Noon-Thirty News 08/05/10

Posted in News on August 5th, 2010 by bl1y

How Not to Respond to Racial Discrimination

[Associated Press]

The family of Omar Thornton, the man who went on a shooting spree at Hartford Distributors (a beer distribution facility), is claiming that racial bias caused Omar to snap.

Thornton had said he found a picture of a noose and a racial epithet written on a bathroom wall [...]

Brett Hollander, whose family owns the distributor, denied any racial bias. And a union official said Thornton had not filed a complaint of racism with the union or any government agency.

The more immediate cause of the murders seems to be that Omar Thornton was confronted with video of him stealing beer. He pulled the gun after being forced to sign a letter of resignation.

Before turning the gun on himself after being cornered by the police, Thornton said:

I killed the five racists that was there that was bothering me. The cops are going to come in so I am going to take care of myself.

Thornton’s shooting spree left 8 dead and two others injured.

For those of you who want to have one (or eight) in memory of the victims, Hartford Distributors handles Heineken (but not Grolsch), Amstel Light, Bohemia, Sol, Carta Blanca, Tecate, and Dos Equis.

Harvard Grad King of Nail Fungus

[Hunterdon Democrat]

Harvard Law graduate Jeff Treut has found a very unusual alternative career path.  He’s in the process of launching a home-made foot fungus remedy.

Pretty soon law school admissions offices will be telling 0Ls that you can do anything with a law degree, including becoming a chemist or pharmaceutical mogul.

Breaking: Lawyer Retires

[Chicago Tribune]

Well respected Cook County prosecutor Colin Simpson is calling it quits after 40 years of service, which included lawyerly tasks such as answering the offices phones, making coffee, and fixing the copy machine.

Though unconfirmed, this is perhaps the first legitimate retirement of a lawyer in the last decade, not counting dismissals and being shoved out the door.  There may be hope for the younger generation yet.

Just kidding, you’ll probably work until you die.

Supreme Court Blah Blah Blah

[Pittsburgh Post-Gazette]

Congress looks like it may pass a law requiring the Supreme Court to let in video cameras.  But, the Supreme Court is likely to strike down the law on a separation of powers doctrine.  End of story.

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w0m3nz = n00bz

Posted in Dumb Ideas Girls Have on February 12th, 2010 by bl1y

Anyone who is at all amused by the locker room environment of blogs and forums will probably find this amusing.  The Summer 2009 issue of the Harvard Journal of Law and Gender published an article by Ann Bartow on internet harassment and sexism.

The article points out that women are the internet are more likely to get attacked more, and have more gender-specific insults hurled at them.  The article’s purported reason?  Gotta be sexism.

This is a conclusion that reveals a lack of thoughtfulness and creativity.  It’s also a conclusion that requires ignoring people you quote to back up your position.  To back up her position, Ms. Bartow quotes Ann Althouse speaking in an an interview on “Blogging While Female.”

In the blogosphere, it’s sort of like the Wild West, and you actually can try to push people out. You can push women out. There’s a way of trying to get women to leave and because it’s a rough world where people are trying to climb to the top, they will use whatever techniques they can, you know? And so I think that makes you vulnerable as a woman, but you don’t have to be. There’s a positive side to it, too, that you can use. You get attention just for being a woman because it’s less common.

In this one little paragraph, Professor Althouse has implied two non-sexist reasons for the attacks women get online, but Ms. Bartow is apparently too lazy to do any sort of basic critical thinking.

“they will use whatever techniques they can” If you’re fat, they make fat jokes.  If you make typos, you’re called retarded.  If your a Jew you hide gold coins up your nose.  If you’re black you’re an affirmative action baby.  And if you’re a straight, white male, well… you’re the one posting the comments.

The point is that people often make facially sexist remarks not because they hate women, but because they know those remarks will sting, and something that stings is more likely to cause an emotional reaction, and emotional reactions often come in the form of dramatic responses, and those tend to be hilarious.  We don’t drop bombs on other countries because we love the rapid expansion of gasses.  We drop bombs because they’re effective, we’re indifferent to the physics.

“You get attention just for being a woman because it’s less common.” Women get more attacks online not because people really want to attack women, but because everyone gets attacked online, and women get more attention.  Making fun of the same stuff over and over get boring.  Boys have been making fun of other boys since they first learned to talk.  It’s not very interesting any more.

This is the same reason why I don’t make fun of conservatives very much.  Conservatives rarely say anything new.  Positions against gay marriage haven’t really evolved at all.  But liberals, or “progressives,” if you will, are always doing something new, which provides new material to laugh at.  Also, I don’t like making fun of conservatives because it feels like I’m picking on a retarded kid.

Anyways, since women rarely expose themselves openly to criticism on the internet, it follows that they’re going to get pounced on.  But, it’s not because people want to attack women.  They just want to attack something new and different.

In the end though, what really makes the internet a different place for women is that it is a locker room.  Boys have a home field advantage.  We grew up with this sort of behavior.  We don’t let it get to us and we know how to respond, or how to not respond.

Here’s what happens on the internet when someone makes fun of a girl:

Troll: “You’re a fat slut.”

Girl: “I’m not fat you asshole!  OMG!  Why would you say that!  You’re so mean!  You don’t even know me!  Why would you say something like that about me?!?!?!”

Everyone Else: “LOL.  What a dumb bitch.”

Here’s how the same thing goes down with a guy making fun of another guy on the internet:

Troll: “You’re a faggy douchebag.”

Guy: “Fail.”

Everyone Else: “Epic fail.  What a dumb bitch.”

Maybe if Ms. Bartow and the ladies at Harvard Journal of Law and Dugg Down watched this video, they’d have a better understanding of the contextual dynamics of playing the dozens on the internet: link [disabling embedding makes BL1Y a saaaad panda].

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Reason Not to Go to Law School #31

Posted in Reasons Not to Go to Law School on February 6th, 2010 by bl1y

Make believe is treated as fact.

I’m not referring to “counterfactuals,” hypothetical situations with premises known to be false.  I’m talking about the phenomenon in law school where anyone can say just about anything and it will be presumed true.  You’d think an environment like a law school would produce impeccable research, but more often than not, it’s just slop someone threw together at the last minute, knowing that everyone else would be as lazy, so there’s pretty much no risk of anyone calling you out on your bullshit.  It’s easier to just move on that to check sources.

To illustrate the point, I’ve decided to look at comments from the Spring 2007 Harvard Journal of Law and Gender Conference: Changing Social Norms? Title IX and Legal Activism. It’s not an entirely random selection; I wanted to pick something I’d find interesting, and I’m interesting in both sports and gender studies.  And, I’ve spent enough time around feminist academics to know that their writing is a treasure trove of bullshit, so I wouldn’t need to look far to make my case.

Though the comments are a rough transcript of what was spoken at the conference, they have been edited by the Harvard journal and had citations added to back up the claims.  Well…kinda.  Sorta…  Not really.  Citations were added, but they hardly back up what the speakers said at the conference.  You’d think the bright minds at Harvard Law School would have noticed this sort of thing.

Let’s start with the comments from Professor Deborah Brake (U. Pittsburg Law):

“recent reports have revealed widespread practices by universities requiring female athletes to give up their athletic scholarships if they become pregnant.” (p. 13)  The citation provided points to an article published on ESPN.com.

The article states “Most colleges have no formal rules, leaving athletic departments or even coaches to come up with a policy.  …Only 26 of the more than 270 Division I schools in the NCAA have written policies on pregnant athletes and just a handful include scholarship protections.”

So how does Professor Brake know the practice of requiring female athletes to give up their scholarships is widespread?  Either she has some other source which she just didn’t provide to the Harvard editors when they went asking for footnotes, or she just decided to engage in a little bullshit.  Probably the latter.

Next, let’s look at the remarks of Professor Ellen Staurowsky (Ithaca College or Sports Management and Media)

“First, while Mr. Pettine had stated that there was no way James Madison could “afford” to add more women’s programs, they were able to undertake the building of the $10 million Plecker Athletic Center during the timeframe in which program cuts were being considered. Even though the project drew significant donations, they fell nearly $3 million short of their goal, and therefore had to dip into institutional reserves (i.e. tuition money paid by women and men) and other non-tax sources to support building a facility that was primarily meant to support the football team.”

Two citations are provided; the first is information for fund raising, and the second is a press release about the Plecker Center.  The press release does show that the Plecker Center was short on funding.  James Madison says it had raised “more than 7 million” and that the facility would cost $9.8 million.  We can’t be sure the shortfall was nearly $3 million, but we’ll let Professor Staurowsky slide on that, she has bigger problems with her comments.

The information provided to potential donors describes the facility as including “an academic center, strength and conditioning facilities, a sports medicine complex, team meeting rooms, a new football locker room, an Athletic Hall of Fame, hospitality areas and coaches’ offices.” The press release gives a similar description, “The 48,000-square-foot center will provide an academic support area for student-athletes in each of JMU’s 28 intercollegiate sports, a sports-medicine complex, a strength-training area, a new football locker room, meeting rooms and coaches’ offices.”

So, where did Staurowsky get the idea the center would primarily support the football team?  Maybe the sports-medicine complex, strength training area and coaches’ offices would primarily be used by the football team, but without a source backing up her claim, we have to take it as pure speculation.  If anything, the information Staurowsky points us to suggests that while the football team does get a lot out of the new facility, it serves the school’s athletic program generally.

I could go on, but I think I’ve made my point.  You might think I’m just cherry picking facts and finding a few flaws in a very long (56 page) publication, but you can read it for yourself.  It’s full of faulty logic, plainly false or unverifiable facts, and even an ESPN sports commentator who can’t tell the difference between Division I-A and Division I-AA football.

And it’s not just this one article, or this one journal.  Professors coast through legal academia knowing that no one really cares, there’s no peer review, and no consequences for making shit up.  And then they teach it to your classmates, and they believe it and the world gets a little dumber.

The next time you read an article published by a professor, check the citations.  Just scan for where they cite websites, since those are easier to check, and see if their source even speaks on the issue it supposedly supports.  You’ll be surprised how often it does not.

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