Fellow Academics Defend Avital Ronell After Harassment Claims | The Atlantic


While it’s unclear how much demonstrations of support from one’s colleagues determine the outcome for the person accused of misconduct, there have been several examples of powerful men in academia who faced disciplinary action but were allowed to stay on the job. In some cases, male professors managed to skirt punishment altogether for years, even as egregious allegations of sexual harassment mounted.

One factor: Universities are hierarchical. At the apex is the chief executive officer—often a president or chancellor—and under that person are the deans of individual schools within the university; then there are the heads of the school’s often-decentralized academic departments, who typically enjoy immense influence over departmental decisions, from salaries to curriculum.

Less officially, tenured professors hold a great deal of sway, determining their own research and teaching priorities while getting some say over departmental decisions. At the bottom: the untenured academics—hourly wage adjuncts, grant-funded researchers, contracted instructors, and the like.

Source: Fellow Academics Defend Avital Ronell After Harassment Claims – The Atlantic

‘Recyclable’ is a word, not a promise — most plastic goes to landfills | SFChronicle.com


No. These announcements may sound great, but they look painfully naive in the face of the growing storm that is the global plastic recycling market. At the same time that the news is filled with these flashy industry recycling pledges, we are getting an increasingly frantic story from across the country and the world that our plastic simply isn’t getting recycled.

A 2017 study found that of all the plastic ever created, only a paltry 9 percent has been recycled, and the rest is clogging our streets, waterways, and has even made its way into our food systems. Beyond the fish on our plate, tiny pieces of plastic have been found in sea salt, honey, and even beer. Not to mention 94 percent of the United States’ drinking water.

Source: ‘Recyclable’ is a word, not a promise — most plastic goes to landfills – SFChronicle.com

The Birth of the New American Aristocracy | The Atlantic


The meritocratic class has mastered the old trick of consolidating wealth and passing privilege along at the expense of other people’s children.

We are not innocent bystanders to the growing concentration of wealth in our time. We are the principal accomplices in a process that is slowly strangling the economy, destabilizing American politics, and eroding democracy.

Our delusions of merit now prevent us from recognizing the nature of the problem that our emergence as a class represents. We tend to think that the victims of our success are just the people excluded from the club.

But history shows quite clearly that, in the kind of game we’re playing, everybody loses badly in the end.

Source: The Birth of the New American Aristocracy – The Atlantic

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The Conversation | The Atlantic


I think the lack of a military draft since 1973 has contributed to the acceleration of class separation in American society. Remember the days when the likes of John F. Kennedy could serve alongside and develop relationships with people from various socioeconomic levels?

Americans have not had that kind of class intermingling for decades.

Source: The Atlantic September 2018 Issue: The Conversation – The Atlantic

Censorship Does Not End Well | Rolling Stone


How America learned to stop worrying and put Mark Zuckerberg in charge of everything.

Last week, we saw another flurry of censorship news. Facebook apparently suspended VenezuelaAnalysis.com, a site critical of U.S. policy toward Venezuela. (It was reinstated Thursday.) Twitter suspended a pair of libertarians, including @DanielLMcAdams of the Ron Paul Institute and @ScottHortonShow of Antiwar.com, for using the word “bitch” (directed toward a man) in a silly political argument. They, too, were later re-instated.

More significantly: Google’s former head of free expression issues in Asia, Lokman Tsui, blasted the tech giant’s plan to develop a search engine that would help the Chinese government censor content.

Source: Taibbi: Censorship Does Not End Well – Rolling Stone

Alex Jones, the First Amendment, and the Digital Public Square | The New Yorker

The First Amendment protects us against governmental intrusions; it does not (yet) protect speech on privately owned platforms. Still, the Internet and social media increasingly function as a “modern public square,” as Justice Anthony Kennedy put it in a 2017 Supreme Court opinion. This has created new dilemmas concerning free expression.

The forums of Google and Facebook seem quasi-public in part because of their extraordinary reach.

Facebook’s two hundred million monthly users in the U.S. constitute about three-fifths of the American population. Its algorithms and its censors’ judgments, though they inevitably affect commerce and political competition, are based upon rules that aren’t all published. When moderators at Facebook, Google, and Twitter review the appropriateness of posted content, they generally follow First Amendment-inspired principles, according to Kate Klonick, a legal scholar who analyzed the practices of the three companies in the Harvard Law Review last year.

Some of the platforms’ standards are unsurprising, such as their bans on pornography and terrorist incitement. Other rules require moderators to block “hate speech,” an ambiguous term that, despite Facebook’s efforts at delineation, can be politicized.

Still other censorship reflects sensitivities that arise from operating in dozens of countries, including some run by dictators.

Source: Alex Jones, the First Amendment, and the Digital Public Square | The New Yorker

Democrats partying like 2006 as Republicans deal with scandals | TheHill


Democrats are partying like it’s 2006, which was the last time they snatched the majority from House Republicans. But August doesn’t tell you much about upcoming elections. Actually, September is when the cruel electoral winds shake loose some House seats.

Source: Democrats partying like 2006 as Republicans deal with scandals | TheHill

After #MeToo, Hollywood women seize power behind TV camera | Reuters


Nearly a year into the #MeToo movement, networks are mandating women in the director’s chair, studios are running mentoring programs, and actresses are insisting on producing roles to have more control, according to early evidence and interviews with more than a dozen industry players.

“We are amplifying the voices that have never been allowed to soar in our culture,” said Melissa Silverstein, founder and publisher of the Women and Hollywood blog.

“That is going to make our culture, our TV shows, our movies, better and stronger and more relevant.”

Source: After #MeToo, Hollywood women seize power behind TV camera | Reuters

U.S. banks teach financial literacy with hands-on experience


Recent research suggests that pairing financial literacy efforts and tangible experience has a greater impact on positive money management: higher credit scores, less debt and higher savings rates. But there is some disagreement about how to measure that impact.

Initiatives are popping up all over the United States to help young people, lower-income communities and those lacking a formal banking relationship improve their interactions with the financial services industry.

Source: U.S. banks teach financial literacy with hands-on experience

Newspaper editorials across U.S. rebuke Trump for attacks on press | Reuters


The Boston Globe and the New York Times took part along with more than 350 other newspapers of all sizes, including some in states that Trump won during the 2016 presidential election.

The Globe’s editorial accused Trump of carrying out a “sustained assault on the free press.”

“The greatness of America is dependent on the role of a free press to speak the truth to the powerful,” it said. “To label the press ‘the enemy of the people’ is as un-American as it is dangerous to the civic compact we have shared for more than two centuries.”

Source: Newspaper editorials across U.S. rebuke Trump for attacks on press | Reuters