stream of shit-kicking stories, The Intercept will be narrowly focusing on one thing and one thing only: Reporting out stories from the NSA archive as quickly and responsibly as is practicable. We will do so at a tempo that suits the material. When we are prepared to publish those stories, we will publish them. When we are not, we will be silent for a time, unless Glenn Greenwald has some blogging he wants to do, because no one can stop Glenn Greenwald from blogging.

As someone who has been the editor of national magazines, I’m gobsmacked. In particular, I find the language in the final sentences of both the second and third paragraphs odd, to say the least.

I’m not much for conspiracy theories, Abbie Hoffman once told me to never trust a conspiracy theorist because they were all in it together, but I have to agree with a lot of the comments on Cook’s missive, and Glen Greenwald’s most recent post. We all know that Greenwald managed to accept his award without getting arrested.

What has happened since?

15 April 2014

NOT THE MARIETTA TIMES

0400 by Jeff Hess

What’s going on here

Today’s headlines include:

Local News

Historic barns
Sixth District primary
Cell vs. landline
Wood Co. board to vote on calendar
What’s happening for Easter?

Top Headlines Poll: What do you plan to do on Easter Sunday?

Previously

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