Category Archives: Social Commentary

Unfounded Assumptions

Hugh Hewitt writes, about the recent school shooting incident in northern Minnesota:

…[the] MSM is not distinguishing itself in this instance, and will again move past this terrible story without ever asking what has happened to youth culture in America that it turns out such killers.

Hugh is making a couple assumptions here for which he provides no basis. First, that these types of incidents are more prevalent today than they’ve been at various times in the past and, second, that they’re caused by something in “youth culture.”

Both may be true, but I’m not aware of any evidence for either. Does he have any data to indicate that mass shootings by young people are at some kind of all-time high, on a per capita basis, or are we just more aware of them, because of modern communications technology? If so, does he have any data to indicate that it’s caused by “youth culture,” as opposed to (for example) increases in psychoses due to environmental factors (e.g. Ritalin, or non-prescribed drugs), or increased availability of rapid-fire weaponry?

It’s not like this is a unique period in American history, after all. Remember Billy the Kid? And if this didn’t happen in the early nineteenth century, it wasn’t so much because it was discouraged by “youth culture” (to the limited degree that such a thing existed) so much as the fact that muzzle-loading muskets weren’t very handy tools for shooting and killing many people in a short period of time. It would actually be interesting to see how gang murder rates compare with, say, the range wars of the old west (which both have a lot of young shooters involved).

I’m not proposing gun control as a solution to this problem–Kliebold’s and Harris’ guns were “controlled” (which is to say illegal), after all. My point is that it’s very easy to simply say “O tempora, O mores!” when something like this happens, when the reality is that in a population of three hundred million people, sometimes a few of them out on the tail end of the bell curve are going to go nuts, pick up a gun, and shoot some folks. Short of a draconian reining in of our freedoms, there’s probably some irreduceable amount of this thing that we’ll have to accept. I’m in fact surprised that it happens as seldom as it does.

In my opinion, the solution is likely to not be fewer guns, or “gun-free zones” (which are basically the equivalent of a sign saying “Welcome, mass murderers! Unarmed victims in abundance here!”) but more guns, in the hands of trained teachers and other school authorities, to end such incidents as quickly as possible with a minimum loss of life.

What concerns me is the future, as technology evolves, and some demented kid gets a hold of something really nasty, that can create a great deal more havoc in an even shorter amount of time.

More Foul Deeds

Now Chief Pants-on-Fire is being accused of plagiarism, and threats to the woman whose paper he plagiarized:

Dalhousie began an investigation after professor Fay G. Cohen complained that Churchill used her research and writing in an essay without her permission and without giving her credit. Although the investigation substantiated her allegations, Cohen didn’t pursue the matter because she felt threatened by Churchill, Crosby said.

Crosby said Cohen told Dalhousie officials in 1997 that Churchill had called her in the middle of the night and said, “I’ll get you for this.”

This happened over eight years ago, with no repercussions until now.

Giving him a buyout would be a travesty. The money would be much better spent defending any lawsuit that he attempts to bring, should the university finally do the right thing, and boot him out on the street. And the people who continue to defend him should be ashamed of themselves.

Just When You Thought It Couldn’t Get Worse

Professor Minehaha is just the gift that keeps on giving. Now it turns out that he’s not just a fake Indian–his “native American artwork” is plagiarized, and in violation of copyright.

Placing Churchill’s work beside that of renowned artist Thomas E. Mails and the two look like mirror images. But one is a copyrighted drawing. The other is an autographed print by Churchill…

…Compare it side-by-side to the serigraph by Churchill, created some 20 years later: the composition, the images, the placement are nearly identical.

Intellectual property attorney Jim Hubbell said it’s clearly no accident.

“It’s very obvious that the Churchill piece was taken directly from the Mails piece,” Hubbell said. “There’s just too many similarities between the two for it to have been coincidence.”

This guy surely is a piece of work. I’d love to seem him stay on as a poster child for everything that’s wrong with academia and the tenure system, but it’s hard to see how the University of Colorado can keep him on.

[Update a few minutes later]

Michelle Malkin has more, with pictures.

Just When You Thought It Couldn’t Get Worse

Professor Minehaha is just the gift that keeps on giving. Now it turns out that he’s not just a fake Indian–his “native American artwork” is plagiarized, and in violation of copyright.

Placing Churchill’s work beside that of renowned artist Thomas E. Mails and the two look like mirror images. But one is a copyrighted drawing. The other is an autographed print by Churchill…

…Compare it side-by-side to the serigraph by Churchill, created some 20 years later: the composition, the images, the placement are nearly identical.

Intellectual property attorney Jim Hubbell said it’s clearly no accident.

“It’s very obvious that the Churchill piece was taken directly from the Mails piece,” Hubbell said. “There’s just too many similarities between the two for it to have been coincidence.”

This guy surely is a piece of work. I’d love to seem him stay on as a poster child for everything that’s wrong with academia and the tenure system, but it’s hard to see how the University of Colorado can keep him on.

[Update a few minutes later]

Michelle Malkin has more, with pictures.

Just When You Thought It Couldn’t Get Worse

Professor Minehaha is just the gift that keeps on giving. Now it turns out that he’s not just a fake Indian–his “native American artwork” is plagiarized, and in violation of copyright.

Placing Churchill’s work beside that of renowned artist Thomas E. Mails and the two look like mirror images. But one is a copyrighted drawing. The other is an autographed print by Churchill…

…Compare it side-by-side to the serigraph by Churchill, created some 20 years later: the composition, the images, the placement are nearly identical.

Intellectual property attorney Jim Hubbell said it’s clearly no accident.

“It’s very obvious that the Churchill piece was taken directly from the Mails piece,” Hubbell said. “There’s just too many similarities between the two for it to have been coincidence.”

This guy surely is a piece of work. I’d love to seem him stay on as a poster child for everything that’s wrong with academia and the tenure system, but it’s hard to see how the University of Colorado can keep him on.

[Update a few minutes later]

Michelle Malkin has more, with pictures.

How Is It?

…that the people we’re told are our greatest intellectuals seem so incapable of basic critical thinking, or English comprehension?

Several Harvard professors said they were more furious after reading the precise remarks, saying they felt he believed women were intellectually inferior to men.

Everett I. Mendelsohn, a professor of the history of science, said that once he read the transcript, he understood why Dr. Summers “might have wanted to keep it a secret.”

I’m very glad that I don’t have to be in college today.

Lousy Salesmen

A company threw away thirty-five thousand pairs of shoes, because they were like bi-pedal whoopie cushions:

Customers complained that with every step, their shoes made the sound of someone passing gas.

The problem wasn’t the shoes–the problem was that they accidentally sold them to the wrong customers, who weren’t in the market for that particular feature.

If the numbers here are right, the shoes cost them about six to eight bucks a pair. I simply cannot believe that they wouldn’t have quickly emptied the shelves of them for much more than that had they made a minimal attempt to market them, as gag gifts, or a way to keep track of toddlers, or just for kids (of all ages) to annoy adults. Even without bothering to rebrand, or come up with a clever name (feel free to offer suggestions in comments), they could have gotten their money back with profit just by tossing them up on Ebay as is.

Heck, they might have even ended up with a whole new product line. They could have been partnering with the supplier who screwed up, instead of paying lawyers. It could go down in the history of accidental techological innovation, kind of like vulcanizing rubber.

We Ain’t Got No Rhythm

In North America, that is:

Hannon and Sandra Trehub of the University of Toronto began their study with knowledge that other studies had shown people in North America struggle to grasp irregular rhythms. Balkan music proves troubling, for example. So the researchers studied 50 college students, mostly from the United States and Canada, and 17 first- or second-generation Bulgarian and Macedonian immigrants. Songs with simple meters were made more complex, and complex songs were simplified.

The North Americans recognized when things got trickier, but couldn’t tell when things got simpler. The immigrants figured both out.

I have an old album by the Irish folk musician Andy Irvine, who spent a lot of time in the Balkans, and plays bouzouki, on which he plays a number of horas. I can’t imagine how in the world folks dance to them.

But I was particularly appalled a few years ago when in an elevator, I heard a version of Dave Brubeck’s “Take Five” done in 4/4 time (it was originally written, as hinted at by the title, in 5/4–another Brubeck classic, on the same album, is Blue Rondo A La Turk, in 9/8). They had apparently dumbed it down for less sophisticated American ears. I almost couldn’t believe what I was hearing.

We Ain’t Got No Rhythm

In North America, that is:

Hannon and Sandra Trehub of the University of Toronto began their study with knowledge that other studies had shown people in North America struggle to grasp irregular rhythms. Balkan music proves troubling, for example. So the researchers studied 50 college students, mostly from the United States and Canada, and 17 first- or second-generation Bulgarian and Macedonian immigrants. Songs with simple meters were made more complex, and complex songs were simplified.

The North Americans recognized when things got trickier, but couldn’t tell when things got simpler. The immigrants figured both out.

I have an old album by the Irish folk musician Andy Irvine, who spent a lot of time in the Balkans, and plays bouzouki, on which he plays a number of horas. I can’t imagine how in the world folks dance to them.

But I was particularly appalled a few years ago when in an elevator, I heard a version of Dave Brubeck’s “Take Five” done in 4/4 time (it was originally written, as hinted at by the title, in 5/4–another Brubeck classic, on the same album, is Blue Rondo A La Turk, in 9/8). They had apparently dumbed it down for less sophisticated American ears. I almost couldn’t believe what I was hearing.