News of the Week (October 7th, 2018)

 

News of the Week for Oct. 7th, 2018


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Of Bath Salts and Presidential Campaigns

     2016 Presidential candidate for the Libertarian Party nomination, John McAfee, has announced that he plans to run again. And just what was the subject of his announcement? How awesome “bath salts” are and how he’s done “more than you and ten of your friends could f***in’ carry.”

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Quick Takes – Mentally Ill Education: Psychological Disorders; Genital Self Esteem; The New Red Guard

     Another “quick takes” on items where there is too little to say to make a complete article, but is still important enough to comment on.

     The focus this time: When I went to YOUR schools, I went to YOUR churches, I went to YOUR institutional learning facilities?! So how can you say I’M crazy?

     First, a little mood music:

     Carrying on…

     Despite dumbing down college academics in order to make sure that everyone goes to college, it would seem that it is still too much for many students.

“As many as one in four students at some elite U.S. colleges are now classified as disabled, largely because of mental-health issues such as depression or anxiety, entitling them to a widening array of special accommodations like longer time to take exams…

“Small, private schools have the greatest concentration of students with disabilities. Among the 100 four-year, not-for-profit colleges with the highest percentage of disabled students, 93 are private, according to a WSJ analysis of federal data.

“Public schools have also seen a significant uptick in test accommodations. From 2011 to 2016, the number of students with special accommodations increased by an average of 71% among 22 flagship state schools”.

Further:

“20 hours a week of the typically milquetoast make-work […] doesn’t genuinely deserve to be called ‘academics’ is so stressful that it causes two-thirds of college students to feel ‘overwhelming anxiety.’ I’ve seen “graduate-level’ assignments that comprise writing brief online forum posts and PowerPoint presentations, and not from the kind of institutions people think of as diploma mills, either. If a sixth grader can do it, it’s not ‘graduate-level’ work, let alone ‘college-level’ work.”

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Academia Down The Memory Hole

     George Orwell introduced us to the concept of the “Memory Hole”, where inconvenient documents and records are disappeared as if they never existed. In the novel 1984, this memory hole was a literal hole that lead to an incinerator that destroyed the physical documentation. This book was meant to be a warning, not a how-to-guide.

     However, physical documentation that is widely distributed can be difficult, particularly with peer-reviewed journals whose printed issues are distributed to a myriad of university libraries. This isn’t a problem with digital information, such as with early publishing of papers online or with online only journals.

     Such is the an article concerning the “Greater Male Variability Hyposthesis” by Georgia Tech Mathematics Professor Ted Hill. Prof. Hill. For the inconvenient presentation of evidence that biological males tend to show greater variability than biological females (for both humans and other animals), the journal Mathematic Intelligencer, who had initially decided to publish the paper, ended up rejecting it after the journal was harassed by people calling it “bad and harmful” with the National Science Foundation demanded to not be attributed for the funding. In and of itself, this is despicable, but hardly unprecedented, with plenty of examples of innocuous studies and papers being attacked and their authors silenced for daring to try to put their wrongthink into print. However, it get far, far worse.

     After the post-acceptance rejection, the paper was accepted and published by the New York Journal of Mathematics, and online journal. However, the digital memory hole awaited, as the Professor describes:

“On October 13, a lifeline appeared. Igor Rivin, an editor at the widely respected online research journal, the New York Journal of Mathematics, got in touch with me. He had learned about the article from my erstwhile co-author, read the archived version, and asked me if I’d like to submit a newly revised draft for publication. Rivin said that Mark Steinberger, the NYJM’s editor-in-chief, was also very positive and that they were confident the paper could be refereed fairly quickly. I duly submitted a new draft (this time as the sole author) and, after a very positive referee’s report and a handful of supervised revisions, Steinberger wrote to confirm publication on November 6, 2017. Relieved that the ordeal was finally over, I forwarded the link to interested colleagues.

“Three days later, however, the paper had vanished. And a few days after that, a completely different paper by different authors appeared at exactly the same page of the same volume (NYJM Volume 23, p 1641+) where mine had once been. As it turned out, Amie Wilkinson is married to Benson Farb, a member of the NYJM editorial board. Upon discovering that the journal had published my paper, Professor Farb had written a furious email to Steinberger demanding that it be deleted at once. ‘Rivin,’ he complained, ‘is well-known as a person with extremist views who likes to pick fights with people via inflammatory statements.’ Farb’s ‘father-in law…a famous statistician,’ he went on, had ‘already poked many holes in the ridiculous paper.’ My paper was ‘politically charged’ and ‘pseudoscience’ and ‘a piece of crap’ and, by encouraging the NYJM to accept it, Rivin had ‘violat[ed] a scientific duty for purely political ends.’

“Unaware of any of this, I wrote to Steinberger on November 14, to find out what had happened. I pointed out that if the deletion were permanent, it would leave me in an impossible position. I would not be able to republish anywhere else because I would be unable to sign a copyright form declaring that it had not already been published elsewhere. Steinberger replied later that day. Half his board, he explained unhappily, had told him that unless he pulled the article, they would all resign and “harass the journal” he had founded 25 years earlier ‘until it died.’ Faced with the loss of his own scientific legacy, he had capitulated. ‘A publication in a dead journal,’ he offered, ‘wouldn’t help you.'”

     Even if a paper is later retracted in a paper journal, it still exists in that printed form. Now, the difficulty of sending things down the memory hole have become as easy as replacing a web page or two. This isn’t even limited to academic journals, but more so to streaming services and books or other information “purchased” via app stores where you have only purchased the “right” to hear/read something only for as long as the company that “sold” it to you decides to allow you to.

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The European Digital Panopticon and the Silencing of Dissent

     Not satisfied with throttling free speech through vague and excessive copyright restrictions, the European Union is looking to abolish all expressions of thoughtcrime as well as the privacy that inhibits the ability of the technocratic overlords to monitor and control what the serfs talk about and quash anything doubleplusungood.

     Specifically, the European Union wants the power to define what is “unacceptable” or promotes “exclusion and hatred”, as some Eurocrat may arbitrarily and capriciously decide.

“‘Media can build the culture of dialogue or sow divisions, spread disinformation and encourage exclusion,’ the commissioner [of justice, consumers, and gender equality] said. ‘The Brexit debate is the best example of that.’ Politicians should ‘show responsibility’ and ‘restraint,’ and must ‘realize that their words become justification for some people to act on their urges and their fears.'”

     More specifically to counter what the new Feudal lords and their gentry class bureaucrats deem to involve “‘exclusion, discrimination and lack of respect for minorities have spilled over from the margins to the center and don’t meet enough resistance from the media, politicians or opinion leaders.'”

     To implement this, media would be regulated to make sure that they define the limits of what is “unacceptable” according to “potential” new regulations under a ” European approach to media based on quality and smart regulation, if needed”.

     Any voice that opposes unrestricted importation of “refugees” would be silenced and those platforms who enabled it would be punished. From the above tone, wanting to leave the EU could be a doubleplusungood position that must be throttled. Even the slightest criticism could be deemed prohibitable as being contrary to the values of the European Union.

     But it goes beyond that. Private communication itself could be banned with virtually all online forums and groups, including closed groups that are private, to provide the authorities with a full list of members or even one time posters. That’s right, people would not be able to privately discuss anything online; that the European Union, which makes laws and regulations in secret, is not affected by this makes it clear that the distant elite want to keep a check on the people while being free from the restraint from the same.

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Censoring the Law?

     Twitter is openly blocking doubleplusungood tweets that utter the phrase “illegal alien“.

     Slight problem is that that is an actual term used in actual Federal Law:

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News of the Week (September 30th, 2018)

 

News of the Week for Sept. 30th, 2018


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Kavanaugh Hearings: Verdict First Trial Later

     The Senate Committee holding hearings for Supreme Court nominee Judge Brett Kavanagaugh have heard from his first, and more credible, of his accusers and from Judge Kavanaugh himself. There were two aspects to the hearing: An inquiry into the veracity of the accusation and politicial drama that was based on pure emotion.

     The honest inquiry into the veracity of Prof. Ford’s claims was brief and matter of fact, limited by the necessity of dividing up the questioning into 5-minute chucks bewteen the Democratic members of the Comittee waxing poetically over Ford as a victim. While some may decry the kind, emotionless, and matter-of-fact approach of Rachel Mitchell, who spoke to Ford on behalf of the Republican members of the committee, Mitchell nonetheless did lay bare many inconsistencies even there was no knock-out blow that people have come to expect from TV courtroom shows. This went from a “he said she said” scenario to one where the “he said” side offered evidence and witness statements. This approach also allowed the Republican members of the committee to avoid look like the Spanish Inquisition interrogating a woman who was portrayed as a weak and vulnerable waif in need of sympathy.

     Alone, Ford’s half of the hearing would have been devastating. However, Judge Kavanaugh met emotion with emotion, to the point where he stirred the Republican members to decry the bullying and delaying tactics of the Democratic Senators, and even early on cower some of said members. The Republicans on the Committee have looked at the evidence and have sided with Judge Kavanaugh, which is why they believe that further delay is not warranted. Sen. Lindsey Graham was particularly notable in his defense of Kavanaugh and his disgust with the circus around him.

     Meanwhile, the Democratic members of the committee, perhaps because of their “questioning” of Dr. Ford that they referred to Judge Kavanaugh as someone who they considered guilty combined with a lack of intestinal fortitude to come right out as say they thought he was an accused rapist, relegated themselves to character assassination over Judge Kavanaugh’s legal drinking in school and college and trying to portray him as a denizen of Animal House.

     The spectacle even devolved into questioning over… high school fart jokes.

     It is a sad state of affairs when the future of the Supreme Court—the future of the United States of America itself—is dependent on the explanation and nuances of a teenage fart joke.

     The only other tactic the Democratic members of the Committee had was to demand an FBI investigation. While this is just part and parcel of an established list of delaying tactics, it a move that could garner support, or at least give a fig leaf to Senators who will vote NO. However, there is something about the hearings that no one is talking about that demonstrates the protest by those who demand we delay the Kavanaugh vote, to investigate what happened, to be absolutely malicious: Most Democrat Senators in committee already declared him guilty.

     In many, of not most, of their “questions” to Dr. Ford, Democrat Senators spoke not of the alleged or purported assault, but of when—not if—Judge Kavanaugh assaulted her. How can the Senate Democrats on the Committee decry lack of investigation during the hearings when they’ve already gotten sufficient evidence, as far as they are concerned, to reach a verdict?

     In effect, the Senate Democrats are saying “Verdict First; Trial Later”.

     Update: A salient point was made about the call for an FBI report.

     During the Clarence Thomas hearing, Senator Leahy was on the Committee at that time as well; despite the FBI report, he still not only voted NO, but also still says to this day that he believes Anita Hill. Even with a FBI report that did not substantiate claims against the nominee, opposition from Leahy was unchanged. Why would a FBI report now, then, make a difference?

     Update 2: Senator Flake has voted with the Committee to advance the nomination to the full Senate, but wants a time and scope limited FBI investigation before said vote in a weeks time, and Senator Murkowski agrees. While an FBI report that doesn’t add anything to what is already known won’t change Leahy’s or most other Democrats’ votes, it would give Sens. Murkowski, Flake, and Collins the cover to vote YES.

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Quick Takes – Broke: Mathematics; Woke: STEAM; Bespoke: Social Justice Mathematics

     Another “quick takes” on items where there is too little to say to make a complete article, but is still important enough to comment on.

     The focus this time: 2 + 2 = 5

     First, a little mood music:

     Carrying on…

     What would a professor who specialized in “equity issues in mathematics education” think what should be don’t about all that icky “objects, truths, and knowledge” in math?

     Something called “Mathematx

“The relationship between humans, mathematics, and the planet has been one steeped too long in domination and destruction. What are appropriate responses to reverse such a relationship? How do we do work now (inside and outside of schools) that will reverberate and touch the lives of future generations? Drawing upon Indigenous worldviews to reconceptualize what mathematics is and how it is practiced, I argue for a movement against objects, truths, and knowledge towards a way of being in the world that is guided by first principles–mathematx. This shift from thinking of mathematics as a noun to mathematx as a verb holds potential for honouring our connections with each other as human and other-than-human persons, for balancing problem solving with joy, and for maintaining critical bifocality at the local and global level.”

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Transing Academia

     Yuval Levin pointed out in the book “Tyranny of Reason”, a religious limitation to objective scientific study by, IIRC, Aquinas that stipulated that observation and reason ought to be paramount provided that such evidence is not construed to contradict devine truth, in which case it is the evidence, or more specifically the interpretation of the obvious truth, which must be eschewed because it contradicts the pre-determined truth and accuracy of a reality which is presumed to be true based upon an unwavering religious revelation of adherence.

     While such a sentiment could, and has, been often used to belittle any scientist with a shred of religious sentiment—and even those who don’t seek recourse to religious scripture but are simply deferential to the accumulated knowledge of the ages—such sentiment is now considered sacrosanct when it facilitates the view of the the post-Modernist Left who revel in (pseudo-)relativist eschatons of feelz.

     Such is a case with a condemned research article that noted that many adolescents who declared themselves to be “transgender” did so after exposure to social media that extolled such “transgender” mentality or moreover to the presence of peers who demonstrated their institutional wokeness by coming out as “transgender” and being praised by the institutionally privileged and institutionally empowered.

     And just who condemned such thoughtcrime?

     The university, Brown University, where the author currently works. Rather than support their own faculty, the university decided to condemn any mention of such heresy not based on any reasoned objection, but based on how a study could “invalidate the perspectives of members of the transgender community“.

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