Tuesday, November 10, 2015

Some things I found today on the Internet

In no particular order, here are some items that grabbed my attention today....

To paraphrase George W. Bush, "Is our children learning the First Amendment?"

via the New York Daily News:
The University of Missouri professor caught on camera calling for “muscle"to remove a student journalist from a protest continued harassing him for several minutes, and even boasted about her role as a media teacher, as seen in extended video of the infamous confrontation.

Assistant Professor Melissa Click earned national scorn Monday after a video showed her joining students in browbeating photographer Tim Tai, who was freelancing for ESPN to cover the racially-charged protests that led to school president Tim Wolfe stepping down.

Click is heard yelling with students for Tai to stop taking photos and step away from an encampment on school grounds. The protesters repeatedly push Tai as he tries explaining how the First Amendment works.

At the end of the video, another student reporter, Mark Schierbecker, tries talking to Click. She tells him to “get out,” hits his camera and yells: "Who wants to help me get this reporter out of here? I need some muscle over here.”

Schierbecker posted a longer video Tuesday morning, showing that Click kept confronting him and rallying students against the media.

When Schierbecker reminds Click he’s filming on public property, the professor puts her hand over his lens and drops her voice to a mocking tone.


After the video of her rants went viral, she made her Twitter account private and removed her photo from it. Her voicemail box was full Tuesday morning and she did not return requests for comment.

Mizzou Journalism School Dean David Kurpius slammed Click on Twitter, making sure his followers know she is not a part of his school.

"We stand by journalists and our students," he wrote.

Here's the video of the students confronting the media. Click here to fast forward to the section of the video where Professor Click tries to intimidate the videographer.

Bottom line, kids, if you're going to get involved in some newsworthy event, you should know that lots of people with notebooks and cameras will show up and write down what you say and take your picture. As someone in The Godfather once said, "It's business, not personal."


The word for today is, "micro-aggression"

via The Atlantic:
The Coddling of the American Mind

In the name of emotional well-being, college students are increasingly demanding protection from words and ideas they don’t like. Here’s why that’s disastrous for education—and mental health.


Something strange is happening at America’s colleges and universities. A movement is arising, undirected and driven largely by students, to scrub campuses clean of words, ideas, and subjects that might cause discomfort or give offense. Last December, Jeannie Suk wrote in an online article for The New Yorker about law students asking her fellow professors at Harvard not to teach rape law—or, in one case, even use the word violate (as in “that violates the law”) lest it cause students distress. In February, Laura Kipnis, a professor at Northwestern University, wrote an essay in The Chronicle of Higher Education describing a new campus politics of sexual paranoia—and was then subjected to a long investigation after students who were offended by the article and by a tweet she’d sent filed Title IX complaints against her. In June, a professor protecting himself with a pseudonym wrote an essay for Vox describing how gingerly he now has to teach. “I’m a Liberal Professor, and My Liberal Students Terrify Me,” the headline said. A number of popular comedians, including Chris Rock, have stopped performing on college campuses (see Caitlin Flanagan’s article in this month’s issue). Jerry Seinfeld and Bill Maher have publicly condemned the oversensitivity of college students, saying too many of them can’t take a joke.

Two terms have risen quickly from obscurity into common campus parlance. Microaggressions are small actions or word choices that seem on their face to have no malicious intent but that are thought of as a kind of violence nonetheless. For example, by some campus guidelines, it is a microaggression to ask an Asian American or Latino American “Where were you born?,” because this implies that he or she is not a real American. Trigger warnings are alerts that professors are expected to issue if something in a course might cause a strong emotional response. For example, some students have called for warnings that Chinua Achebe’s Things Fall Apart describes racial violence and that F. Scott Fitzgerald’s The Great Gatsby portrays misogyny and physical abuse, so that students who have been previously victimized by racism or domestic violence can choose to avoid these works, which they believe might “trigger” a recurrence of past trauma.


Mayor Philip Levine's $400 million band aids

via Vanity Fair:
Can Miami Beach Survive Global Warming?


In the summer of 2013, one of the leading candidates in Miami Beach’s mayoral race, a businessman named Philip Levine, released a TV commercial that showed him kayaking his way home through traffic in a Paddington hat and a plastic poncho, accompanied by his boxer, Earl, who was kitted out in a life jacket. “In some parts of the world,” Levine said in the spot, “going around the city by boat is pretty cool. Like Venice. But in Miami Beach, when it rains, it floods. That’s got to stop. Because I’m just not sure how much more of this Earl and I can take.”
By the time I actually met Philip Levine, earlier this year, he was in Miami Beach’s City Hall. “You know how some people say they got swept into office?” he said, sitting at the head of a conference table, with Earl lounging serenely at his feet. “I always laugh and say I got floated into office.”

Two years ago, Levine won the mayoral election, having made the city’s constant flooding a central issue of his campaign. (As this story was going to press, he was running for a second two-year term and was widely expected to be re-elected.) A chipper 53-year-old native of Hollywood, Florida, 20 miles north of the city he now oversees, Levine is a self-made multi-millionaire who earned his fortune in the cruise-ship business, starting out in the late 1980s as an onboard lecturer who filled in passengers on the exciting things to see and do in each port of call—“I was kind of like Julie on The Love Boat,” he said. He parlayed this experience into a successful company called Onboard Media, which handled the duty-free shops, in-cabin magazines, and in-cabin TV programming for big ocean liners. In 2000, he sold his company to LVMH Mo√ęt Hennessy Louis Vuitton, the luxury-goods conglomerate, for a reported $300 million.

Levine models himself after Michael Bloomberg, New York City’s mayor from 2002 to 2013—as a first-time officeholder whose wealth and outsider status allow him to bypass an entrenched political culture of intransigence and inaction. After he took office, in November of 2013, Levine fast-tracked a program to install electric pumps along Alton Road and other prime flooding spots on the city’s west side so that, during a storm surge or high tide, the pumps can be switched on, suctioning water off the streets and out into Biscayne Bay.

The cost of the program is huge, in the range of $400 million—for perspective, nearly the size of the city’s annual budget. So far, the results have been encouraging. In October of 2014, with just a handful of the 80 or so planned pump stations installed, the streets stayed dry during the season’s king tide, and, this season, the results have been much the same. Still, Levine told me, “We don’t declare victory. It’s one small step in a long war that we know we’re facing.”
By Levine’s estimation, these moves are buying Miami Beach 50 years, during which time, he is convinced, scientists will develop ingenious new ways to combat the problem.
To Harold Wanless, such talk is foolishness. In his view, it is already too late; even if everyone in the world stopped burning fossil fuels tomorrow, humankind has already set in motion a chain of catastrophic events that we can’t innovate our way out of. Miami Beach’s new pumps, he said, are “just the tiniest little Band-Aid for a cost of hundreds of millions of dollars, and they certainly won’t get us to the middle of the century.”

Filed under "hypocrisy" and "stupidity"

North Miami Beach Senior High graduate, and Facebook's Chief Operating Officer Sheryl Sandberg gave a speech at the Air Force Academy in Colorado last week.

From the Colorado Springs Gazette:
Corporate America and the military are sexist and show racial bias, a leading businesswoman told cadets Friday at the Air Force Academy.

Sheryl Sandberg, chief operating officer of Facebook and author of the book "Lean In: Women, Work, and the Will to Lead," told a crowd of nearly 3,000 cadets that society tells women they are less competent and capable. She described the military as one of "the worst" organizations for bias during a 30-minute speech.

"Women and minorities face barriers white men don't face," she said.

Meanwhile, over at Facebook: "Facebook only hired seven black people in latest diversity count"
Facebook is still dominated by white men despite Mark Zuckerberg’s repeated promise to get serious about building a workforce that better reflects the diversity of its 1.4 billion global users.

In its diversity report released on Thursday the social network company revealed that more than half of its US staff are white, with the proportion dropping slightly from 57% to 55%. The proportion of Asian employees increased by 2% to 36%, but the shares of hispanic and black people or those of “two or more races” remained flat at 4%, 2% and 3% respectively.

Facebook’s senior leadership is even more homogenous, with 73% of the most important positions filled by white people.


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