Saturday, February 21, 2009

Quote of the Day...

From CNN: "Human rights cannot interfere with the global economic crisis, the global climate change crisis and the security crises."

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton to China's foreign minister during her visit in China.

This is a haunting quote. According to Yahoo News, Amnesty International has condemned the remarks, as they should have.

Question of the Day: Saturday, February 21, 2009

Providing Presence to Domestic Violence or Invading the Privacy of a Recovering Human?

On Friday, the celebrity gossip site TMZ released the police photograph of Rihanna. (You can see the photo here if you wish.)

The photo reveals the bruises on her face after the pop singer was beaten allegedly by Chris Brown. According to TMZ, Brown received a text message from another woman about meeting later in the day and this text message started the argument between Brown and Rihanna. Brown turned himself in to authorities on February 8th.

The question, of course, involves the leak of the photograph. According to the Times (UK), which reproduced the photo in the story, the LAPD are investigating who leaked the photo of Rihanna to the press. When it investigates cases that involve domestic abuse, the LAPD attempts to maintain the confidentially of the victim of domestic abuse cases and does not release information about the person involved in the case.

It is unknown who or why a person leaked the photo of Rihanna though a reasonable guess would be to cash in on the ordeal.

The question: does the release of the photo violate the privacy of Rihanna or does the release of the photo provide more presence to cases of domestic violence, allowing for more women to come forward if they are involved in this case?

I am not asking about whether or not the release of the photo may alter the investigation in the case though I imagine it could. Rather, I am interested in knowing whether or not readers believe that these photos should not be published because Rihanna, celebrities, or women that suffer in these types of cases should be able to go through these cases without the pressure of the public spotlight; or, on the other hand, if this case is transcendent for the way in which it allows people to see what is kept behind closed doors.

Should a right to privacy cover these cases or does publicity bring of these cases bring something greater to the cause?

Thursday, February 19, 2009

The New York Times Reports on Education

This story from The New York Times has been widely discussed but not here, until now.
A recent study by researchers at the University of California, Irvine, found that a third of students surveyed said that they expected B’s just for attending lectures, and 40 percent said they deserved a B for completing the required reading.

“I noticed an increased sense of entitlement in my students and wanted to discover what was causing it,” said Ellen Greenberger, the lead author of the study, called “Self-Entitled College Students: Contributions of Personality, Parenting, and Motivational Factors,” which appeared last year in The Journal of Youth and Adolescence.

Professor Greenberger said that the sense of entitlement could be related to increased parental pressure, competition among peers and family members and a heightened sense of achievement anxiety.

Aaron M. Brower, the vice provost for teaching and learning at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, offered another theory.

“I think that it stems from their K-12 experiences,” Professor Brower said. “They have become ultra-efficient in test preparation. And this hyper-efficiency has led them to look for a magic formula to get high scores.”

James Hogge, associate dean of the Peabody School of Education at Vanderbilt University, said: “Students often confuse the level of effort with the quality of work. There is a mentality in students that ‘if I work hard, I deserve a high grade.’ “

In line with Dean Hogge’s observation are Professor Greenberger’s test results. Nearly two-thirds of the students surveyed said that if they explained to a professor that they were trying hard, that should be taken into account in their grade.

In one of my classes, I am rather unimpressed with my students as most of the them are failing to put in any effort whatsoever. What concerns me most seems to be a total lack of curiosity, which develops even before the students decide as to whether or not they should put any effort into an assignment. They do not seem to read and I mean read anything-- whether it is The New York Times, the books for their course, or literature. [On a side note- I did not assign a textbook this Spring because I could give them notes and readings to avoid over-paying for a text that they would not open.]

The larger issue is cultural and structural: what is the best way to prepare students for higher education so they will develop a sense of curiosity? If you developed this then I do not think that grades would be the focus.

File Under: Do They Think This Will Actually Work?

From Politico:

Under the wise leadership of Michael Steele, the GOP wants to be the Party of Hip Hop:
Newly elected Republican National Committee Chairman Michael S. Steele plans an “off the hook” public relations offensive to attract younger voters, especially blacks and Hispanics, by applying the party's principles to “urban-suburban hip-hop settings....”

”There was underlying concerns we had become too regionalized and the party needed to reach beyond our comfort” zones, he said, citing defeats in such states as Virginia and North Carolina. “We need messengers to really capture that region - young, Hispanic, black, a cross section ... We want to convey that the modern-day GOP looks like the conservative party that stands on principles. But we want to apply them to urban-surburban hip-hop settings.”

Interestingly enough, Steele believes that if it uses new technology such as the internets, the party will be able to attract new voters. So, let's clarify: for over forty years, the GOP ran the Southern Strategy, appealing to racial attitudes in voters. Now, because of demographic shifts, bad ideas, and a complete and total governing failure, the GOP thinks it can reverse the past forty years, or completely forget they occurred, and try to reach out to a new audience.

Imagine the ad copy for one of these commercials: "For over forty years, we, as a party, have done everything in our power, to stop economic programs that would help you; to under-fund your schools and make sure your children could not advance in society; and. to label the opposing party as one that would that spoke for non-white minorities. We have told you that you are lazy and it is your own damn fault if you do not succeed like other, wealthier Americans who receive better educations and live in more prosperous neighborhoods and who can always get out of trouble. We have allowed crime to infect your neighborhoods and to make sure you are put in jail more often and for longer periods of time. Time after time, we have run political ads that make it appear you infringe upon what you should not have because we don't want you to have it. Just call Harold Ford to find out.

But times change. Because we have failed at everything we have recently tried, our voters have abandoned us. Now we need your help. Minorities: we will not like you and we will continue to under-fund any programs you need or want. We will continue to criticize your culture as, we believe, it denigrates society. But, please, when you enter the ballot box, remember how stupid you think we your are and vote for us. That is before we eliminate the Voting Rights Act."

I think that the GOP may have an issue with its initial credibility.

Opposing Non-Existent Legislation

I think it would be pretty embarrassing create a political movement in order to oppose legislation that didn't actually exist as the Catholic Church is doing with the Freedom of CHoice Act (FOCA).

Maybe instead of fighting legislation that did not exists, the good ol' Catholic Church could do something useful and oppose other forms of injustice that counters Catholic thought such unjust wars or the death penalty. Maybe it could do a better job of helping lower and middle class families through this time of economic uncertainty.

Instead, the Catholic Church continues to "fight the good fight" against bills that don't exist. Oh, and reinstate Holocaust denying Bishops that are extreme conservatives.

Remind me to never...

...have my picture taken at an event that Gwen and J.Lo are also attending. Everyone looks ugly compared to those women.

Handbaskets, The Middle East, and well, you know the rest. . .

I believe this article explains the title.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Ideology and the Classroom

Maybe Stanley Fish could write a coherent and useful story on an actual threat to Academic Freedom like this story from CNN.

Well, stop me if you heard this one before. Because of a massive budget shortfall-- I wonder who caused it, but I digress,--, State Republican Representatives from Georgia want to control the content of education at the University of Georgia and Georgia State. With the help of the Christian Coalition, the Reps desire to pull funding from programs in which professors cover oral sex, male prostitution, and Queer Theory. Well, professors don't actually teach classes in oral sex or male prostitution, and they especially do not teach these courses as a "how to" course, though those that object insist they may, but two state Republican representatives object to classes in Queer Theory and professors who research oral sex and male prostitution as these topics are not to be considered valid education, especially when there are economic problems.

While the reps cannot directly hire or fire professors, they believe that they can control knowledge through economic means. It does not matter to these reps that the research can produce important knowledge in areas such as HIV. Of course, Christianists don't really care about services or research that can help in an empirical world. According to one report, Reps:
Hill and Byrd were incensed to learn a University of Georgia professor teaches a graduate course on "queer theory." They also took aim at Georgia State University, where an annual guide to its faculty experts lists a sociology lecturer as an expert in oral sex and faculty member Kirk Elifson as an expert in male prostitution."

One of the reps stated:
"Our job is to educate our people in sciences, business, math," said Hill, a vice chairman of the budget-writing House Appropriations Committee. He said professors aren't going to meet those needs "by teaching a class in queer theory."

I am sure that, according to these reps, evolution in Biology is not valid science and should be removed from public universities.

Maybe we should give all students MBAs, that will help our economy recover. It is not as if business professionals, say those with MBAs, who got us into this mess that caused the shortfall. Oops.

A better idea: in order to close the shortfall, let's do something radical: since religion is so heavily connected to politics, especially in Georgia, I believe that we should tax churches and religious organizations. This way churches can continue to interfere in political debates, even if it is better policy to ignore those churches in the area of education, and the state can bring in more revenue by eliminating the tax exemptions churches believe they are entitled to as a price to stay out of politics.

Or maybe the state representatives can go through religious doctrine and pick and choose what is the best and what the people in the state should follow. If the Christian Coalition can know literature, sociology and biology, maybe a few literature professors or state law-makers can become experts in theology or, for some religious organizations, biblical literalism that these organizations employ instead of theology. I am sure that many English professors could provide a better, deeper reading of Leviticus or Job than some ministers and, most likely, these two representatives could.

This is your life GOP. And it is ending one minute at a time.

An Ideologue Responds to Bristol Palin's Interview, Declares it an Uncomfortable Experience

Recently, Supadiscomama celebrated Bristol Palin's handling of her first television interview--particularly Britol's refreshing acknowledgment that abstinence-only education is unrealistic, and her assertion of personal choice with regards to her own pregnancy.

As Sarah Palin remains a model for all that the Republican Party ought to be in the eyes of Townhall bloggers, it was only a matter of time before one of them would break the silence on Bristol's interview, and go into spin control mode.

Asserting that the interview was awkward and "painful to get through," Ericka Andersen today writes that:

In between eye aversions and like, not wanting to get into personal details, Bristol gave us no more insight than a typical confession segment on the Real World. She said she wanted to "prevent" teen pregnancy but called abstinence an "unrealistic" way to think because "its more accepted now" to have sex outside of marriage at a young age. Van Susteren reminded that Bristol's mother supports abstinence-only education. Bristol sounded just like herself -- a teenager who just had a baby out of wedlock.

The money component of all of this is of course the implication that a pregnant, unmarried teenager is hardly qualified to weigh in on the desireability or effectiveness of abstinence-only education.

"So Bristol Palin has spoken and Tripp has been seen by the world," Andersen concludes, compassionately adding: "Here's to hoping I avoid anymore cringe-worthy interviews like this one."

Rough when hard doctrine runs up against the human experience one supposes. If only there were no people out there, everything would be perfect.


The gates appear to have opened on denying Bristol Palin's credibility on the cultural issue which she has, largely through the efforts of people like Marybeth Hicks, come to emblematize. Hicks in this column disparages the notion of realism altogether when it comes to unmarried teen sex. She offers the totally applicable analogy of a parent expecting their kids to put their shoes in the desginated spot by the door, even with the full knowledge that kids will keep putting shoes where they want.

This snippet here perfectly illustrates Hicks' impregnable (heh) reasoning:

Miss Palin may think her parents' advice regarding abstinence was unrealistic, but I think that was the 18-year-old daughter talking.

The 18-year-old mother will soon discover that unrealistic expectations drive the parenting bus.

With time and experience, perhaps she'll discover that we parents have another name for those unrealistic expectations. We call them "ideals."

Again, the sheer doctrinal hubris of these people, their willingness to dismiss reality itself even as they insist the right to appropriate the ideals of "we parents," is simply stunning.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Needlepoint Rhetoric

This strikes Harrogate, first of all, as a manifestly true statement that this "craftster" artist has now immortalized, fittingly, onto a bedroom pillow.

Kenneth Burke would likely have no objections to it.

A friend, Harrogate will not reveal which one, just revealed the existence of this image, which by the way emblemizes a wondrous validation of the truth that ye must never assume things about a given Rhetorical Situation. Now and forevermore, we may associate Needlepointing and Orgies.

Tuesday Musical Tribute

"Train Song." Thick with Ethos. Take time listen. Ugh.

A follow-up for the ladies.

I think I might like Bristol Palin a little bit.

Fuck teen abstinence as a realistic plan to prevent teen pregnancy.

Monday, February 16, 2009

A gift for Oxymoron (and everyone else)

Summing Up the Bush Administration

If we consider all that has happened in the past eight years under the Bush Administration and, when it occurred, the GOP, I think that this may be the best phrase to describe what these people did to the country and the world: enhanced proctological examination.

For more read here, here, and here.

Committing to a Premise

Waiting 2: Still Waiting

Can even Harrogate find this funny?
Is the "shenanigans in a setting I'm familiar with" excuse strong enough to hold up against this mirthless soulbortion?

(And, for those as stuck in the auteur mindset as I am: same writer/director as the original. Apparently, there were questions left unanswered for a future generation.)

Now, I remember full well when Solon sent me out for Nazi scalps...

...and I find this premise welcoming and familiar.

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Sunday Night Musical Tribute

Hello all. Unlike Roof Almighty Harrogate believes strongly in straight-up here's a cool song posts.

Here's a song Harrogate has listened to at least once a day since he discovered its existence early last week. This badass's name is Shawn Mullins. The record is Honeydew, the sublime song is called "Cabbagetown." Roof, you'll like this Song. Harrogate's gonna go ahead and chalk it up in the label, in fact,

Harrogate will be buying this record at the nearest opportunity.

This is one of those songs, you just sit back and let it happen.

Headline of the Day

From CNN: "GOP senators say Obama off to bad start."

I am quite shocked by the headline in the way I have been shocked to hear conservatives defend #43.

The article does have this gem:
"If this is going to be bipartisanship, the country's screwed," Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-South Carolina, told ABC's "This Week." "I know bipartisanship when I see it."

Let's see is we can understand this. The GOP engaged in a process to bankrupt and break the company, er... country, which must have been deliberate as the actions of the GOP were so inept. However, when no one wants to listen to the GOP because they continue to adhere to their basic principles, they cry foul.

Lindsey Graham, man of principle.