Minding one’s own business

A recent article in the Connecticut Mirror covered Senator McCaskill’s concern about how colleges are (mis)handling allegations of rape. There is a planted assumption here, which really merits being pulled out and examined. A little history is necessary.

Historically, tension existed between universities and the towns in which they were located. This “town-gown” dynamic led to universities establishing their own police forces. These university police had a dual role: maintaining order on campus; perhaps more importantly, protecting university members from local authorities.

Within living memory, colleges were expected to act in loco parentis, that is, in the parents’ place. Colleges had rules governing contact between the sexes, and the use of alcohol, among other things. Many colleges were segregated sexually; those that weren’t certainly had dorms that were.
While certainly not perfect, this combination of police and parent powers gave the universities the tools needed to maintain some level of order and civility within their walls. This system was dismantled in the 1960s and 1970s. Administrations ceded their “parental” responsibilities. Schools and dorms went coed. Any remaining regulations on alcohol went unenforced.

What remained was the adversarial relationship between town and gown, with college administrators still feeling a vestigial duty to “take care of their own”. This means keeping government police off campus. Powerless to set policies that might prevent problems on campus, universities now find themselves burdened with the need to adjudicate problems after the fact. The problem is that colleges have no judicial structure, no training or skill in sorting out facts and determining culpability.

How then is it a surprise that colleges are performing poorly a task for which they are utterly unsuited? Expecting them to enforce “town” laws on “gown” members is to ask them to violate an ethos so deeply ingrained that the colleges may no longer even be aware of it.
The solution seems fairly obvious: don’t ask colleges to be courts. When a crime has been alleged, engage the criminal justice system. As long as universities are powerless in exercising parental rights, they should be held blameless in student misconduct. Maybe, if we let the police do the policing, judges do the adjudication, and universities do the educating, all three jobs will be better performed.

Obama gives commencement address where students can’t protest

There may be more objectionable lines in the speech, but here is one that begs to be deconstructed:
“In fact, by most measures America has rarely been stronger relative to the rest of the world.”
So.
1. “By most measures”. Therefore, not by all measures. One is interested to know which measures don’t show America as stronger.
2. “America has rarely been stronger”. The key word here is the adverb “rarely”. One can only conclude that America has been stronger at some points in the past. When? This phrase can equally be said “America has been stronger”. Sounds very different, doesn’t it?
3. “relative to the rest of the world”. This is an interesting qualifier. One possible interpretation is that America is now weaker than in the past, but the rest of the world has weakened even more than America, leaving America “strong” “relative to the rest of the world”.
In sum and in fine, America is weaker than in the past, but that’s OK but because the rest of the world is even weaker. By most measures, so by some measures America is not stronger relative to the rest of the world.
Feel secure?

Nature Reports Genesis 2:6-7 and 7:11

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Now no shrub had yet appeared on the earth[a] and no plant had yet sprung up, for the Lord God had not sent rain on the earth and there was no one to work the ground, but streams[b] came up from the earth and watered the whole surface of the ground

Genesis 2:6-7

In the six hundredth year of Noah’s life, on the seventeenth day of the second month—on that day all the springs of the great deep burst forth

Genesis 7:11

The ultimate origin of water in the Earth’s hydrosphere is in the deep Earth

Nature

Short version of the story from USA Today.

Courageous But Misguided Venezuelan Artist Speaks Out

Gabriella Montero, a Venezuelan classical pianist currently on tour in Europe, has published some messages on Facebook protesting the killing of protestors in Caracas. Alas, she feels constrained to include this disclaimer:

Let me be clear. I believe that the resources of Venezuela belong to ALL Venezuelans, and that ALL Venezuelans should benefit equally from our fortunate position as custodians of the world’s largest oil reserves and other natural riches.

Ms. Montero should take a brief break from her music and study some history and/or economics. Her critique of the current criminal government of Venezuela is correct, and courageous. Sadly, she seems unaware that her expressed beliefs require a brutal tyranny. She seems further unaware that claiming philosophical solidarity with the ‘ideals’ of communism will provide her no protection from the wrath of the tyrant and his minions. Artists and comrades are tolerated only as long as they are useful to the regime. Appealing to shared ideals will not work:

  1. The stated goals of communism presuppose violence and tyranny. What, after all, does ‘dictatorship of the proletariat’ mean? Stacy McCain has done a tremendous job pulling together the proof that violence and terror are fundamental to communism.
  2. People like Ms. Montero who believe in communist ideals simply do not understand that the founders and leaders of every communist movement have no ideals. They are driven by lust for power.

Ms. Montero would be well-advised to stay out of Venezuela. If Miss Venezuela for 2005 can be murdered in broad daylight, who will protect a pianist, however prominent, who has criticized the regime?

He Had A Hammer

…and he had a sickle.

Unrepentant Stalinist Pete Seeger has died at the age of 94. He was a loyal comrade to the end, adopting every Communist position of the moment, regardless of how contradictory it was to the position immediately preceding. Emphatically unrelentingly pacifist during the period of the Nazi-Soviet Pact, he became a strong supporter of WW2 once Stalin attacked Hitler.

Not until 2009 did Seeger express any form of regret, even if phony regret, for his unwavering support of Stalin. And even that concession is of questionable sincerity, given that as recently as 2011, he aligned himself with the anti-Semites of the BDS (Boycott, Disinvest and Sanctions) movement which seeks the destruction of the state of Israel.

Having spent 65 years (he joined the Communist Party in 1939) encouraging those who created a Hell on Earth, Pete Seeger now gets to experience the real thing.

Helping Harvey Weinstein

On Piers Morgan:I’m not going to make some crazy action movie just to blow up people and exploit people just for the sake of making it.”

In real life: Quentin Tarantino “has just begun talking to Harvey Weinstein about how they’re going to make” The Hateful Eight.

The mind boggles at the prospect of a Tarantino Western that doesn’t “blow up people and exploit people just for the sake of making it”.