Posts Tagged ‘the Constitution’
* MetaFilter has your shutdown megapost, including the list of all the “nonessential” government services that will be closed during the shutdown, including WIC, NIH, the CDC, and the EPA. Here (via Twitter) is the memo from 1995 by which OMB makes its determinations. But don’t worry; progress wealth transfer to rich people continues even in the face of this disaster. zunguzungu: “Essentially Vicious.”
* Meanwhile, liberals have already been rolled on spending cuts with respect to the shutdown and it’s likely to only get worse.
* Peter Frase takes up Graeber’s “On the Phenomenon of Bullshit Jobs.”
* One in ten [student] borrowers across the country, 475,000 people, who entered repayment during the fiscal year ending in September 2011 had defaulted by the following September, the data showed. That’s up from 9.1 percent of a similar cohort of borrowers last year.
Herman Wallace, who was held for more than 40 years in solitary confinement in Louisiana jails, is still being confined inside the prison although Judge Brian Jackson ordered on Tuesday that he be immediately released. Wallace, 71, is suffering from lung cancer and is believed to have just days to live.
We should do what works to strengthen our schools: Provide universal early childhood education (the U.S. ranks 24th among 45 nations, according to the Economist); make sure poor women get good prenatal care so their babies are healthy (we are 131st among 185 nations surveyed, according to the March of Dimes and the United Nations); reduce class size (to fewer than 20 students) in schools where students are struggling; insist that all schools have an excellent curriculum that includes the arts and daily physical education, as well as history, civics, science, mathematics and foreign languages; ensure that the schools attended by poor children have guidance counselors, libraries and librarians, social workers, psychologists, after-school programs and summer programs.
Schools should abandon the use of annual standardized tests; we are the only nation that spends billions testing every child every year. We need high standards for those who enter teaching, and we need to trust them as professionals and let them teach and write their own tests to determine what their students have learned and what extra help they need.
* DDoS attack on the health care exchanges? Or just a whole lot of people wanting to buy insurance?
In a repudiation of a major element in the Bloomberg administration’s crime-fighting legacy, a federal judge has found that the stop-and-frisk tactics of the New York Police Department violated the constitutional rights of tens of thousands of New Yorkers, and called for a federal monitor to oversee broad reforms.
After an arrest was made, agents then pretended that their investigation began with the traffic stop, not with the SOD tip, the former agent said. The training document reviewed by Reuters refers to this process as “parallel construction.”
The two senior DEA officials, who spoke on behalf of the agency but only on condition of anonymity, said the process is kept secret to protect sources and investigative methods. “Parallel construction is a law enforcement technique we use every day,” one official said. “It’s decades old, a bedrock concept.”
Today in the police state: U.S. directs agents to cover up program used to investigate Americans.
There is no possibility that UC faculty will shirk its responsibility to our students by ceding authority over courses to any outside agency.
* ”Education,” said Mr. Chambers. ”The next big killer application for the Internet is going to be education. Education over the Internet is going to be so big it is going to make e-mail usage look like a rounding error” in terms of the Internet capacity it will consume.
What will drive it will be the demands on companies, in an intensely competitive global economy, to keep improving productivity. E-learning, insists Mr. Chambers, if done right, can provide faster learning, at lower costs, with more accountability, thereby enabling both companies and schools to keep up with changes in the global economy that now occur at Net speed. Schools and countries that ignore this, he says, will suffer the same fate as big department stores that thought e-commerce was overrated. Thomas Friedman, The New York Times, November 17, 1999.
A very common mistake entrepreneurs make is to assume that a feature is not necessary because it doesn’t have a lot of usage, thus it can be safely removed from the product. Sometimes that’s the case, but sometimes, not so much.
Google made a big mistake cancelling Google Reader that will have severe ripple effects to its empire. I know a lot has been written about it, but let me give you a different angle on it.
* America in Decline: Young People Are Much Worse Off Than Their Parents Were At That Age.
* Disenfranchisement, 2000s style: 49% of Michigan’s African American Population Is Under an Emergency Manager.
* In a post-employment economy, many are working simply to earn the prospect of making money.
So when a publisher comes to you and says “We like your book, can we buy it?” do not treat them like they are magnanimously offering you a lifetime boon, which if you refuse will never pass your way again. Treat them like what they are: A company who wants to do business with you regarding one specific project. Their job is to try to get that project on the best terms that they can. Your job is to sell it on terms that are most advantageous to you.
Oakland Police kept a man on its Most Wanted list for six months though he was not wanted for anything, the man claims in court.
And the most amazing part:
After “nearly a week of hiding in fear,” Van turned himself in on Feb. 13, “to resolve this devastating mistake,” the complaint states.
He was held for 72 hours, never charged with anything, then released, according to the complaint.
Yet on Feb. 14, the Oakland Police Department released a statement, “Most Wanted Turns Himself In,” which began: “One of Oakland’s four most wanted suspects has been taken off the streets. Last week, Oakland’s Police Chief Howard Jordan named Van Chau as one of the City’s four most wanted criminals. Today, the Oakland Police Department reports that Van Chau is off the streets of Oakland and is safely behind bars after turning himself in due to media pressure. Chief Howard Jordan said, ‘A week ago I stood with community members and asked the community to stand with me to fight crime and today we have one less criminal on our streets. Today a victim is one step closer to justice.’”
* The State Department’s latest environmental assessment of the controversial Keystone XL oil pipeline makes no recommendation about whether President Obama should approve it. Here is ours. He should say no, and for one overriding reason: A president who has repeatedly identified climate change as one of humanity’s most pressing dangers cannot in good conscience approve a project that — even by the State Department’s most cautious calculations — can only add to the problem. Good conscience! Good conscience! Hilarious.
* “It’s not for everyone”: working as a slavery re-enactor at Colonial Williamsburg.
* Nation’s Millionaires Agree: We Must All Do More With Less.
* The world’s most useless governmental agency, the FEC, is still trying to figure out fines for crimes committed three elections ago.
* Anarchism: illegal in Oklahoma since 1919!
* Also from the Teens: Dateline 1912: The Salt Lake Tribune speculates about “vast thinking vegetable” on Mars.
* Charlotte Perkins Gilman was right: New Experiment Suggests Mammals Could Reproduce Entirely By Cloning.
* 11 More Weird & Wonderful Wikipedia Lists. Don’t miss the list of fictional ducks and the list of films considered the worst.
* And let freedom ring: Judge strikes down NYC ban on supersized sodas.
Today’s hearing on the Voting Rights Act featured some of Scalia’s most breathtaking anti-textualist and ad-hoc reasoning ever. The argument is literally that the Supreme Court is tasked to strike down popular laws because otherwise they’ll be continually reauthorized in perpetuity because people want them. Like the Founders intended!
More here and here. My sole consolation here is @studentactivism’s shocking discovery that Scalia’s entire term on the Supreme Court is null and void by the well-known Constitutional principle that it doesn’t count if it was unanimous. Article 1. Look it up.
The already notorious In Praise of the Three-Fifths Compromise piece from Emory’s president has spawned a number of good “teaching moment” pieces from a number of young academic bloggers, as well as a quasi-retraction from Wagner himself. (Don’t call it a gaffe!) First, the retraction; I’m glad this is up so quickly, but it importantly misses the mark.
In retrospect we can fairly ask ourselves, would we have voted for the Constitution—for a new nation, for “a more perfect union”—if it meant including the three fifths compromise? Or would we have voted no—that is, voted not to undertake what I hope we see as a noble experiment, however flawed and imperfect it has been.
To locate this question in the agency of a privileged class—should we have voted for this?—replicates again the error of the original piece, in which the suffering of the disprivileged is bracketed in the name of the “higher purpose” of the elites. It’s a profoundly anti-democratic narrative, in which decision-makers take notice of the consequences of their actions only from 10,000 feet (if they deign to notice at all). This is the angle Natalia Cecire takes up in “Race and the Privilege of Innocence”:
Wagner apologizes for his “clumsiness and insensitivity,” framing his column as a bumbling, stumbling error, a sort of intellectual version of a lack of motor skills. He seems bewildered that anyone could take him to be suggesting that slavery was okay, because that wasn’t his point. But the fact that it wasn’t his point is the point. It only makes sense to view the 3/5 Compromise in a purely formal register—as an example of compromise rather than a famous historical instance of wealthy white men bartering with one another over the political value of black bodies—if you can only imagine yourself as one of the barterers and not as one of the bartered, if slave history is not your history. Wagner was thinking of “compromise” as such, from the point of view of the people in a position to compromise: the wealthy white male landowners who had a legal say in this country’s founding; he is, as it were, innocent of blackness. Circulating in a universe in which enfranchised whiteness is the norm and disenfranchised blackness is not on the radar except as an abstract concept to be bartered over, Wagner demonstrates a basic unawareness, compounded by his after-the-fact bewilderment that others don’t share it.
Tressie McMillan Cotton takes up the difficult task of pulling out the metaphor to the context of cuts to the liberal arts to which it is meant to apply:
What Wagner revealed with his slavery allusion, I believe rather unintentionally, is how ideologues in higher education debates conceive of the spoils. If slaves were a means to an economic and hegemonic end, then education credentials are not conceptually altogether different to those with the authority to have the debate. That distinction matters. As the 3/5ths compromise was for slaveholders an ideological debate as opposed to the material reality of the enslaved, this higher education debate a matter of something altogether more than just an ideological battle over who will control the means of production, whether that be cotton or sheepskins.
And Aaron Bady twists the knife on the figure of the CEO university president:
James Wagner’s casual and apathetic ignorance about slavery is one thing, and his assault on the liberal arts is another. I want to be clear about that: I am not equating them with each other, even if there is a certain overlap (as Tressie McMillan Cottom argues). But the kind of thinking that allows a person to value “compromise,” as such, is the kind of mind that doesn’t care very much about what is being compromised. The kind of mind that can cut a university’s education studies division, physical education department, visual arts department, and journalism program—sacrificing core functions of the university in order to save money so the university can “continue”—is also the kind of mind that could see slavery as the unfortunate broken eggs that were needed to make the national omelette. There is nothing surprising about this, in other words. This is what we should expect when a university president is essentially a CEO. And the easiest response is simply to shrug our shoulders. Can we expect better? Should we be surprised?
UPDATE: Two more good ones. Chris Taylor:
Ultimately, antebellism gears us up for political war only to tell us that the battle has already been decided—there’s no longer any politics, no longer any open struggle through which the future will be decided. Instead, we’re invited to invest political meaning in the technologies of neoliberal governance, in what Wagner calls “the rich tools of compromise.” We need to read Wagner’s choice of example, then, as the end result of an attempt to derive a political feeling from the withdrawal of the political. Ultimately, that’s what all antebellism does: it allows us to feel political even as we abandon the political—or, rather, even as the political abandons us. “Compromise” both names this withdrawal of the political and invests our acquiescence to it with a pseudo-political affect. It does not so much describe a peaceful, pacifying working relationship between willful and opposed political subjects (Republicans and Democrats, say, or partisans of the humanities and the sciences) as it does the conformation of varied and antagonistic political wills to an exorbitant, apolitical logic (i.e., neoliberal capitalism). We don’t compromise so much as our possibility for political action has been compromised. It is our recognition of the compromised nature of any political action that is supposed to subtend all contemporary politics—indeed, it’s supposed to pass as politics.
and Noelle McAfee:
As shocking as Wagner’s invocation of the 3/5 compromise to make a point is, let’s not lose sight of what is so troubling about the point he was trying to make: that maybe the value of the liberal arts should be compromised. If there’s a debate on the value of the liberal arts, let’s have that debate. But rather than do so, the Emory University administration has been unilaterally deciding the outcome of this question. The vast majority of programs chosen for closure in the recent cuts at Emory have been in the arts and humanities. Rather than any open opportunity to come to a collective compromise, the process for the decisions (consulting a committee sworn to silence, which never kept minutes, and hugely underrepresented faculty in the humanities) compromised any chance that those targeted in the humanities could have their say.
Both sides found a way to temper ideology and continue working toward the highest aspiration they both shared—the aspiration to form a more perfect union. They set their sights higher, not lower, in order to identify their common goal and keep moving toward it.
President of Emory (and former dean/provost/interim president of my beloved alma mater) really steps in it, authoring a column that praises the Three-Fifths Compromise in the name of draconian cuts to humanities programs. This was all any academics were talking about on Twitter this afternoon; a tiny sample from my corner of the web.
At the heart of the coming battle over the constitutional right to U.S. citizenship for everyone born in this country is how the 14th Amendment, adopted in 1868, is interpreted. And at the heart of that interpretation is a 112-year-old Supreme Court decision, based on a lawsuit filed by a young man from San Francisco named Wong Kim Ark.
* This weeks’s denunciation of the dissertation, yours at the Chronicle.
* The Man Who Killed Osama bin Laden… Is Screwed. Esquire has been publishing some really interesting journalism lately.
“No one who fights for this country overseas should ever have to fight for a job,” Barack Obama said last Veterans’ Day, “or a roof over their head, or the care that they have earned when they come home.”
But the Shooter will discover soon enough that when he leaves after sixteen years in the Navy, his body filled with scar tissue, arthritis, tendonitis, eye damage, and blown disks, here is what he gets from his employer and a grateful nation:
Nothing. No pension, no health care, and no protection for himself or his family.
* Artist claims to create 3D facial renderings based on discarded cigarette butts. I am extremely skeptical!
* An Occurrence at the O.C. Bridge: “Arrested Development” is George Sr.’s death row fantasy.
* And Slate asks the unthinkable: what if not every show premise can sustain itself forever?
Friday Links! Soviet Choose Your Own Adventure, World Tetris Competition, Gödel vs. the Constitution, and More
* In 1987, an anonymous team of computer scientists from the Kyrgyz Soviet Socialist Republic wrote a series of children’s books based on the popular Choose Your Own Adventure series. The books were hastily translated into English and a small number were exported to America, but the CIA, fearing a possible Soviet mind control scheme, confiscated them all before they could be sold. Now declassified, the books have been lovingly converted to a digital hypertext format and put online for the English-speaking world to enjoy. Via MeFi, which has some highlights from You Will Select a Decision:
“If you follow the bear immediately, turn to page 35.
If you follow the bear after some hesitation, wait for ten seconds and then turn to page 35.”
“If you say yes, turn to page 18
I will not permit you to say no. Turn to page 18.”
* Gödel, in his usual manner, had read extensively in preparing for the hearing. In the course of his studies, Gödel decided that he had discovered a flaw in the U.S. Constitution — a contradiction which would allow the U.S. to be turned into a dictatorship. Gödel, usually quite reticent, seemed to feel a need to make this known. Morgenstern and Einstein warned Gödel that it would be a disaster to confront his citizenship examiner with visions of a Constitutional flaw leading to an American dictatorship.
* This week, Europol, the European Union’s criminal-intelligence division, announced that its investigation into match-fixing, codenamed “Operation Veto,” had uncovered 680 suspicious games from 2008 to 2011. It’s huge news, not because the results are particularly surprising — there’s plenty of other evidence, even recent evidence, that match-fixing is rampant in global soccer — but because the sheer extent of the allegations means that we can no longer delude ourselves about what’s happening. This is what’s happening: Soccer is fucked. Match-fixing is corroding the integrity of the game at every level.
* Ted Underwood on text-mining and distant reading: We don’t already know the broad outlines of literary history.
* Fund snidely concludes: “But, of course, as you know there is no voter fraud. Pay no attention to that lightning coming out of Ohio.” While voter fraud does rarely exist, fighting these sorts of “lightning” with strict photo ID laws that disenfranchise legitimate voters is like banning orange juice to prevent jaywalking.
* The main point here: Germany doesn’t get all that much sunlight. In fact, it gets about as much direct solar-energy as Alaska does each year. Just about every single region in the continental United States has vastly more solar resources than Germany.
* Top college football prospect Alex Collins spent Wednesday trying to track down his mother, who had intercepted his letter of intent to attend the University of Arkansas. (Apparently she did not want him to attend college far from home.) Colleges cannot accept commitments from players under 21 without the signature of a parent or guardian. Eventually Collins’ father signed the form, but aren’t 18-year-olds legally entitled to make their own decisions?