Saturday, December 17, 2011

[Podcast] Television's New Antiheroes: Creating Sympathy For The Devilish; NPR's Morning Edition, 12/15/11

[Podcast] Eric Deggans, NPR's Morning Edition; Television's New Antiheroes: Creating Sympathy For The Devilish:

"[T]hese characters, warped as they can be, are also a statement on our times. In a world filled with war, recession and cynicism, straight-up heroes feel fake as a three-dollar bill. So the confused guy who does bad things for the right reasons just might be the best reflection of where we are today."

Friday, December 16, 2011

Your Life on Facebook, in Total Recall; New York Times, 12/15/11

Jenna Wortham, New York Times; Your Life on Facebook, in Total Recall:

"“There’s no act too small to record on your permanent record,” said Jonathan Zittrain, a law professor at Harvard who studies how the Internet affects society. “All of the mouse droppings that appear as we migrate around the Web will be saved.”

The old Facebook profile page shows the most recent items users have posted, along with things like photos of them posted by others. But Timeline creates a scrapbooklike montage, assembling photos, links and updates for each month and year since they signed up for Facebook."

Judge Dismisses Twitter Stalking Case; New York Times, 12/15/11

Somini Sengupta, New York Times; Judge Dismisses Twitter Stalking Case:

"In a case with potentially far-reaching consequences for freedom of expression on the Internet, a federal judge on Thursday dismissed a criminal case against a man accused of stalking a religious leader on Twitter, saying that the Constitution protects “uncomfortable” speech on such bulletin-boardlike sites."

Monday, December 12, 2011

Put It on My Marquee: I Just Watched ‘Creepshow 2’; New York Times, 12/10/11

Natasha Singer, New York Times; Put It on My Marquee: I Just Watched ‘Creepshow 2’ :

"Netflix is backing a bill in Congress that would amend the Video Privacy Protection Act, a 1988 law that requires a video services company to get a customer’s written consent when it seeks to disclose that client’s personal information, such as rental history. The new bill, passed by the House last Tuesday, would allow consumers to give one-time blanket consent online for a company to share their viewing habits continuously."

Sunday, December 4, 2011

[OpEd] The New Digital Divide; New York Times, 12/3/11

[OpEd] Susan P. Crawford, New York Times; The New Digital Divide:

"Increasingly, we are a country in which only the urban and suburban well-off have truly high-speed Internet access, while the rest — the poor and the working class — either cannot afford access or use restricted wireless access as their only connection to the Internet. As our jobs, entertainment, politics and even health care move online, millions are at risk of being left behind."

Friday, November 25, 2011

[Podcast] How Private Is Your Email? It Depends?; NPR's All Things Considered, 11/24/11

[Podcast] NPR's All Things Considered, 11/24/11; How Private Is Your Email? It Depends? :

"Do the police need a warrant to read your email? Believe it or not, two decades into the Internet age, the answer to that question is still "maybe." It depends on how old the email is, where you keep it — and it even depends on whom you ask."

Thursday, November 24, 2011

An Excess of Ethics; Library Journal, 11/15/11

John N. Berry III, Library Journal; An Excess of Ethics:

"No principle or rule of professional ethics requires that library workers forfeit any of their rights or job benefits in order to hold their jobs. Support for professional development and advancement is a benefit of working in good libraries. This often includes time off and even payment of costs for conference attendance. I was surprised when many library administrators seemed to disagree with those assertions in a fascinating recent discussion on the PubLib list.

Even the American Library Association (ALA) Code of Ethics (COE) leaves some room for dispute about the ethical responsibilities of library workers and what they owe their employer when they take advantage of certain job benefits and opportunities."

Sunday, November 20, 2011

[Editorial] A Push for Online Privacy; New York Times, 11/19/11

[Editorial] New York Times; A Push for Online Privacy:

"Congress should act on the F.T.C.’s recommendation to establish a system that would allow consumers to effectively opt out of all tracking of their online activities. There are other worthy proposals, including the administration’s call for limits on the collection of data about consumers online. Lawmakers have proposed about a dozen privacy bills this year alone. But with Congress stuck in a partisan rut, it is reassuring to see the F.T.C. at work."

Doing the Ethical Thing May Be Right, but It Isn’t Automatic; New York Times, 10/18/11

Alina Tugend, New York Times; Doing the Ethical Thing May Be Right, but It Isn’t Automatic:

"Putting aside the specifics of each case, one question that has come up is, “What would I do?” That is, if I saw what seemed to be a crime or unethical act committed by a respected colleague, coach, teacher or friend, would I storm in and stop it? Would I call the authorities immediately? Would I disregard the potentially devastating impact on my job or workplace or beloved institution?"

Sunday, November 13, 2011

My Take: Keep government out of mind-reading business;, 11/12/11

Paul Root Wolpe, Ph.D., director of Emory University’s Center for Ethics,; My Take: Keep government out of mind-reading business:

"Throughout human history, the inner workings of our minds were impenetrable, known only to us and, perhaps, to God. No one could see what you were thinking, or know what you were feeling, unless you chose to reveal it to them...

Now, for the first time in human history, we are peering into the labyrinth of the mind and pulling out information, perhaps even information you would rather we did not know.

Neuroscientists are actively developing technologies to create more effective lie detectors, to determine if people have been at a crime scene, or to predict who may be more likely to engage in violent crime...

And if brain imaging for lie detection is shown to be reliable, intelligence agencies may want to use it to discover moles, employers may want to use it to screen employees, schools to uncover vandals or cheaters.

But should we allow it?

I believe not."

Plan Would Delay Sales of Generic for Lipitor; New York Times, 11/12/11

Duff Wilson, New York Times; Plan Would Delay Sales of Generic for Lipitor:

"Pfizer has agreed to large discounts for benefit managers that block the use of generic versions of Lipitor, according to a letter from Catalyst Rx, a benefit manager for 18 million people in the United States. The letters have not previously been made public.

A pharmacy group and an independent expert say the tactic will benefit Pfizer and benefit managers at the expense of employers and taxpayers, who may end up paying more than they should for the drug...

“I’m stunned,” said Geoffrey F. Joyce, an associate professor of pharmaceutical economics and a health policy expert at the University of Southern California, after reviewing the letters. “This is just an egregious case."

Penn State trustees stand behind acting leader, vow investigation; Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, 11/12/11

Laura Olson and Bill Schackner, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette; Penn State trustees stand behind acting leader, vow investigation:

"Provost Rodney Erickson, who ascended to the presidency on Wednesday night, addressed the trustees Friday morning and devoted most of his time reassuring the campus, parents, alumni and others that the school would take the necessary corrective actions.

Later in the day, Mr. Erickson said the university will appoint an ethics officer who would report directly to the president. "We will cooperate fully and completely with any ongoing investigation," he said.

Board chairman Steve Garban echoed those sentiments, saying, "We are committed to restoring public trust in this university.""

Questioning Privacy Protections in Research; New York Times, 10/23/11

Patricia Cohen, New York Times; Questioning Privacy Protections in Research:

"Hoping to protect privacy in an age when a fingernail clipping can reveal a person’s identity, federal officials are planning to overhaul the rules that regulate research involving human subjects. But critics outside the biomedical arena warn that the proposed revisions may unintentionally create a more serious problem: sealing off vast collections of publicly available information from inspection, including census data, market research, oral histories and labor statistics."

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Privacy and Press Freedom Collide in University Case; New York Times, 10/20/11

Tamar Lewin, New York Times; Privacy and Press Freedom Collide in University Case:

"Those requests set off a shootout between the state’s freedom of information law and the federal privacy law for educational records.

The university, backed by the big guns of academia, argues that the federal Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act, or Ferpa, forbids disclosure of such information — and threatens the loss of federal financing if it hands over private records. Personal information about students is precisely what the federal privacy act was designed to protect, it said, raising the specter of a world in which students might be shamed by the public release of their academic credentials...

But The Tribune, backed by media groups including The New York Times, argues that the documents are not education records under the federal law, but rather records of questionable conduct, so the public’s right to know should prevail."

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Dealing With an Identity Hijacked on the Online Highway; New York Times, 9/26/11

Noam Cohen, New York Times; Dealing With an Identity Hijacked on the Online Highway:

"DESPITE his prominent position as a Republican candidate for president, Rick Santorum has lost control of his online identity. And for all the snickering online about it, his predicament stands as a chilling example of what it means to be at the mercy of the Google algorithm.

For those not in on the joke, Mr. Santorum’s torment is that when you look up his last name on Google, and the Bing search engine as well, you encounter a made-up definition of “Santorum” meant to ridicule him in a way that isn’t remotely fit to be described in a family newspaper."

Century After It Was Banned, Place of Honor for Twain Tale; New York Times, 9/22/11

Abby Goodnough, New York Times; Century After It Was Banned, Place of Honor for Twain Tale:

"Richard Whitehead was researching his new role as a trustee of the public library here when he stumbled on an old, forgotten controversy about the book, Mark Twain’s sly interpretation of the Adam and Eve story.

In 1906, he learned, the library’s trustees voted to ban “Eve’s Diary” because the illustrations, by Lester Ralph, showed a naked (though not graphically so) Eve exploring the wonders of Eden."

For Idaho and the Internet, Life in the Slow Lane; New York Times, 9/13/11

Katherine Q. Seelye, New York Times; For Idaho and the Internet, Life in the Slow Lane:

"“This is about our overall competitiveness,” said Jonathan Adelstein, the administrator of the federal government’s Rural Utilities Service and a major advocate of broadband. “Without broadband, especially in rural areas, kids might not reach their full potential. And we can’t expect to be competitive in a global economy.”"

[Graphic] Comparing Internet Speeds Across the Nation; New York Times, 9/13/11

[Graphic] New York Times; Comparing Internet Speeds Across the Nation

Report calls 1940s syphilis research 'unconscionable'; Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, 9/13/11

Torsten Ove, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette; Report calls 1940s syphilis research 'unconscionable' :

"A report on the medical research of John C. Cutler in Guatemala in the 1940s released this morning by a presidential commission concludes that the syphilis experiments he conducted for the U.S. Public Health Service involved "unconscionable" violations of ethics."

[Op Ed] Bullying as True Drama; New York Times, 9/11

[Op Ed] Danah Boyd and Alice Marwick, New York Times; Bullying as True Drama:

"Antibullying efforts cannot be successful if they make teenagers feel victimized without providing them the support to go from a position of victimization to one of empowerment. When teenagers acknowledge that they’re being bullied, adults need to provide programs similar to those that help victims of abuse. And they must recognize that emotional recovery is a long and difficult process.

But if the goal is to intervene at the moment of victimization, the focus should be to work within teenagers’ cultural frame, encourage empathy and help young people understand when and where drama has serious consequences. Interventions must focus on positive concepts like healthy relationships and digital citizenship rather than starting with the negative framing of bullying. The key is to help young people feel independently strong, confident and capable without first requiring them to see themselves as either an oppressed person or an oppressor."

Suicide Draws Attention to Gay Bullying; New York Times, 9/21/11

Anahad O'Connor, New York Times; Suicide Draws Attention to Gay Bullying:

"Five months ago, Jamey Rodemeyer, a Buffalo junior high school student, got on his webcam and created a video urging other gay teenagers to remain hopeful in the face of bullying.

The 14-year-old spoke of coming out as bisexual and enduring taunts and slurs at school. And he described, in at times desperate tones, rejection and ridicule from other teenagers.

Jamey made the video as part of the It Gets Better project, a campaign that was started last fall to give hope to bullied gay teenagers. “All you have to do is hold your head up and you’ll go far,” he said. “Just love yourself and you’re set. … It gets better.”

But for Jamey, the struggle apparently was just too much. This week his parents announced that their son was found dead, an apparent suicide."

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Patient Data Posted Online in Major Breach of Privacy; New York Times, 9/8/11

Kevin Sack, New York Times; Patient Data Posted Online in Major Breach of Privacy:

"A medical privacy breach at Stanford University’s hospital in Palo Alto, Calif., led to the public posting of medical records for 20,000 emergency room patients, including names and diagnosis codes, on a commercial Web site for nearly a year, the hospital has confirmed."

Monday, September 5, 2011

With Cheating Only a Click Away, Professors Reduce the Incentive; Chronicle of Higher Education, 9/4/11

Jie Jenny Zou, Chronicle of Higher Education; With Cheating Only a Click Away, Professors Reduce the Incentive:

"By specifically outlining for students how clicker cheating violates academic honor codes, Mr. Bruff says, universities can clarify the situation for students and bolster professors' positions. "The instructor can point to the honor code—the university has decided that this counts as cheating, so it's not just me being a tough guy. It's that this is commonly accepted as inappropriate," he says.

That kind of clarity works, says Mr. Duncan. At Boulder, the student-enforced honor code takes a strong stance against all forms of cheating. It's one reason that, since the first physics class he watched, he has used clickers for nearly a decade and has caught students cheating only twice."

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Commission: Researchers Knew Of Ethical Problems In Guatemala STD Study; NPR's Shots Blog, 8/30/11

Eliza Barclay, NPR's Shots Blog; Commission: Researchers Knew Of Ethical Problems In Guatemala STD Study:

"U.S. researchers knowingly breached medical ethics by infecting Guatemalans with venereal diseases in the 1940s without informing them of the risks, a presidential commission has found.

The Presidential Commission for the Study of Bioethical Issues, which was asked by President Obama to investigate the Guatemala study in October 2010, came to the conclusion after learning that the researchers had conducted similar research with American prisoners in 1943 but had given them the chance to make informed consent.

The U.S. government formally apologized for the "reprehensible research" last year."

Ethical 'Reality': A Proposed Code For Producers To Live By; NPR's Monkey See Blog, 8/31/11

Linda Holmes, NPR's Monkey See Blog; Ethical 'Reality': A Proposed Code For Producers To Live By:

"But just as responsible sports teams can make responsible decisions about minimizing risks where they can, there are ways for shows that absolutely don't have to be so exploitative and potentially damaging — shows like Survivor and The Amazing Race and Project Runway and Top Chef and even American Idol and Deadliest Catch — to take their responsibilities to participants more seriously and to distinguish and brand themselves as the shows committed to existing on the do-less-harm end of the spectrum. How do you accomplish that?

With a voluntary, industry-adopted ethics code that would allow a show that wants to agree to specific measures that minimize (do not eliminate, but minimize) potential harm, and in return to be marketed as Not That Kind Of Show."

Bullying Law Puts New Jersey Schools on Spot; New York Times, 8/30/11

Winnie Hu, New York Times; Bullying Law Puts New Jersey Schools on Spot:

"But while many parents and educators welcome the efforts to curb bullying both on campus and online, some superintendents and school board members across New Jersey say the new law, which takes effect Sept. 1, reaches much too far, and complain that they have been given no additional resources to meet its mandates.

The law, known as the Anti-Bullying Bill of Rights, is considered the toughest legislation against bullying in the nation. Propelled by public outcry over the suicide of a Rutgers University freshman, Tyler Clementi, nearly a year ago, it demands that all public schools adopt comprehensive antibullying policies (there are 18 pages of “required components”), increase staff training and adhere to tight deadlines for reporting episodes."

[Podcast] If Science Takes A Wrong Turn, Who Rights It? ; NPR's Talk of the Nation, 8/5/11

[Podcast] Ira Flatow, NPR's Talk of the Nation: If Science Takes A Wrong Turn, Who Rights It? :

"Science is often idealized as a self-correcting system. But how often—and how quickly—is bad science set straight? Ira Flatow and guests discuss recent cases of scientific fraud that have led to retractions of journal studies, and whether human study volunteers have been harmed by bogus science."

Thursday, August 11, 2011

On Its Own, Europe Backs Web Privacy Fights; New York Times, 8/9/11

Suzanne Daley, New York Times; On Its Own, Europe Backs Web Privacy Fights:

"Mr. Werro says Europe sees the need to balance freedom of speech and the right to know against a person’s right to privacy or dignity, concepts often enshrined in European laws. The European perspective was shaped by the way information was collected and used against individuals under dictators like Franco and Hitler and under Communism. Government agencies routinely compiled dossiers on citizens as a means of control."

Saturday, July 2, 2011

[Editorial] Ethics, Politics and the Law; New York Times, 6/30/11

[Editorial] New York Times; Ethics, Politics and the Law:

"The ethical judgments of the Supreme Court justices became an important issue in the just completed term. The court cannot maintain its legitimacy as guardian of the rule of law when justices behave like politicians. Yet, in several instances, justices acted in ways that weakened the court’s reputation for being independent and impartial."

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Band of Academic-Plagiarism Sleuths Undoes German Politicians; Chronicle of Higher Education, 5/12/11

Aisha Labi, Chronicle of Higher Education; Band of Academic-Plagiarism Sleuths Undoes German Politicians:

"The revelations of how extensively Mr. Guttenberg had plagiarized came as no surprise to one group of people: an online community of plagiarism detectors that formed since the allegations against him came to light. That loose band of academic vigilantes helped to compile and disseminate the information that eventually brought about Mr. Guttenberg's downfall. Its members have since set their sights on other high-profile figures, and, although they do not work directly with universities, their online sleuthing is having an impact."

Secret Archive of Ulster Troubles Faces Subpoena; New York Times, 5/13/11

Jim Dwyer, New York Times; Secret Archive of Ulster Troubles Faces Subpoena:

"The interviewers, working for an oral history project at Boston College, brought two tools: a digital minidisk recorder and a promise of confidentiality. In exchange for candor, the people being interviewed were assured that the contents would remain sealed until they were dead.

Now, however, authorities in the United Kingdom want oral histories that were given to Boston College by two members of the Provisional Irish Republican Army for an investigation into murders and kidnappings committed nearly 40 years ago."

Facebook, Foe of Anonymity, Is Forced to Explain a Secret; New York Times, 5/13/11

Miguel Helft, New York Times; Facebook, Foe of Anonymity, Is Forced to Explain a Secret:

"Now, Facebook is being taken to task for trying to conceal its own identity as it sought to coax reporters and technology experts to write critical stories about the privacy implications of a search feature, Social Circle, from its rival, Google.

The plan backfired after The Daily Beast revealed late Wednesday that Facebook, whose own privacy practices have long been criticized, was behind the effort."

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Faculty at For-Profits Allege Constant Pressure to Keep Students Enrolled; Chronicle of Higher Education, 5/8/11

Kelly Field, Chronicle of Higher Education; Faculty at For-Profits Allege Constant Pressure to Keep Students Enrolled:

"Faculty complaints about the quality and rigor of for-profit education are hardly limited to Kaplan, a subsidiary of the Washington Post Company, with about 112,000 students in campus-based and online programs. In interviews with The Chronicle and lawsuits filed around the country, more than a dozen current and former professors from six of the seven largest publicly traded education companies say they were leaned on to dumb down courses, offer lengthy extensions, and change failing grades. They describe a system in which expectations are low, cheating is tolerated, and faculty are under tremendous pressure to keep students enrolled."

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

A Journal’s Statement May Aid a Harvard Researcher Accused of Misconduct; New York Times,

Nicholas Wade, New York Times; A Journal’s Statement May Aid a Harvard Researcher Accused of Misconduct:

"In a positive development for Marc Hauser, the Harvard researcher whom the university accused last year of eight charges of scientific misconduct, the journal Science said Monday that he had replicated an experiment he published in 2007."

Treasures Pose Ethics Issues for Smithsonian; New York Times, 4/24/11

Kate Taylor, New York Times; Treasures Pose Ethics Issues for Smithsonian:

"Kimberly L. Faulk, a marine archeologist and vice chairwoman of the nongovernmental Advisory Council on Underwater Archaeology, said in an e-mail that by proceeding with the exhibition the Smithsonian — which is a research institution as well as a network of museums — would be violating its own set of professional ethics and promoting the looting of archaeological sites."

Sunday, April 24, 2011

The Pay Wall’s the Thing; New York Times, The Ethicist,4/22/11

Ariel Kaminer, New York Times, The Ethicist; The Pay Wall’s the Thing:

"I’m a 24-year-old freelance journalist who’s still somewhat dependent on my parents. And I’m on dozens of times a day. My parents are print subscribers and thus have access beyond the pay wall. Need I buy my own subscription? Also, if I buy online access, can I share the password with my live-in girlfriend, even if I move to New York for the summer? What about our other housemates? KEVIN CHARLES REDMON, MINNEAPOLIS"

[Podcast] Greg Mortenson; CBS's 60 Minutes, 4/17/11

[Podcast] CBS's 60 Minutes; Greg Mortenson:

"He has written inspiring best sellers, including "Three Cups of Tea," but are the stories all true? Steve Kroft investigates."

[Podcast] The Problem of Sock Puppets;, 4/22/11

[Podcast]; The Problem of Sock Puppets:

"This month, a user on the website Metafilter started a thread critiquing Dilbert creator Scott Adams. Other site regulars piled on, but one newly registered user mounted a strident defense of Adams. The new user reminded everyone that Scott Adams was a “multi-millionaire,” that Scott Adams possessed a “certified genius IQ” and that Scott Adams’s detractors were angry haters. Metafilter moderator Josh Millard talks to Brooke about what you do when a celebrity joins your website anonymously in order to attack his critics."

Stumbling Into Bad Behavior; New York Times, 4/20/11

Max H. Bazerman and Ann E. Tenbrunsel, New York Times; Stumbling Into Bad Behavior:

"Regulators, prosecutors and journalists tend to focus on corruption caused by willful actions or ignorance. But in our research, and in the work of other scholars who study the psychology of behavioral ethics, we have found that much unethical conduct that goes on, whether in social life or work life, happens because people are unconsciously fooling themselves. They overlook transgressions — bending a rule to help a colleague, overlooking information that might damage the reputation of a client — because it is in their interest to do so."

The Crash and Burn of an Autism Guru; New York Times, 4/20/11

Susan Dominus, New York Times; The Crash and Burn of an Autism Guru:

"In Britain, the General Medical Council revoked Wakefield’s medical license after a lengthy hearing, citing numerous ethical violations that tainted his work, like failing to disclose financing from lawyers who were mounting a case against vaccine manufacturers. The Lancet, which published the original Wakefield paper, retracted it. In a series that ran early this year, The British Medical Journal concluded that the research was not just unethically financed but also “fraudulent” (that timelines were misrepresented, for example, to suggest direct culpability of the vaccine)."

Roommate Faces Hate-Crime Charges in Rutgers Case; New York Times, 4/20/11

Lisa W. Foderaro, New York Times; Roommate Faces Hate-Crime Charges in Rutgers Case:

"A New Jersey grand jury on Wednesday indicted the roommate of Tyler Clementi, the Rutgers University freshman who killed himself in September, on hate-crime charges in using a webcam to stream Mr. Clementi’s romantic encounter with another man on the Internet in the days before the suicide."

Busy Job of Judging Video-Game Content to Be Ceded to Machines; New York Times, 4/17/11

Seth Schiesel, New York Times; Busy Job of Judging Video-Game Content to Be Ceded to Machines:

"Starting on Monday the ratings board plans to begin introducing computers to the job of deciding whether a game is appropriate for Everyone, for Teens or for Mature gamers (meaning older than 16). To do this the organization has written a program designed to replicate the ingrained cultural norms and predilections of the everyday American consumer, at least when it comes to what is appropriate for children and what isn’t."

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Nevada senator Ensign resigns under ethics cloud; Reuters, 4/21/11

JoAnne Allen, Reuters; Nevada senator Ensign resigns under ethics cloud:

"Nevada Republican John Ensign, who admitted having an extramarital affair with a campaign staff member, said on Thursday that he would resign from the Senate on May 3."

Monday, April 11, 2011

Sandra Day O'Connor Faulted By Critics On Ethics; Associated Press via, 4/10/11

Mark Sherman, Associated Press via; Sandra Day O'Connor Faulted By Critics On Ethics:

"Hellman, the Pittsburgh ethics expert, said he finds the court reception particularly troubling because "we're talking about political activity. It's a lobbying effort and she is lending her considerable prestige to that effort."

Another ethics professor, Stephen Gillers of New York University, said that if the speeches were not about advocacy, then the event itself probably does not pose an ethical problem for O'Connor. On the other hand, Gillers said it is possible O'Connor would have to step aside from any appellate case involving the groups that sponsored the reception...

Supreme Court justices are not covered by the ethics rules that apply to all federal judges. Still, justices generally adhere to those rules, Hellman said."

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Phone hacking: Rupert Murdoch 'urged Gordon Brown' to halt Labour attacks; Guardian, 4/9/11

Toby Helm and James Robinson, Guardian; Phone hacking: Rupert Murdoch 'urged Gordon Brown' to halt Labour attacks:

"Rupert Murdoch used his political influence and contacts at the highest levels to try to get Labour MPs and peers to back away from investigations into phone hacking at the News of the World, a former minister in Gordon Brown's government has told the Observer."

Feel Like a Wallflower? Maybe It’s Your Facebook Wall; New York Times, 4/9/11

Jenna Wortham, New York Times; Feel Like a Wallflower? Maybe It’s Your Facebook Wall:

"My problem is emblematic of the digital era. It’s known as FOMO, or “fear of missing out,” and refers to the blend of anxiety, inadequacy and irritation that can flare up while skimming social media like Facebook, Twitter, Foursquare and Instagram...

SHERRY TURKLE, a professor at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and author of “Alone Together,” says that as technology becomes ever more pervasive, our relationship to it becomes more intimate, granting it the power to influence decisions, moods and emotions...

We are struggling with the always-on feeling of connection that the Internet can provide, she said, and we still need to figure out how to limit its influence on our lives. I asked Professor Turkle what people could do to deal with this stress-inducing quandary. She said she would tell herself to “get a grip and separate myself from my iPhone.”"

Erasing the Digital Past; New York Times, 4/1/11

Nick Bilton, New York Times; Erasing the Digital Past:

"The company he used,, is among a growing corps of online reputation managers that promise to make clients look better online. In an age when a person’s reputation is increasingly defined by Google, Facebook and Twitter, these services offer what is essentially an online makeover, improving how someone appears on the Internet, usually by spotlighting flattering features and concealing negative ones.

“The Internet has become the go-to resources to destroy someone’s life online, which in turn means their offline life gets turned upside, too,” said Michael Fertik, the chief executive of, which is in Redwood City, Calif., and is among the largest in this field. “We’ve reached a point where the Internet has become so complicated, vast and fast-paced, that people can’t control it by themselves anymore. They now need an army of technologists to back them up online.”"

Saturday, April 9, 2011

British Tabloid Accepts Blame in Cell Hacking; New York Times, 4/8/11

Sarah Lyall, New York Times; British Tabloid Accepts Blame in Cell Hacking:

"Faced with a cascade of lawsuits and a widening police investigation into illegal hacking of phone messages by the News of the World tabloid, its parent company on Friday publicly admitted wrongdoing, apologized and offered to pay damages to some of the people who are alleged to be victims of the paper."

Author’s Heirs Uncensor a Classic War Novel; New York Times, 4/4/11

Julie Bosman, New York Times; Author’s Heirs Uncensor a Classic War Novel:

"When the classic novel “From Here to Eternity” was published in 1951, a few things were gone that had been in the original manuscript: explicit mentions of gay sex and a number of four-letter words...

Sixty years later Mr. Jones’s estate has made a deal to reissue a digital version of the book that restores those cuts. The book is still in print."

Dark Past in Balkan War Intrudes on New Life; New York Times, 4/3/11

Malcolm Gay, New York Times; Dark Past in Balkan War Intrudes on New Life:

"“Anything she done, it was army connected,” said Ms. Loman, who said she believed that her friend was a fundamentally good person whom the horrors of war had forced to make impossible moral choices...

“I don’t think she’s guilty of anything but being a human being,” said Eli Vires, a neighbor. “They should just let her out of jail and be done with it.”...

“I was always taught an eye for an eye, but this woman is whacked,” said Ms. King, who has never met Ms. Basic but who like so many others in town has followed the case closely."

Meet the New Ethicist; New York Times, 3/11/11

Ariel Kaminer, New York Times; Meet the New Ethicist:

"I wasn’t hired because I am a paragon of ethics or a role model, but because the editors hoped I might be able to help lead an open, ongoing conversation about these issues. I hope you’ll stay tuned and that you will let me know your thoughts as we proceed.

Now tell me: how would you describe your personal approach to ethics?"

Saturday, April 2, 2011

Paterson Teacher Suspended Over a Post on Facebook; New York Times, 4/1/11

Winnie Hu, New York Times; Paterson Teacher Suspended Over a Post on Facebook:

"Jonathan Zimmerman, a New York University history professor who has written about education, said teachers, like other professionals, had responsibilities. He compared the episodes to a doctor talking loudly about cases on a crowded train. “It seems to me with professional responsibility comes a duty to exercise discretion,” he said."

Thursday, March 31, 2011

Nixon Library Opens a Door Some Would Prefer Left Closed; New York Times, 3/31/11

Adam Nagourney, New York Times; Nixon Library Opens a Door Some Would Prefer Left Closed:

"The unveiling ended a nearly yearlong struggle between national archivists and the Richard Nixon Foundation, a group of Nixon loyalists who controlled the former president’s papers until ceding them to the National Archives four years ago. The fight was over how to portray the scandal that led to Nixon’s resignation."

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Google's FTC Settlement Over Privacy Breach Makes History;, 3/30/11

Bianca Bosker,; Google's FTC Settlement Over Privacy Breach Makes History:

"Google's settlement is unprecedented, not only because it marks the first time the FTC has accused a company of violating privacy rules spelled out under the U.S.-EU Safe Harbor Framework, but also because it is the first settlement requiring a company to institute a "comprehensive privacy program" as part of the agreement, according to the FTC.

Google will also have to submit to regular, independent privacy audits once every two years for the next 20 years and will be required to obtain "affirmative consent" from users before changing how it shares their personal data with third parties."

Monday, March 28, 2011

Nickelodeon launches anti-bullying campaign; Associated Press, 3/28/11

David Bauder, Associated Press; Nickelodeon launches anti-bullying campaign:

"Half of young people ages 14-24 said they had been the victim of cyberbullying, according to a survey conducted in late 2009 for The Associated Press and MTV."

Doctors Should Ask Kids: Are You On Facebook?; NPR, 3/28/11

NPR; Doctors Should Ask Kids: Are You On Facebook? :

"If the pediatrician wants to know if your kids are on Facebook, it's not because she wants to friend them.

The question about Facebook, and other queries about a child's life online, should be part of the medical history doctors take of kids in the age of social media, according to recommendations just out from the American Academy of Pediatrics. Parents should find out, too."

Ethical Quandary for Social Sites; New York Times, 3/27/11

Jennifer Preston, New York Times; Ethical Quandary for Social Sites:

"Ebele Okobi-Harris, the director of the business and human rights program at Yahoo, which owns Flickr, said that the case involving Mr. el-Hamalawy’s photos illustrated the challenges of balancing the existing rules and terms of service for users with the new ways that activists are using these tools.

“Flickr was set up as a community for people who love photography to share their photographs,” she said."

Sunday, March 27, 2011

It’s Tracking Your Every Move and You May Not Even Know; New York Times, 3/26/11

Noam Cohen, New York Times; It’s Tracking Your Every Move and You May Not Even Know:

"In the United States, telecommunication companies do not have to report precisely what material they collect, said Kevin Bankston, a lawyer at the Electronic Frontier Foundation, who specializes in privacy. He added that based on court cases he could say that “they store more of it and it is becoming more precise.”

“Phones have become a necessary part of modern life,” he said, objecting to the idea that “you have to hand over your personal privacy to be part of the 21st century.”"

A Girl’s Nude Photo, and Altered Lives; New York Times, 3/26/11

Jan Hoffman, New York Times; A Girl’s Nude Photo, and Altered Lives:

"Around the country, law enforcement officials and educators are struggling with how to confront minors who “sext,” an imprecise term that refers to sending sexual photos, videos or texts from one cellphone to another.

But adults face a hard truth. For teenagers, who have ready access to technology and are growing up in a culture that celebrates body flaunting, sexting is laughably easy, unremarkable and even compelling: the primary reason teenagers sext is to look cool and sexy to someone they find attractive."

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Paper Admits to Plagiarism by Reporter; New York Times, 3/16/11

Tanzina Vega, New York Times; Paper Admits to Plagiarism by Reporter:

"The Washington Post published an editor’s note on its Web site Wednesday apologizing for two articles by a longtime Post reporter who used material from The Arizona Republic without crediting that newspaper or citing it as a source."

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

"Huckleberry Finn" and the N-word debate; CBS 60 Minutes, 3/18/11

CBS 60 Minutes; "Huckleberry Finn" and the N-word debate:

""Are you censoring Twain?" correspondent Byron Pitts asked Randall Williams, co-owner and editor of NewSouth Books, publishers of the sanitized edition of Tom Sawyer and Huckleberry Finn that replaces the N-word with the word "slave."...

It's aimed at schools that already ban the book, though no one knows how many have. Williams says they are not trying replace Twain's original, N-word included.

"If you can have the discussion and you're comfortable havin' the discussion, have it. Have it with it in there. But if you're not comfortable with that, then here's an alternative for you to use. And I would argue to you that it's still powerful," Williams said.""

Gains, and Drawbacks, for Female Professors; New York Times, 3/21/11

Kate Zernike, New York Times; Gains, and Drawbacks, for Female Professors:

"Despite an effort to educate colleagues about bias in letters of recommendation for tenure, those for men tend to focus on intellect while those for women dwell on temperament.

“To women in my generation, these residual issues can sound small because we see so much progress,” said Nancy H. Hopkins, a molecular biologist who instigated the first report. “But they’re not small; they still create an unequal playing field for women — not just at universities, and certainly not just at M.I.T. And they’re harder to change because they are a reflection of where women stand in society.”"

Saturday, March 19, 2011

[Editorial] A New Internet Privacy Law?; New York Times, 3/18/11

[Editorial] New York Times; A New Internet Privacy Law? :

"This week, the Obama administration called for legislation to protect consumers’ privacy. In the Senate, John Kerry is trying to draft a privacy bill of rights with the across-the-aisle support of John McCain."

Friday, March 18, 2011

[Podcast] Tracing The 'Immortal' Cells Of Henrietta Lacks; NPR's Fresh Air, 3/18/11

[Podcast] [Interview originally broadcast on February 2, 2010.] NPR's Fresh Air; Tracing The 'Immortal' Cells Of Henrietta Lacks:

"For the past 60 years Lacks' cells have been cultured and used in experiments ranging from determining the long-term effects of radiation to testing the live polio vaccine. Her cells were commercialized and have generated millions of dollars in profit for the medical researchers who patented her tissue.

Lacks' family, however, didn't know the cell cultures existed until more than 20 years after her death."

Corbett ignores opinion polls on taxes and budget cuts; Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, 3/18/11

Luara Olson and Tracie Mauriello, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette; Corbett ignores opinion polls on taxes and budget cuts:

"Scranton architect Michele Dempsey suggested that a tax could help pay for unforeseen problems caused by drilling.

"Where is the accountability if and when something goes wrong? If something should go awry, where is the accountability?" she asked."

[Editorial] The U.C.L.A. Video; New York Times, 3/17/11

[Editorial] New York Times; The U.C.L.A. Video:

"Universities have long wrestled with this issue, with many adopting hate-speech codes that punish speech victimizing minorities and women...

The codes are useful tools against real harassment, but they should not be used to abridge the principle of free speech. That would be a far greater threat to education and to a strong democracy."

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

U.C.L.A. Student’s Video Rant Against Asians Fuels Firestorm; New York Times, 3/15/11

Ian Lovett, New York Times; U.C.L.A. Student’s Video Rant Against Asians Fuels Firestorm:

"Robert Hernandez, a professor of Internet journalism at the University of Southern California, said Ms. Wallace’s story served as a reminder of the need to be aware of your “digital footprint” in the Internet age. “People feel a false sense of privacy on the Internet that isn’t there,” he said."

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Facebook Users Who Are Under Age Raise Concerns; New York Times, 3/11/11

Matt Richtel and Miguel Helft, New York Times; Facebook Users Who Are Under Age Raise Concerns:

"Victoria’s father, Brian Lai, an airline mechanic, said young people “have to have experience using the Internet. It’s the future.” He said Victoria told him she was going onto the sites, and he told her: “It’s not good to lie, but you can make an exception.”

Jerry Ng, Victoria’s 14-year-old cousin, agreed. “It’s one thing to lie to a person,” he said. “But this is lying to a computer.”"

Monday, March 14, 2011

[Press Release] Restrictions on library e-book lending threaten access to information; American Library Association (ALA), 3/14/11

[Press Release] American Library Association (ALA); Restrictions on library e-book lending threaten access to information:

"As libraries cope with stagnant or decreased budgets, the recent decision by publisher HarperCollins to restrict the lending of e-books to a limited number of circulations per copy threatens libraries’ ability to provide their users with access to information...

The Equitable Access to Electronic Information Task Force (EQUACC) and the ALA will soon launch a website dedicated to developing a model for e-book lending."

In Germany, Uproar Over a Doctoral Thesis; New York Times, 3/14/11

Michael Kimmelman, New York Times; In Germany, Uproar Over a Doctoral Thesis:

"...Mr. Guttenberg’s crime doesn’t seem so bad to many in a generation of samplers and aggregators. Last year a teenage German author, Helene Hegemann, published a novel that became a finalist for the Leipzig Book Fair prize, despite plagiarism charges against her...

The widespread expectation now is that Mr. Guttenberg, whose popularity has not dimmed but increased, according to the latest polls, will retreat for a while, and, like Mr. Clinton, after an obligatory period of remorse, come back. First he will have to contend with prosecutors, who the other day announced they had opened an investigation. Plagiarism entails breach of copyright crimes here."

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Defense Minister Guttenberg Resigns; Spiegel International, 3/1/11

Spiegel International; Defense Minister Guttenberg Resigns:

"By the end of last week, it had become clear that Guttenberg's dissertation contained dozens of passages that had been copied word-for-word from previously published works without adequate citation. He also included several pages from research notes he requested from parliamentary research assistants. It is not allowed for parliamentarians to use Bundestag research assistants for private business."

Facebook is rewriting its privacy policy; San Jose Mercury News via Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, 3/13/11

Mike Swift, San Jose Mercury News via Pittsburgh Post-Gazette; Facebook is rewriting its privacy policy:

"Facebook's intent to simplify its privacy disclosures, and to create interactive software tools to allow users to see how Facebook and application developers access their data, has drawn praise from some privacy advocates. But, "until Facebook tells its 600 million members what it tells its major advertisers and marketing partners -- on how to configure its system to generate data and other desired ad responses -- it is failing to protect user privacy," said Jeffrey Chester, executive director of the Center for Digital Democracy. "We intend to push the FTC and Congress to force Facebook to come clean about its data privacy practices.""

Thursday, March 3, 2011

A $20 Loan, a Facebook Quarrel and a Fatal Stabbing; New York Times, 3/1/11

Al Baker and Tim Stelloh, New York Times; A $20 Loan, a Facebook Quarrel and a Fatal Stabbing:

"The war of words escalated over Facebook. In capital letters, at 8:52 p.m., Ms. Richards said that she would have the last laugh. Ms. Henriques replied within seconds: “We will see.”...

“Like so many things these days, elements of this case emerged on Facebook,” Mr. Browne said.

To the victim’s relatives, it seemed unreal that the Facebook entries could foreshadow such violence. In fact, Ms. Richards did not consider the exchange she had with Ms. Henriques serious, said her sister, Schneiqua Henry, 20.

“She didn’t pay it any mind,” Ms. Henry said. “She thought it was just another argument.”"

Internet Cheating Scandal Shakes Japan Universities; New York Times, 3/1/11

Martin Fackler, New York Times; Internet Cheating Scandal Shakes Japan Universities:

"While it is unclear whether more than one person was involved, the episode has become a national scandal, raising questions about how to monitor the grueling exams, the main route to success in Japan, in an era of smartphones and instant Internet access.

It also touched a nerve in a proudly egalitarian nation that has struggled to come to terms with its growing economic and social inequalities. Many here are wondering aloud whether admission to top universities — a ticket to a top corporate or government job — remains as merit-based as it used to be, or whether some young people are unfairly getting a leg up, in this case from misuse of new technologies."

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Plagiarism in Dissertation Costs German Defense Minister His Job; New York Times, 3/1/11

Judy Dempsey, New York Times; Plagiarism in Dissertation Costs German Defense Minister His Job:

"The University of Bayreuth, which conferred the doctorate in 2007, revoked Mr. Guttenberg’s academic title, saying he had “seriously violated” the institution’s standards.

Conservatives had hoped that his apology would quell the controversy, but last weekend more than 20,000 scholars from Germany and other parts of Europe sent an open letter to the Chancellery saying that Mrs. Merkel’s continuing support of Mr. Guttenberg was a “mockery” of all those who “contribute to scientific advancement in an honest manner.”

“If the protection of ideas is no longer an important value in our society, then we are gambling away our future,” the statement said."

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Where Freedom of Expression Runs Headlong Into the Impulse to Censor; New York Times, 2/28/11

Clyde Haberman, New York Times; Where Freedom of Expression Runs Headlong Into the Impulse to Censor:

"“The principle of free speech is easy when the speech is something that’s popular and noncontroversial,” Mr. Siegel said. “The real test is when you disagree with the content of the speech and you still defend the right of someone to articulate the message.”"

Sunday, February 27, 2011

Mickey Mouse's dark side; Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, 2/27/11

Greg Victor, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette; Mickey Mouse's dark side:

"Charles Kenney in Foreign Policy says that "behind its facade of global goodwill, Disney is playing the evil stepmother to the developing world's entrepreneurial Cinderellas."...

This prevents others from adapting works of art and, writes Mr. Kenney, "If these extreme copyright and patent claims were effectively enforced, ... developing countries would owe Western companies $20 billion a year in royalties -- a transfer of wealth so dramatic that even the Vatican recently raised concerns about the 'excessive zeal' of today's intellectual-property bullies.""

Police expect arrests soon in 'Beaver Hoez' Facebook investigation; Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, 2/25/11

Torsten Ove, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette; Police expect arrests soon in 'Beaver Hoez' Facebook investigation:

"With the search warrants, Trooper Roth said investigators eventually will trace who created the page and who posted the crude responses on it.

"Everything on the Internet is trackable," he said. "It will be tracked by who did what. They will know."

And when they do, he said, someone will probably end up charged, most likely with harassment by communication, a misdemeanor."

Facebook page draws police scrutiny for cyberbullying; Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, 2/24/11

Moriah Balingit, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette; Facebook page draws police scrutiny for cyberbullying:

"Sometime in the past few days, Pennsylvania State Police said a Facebook user created an online forum on the social networking site titled "Beaver County Hoez...

It's unclear what charges may be filed, though troopers characterized the incident as cyber bullying/harassment."

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

The Future of Reputation: Gossip, Rumor, and Privacy on the Internet; Free Webinar via Educause

Free Webinar via Educause: March 2, 2011 1:00 p.m. ET; The Future of Reputation: Gossip, Rumor, and Privacy on the Internet:

"In this talk, Daniel J. Solove discusses how gossip and rumor on the Internet are affecting the lives of school students in some profound and troubling ways.

Teeming with chat rooms, online discussion groups, and blogs, the Internet offers previously unimagined opportunities for personal expression and communication. But there’s a dark side to the story. A trail of information fragments about us is forever preserved on the Internet, instantly available in a Google search. A permanent chronicle of our private lives—often of dubious reliability and sometimes totally false—will follow us wherever we go, accessible to friends, strangers, dates, employers, neighbors, relatives, and anyone else who cares to look.

People—especially teenagers and college students—are increasingly spilling their most personal secrets as well as intimate details about their families and friends, in blogs and on social networking sites. In a world where anyone can publish any thought to a worldwide audience, how should we balance privacy and free speech? How should the law protect people when harmful gossip and rumors are spread about them on the Internet?

Daniel Solove is the John Marshall Harlan Research Professor of Law at George Washington University Law School and the founder of TeachPrivacy, a company that helps schools develop a comprehensive privacy program."

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Hollywood Property Values; New York Times, 2/20/11

Randy Cohen, The Ethicist, New York Times; Hollywood Property Values:

"The added twist is that while Disney, like its industry cohort, seeks an eternal hammerlock on its productions, many of them originate in our common literary heritage — “Cinderella,” “Snow White,” “The Little Mermaid.” Such an overreaching concept of intellectual property obstructs the exchange of ideas, the referencing and reworking of earlier works that stimulate invention. For Hollywood to thwart this by appropriating our common cultural legacy is as ethically dubious as plagiarism — innovation, perhaps, but not actual progress. Like 3-D."

Stars and Sewers; New York Times, 2/20/11

Maureen Dowd, New York Times; Stars and Sewers:

"Online anonymity has created what the computer scientist Jaron Lanier calls a “culture of sadism.”...

Evgeny Morozov, author of “The Net Delusion: The Dark Side of Internet Freedom,” told me Twitter creates a false intimacy and can “bring out the worst in people."...

Nicholas Carr, author of “The Shallows: What the Internet is Doing to Our Brains,” says technology amplifies everything, good instincts and base. While technology is amoral, he said, our brains may be rewired in disturbing ways.

“Researchers say that we need to be quiet and attentive if we want to tap into our deeper emotions,” he said. “If we’re constantly interrupted and distracted, we kind of short-circuit our empathy. If you dampen empathy and you encourage the immediate expression of whatever is in your mind, you get a lot of nastiness that wouldn’t have occurred before.”"

[Podcast] The Personal Impact of the Web; NPR's On the Media, 2/18/11

[Podcast] NPR's On the Media; The Personal Impact of the Web:

"This week On the Media brings you a version of our first ever live show - a look at the internet and how it's changing us. First up, what is the net doing to as individuals? Does it make us better and more connected to each other? Or does it degrade our real life social connections and leave us at the mercy of long distance bullies? Bob and Brooke hash it out, with help from psychologist Sherry Turkle, writer Conor Friedersdorf, and net researcher Lee Rainie."

Friday, February 18, 2011

The human race needs elephant mothers, not tiger mothers; Guardian, 2/13/11

Peter Singer, Guardian; The human race needs elephant mothers, not tiger mothers:

"We should aim for our children to be good people, and to live ethical lives that manifest concern for others as well as for themselves. This approach to childrearing is not unrelated to happiness: there is abundant evidence that those who are generous and kind are more content with their lives than those who are not. But it is also an important goal in its own right.

Tigers lead solitary lives, except for mothers with their cubs. We, by contrast, are social animals. So are elephants, and elephant mothers do not focus only on the wellbeing of their own offspring. Together, they protect and take care of all the young in their herd, running a kind of daycare centre."

Digital Age Is Slow to Arrive in Rural America; New York Times, 2/18/11

Kim Severson, New York Times; Digital Age Is Slow to Arrive in Rural America:

"As the world embraces its digital age — two billion people now use the Internet regularly — the line delineating two Americas has become more broadly drawn. There are those who have reliable, fast access to the Internet, and those, like about half of the 27,867 people here in Clarke County, who do not."

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Egypt's revolt met with wide support, censorship; Associated Press, 2/12/11

Associated Press; Egypt's revolt met with wide support, censorship:

"From London to Gaza City to Seoul, the world was savoring the spectacular fall of Egypt's Hosni Mubarak, with demonstrators rallying in the thousands Saturday in cities across the world. But other authoritarian regimes weren't celebrating — and some were trying to censor the news.

In China, where the ruling Communist Party ruthlessly stamps out dissent, terse media reports downplayed the large-scale pro-democracy protests in Egypt that forced Mubarak from power and instead emphasized the country's disorder and lawlessness.

In oil-rich Equatorial Guinea, where coup leader Teodoro Obiang has been in power since 1979, state-controlled media was ordered to stop reporting about Egypt altogether, according to African news site

Nearly everywhere else, newspapers congratulated Egypt's revolution, with many headlines carrying the word: "Finally.""

The Order of Things: What college rankings really tell us; New Yorker, 2/14/11

Malcolm Gladwell, New Yorker; The Order of Things: What college rankings really tell us:

"There are schools that provide a good legal education at a decent price, and, by choosing not to include tuition as a variable, U.S. News has effectively penalized those schools for trying to provide value for the tuition dollar. The U.S. News ranking turns out to be full of these kinds of implicit ideological choices. It gives twice as much weight to selectivity as it does to efficacy. It favors the Yale model over the Penn State model, which means that the Yales of the world will always succeed at the U.S. News rankings because the U.S. News system is designed to reward Yale-ness. At a time when American higher education is facing a crisis of accessibility and affordability, we have adopted a de-facto standard of college quality that is uninterested in both of those factors."

Free love's antidote: On the Pitt campus, it should have been free speech; Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, 2/12/11

Pittsburgh Post-Gazette; Free love's antidote: On the Pitt campus, it should have been free speech:

"University of Pittsburgh student Joseph Petrich wanted to advocate for chastity now, only to be told by university officialdom that he and his group had to leave."

Friday, February 11, 2011

Ethics Watchdog Targets Congressional Sleepovers; AP via NPR, 2/10/11

AP via NPR; Ethics Watchdog Targets Congressional Sleepovers:

"A Washington ethics watchdog says it's time for Congress to crack down on lawmakers who sleep in their offices rather than pay for a place to live.

Reacting to a surge in congressmen bunking down in their work spaces, Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington wants the Office of Congressional Ethics to investigate whether the politicians are getting an unfair tax break and violating their own rules by making personal use of public resources."

[Podcast] Professors Differ On Ethics Of Using WikiLeaks Cables; NPR's Morning Edition, 2/7/11

[Podcast] Jessica Deahl, NPR's Morning Edition; Professors Differ On Ethics Of Using WikiLeaks Cables:

"The WikiLeaks cable dump is almost universally considered a scholar's treasure trove. But, there is a debate within the academic community over the ethics of using the classified dispatches in the classroom."

The Ethics of Free Cellphone Calls; New York Times, 2/10/11

David Pogue, New York Times; The Ethics of Free Cellphone Calls:

"Now, you know my feelings about cellphone companies. I think they’re prone to egregious greed and gouging. They charge both the sender and the recipient of each text message. They don’t lower our monthly bills once our subsidized phone is paid off (except T-Mobile).

Nevertheless, this way of fighting back is cheating...

Your HONEST customer,


Thursday, February 10, 2011

Counting by Race Can Throw Off Some Numbers; New York Times, 2/10/11

Susan Saulny, New York Times; Counting by Race Can Throw Off Some Numbers:

"The chameleon-like quality of Ms. L√≥pez-Mullins’s racial and ethnic identification might seem trivial except that statistics on ethnicity and race are used for many important purposes. These include assessing disparities in health, education, employment and housing, enforcing civil rights protections, and deciding who might qualify for special consideration as members of underrepresented minority groups."

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Teachers’ Colleges Upset By Plan to Grade Them; New York Times, 2/9/11

Trip Gabriel, New York Times; Teachers’ Colleges Upset By Plan to Grade Them:

"...U.S. News & World Report is planning to give A through F grades to more than 1,000 teachers’ colleges, and many of the schools are unhappy, marching to the principal’s office to complain the system is unfair.

Numerous education school deans have protested that the ratings program’s methodology is flawed since the program was announced last month. In a letter last week, officials from 35 leading education colleges and graduate schools — including Columbia, Harvard, Michigan State and Vanderbilt — denounced an “implied coercion” if they do not cooperate with the ratings."

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Wary of Egypt Unrest, China Censors Web; New York Times, 2/1/11

Edward Wong and David Barboza, New York Times; Wary of Egypt Unrest, China Censors Web:

" and — two of the nation’s biggest online portals — blocked keyword searches of the word “Egypt,” though the mass protests were being discussed on some Internet chat rooms on Monday. Searching for “Egypt” has also been blocked on Weibo, the Chinese equivalent of Twitter.

Censoring the Internet is not the only approach. The Chinese government has also tried to get out ahead of the discussion, framing the Egyptian protests in a few editorials and articles in state-controlled news publications as a chaotic affair that embodies the pitfalls of trying to plant democracy in countries that are not quite ready for it — a line China’s leaders have long held."

Monday, January 31, 2011

Connecticut Library To Show 'Sicko' After All; Library Journal, 1/26/11

Library Journal; Connecticut Library To Show 'Sicko' After All:

"Dutcher said he would attempt to "balance" the films that are shown, as the critics have demanded, but that Sicko had to be shown; he said also that he had assurances from Coppler that library policy and the management of the library would not change, and that as director he maintained the authority to make decisions about programming at the library...

Some have said seeking balance could create a trap of false equivalencies (do you "balance" Schindler's List with a holocaust denier?), but Dutcher said if that arose he would deal with it.

"One of the things that really influenced me was the television programs where everybody has to yell at everyone else and nobody gets anywhere because nobody listens to one another. People ask, 'Why can't we sit down and work it out?' and that's the method we are attempting here," he said."

New Partners in the Plagiarism-Detection Business; Chronicle of Higher Education, 1/26/11

Eric Hoover, Chronicle of Higher Education; New Partners in the Plagiarism-Detection Business:

"The latter runs essays through a database of Internet content, journals, books, and previously submitted writing. It then provides a report listing the number—and type—of matches that might indicate all sorts of word-recycling. In one study Turnitin for Admissions reviewed 450,000 personal statements and found that 36 percent contained a significant amount of matching text (more than 10 percent). Those matches tended to come from Web sites offering “sample” personal statements. Other tests have found questionable similarities among 8 to 20 percent of applications...

“A lot of jaws are dropping,” Mr. Lorton said of admissions officials surprised by the levels of matching they’ve seen. “There are people seeking an advanced degree at the most selective institutions who can’t even write their own personal statements.”"

Saturday, January 29, 2011

Republican Congressman Proposes Tracking Freedom of Information Act Requests; New York Times, 1/29/11

Eric Lipton, New York Times; Republican Congressman Proposes Tracking Freedom of Information Act Requests:

"But his extraordinary request worries some civil libertarians. It “just seems sort of creepy that one person in the government could track who is looking into what and what kinds of questions they are asking,” said David Cuillier, a University of Arizona journalism professor and chairman of the Freedom of Information Committee at the Society of Professional Journalists. “It is an easy way to target people who he might think are up to no good.”...

Yearly, the federal government receives about 600,000 FOIA requests, as they are called, a vast majority from corporate executives seeking information on competitors that might do business with the government. A much smaller number comes from civil libertarians, private citizens, whistle-blowers or journalists seeking information on otherwise secret government operations."

House Ethics Committee Clears 3 of Conflict of Interest; New York Times, 1/27/11

Eric Lipton, New York Times; House Ethics Committee Clears 3 of Conflict of Interest:

"The House ethics committee, in one of its first official acts since the start of the new Congress, dismissed cases involving three members accused of creating an appearance of a conflict by holding fund-raising events with financial industry executives and lobbyists in the days before major votes on legislation revamping the nation’s financial regulations.

The decision came as a relief to lawmakers. If the ethics committee had found violations, ground rules for fund-raising would have radically changed in Washington, where popular restaurants and bars around Capitol Hill sometimes host two or three events each night."

Sunday, January 23, 2011

High Price for India’s Information Law; New York Times, 1/23/11

Lydia Polgreen, New York Times; High Price for India’s Information Law:

"Mr. Jethwa was one of millions of Indians who had embraced the country’s five-year-old Right to Information Act, which allows citizens to demand almost any government information. People use the law to stop petty corruption and to solve their most basic problems, like getting access to subsidized food for the poor or a government pension without having to pay a bribe, or determining whether government doctors and teachers are actually showing up for work.

But activists like Mr. Jethwa who have tried to push such disclosures further — making pointed inquiries at the dangerous intersection of high-stakes business and power politics — have paid a heavy price. Perhaps a dozen have been killed since 2005, when the law was enacted, and countless others have been beaten and harassed."

Saturday, January 22, 2011

G.O.P. Grants Reprieve to House Ethics Office; New York Times,

Ron Nixon,New York Times; G.O.P. Grants Reprieve to House Ethics Office:

"Before the 2010 midterm elections, speculation was rampant that if the Republicans took over the House, they would kill the fledgling Office of Congressional Ethics, an independent body that investigates complaints of misbehavior."

Friday, January 21, 2011

In Florida, Virtual Classrooms With No Teachers; New York Times, 1/18/11

Laura Herrera, New York Times; In Florida, Virtual Classrooms With No Teachers:

"Under the state’s class-reduction amendment, high school classrooms cannot surpass a 25-student limit in core subjects, like English or math. Fourth- through eighth-grade classrooms can have no more than 22 students, and prekindergarten through third grade can have no more than 18.

Alix Braun, 15, a sophomore at Miami Beach High, takes Advanced Placement macroeconomics in an e-learning lab with 35 to 40 other students. There are 445 students enrolled in the online courses at her school, and while Alix chose to be placed in the lab, she said most of her lab mates did not.

“None of them want to be there,” Alix said, “and for virtual education you have to be really self-motivated. This was not something they chose to do, and it’s a really bad situation to be put in because it is not your choice.”

School administrators said that they had to find a way to meet class-size limits. Jodi Robins, the assistant principal of curriculum at Miami Beach High, said that even if students struggled in certain subjects, the virtual labs were necessary because “there’s no way to beat the class-size mandate without it.”"

Google Co-Founder Page To Replace Schmidt As CEO; NPR, 1/20/11

NPR; Google Co-Founder Page To Replace Schmidt As CEO:

"In October, Schmidt drew fire for responding to a hypothetical question posed at a forum in Washington, D.C., about an implant that would let Google know what its users were thinking. He responded that Google's policy is to "get right up to the creepy line and not cross it," and an implant would cross the line.

He also said that as users voluntarily share information online, it doesn't need users to type in search queries for the company to tailor the results. "We don't need you to type at all. We know where you are. We know where you've been. We can more or less know what you're thinking about," he said.

Such comments have been repeated in online musings that portrayed Schmidt and Google as "creepy.""

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Radio Ban Elicits Protests; New York Times, 1/16/11

Ian Austin, New York Times; Radio Ban Elicits Protests:

"Over the last quarter-century, “Money for Nothing” by Dire Straits has moved from the Top 40 to the playlists of classic rock stations all over the world. But last week, a broadcast industry standards council ruled that the song was unfit for Canada’s airwaves.

The issue focused on the use of an antigay slur. At least three radio stations, including CIRK-FM in Edmonton, Alberta, defied the ban with marathon broadcasts of the song, indirectly underlining the lack of power held by the industry’s self-regulatory body."

2 AOL Tech Blogs Face Off in a War of Insults; New York Times, 1/17/11

Verne G. Kopytoff, New York Times; 2 AOL Tech Blogs Face Off in a War of Insults:

"Last week, Mr. Arrington started a five-day online sparring session with Engadget, a sister blog at AOL, accusing it in multiple online posts of being “immensely unethical” and a “plasticized caricature of a real blog.”...

"AOL’s management has taken a low-key approach to the family feud, at least from Mr. Topolsky’s perspective.

Executives, he said, have advised that he keep a cool head and move on, although it is unclear whether they echoed that message to Mr. Arrington, who has not responded to Mr. Topolsky’s demand for proof of ethical missteps."

Monday, January 17, 2011

The Golden Globes scandal: What integrity?; Boston Globe, 1/16/11

Ty Burr, Boston Globe; The Golden Globes scandal: What integrity? :

"Yes, apparently there's a reason that "Burlesque" and "The Tourist," both violently bad films, received multiple nods beyond the accepted need to stock the Globes telecast with stars. Yet is anyone actually surprised to hear the HFPA might have an ethics problem?"

[Podcast] African Americans And The Internet; NPR's Morning Edition, 1/17/11

[Podcast] NPR's Morning Edition; African Americans And The Internet:

"African Americans are more likely than whites to access the Internet by mobile phone, and they are twice as likely to use Twitter. Mobile devices have expanded access to the Internet, but they also limit the experience. NPR's Renee Montagne talks with IT consultant Anjuan Simmons about Internet trends among blacks."

Tennessee Tea Parties demand textbooks contain no mean things about Founding Fathers;, 1/13/11

Alex Pareene,; Tennessee Tea Parties demand textbooks contain no mean things about Founding Fathers:

"Tennessee Tea Party groups have introduced a proposal to take what few minorities there are in American history textbooks out of American history textbooks, along with any negative portrayals of the wealthy white men who led this young nation in its infancy."

Texting, 'friending' a morass for educators; Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, 1/16/11

Anya Sostek, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette; Texting, 'friending' a morass for educators:

"When Sidney Alvarez became Avonworth public relations director, he thought a Facebook page might be a simple way to spread the word about goings-on in the school district.

But as Mr. Alvarez and school employees nationwide have discovered, when it comes to students and social media, nothing is simple.

The school now has a robust Facebook presence, with updates every few hours that reach more than 700 students, parents and community members. But Mr. Alvarez and the Avonworth administration have had to make countless ethical and policy decisions balancing the ease of communication versus student safety and decorum. Should comments be allowed? What about student photos? Should the district allow its logo to be used on parent-created fan pages for sports teams?"

Sunday, January 16, 2011

[Op-Ed] Send Huck Finn to College; New York Times, 1/16/11

[Op-Ed] Lorrie Moore, New York Times; Send Huck Finn to College:

"EVER since NewSouth Books announced it would publish a version of “The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn” with the “n-word” removed, reaction has split between traditionalists outraged at censorship and those who feel this might be a way to get teenagers, especially African-American boys, comfortable reading a literary classic. From a mother’s perspective, I think both sides are mistaken."

Too Much Information; New York Times, 1/9/11

Lisa A. Phillips, New York Times; Too Much Information:

"A FEW weeks after I started a tenure-track job last semester at the State University of New York at New Paltz, an e-mail message landed in faculty in-boxes relaying the news that an online textbook-rental company had requested records for all grades awarded on campus since 2007.

The company,, wanted grade distributions — how many A’s, B’s, C’s, etc., were given — organized by semester, course section and instructor, without individual student information. The request was made under New York’s Freedom of Information Law, which allows the public to access state government records. That definition covers grades at state universities, according to SUNY New Paltz lawyers. So the administration had to give up the goods."

Swiss whistleblower Rudolf Elmer plans to hand over offshore banking secrets of the rich and famous to WikiLeaks; Guardian, 1/16/11

Ed Vulliamy, Guardian; Swiss whistleblower Rudolf Elmer plans to hand over offshore banking secrets of the rich and famous to WikiLeaks:

"Elmer, who after his press conference will return to Switzerland from exile in Mauritius to face trial, is a former chief operating officer in the Cayman Islands and employee of the powerful Julius Baer bank, which accuses him of stealing the information.

He is also – at a time when the activities of banks are a matter of public concern – one of a small band of employees and executives seeking to blow the whistle on what they see as unprofessional, immoral and even potentially criminal activity by powerful international financial institutions."

Saturday, January 15, 2011

[Podcast] Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and the Public Imagination; On the Media, 1/14/11

[Podcast] On the Media; Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and the Public Imagination:

"On August 28, 1963 Martin Luther King Jr. did what he’d done countless times before, he began building a sermon. And in his sermons King relied on improvisation - drawing on sources and references that were limited only by his imagination and memory. It’s a gift – and a tradition - on full display in the 'I Have A Dream' speech but it’s also in conflict with the intellectual property laws that have been strenuously used by his estate since his death. OTM producer Jamie York speaks with Drew Hansen, Keith Miller, Michael Eric Dyson and Lewis Hyde about King, imagination and the consequences of limiting access to art and ideas."

[Podcast] 10 Years of Wikipedia; On the Media, 1/14/11

[Podcast] On the Media; 10 Years of Wikipedia:

"Wikipedia, the free, web-based, crowd-sourced, multi-lingual encyclopedia, turns 10 years old this month. Brooke talks to Sue Gardner, executive director of the Wikimedia Foundation, about the challenges of maintaining an online democracy that doesn't descend into chaos, and also about what it's like to be targeted by Stephen Colbert's horde of vandals."

Friday, January 14, 2011

Scientists Fault Universities as Favoring Research Over Teaching; Chronicle of Higher Education, 1/13/11

Paul Basken, Chronicle of Higher Education; Scientists Fault Universities as Favoring Research Over Teaching:

"The authors recommend that universities take steps that include helping their science faculty members improve their teaching practices, and basing tenure and promotions on teaching skills.

Mr. Mann said he saw a direct correlation between universities' promoting and paying for those teaching skills, and improving the quality of science research. Among other problems, he said, universities rely heavily on the integrity of their faculty to produce trustworthy science. "As the pressures become higher for people to generate grant income to support their salaries and their enterprise," he said, "then the pressure for the absence of integrity gets higher."

Avengers Academy #8, p. 6, ["Superhuman Ethics"];, 1/14/11; Avengers Academy #8, p. 6 ["Superhuman Ethics]

Snooping Tucson Hospital Workers Fired In Records Breach; NPR, 1/14/11

Scott Hensley, NPR; Snooping Tucson Hospital Workers Fired In Records Breach:

"Earlier this week, management at University Medical Center fired three employees and let go a nurse working for a contractor because they'd snooped on confidential computerized medical records of patients injured in the shooting.

The hospital released a statement late Wednesday, saying the people violated a "zero tolerance policy on patient privacy violations." The hospital notified the patients' families about the breach and said nothing from the records appears to have been made public."

[Podcast] 'Dr. No' Becomes Diplomat, Continues A Family Story; NPR's Morning Edition, 1/14/11

[Podcast] Ari Shapiro, NPR's Morning Edition; 'Dr. No' Becomes Diplomat, Continues A Family Story:

"After two years as White House "ethics czar," Norm Eisen is leaving Washington this month to become the U.S. ambassador to the Czech Republic. He will return to his mother's home country and complete a circle that began more than half a century ago."

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Monday, January 10, 2011

1986 Privacy Law Is Outrun by the Web; New York Times, 1/10/11

Miguel Helft and Claire Cain Miller, New York Times; 1986 Privacy Law Is Outrun by the Web:

"The rules established by the 1986 Electronic Communications Privacy Act depend on what type of information is sought and how old it is. And courts in different jurisdictions have interpreted the rules differently.

But in many cases, the government does not notify people that they are searching their online information or prove probable cause, and if the government violates the law in obtaining information, defendants are generally unable to exclude that evidence from a trial, Ms. Freiwald said."

Sunday, January 9, 2011

Teaching philosophy with Spider-Man; BBC News, 8/12/10

Katie Connolly, BBC News; Teaching philosophy with Spider-Man:

"Now, philosophy professors are finding superheroes and comic books to be exceptionally useful tools in helping students think about the complex moral and ethical debates that have occupied philosophers for centuries...

"I usually have students read Plato, Aristotle and Hume in introduction to philosophy courses. They often find it interesting, but get scared away by just how hard it is to read the stuff," Mr Bartel told the BBC.

"Comic books can provide really good illustrations of these philosophical ideas without scaring them off."...

For Christopher Robichaud, who teaches ethics and political philosophy at Harvard's Kennedy School of Government and Tufts University, superhero-based thought experiments can help people grapple with ethical dilemmas in an unsentimental fashion."

Is Law School a Losing Game?; New York Times, 1/9/11

David Segal, New York Times; Is Law School a Losing Game?:

"“Enron-type accounting standards have become the norm,” says William Henderson of Indiana University, one of many exasperated law professors who are asking the American Bar Association to overhaul the way law schools assess themselves. “Every time I look at this data, I feel dirty.”

IT is an open secret, Professor Henderson and others say, that schools finesse survey information in dozens of ways. And the survey’s guidelines, which are established not by U.S. News but by the American Bar Association, in conjunction with an organization called the National Association for Law Placement, all but invite trimming.

A law grad, for instance, counts as “employed after nine months” even if he or she has a job that doesn’t require a law degree. Waiting tables at Applebee’s? You’re employed. Stocking aisles at Home Depot? You’re working, too...

“Law school might not be worth it for another 10 or 15 years,” [Michael Wallerstein] says, “but the riskier approach always has the bigger payoff.”

True, say Professor Henderson and his allies. But he contends that law schools — which, let’s not forget, require students to take courses on disclosure and ethics — have a special moral obligation to tell the truth about themselves."

Renault Probes Ethics Complaint; Wall Street Journal, 1/6/11

David Pearson, Wall Street Journal; Renault Probes Ethics Complaint:

"French car maker Renault SA said Wednesday it has suspended three employees, including one management committee executive, on suspicion of breaches of company ethics.

A spokeswoman for Renault said the company's compliance committee had been alerted to possible unethical practices involving the three employees at the end of August, and the three individuals were suspended on Monday."

U.S. Subpoenas Twitter Over WikiLeaks Supporters; New York Times, 1/9/11

Scott Shane and John F. Burns, New York Times; U.S. Subpoenas Twitter Over WikiLeaks Supporters:

"Prosecutors investigating the disclosure of thousands of classified government documents by the anti-secrecy group WikiLeaks have gone to court to demand the Twitter account activity of several people linked to the organization, including its founder, Julian Assange, according to the group and a copy of a subpoena made public late Friday."

[Podcast] Environmental Wikileaks; Living on Earth, 1/7/11

[Podcast], Living on Earth; Environmental Wikileaks:

"The classified documents made public by WikiLeaks are revealing closed door discussions on hot-button environmental issues, including whaling, climate change and genetically engineered crops. LOE’s Jeff Young looks at WikiLeaks through a green lens."

Saturday, January 8, 2011

[Podcast] Seth Mnookin on The Panic Virus; NPR's On the Media, 1/7/11

[Podcast] NPR's On the Media; Seth Mnookin on The Panic Virus:

"This week the British Medical Journal concluded an extensive investigation into a study that claimed a link between childhood vaccination and autism. Their conclusion? The study WAS A FRAUD. And yet, after a decade of no convincing evidence of a link, the panic remains and vaccination rates are down. Seth Mnookin, author of The Panic Virus, explains why it’s so hard to dislodge misinformation and fear."

Friday, January 7, 2011

WikiLeaks Relocations Possible For Exposed Sources, Warns U.S.;, 1/7/11; WikiLeaks Relocations Possible For Exposed Sources, Warns U.S.:
"The State Department on Friday warned foreign governments not to retaliate against human rights activists or others whose dealings with American officials were disclosed in secret diplomatic cables published by WikiLeaks."

CLE Commission Sanctions 407 Attorneys; Supreme Court of Ohio and Ohio Judicial System, 12/21/10

Supreme Court of Ohio and Ohio Judicial System; CLE Commission Sanctions 407 Attorneys:

"The Supreme Court of Ohio Commission on Continuing Legal Education today issued sanctions for 407 attorneys who failed to comply with their CLE requirements.

Attorneys are required to complete a minimum of 24 hours of continuing legal education every two years. Judges are required to complete a minimum of 40 hours of continuing legal education every two years."

[Podcast] Looking Back At The 'Tremendous Hate' Of Bullies; NPR's StoryCorps, 1/7/11

[Podcast] NPR's StoryCorps; Looking Back At The 'Tremendous Hate' Of Bullies:

"Recent stories about bullying — and the people who have spoken out publicly against it — inspired Rob Littlefield to tell his own story of abuse, and how it affected his family."

Blow the Whistle!; NPR's On the Media, 1/11

NPR's On the Media; Blow the Whistle!:
"On December 22nd, in the face of seemingly unanimous bipartisan support, the Whistleblower Protection Enhancement Act was killed at the last minute when a mystery Senator placed what’s called an anonymous hold on the bill...

We’re asking our listeners to call, write, email their Senators and ask them “did you kill this bill?” However they answer, email us at and we will post information as we receive it on the website. Hopefully we can blow the whistle on the Senator that would refuse protections to government whistleblowers."

New Jersey Governor Signs Anti-Bullying Bill Into Law; Chronicle of Higher Education, 1/6/11

Chronicle of Higher Education; New Jersey Governor Signs Anti-Bullying Bill Into Law:

"Gov. Chris Christie of New Jersey has signed into law an anti-bullying bill that’s among the strongest in the country, The Star-Ledger, a local newspaper, reported this morning."

Judge Orders College to Reinstate Student Who Posted a Placenta Photo Online; Chronicle of Higher Education, 1/6/11

Chronicle of Higher Education; Judge Orders College to Reinstate Student Who Posted a Placenta Photo Online:

"A federal judge in Kansas on Wednesday ordered Johnson County Community College to reinstate a nursing student who sued after being dismissed for posting a picture of a human placenta on Facebook, The Kansas City Star reported."

Jailed Sisters Released for Organ Transplant; New York Times, 1/7/11

Timothy Williams, New York Times; Jailed Sisters Released for Organ Transplant:

"The kidney donation was the sisters’ idea, and is supported by the N.A.A.C.P. and other civil rights organizations. But the unusual nature of the arrangement has been criticized by some medical ethicists.

Legal experts said that suspending a prison sentence contingent on an organ donation is highly unusual and may be unprecedented...

Many questions remain unanswered, including who will pay for the kidney transplant operation. The sisters’ advocates say the family cannot afford the procedure on their own and that it is unclear whether they will qualify for Medicaid."

Journal’s Paper on ESP Expected to Prompt Outrage; New York Times, 1/6/11

Benedict Carey, New York Times; Journal’s Paper on ESP Expected to Prompt Outrage:

"One of psychology’s most respected journals has agreed to publish a paper presenting what its author describes as strong evidence for extrasensory perception, the ability to sense future events.

The decision may delight believers in so-called paranormal events, but it is already mortifying scientists. Advance copies of the paper, to be published this year in The Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, have circulated widely among psychological researchers in recent weeks and have generated a mixture of amusement and scorn."

Blog Gives Superheroes and Supervillains Their Day in Court; New York Times, 12/21/10

John Schwartz, New York Times; Blog Gives Superheroes and Supervillains Their Day in Court:

"...[A] new blog and the interest it is generating shows that there are people who look at an epic battle between superheroes and supervillains and really, really want to know who should be found liable for the broken buildings and shattered streets.

Those people now have a blog called Law and the Multiverse: Superheroes, supervillains, and the law. Kicked off on Nov. 30, it addresses questions like: “What if someone is convicted for murder, and then the victim comes back to life?” And whether mutants are a legally recognizable class entitled to constitutional protection from discrimination."

Effort to sanitize Twain is pure insanity; Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, 1/7/11

Tony Norman, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette; Effort to sanitize Twain is pure insanity:

"Twain once described "Huckleberry Finn" as "a book of mine where a sound heart and a deformed conscience come into collision and conscience suffers defeat."

It holds a mirror to our times just as it did Twain's. Like the novel's original audience, we're a society that has subconsciously internalized racist assumptions and values, whether we acknowledge it or not.

"Huckleberry Finn" is a book about a racist who tried to grow up in the American wilderness. The best many of us can ever hope to be is as good as Huck. What's the point of trying to blunt such a two-edged sword?"

Light Out, Huck, They Still Want to Sivilize You; New York Times, 1/7/11

Michiko Kakutani, New York Times; Light Out, Huck, They Still Want to Sivilize You:

"To censor or redact books on school reading lists is a form of denial: shutting the door on harsh historical realities — whitewashing them or pretending they do not exist.

Mr. Gribben’s effort to update “Huckleberry Finn” (published in an edition with “The Adventures of Tom Sawyer” by NewSouth Books), like Mr. Foley’s assertion that it’s an old book and “we’re ready for new,” ratifies the narcissistic contemporary belief that art should be inoffensive and accessible; that books, plays and poetry from other times and places should somehow be made to conform to today’s democratic ideals. It’s like the politically correct efforts in the ’80s to exile great authors like Conrad and Melville from the canon because their work does not feature enough women or projects colonialist attitudes.

Authors’ original texts should be sacrosanct intellectual property, whether a book is a classic or not."

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Review Of Juan Williams' Firing Done; NPR News Exec Resigns; NPR, 1/6/11

Mark Memmott, NPR; Review Of Juan Williams' Firing Done; NPR News Exec Resigns:

"As NPR's David Folkenflik reports for our newscast, after Williams' dismissal "conservatives blasted NPR, and Fox News' most prominent opinion hosts made a cause of it. Republican lawmakers threatened to cut federal funding for public broadcasters."

As for the review done by Weil, Gotshal & Manges, David summarizes the findings this way: "It found that the termination of Williams' contract was entirely legal. But the board said the report called for a full review of the company's policies on ethics and outside appearances and for them to be applied consistently to all personnel.""

[Editorial] Survival of Ethics Oversight; New York Times, 12/23/10

[Editorial] New York Times; Survival of Ethics Oversight:

"The House’s incoming Republican majority has wisely concluded the quasi-independent Office of Congressional Ethics better not be dismantled."

Where to Draw a Line on Ethics; New York Times, 1/4/11

Edward L. Glaeser, New York Times; Where to Draw a Line on Ethics:

"In one area, however, the A.E.A. can act productively: It can create clear conflict-of-interest disclosure rules for its prestigious journals.

The film “Inside Job” raised disturbing questions about whether economists who regularly wrote or opined on various policy debates failed to report relevant background information, such as board memberships or consulting arrangements. The accusations are serious, and it seems clear that the profession has been carelessly cavalier about conflicts of interest.

As individuals, most of us could do with higher moral standards, but what are the appropriate institutional remedies?

It would be nice to think that the American Economic Association could lay down a code of ethics that would solve everything, but that would be a vast institutional overreach. The biggest problem with that approach is that the A.E.A. is not a licensing or accrediting association, like the American Bar Association."

Shadow Elite: Do Economists Need a Code of Ethics?;, 1/6/11

Janine R. Wedel and Linda Keenan,; Shadow Elite: Do Economists Need a Code of Ethics?:

"An ethical code for economists? That's a bit like adopting a chastity vow at the [Playboy] Bunny Ranch."

-reader comment to the New York Times,
January 4, 2011

This comment is striking, and not just because it manages to put "economists" and "Bunny Ranch" in the same unlikely sentence. It shows the stark disillusionment many feel towards some in the profession who have presented themselves as impartial when dispensing economic advice, even when they may well have a personal interest at stake."

Huck Finn Expurgated And Other Censored Books (PHOTOS);, 1/6/11; Huck Finn Expurgated And Other Censored Books (PHOTOS):

"In 1818 American Thomas Bowdler published a series of Shakespeare translations, which he edited heavily for content that he considered offensive. The resulting texts were tamed versions of the originals. Since then, the act of edited or removing offensive content has been deemed "bowdlerizing" and it has taken place many times.

From Darwin to Dolittle, books have been bowdlerized for over two centuries at least. Here are just 7 instances to share. What are some other notable instances? Do you think books should be edited for objectionable content? Or should we let the originals be?"

Censoring Twain; Chronicle of Higher Education, 1/5/11

John L. Jackson, Jr., Chronicle of Higher Education; Censoring Twain:

"Should teenage students read novels filled with n-word references? Is that even appropriate for public school curricula? At least one publisher doesn’t think so."

Hip-Hop and Copyright Law in the [sic] Classroomleg; Chronicle of Higher Education, 1/5/11

Ben Wieder, Chronicle of Higher Education; Hip-Hop and Copyright Law in the [sic] Classroomleg:

"Kembrew McLeod’s youthful interest in 1980s hip-hop became a life-long scholarly pursuit when some of the groups he’d listened to as a teenager were sued in the early 1990s for using samples of previously recorded music.

“The issue—how the law affects sampling—is the entire reason I’m a professor,” says Mr. McLeod, an associate professor of communication studies at the University of Iowa.

It’s the subject of his second documentary film, Copyright Criminals, co-directed by Ben Franzen, which ran last year as part of PBS’s Independent Lens series and will be released on DVD in March. It is also available at"