Monday, August 31, 2015

Flashback: How Marvel's "House of M" Changed an Industry and a Universe;, 8/29/15

Marc Buxton,; Flashback: How Marvel's "House of M" Changed an Industry and a Universe:
""House of M" #1 centered on Scarlet Witch, a long time Avenger. In "Avengers Dissembled," Wanda Maximoff was responsible for the mass destruction that tore Earth's Mightiest Heroes apart. In "House of M," the Avengers and the X-Men gathered to discuss just what should be done about this dangerous mutant with the ability to alter reality on a whim. This situation presented Marvel with many firsts. It was the first in a long line of crossovers that would involve the clash between two groups of major heroes. "Civil War," "World War Hulk" and "Avengers vs. X-Men" would follow as Marvel found a new formula to grab fan attention -- have two factions of popular heroes find a fundamental, ethical difference and have said heroes battle it out in a massive event.
While "House of M" did not feature a battle royal between groups, Bendis infused the first issue with palpable tension as mutant and superhero argued over the fate of the Scarlet Witch. It was clear that if the sides threw down, it would be epic. Fan debates sprung up online arguing who was right. Should Wanda be destroyed or contained? And if she was contained, who should care for her -- mutant hero or human champion? This super heroic moral impasse would become a frequent trope used in event comics, but this particular war of ethics would not continue for long in "House of M." In the first issue, Magneto showed up to retrieve his daughter and the true drama began. "House of M" #1 was read, devoured and debated, but most of all, it was an instant smash with 233,000 copies sold. Those numbers indicated that the super hero crossover event was back in a big way."

Saturday, August 29, 2015

CMU student admits developing controls for Android phones; Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, 8/25/15

Torsten Ove, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette; CMU student admits developing controls for Android phones:
"Carnegie Mellon University student Morgan C. Culbertson on Tuesday admitted in federal court to designing and trying to sell malware that allowed users to take control of other people’s Android phones.
“I am sorry to the individuals to whom my software may have compromised their privacy,” Mr. Culbertson said in pleading guilty to conspiracy to damage protected computers...
Assistant U.S. Attorney James Kitchen said that in 2013 Mr. Culbertson, who called himself “Android” online, conspired with another man, “Mike” from the Netherlands, to design a product called Dendroid and sell it on Darkode, an online marketplace for criminals and hackers.
Dendroid infected victims’ phones, allowing a customer who had bought the malware to spy on texts, pilfer files, take photos, review browser history and record conversations, all without the owners’ knowledge...
CMU spokesman Ken Walters said the university had no comment on the matter. Asked if the university had a policy against allowing a student to remain enrolled after being convicted of a felony, Mr. Walters said he did not know and he has forwarded the question to administrators.
The Carnegie Mellon Code of Conduct, which is available at the university’s website, states that students “are expected to meet the highest standards of personal, ethical and moral conduct possible. ... Students who cannot meet them should voluntarily withdraw from the university.”"

As Hikers Celebrate on Appalachian Trail, Some Ask: Where Will It End?; New York Times, 8/29/15

Katherine Q. Seelye, New York Times; As Hikers Celebrate on Appalachian Trail, Some Ask: Where Will It End? :
"His concerns received little notice outside the hiker world until July 12, when Mr. Jurek, 41, a champion ultramarathon runner, arrived atop Katahdin from Georgia after breaking the speed record for a supported hike. (His wife, Jenny, met him each night, allowing him to avoid carrying a heavy pack and to sleep in a van.) He ran the entire trail in 46 days, eight hours and seven minutes, beating the previous record by more than three hours.
At the summit, with an elevation of 5,269 feet, a friend handed Mr. Jurek a bottle of champagne. He uncorked it, inserted his thumb and shook the bottle vigorously until it exploded like Old Faithful. He then took a long swig before sitting on the rocks and talking with journalists and other hikers about his accomplishment. Among those watching was a park ranger, and Mr. Jurek later received three citations, for having a group larger than 12 (the citation said 16), drinking alcohol in public and littering — the result of that champagne spilling on the rocks, which the ranger said attracted bees and made the summit “smell like a redemption center.”
Mr. Jurek’s behavior incensed Mr. Bissell, 61, who has been the park director for more than a decade. He took the unusual step of scolding the runner in a post on the park’s Facebook page. He noted the rule violations but trained his ire on what he said was Mr. Jurek’s commercialization of the wilderness — the runner’s headband and support van showed corporate logos. Mr. Bissell said Mr. Jurek and his sponsors had exploited the park for profit. And he reiterated the threat to move the trail off Katahdin."

Many Psychology Findings Not as Strong as Claimed, Study Says; New York Times, 8/27/15

Benedict Carey, New York Times; Many Psychology Findings Not as Strong as Claimed, Study Says:
"The past several years have been bruising ones for the credibility of the social sciences. A star social psychologist was caught fabricating data, leading to more than 50 retracted papers. A top journal published a study supporting the existence of ESP that was widely criticized. The journal Science pulled a political science paper on the effect of gay canvassers on voters’ behavior because of concerns about faked data.
Now, a painstaking yearslong effort to reproduce 100 studies published in three leading psychology journals has found that more than half of the findings did not hold up when retested. The analysis was done by research psychologists, many of whom volunteered their time to double-check what they considered important work. Their conclusions, reported Thursday in the journal Science, have confirmed the worst fears of scientists who have long worried that the field needed a strong correction.
The vetted studies were considered part of the core knowledge by which scientists understand the dynamics of personality, relationships, learning and memory. Therapists and educators rely on such findings to help guide decisions, and the fact that so many of the studies were called into question could sow doubt in the scientific underpinnings of their work."

Data retention and the end of Australians' digital privacy; Sydney Morning Herald, 8/29/15

Quentin Dempster, Sydney Morning Herald; Data retention and the end of Australians' digital privacy:
"The digital privacy of Australians ends from Tuesday, October 13.
On that day this country's entire communications industry will be turned into a surveillance and monitoring arm of at least 21 agencies of executive government.
Intelligence and law enforcement agencies will have immediate, warrantless and accumulating access to all telephone and internet metadata required by law, with a $2 million penalty for telcos and ISPs that don't comply.
There is no sunset clause in the Abbott government's legislation, which was waved through parliament by Bill Shorten's Labor with only minor tweaks. The service providers are to keep a secret register of the agency seeking access to metadata and the identity of the persons being targeted. There is nothing in the Act to prevent investigative "fishing expeditions" or systemic abuse of power except for retrospective oversight by the Commonwealth Ombudsman. That's if you somehow found out about an agency looking into your metadata - which is unlikely, as there's a two-year jail sentence for anyone caught revealing information about instances of metadata access.
Over time, your metadata will expose your private email, SMS and fixed-line caller traffic, consumer, work and professional activities and habits, showing the patterns of all your communications, your commercial transactions and monetised subscriptions or downloads, exactly who you communicate with, and how often."

Thursday, August 27, 2015

How Twitter screwed up in shutting down its political tweet archives; Washington Post, 8/24/15

Philip Bump, Washington Post; How Twitter screwed up in shutting down its political tweet archives:
"On August 21, Twitter did something different: It shut off access to its application program interface, or API, for a tool that archived politicians' tweets. It had previously stopped access to the API for Politwoops, a site that archived American politicians' tweets. Now, projects gathering tweets from politicians in 30 countries and the European parliament are similarly disconnected.
Twitter defended the Politwoops move by saying that tweeting would be "nerve-wracking – terrifying, even" if you couldn't delete your old tweets."...
Twitter's argument is fairly simple. If you delete a tweet, it should be gone. If you don't delete it, it should be able to be surfaced. That makes sense for a company trying to sell a service to advertisers and cater to a user base of consumers. Respects privacy, but takes advantage of its increasingly substantial data pool to allow deep analysis.
But Twitter isn't just a company that matches consumers and advertisers. It's an integral part of real-time global communications, including communications from elected officials. The failure to set a different standard for different types of users -- especially as candidates increasingly use Twitter as part of their political campaigns -- is a disservice to the community that uses it. This is not a court of law in which a comment can be stricken from the record. It's a public square with a hot mic."

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Cheater, cheater, MOOC beater; Fortune, 8/26/15

Barb Darrow, Fortune; Cheater, cheater, MOOC beater:
"Researchers at MIT and Harvard this week published a paper finding that students taking online edX coursework were able to game the system by logging on as one person to check out online tests, scout out the right answers, and then log in again as themselves to take the test. Needless to say, that takes a lot of angst (and studying) out of the process.
This is not exactly good news for the burgeoning field of massive open online courses (aka MOOCs) popularized by the Kahn Academy but also increasingly embraced by traditional institutions. MIT and Harvard, with many other universities, for example have backed EdX, a MOOC platform, as a great way to provide low-cost education for lots of people and narrow the skills gap. EdX itself is a technology platform for packaging up and deploying online classes and is backed by MIT, Harvard, University of California at Berkeley, Dartmouth, and other schools. Students typically can use edX to earn certificates but not degrees at the affiliate schools.
According to an MIT News report, the paper’s co-author Isaac Chuang, an MIT professor of electrical engineering and physics, said as they analyzed student data, they noticed that some users answered questions “faster than is humanly possible.”"

Monday, August 24, 2015

Margaret Atwood’s column criticizing Stephen Harper vanishes, then returns to, National Post website, Toronto Star, 8/21/15

Jennifer Pagliaro, Toronto Star; Margaret Atwood’s column criticizing Stephen Harper vanishes, then returns to, National Post website:
"The National Post has reposted a column written by famed Canadian author Margaret Atwood criticizing Stephen Harper after accusations of censorship.
“Um, did I just get censored?” Atwood asked on Twitter Friday evening after her column disappeared from the Post’s website, several hours after it had been posted. “For my flighty little caper on Hair?”
The celebrated Toronto author’s column, which remained available in a cached version online, used Stephen Harper’s repeated attacks on rival Justin Trudeau’s hair as a lead-in to pointed criticism of the prime minister himself.
“The column was taken down because the necessary fact checking had not been completed,” said the Post’s senior vice-president Gerry Nott in an email. “Senior editorial leadership at Postmedia also had not concluded whether the column was aligned with the values of the National Post and its readers.”
The vanished Post column, minus three sentences, was posted later Friday night on the website of The Walrus magazine. Soon after the lightly trimmed Walrus version appeared on the Post website as well."

The Fat Jew, Plagiarism and Copyright Law; Forbes, 8/24/15

Oliver Herzfeld, Forbes; The Fat Jew, Plagiarism and Copyright Law:
"What are the differences between plagiarism and copyright infringement?
First, plagiarism is a violation of ethics and industry norms that involves the failure to properly attribute the authorship of copied material, whereas copyright infringement is a violation of law that involves the copying of “original works of authorship fixed in any tangible medium of expression,” without a license or a so-called “fair use” exemption. So claims of plagiarism would apply to any joke even if it is only conveyed in a live performance that is not recorded, while copyright infringement would not apply to any such jokes that are never recorded or published in any way. Exposure to claims of copyright infringement would only apply to jokes that are written down, captured on film or memorialized in some other physical medium, whether paper, video or computer server.
Second, plagiarism applies to the copying of both ideas and the expression of ideas, while copyright law only protects the expression of ideas but not the ideas themselves. The copyright law’s so-called “idea/expression dichotomy” can lead to a lot of thorny issues. For example, if a comedian changes the words of another’s joke and puts it into her own words, is that a copying of only the “idea” which would not constitute a copyright infringement or a “substantially similar” copying that would constitute a copyright infringement? This has led to an informal standard in the world of comedy, namely, claims of joke copying must be based on material that is highly original, not simply topical, obvious or based on common denominator topics such as mothers-in-law, bosses or airline food. In this case, however, Ostrovsky is accused of copying others’ works lock, stock and barrel. For example, in one instance, Ostrovsky copied another comedian’s image of a daily planner with time blocked off for “drugs and alcohol” and other humorous scheduled items. Ostrovsky deleted the name, social media handle and face of the author from the image but made no effort to recreate it, rephrase the wording or otherwise alter the expression of the original idea in any manner."

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Review: ‘Informed Consent’ Tests the Ethics of Genetic Research; New York Times, 8/18/15

Charles Isherwood, New York Times; Review: ‘Informed Consent’ Tests the Ethics of Genetic Research:
"In “Informed Consent,” a thoughtful and engrossing play by Deborah Zoe Laufer, a research scientist specializing in genetic diseases finds herself embroiled in controversy when her fierce dedication to her work, and her deeply personal reasons for pursuing it, lead her into murky ethical waters...
The play, which opened on Tuesday at the Duke on 42nd Street theater, a co-production by Primary Stages and Ensemble Studio Theater, then moves back in time, to Jillian’s years at a university in Arizona. Here she proselytizes (directly to us, whom she jokingly calls her “cousins”) for the wonders of genetic science with the fervency of an evangelical preacher. “Now that we can trace our genome, we’re finally able to read the greatest story ever told,” she says with excited awe, “the history of our species, written in our cells.”...
Staged on a handsome set by Wilson Chin that wittily uses a quartet of staircases in the same general shape as DNA spirals, “Informed Consent” has some speechy moments. But it raises provocative questions about the potential conflicts between scientific discovery and religious beliefs.
Advances in science, Jillian firmly believes, are sometimes accidental, and sometimes controversial. “They think we single-mindedly do experiments, know what we’ll find, and then we get the answer,” she says. “But real science is in the mistakes.”
“Informed Consent” is a reminder that some mistakes must be paid for."

The Closing of the Canadian Mind; New York Times, 8/14/15

Stephen Marche, New York Times; The Closing of the Canadian Mind:
"Mr. Harper’s war against science has been even more damaging to the capacity of Canadians to know what their government is doing. The prime minister’s base of support is Alberta, a western province financially dependent on the oil industry, and he has been dedicated to protecting petrochemical companies from having their feelings hurt by any inconvenient research.
In 2012, he tried to defund government research centers in the High Arctic, and placed Canadian environmental scientists under gag orders. That year, National Research Council members were barred from discussing their work on snowfall with the media. Scientists for the governmental agency Environment Canada, under threat of losing their jobs, have been banned from discussing their research without political approval. Mentions of federal climate change research in the Canadian press have dropped 80 percent. The union that represents federal scientists and other professionals has, for the first time in its history, abandoned neutrality to campaign against Mr. Harper.
His active promotion of ignorance extends into the functions of government itself. Most shockingly, he ended the mandatory long-form census, a decision protested by nearly 500 organizations in Canada, including the Canadian Medical Association, the Canadian Chamber of Commerce and the Canadian Catholic Council of Bishops. In the age of information, he has stripped Canada of its capacity to gather information about itself. The Harper years have seen a subtle darkening of Canadian life."

How libraries became the front line of America’s homelessness crisis; Washington Post, 8/19/15

Richard Gunderman and David C. Stevens, Washington Post; How libraries became the front line of America’s homelessness crisis:
"The transition from inpatient to outpatient psychiatric treatment that began in the 1960s, including the closure of state-run psychiatric hospitals, may contribute to the prevalence of mental illness among the homeless. Today, adjusting for changes in population size, U.S. state mental hospitals house only about 10 percent the number of patients they once did.
So it is no surprise that libraries are coping with a large number of patrons who are homeless or have mental illnesses. Public libraries are, after all, designed to be welcoming spaces for all.
This can leave libraries struggling with how to serve a population with very diverse needs...
Helping homeless and mentally ill clients is a challenge that libraries all over the country are grappling with, but library science curricula don’t seem to have caught up.
According to one newly minted librarian who received her master’s degree in library science a few years ago, contemporary library education typically includes no coursework in mental illness. It focuses on the techniques and technology of library services, especially meeting the needs of patrons for access to information.
Learning strategies to assist mentally ill and homeless patrons might not be on library curricula, but the American Library Association has long had policies in place emphasizing equal access to library services for the poor, and in 1996 formed the Hunger, Homelessness, and Poverty Task Force."

Book Ban in Venice Ignites a Gay Rights Battle; New York Times, 8/18/15

Elisabetta Povoledo, New York Times; Book Ban in Venice Ignites a Gay Rights Battle:
"Tracing the origins of the reading list, Ms. Seibezzi explained that education research suggested that such prejudices were “consolidated at 3 years of age.”
She added, “So we said, ‘Let’s start there,’ ” to foster inclusiveness and respect for others...
Books that challenge the status quo are seen as eroding the church’s hold over social issues, said Francesca Pardi, the author of “Piccolo Uovo,” or “Little Egg,” the other book still on the forbidden list.
Her book, the tale of an unhatched egg that sees happiness in various family configurations, won the prestigious Andersen Prize in 2012, Italy’s top nod for children’s literature, even as a popular Catholic magazine cited it as a book to avoid.
“In Italy, it’s as if morality is the prerogative of the church,” Ms. Pardi said, “and so some principles are never put into discussion.” A book that shows that there is “room for all becomes very threatening, especially because it’s told in a simple language that shows there is nothing to be afraid of,” she said.
The book was “breaking down a taboo,” she added.
“Education isn’t about teaching how or what to think, but to pass values,” she said. “Kids won’t become gay if they read a book about two moms, but they will be happier if that is their family situation.”"

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Data On Canada Is Drying Up Since The Nation Scrapped Its Mandatory Long-Form Census; Huffington Post, 8/18/15

Alexander Howard, Huffington Post; Data On Canada Is Drying Up Since The Nation Scrapped Its Mandatory Long-Form Census:
"Canada has been conducting a census since 1971, sending out both a short form and a long form. The short-form census poses 10 basic questions about the composition of households, including the number of people present, their age, sex, marital status and languages spoken.
The long-form census -- the National Household Survey -- poses 53 more questions about demographics, activities, socio-cultural information, mobility, education, labor market activities, income, housing, childcare and household work, occupation and industry.
In the absence of this much richer data set, businesses know less about where to offer services, what to invest in or where to locate new stores, and they're not happy about the impact this lack of information is having on their competitiveness. Academic researchers have less insight into what's happening with immigration, public health and poverty. Government agencies can't measure the efficacy of their programs. And journalists can't cover the communities they serve as effectively; for example, stories like this WBEZ piece on Chicago simply aren't possible."

Monday, August 17, 2015

How Do I Handle the Towel Saga Next Door?; New York Times, 8/12/15

Kwame Anthony Appiah, Amy Bloom, and Kenji Yoshino, New York Times; How Do I Handle the Towel Saga Next Door? :
"Kenji Yoshino: ‘‘Saga’’ immediately suggests that it might be time to wind down your relations with your neighbor. You behaved in a perfectly magnanimous way, and your neighbor reacted in what might at best be called a punctilious, or even supercilious, manner. I’m reminded of how much of ethics is about letting the little things go. It seems as if your neighbor is completely unwilling to do so — both in asking for towels that were lent out three months ago and also in not embracing your offer. We need a little more give in the joints to ensure one another’s human flourishing. A truly ethical posture requires the generosity of mind and spirit that accepts the intent for the deed in a case like this."

Sunday, August 9, 2015

Coca-Cola Funds Scientists Who Shift Blame for Obesity Away From Bad Diets; New York Times, 8/9/15

Anahad O'Connor, New York Times; Coca-Cola Funds Scientists Who Shift Blame for Obesity Away From Bad Diets:
"Marion Nestle, the author of the book “Soda Politics” and a professor of nutrition, food studies and public health at New York University, was especially blunt: “The Global Energy Balance Network is nothing but a front group for Coca-Cola. Coca-Cola’s agenda here is very clear: Get these researchers to confuse the science and deflect attention from dietary intake.”
Funding from the food industry is not uncommon in scientific research. But studies suggest that the funds tend to bias findings. A recent analysis of beverage studies, published in the journal PLOS Medicine, found that those funded by Coca-Cola, PepsiCo, the American Beverage Association and the sugar industry were five times more likely to find no link between sugary drinks and weight gain than studies whose authors reported no financial conflicts...
But much like the research on sugary drinks, studies of physical activity funded by the beverage industry tend to reach conclusions that differ from the findings of studies by independent scientists.
Last week, the Pennington Biomedical Research Center in Louisiana announced the findings of a large new study on exercise in children that determined that lack of physical activity “is the biggest predictor of childhood obesity around the world.”
The news release contained a disclosure: “This research was funded by The Coca-Cola Company.”"

Exposing Abuse on the Factory Farm; New York Times, 8/8/15

Editorial Board, New York Times; Exposing Abuse on the Factory Farm:
"While most Americans enjoy eating meat, it is hard to stomach the often sadistic treatment of factory-farmed cows, pigs and chickens.
Farm operators know this, and they go to great lengths to hide these gruesome images from the public. A popular tactic pushed lately by the agriculture lobby is the so-called ag-gag law, which makes it a crime to secretly videotape industrial feedlots and slaughterhouses for the purpose of exposing animal mistreatment and abuse.
These laws, on the books in seven states, purport to be about the protection of private property, but they are nothing more than government-sanctioned censorship of a matter of public interest.
On Aug. 3, a federal judge struck down Idaho’s ag-gag law for violating the First Amendment — the first time a court has ruled on such a statute.
Idaho lawmakers passed the bill last year in response to the release of undercover videos taken by Mercy for Animals, an animal-welfare group, at local factory farms. According to the judge’s decision, one showed farm workers “using a moving tractor to drag a cow on the floor by a chain attached to her neck and workers repeatedly beating, kicking and jumping on cows.”"

Universities that rely on adjunct professors pursue profit over academic integrity; Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, 8/9/15

Samuel Hazo, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette; Universities that rely on adjunct professors pursue profit over academic integrity:
"Many observers would agree that a lot of universities today no longer champion liberal education but are little more than academic corporations that bequeath to their graduates a degree in debt. Such debts often reach six figures and require a lifetime to remit while the lenders receive millions in interest and enrich themselves.
It’s been said that we often accept what we choose to get used to. Sadly, we have chosen to get used to the corporate university with its rising tuition costs, which are passed on in true business fashion to the consumers (students and their parents). How many families can afford tuition, room and board costs that often run $40,000 to $68,000 per year — and continue to rise? Unless we favor education only for the most affluent, the answer is that only few can afford college without extensive borrowing. This cannot go on.
The effect on students is predictable. They are drawn to technological and related programs (job training, actually) that seem to promise sure employment upon graduation so they can repay their loans. (This, by the way, is based on a myth, as the constant change in technologies makes specific preparations soon obsolete). They defer marriage and home purchases.
The effect on “accommodating” universities is that the ideal of the liberally educated student (he or she who is primarily concerned with learning how to live rather than how to make a living) becomes secondary.
It seems only logical to me that universities, to avoid the corporate drift to bottom-line thinking, should be even more devoted to liberal education and strengthening their faculties accordingly. However, the recent trend toward hiring adjunct teachers and professors, competent though they may be, is part of the problem, as universities save and accrue money by not hiring full-time faculty. This is nothing but profiteering."

Frances Oldham Kelsey, F.D.A. Stickler Who Saved U.S. Babies From Thalidomide, Dies at 101; New York Times, 8/7/15

Robert D. McFadden, New York Times; Frances Oldham Kelsey, F.D.A. Stickler Who Saved U.S. Babies From Thalidomide, Dies at 101:
"The sedative was Kevadon, and the application to market it in America reached the new medical officer at the Food and Drug Administration in September 1960. The drug had already been sold to pregnant women in Europe for morning sickness, and the application seemed routine, ready for the rubber stamp.
But some data on the drug’s safety troubled Dr. Frances Oldham Kelsey, a former family doctor and teacher in South Dakota who had just taken the F.D.A. job in Washington, reviewing requests to license new drugs. She asked the manufacturer, the William S. Merrell Company of Cincinnati, for more information.
Thus began a fateful test of wills. Merrell responded. Dr. Kelsey wanted more. Merrell complained to Dr. Kelsey’s bosses, calling her a petty bureaucrat. She persisted. On it went. But by late 1961, the terrible evidence was pouring in. The drug — better known by its generic name, thalidomide — was causing thousands of babies in Europe, Britain, Canada and the Middle East to be born with flipperlike arms and legs and other defects.
Dr. Kelsey, who died on Friday at the age of 101, became a 20th-century American heroine for her role in the thalidomide case, celebrated not only for her vigilance, which spared the United States from widespread birth deformities, but also for giving rise to modern laws regulating pharmaceuticals.
She was hailed by citizens’ groups and awarded honorary degrees. Congress bestowed on her a medal for service to humanity and passed legislation requiring drug makers to prove that new products were safe and effective before marketing them. President John F. Kennedy signed the landmark law that she had inspired, and presented her with the nation’s highest federal civilian service award."

Thursday, August 6, 2015

"Ethics Playbook" - Something To Add To Your Summer Reading; Forbes, 8/6/15

Walter Pavlo, Forbes; "Ethics Playbook" - Something To Add To Your Summer Reading:
"In the aftermath of Enron and Worldcom, business schools took the initiative to better prepare future leaders to play by the rules … act ethically. ‘Ethics’ became a buzzword but there was also an emphasis to incorporate ethics into every facet of the business school experience.
While students and corporate employees usually hear from inspired leaders who played by the rules, some of the most memorable accounts come from those who have fallen short. One of those is Aaron Beam who was the former Chief Financial Officer at Healthsouth. Beam was one of five CFOs at the company who pleaded guilty to manipulating financial records to overstate earnings in an effort to inflate the company’s stock price...
Beam, who served three months in federal prison, has been a mainstay on the speaker’s circuit, appearing at both business schools and corporations, sharing his cautionary tale. His latest project was putting his thoughts down on paper and writing the newly released, Ethics Playbook. The message he delivers in the book is done in the same manner as his speeches … he takes full responsibility, has a great sense of humor and is a great story teller...
Ethics Playbook is an easy read book that presents reflections of a man who was once at the height of the business world. Now, he uses his story and puts it into context with some of the insights from pioneers in the research of ethics and cheating, Dr. Dan Ariely and Professor Marianne Jennings.
“This book is a guide or playbook for those who want to lead a more ethical life,” Beam said in an interview. Like other books on ethics, it is a reminder of how to the importance of character, but unlike other books, it provides the insights of someone who let their guard down. “Professionals can learn that trying to be ethical takes hard work and is always a work in progress,” Beam added."

‘Right to Be Forgotten’ Online Could Spread; New York Times, 8/5/15

Farhad Manjoo, New York Times; ‘Right to Be Forgotten’ Online Could Spread:
"More than a year ago, in a decision that stunned many American Internet companies, Europe’s highest court ruled that search engines were required to grant an unusual right — the “right to be forgotten.” Privacy advocates cheered the decision by the European Court of Justice, which seemed to offer citizens some recourse to what had become a growing menace of modern life: The Internet never forgets, and, in its robotic zeal to collect and organize every scrap of data about everyone, it was beginning to wreak havoc on personal privacy.
Under the ruling, Europeans who felt they were being misrepresented by search results that were no longer accurate or relevant — for instance, information about old financial matters, or misdeeds committed as a minor — could ask search engines like Google to delink the material. If the request was approved, the information would remain online at the original site, but would no longer come up under certain search engine queries.
Search engines and free speech advocates, calling the ruling vague and overbroad, warned of dire consequences for free expression and the historical record if the right to be forgotten was widely enacted. Now, they say, their fears are being realized...
“When we’re talking about a broadly scoped right to be forgotten that’s about altering the historical record or making information that was lawfully public no longer accessible to people, I don’t see a way to square that with a fundamental right to access to information,” said Emma Llansó, a free expression scholar at the Center for Democracy and Technology, a tech-focused think tank that is funded in part by corporations, including Google."

Tuesday, August 4, 2015

The Guardian view on Cecil the lion: the immorality is in the pleasure of the kill; Guardian, 7/30/15

Guardian; The Guardian view on Cecil the lion: the immorality is in the pleasure of the kill:
"No doubt the suburban dentist, whose life normally revolved around other people’s molars and gum disease, got to feel a little more fully alive, a little bit more alpha male, in the face of a lion’s stare. Not that Dr Palmer was bravely recreating any sort of parity with the lion, having a professional hunter with a high-powered rifle standing at his side. Moreover, many of these lions have become so used to human beings that they hardly react to their presence. No, there was nothing brave here. Photographs of a bare-chested Dr Palmer hugging a dead leopard are reminiscent of those famous Vladimir Putin shots – both men crassly trying to telegraph their masculinity. Factory farming may be more cruel to the animals. But it takes no pleasure in its cruelty. And that’s why the condemnation of Dr Palmer is fully justified."

'Giraffes are dangerous': another trophy hunter under fire after defending hobby; Guardian, 8/3/15

Staff and Agencies, Guardian; 'Giraffes are dangerous': another trophy hunter under fire after defending hobby:
"Sabrina Corgatelli, an accountant for Idaho State University, appeared on NBC’s Today show on Monday to defend trophy hunting amid mounting international outrage over the killing in July of Cecil, Zimbabwe’s most famous lion, by an American dentist.
“Everybody thinks we’re cold-hearted killers and it’s not that,” Corgatelli said in the nationally televised interview. “There is a connection to the animal and just because we hunt them doesn’t mean we don’t have a respect for them.
“Giraffes are very dangerous animals. They could hurt you seriously, very quickly.”
Corgatelli first drew attention from a series of photos circulated via her Facebook account that showed her standing with various animals she bagged in South Africa including an impala, a warthog and a wildebeest.
“Day ž2 I got an amazing old Giraffe. Such an amazing animal!!! I couldn’t be happier,” Corgatelli said in a caption to one image showing the carcass draped around her."

Harris Poll Shows Growing Support for Book Banning, Ratings; Library Journal, 7/31/15

Lisa Peet, Library Journal; Harris Poll Shows Growing Support for Book Banning, Ratings:
"A recent Harris poll on attitudes about book banning and school libraries revealed that out of the 2,244 U.S. adults surveyed in March 2015, the percentage who felt that certain books should be banned increased by more than half since the last similar study conducted in 2011. In addition, more believe that some books deserve to be banned than movies, television shows, or video games."

Doctor attacked on social media; Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, 8/4/15

Maria Sciullo, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette; Doctor attacked on social media:
"The public focus is on Dr. Seski, though. A “Shame Dr. Jan Seski” page was created and had more than 1,500 members by Monday afternoon. The addresses of his home and office were posted, as well as their telephone numbers.
A protest at Dr. Seski’s office in Oakland has been organized for Wednesday evening.
After someone called Margie Anne posted “let us take the moral and legal high ground... and refrain from any and all discussion of taking violent action,” others quickly jumped in to compare him to Jerry Sandusky and Bill Cosby. “Name and Shame, always,” wrote Kate Sullivan.
Altough #lionslivesmatter became an international trending topic, some have been offended by its similarity to #blacklivesmatter.
“Naturally, we empathize with the death of this lion and don’t find it to be a humane act,” said Senque Little-Poole, a recent graduate of Pittsburgh Science & Technology Academy and member of Teen_Bloc, which advocates for education equity and is affiliated with A+ Schools. “But our position is more around the fact that black lives matter more... it’s not comparable to #lionslivesmatter.”"

Monday, August 3, 2015

To Live and Not Die in L.A.: ‘Fear the Walking Dead’ on AMC; New York Times, 7/30/15

Lorne Manly, New York Times; To Live and Not Die in L.A.: ‘Fear the Walking Dead’ on AMC:
"Mr. Erickson said that when Mr. Kirkman first described his idea for the new series, with Madison and Travis working at a high school in Los Angeles, the one thing he requested was to bring his own personal baggage into the writers’ room. A divorced father of two sons (13 and 15), with a fiancée who has two children of her own, Mr. Erickson liked the idea of introducing the fissures in a blended family dynamic, then using the zombie apocalypse to jack those tensions up on a more epic scale.
Do your own children come first? And if your biological children become too much of a burden, do you cast off the weakest link so the rest of the group can survive?"

Saturday, August 1, 2015

Confederate Symbols, Swastikas and Student Sensibilities; New York Times, 7/31/15

Joseph Berger, New York Times; Confederate Symbols, Swastikas and Student Sensibilities:
Colleges must acknowledge that memorials to slavery advocates “might be hurtful to their students and should take proactive measures to remove them or address these sentiments,” says Mitchell J. Chang, a professor of education at the University of California, Los Angeles, whose research focuses on campus diversity programs. “For African-American students, these are reminders that they are second-class citizens, that there’s a certain racial order in the country’s history and that it’s still playing out on campus.”
Students who display imagery that offends, he says, would benefit from the “teachable moments” that can ensue if they are challenged, he says. Last fall, two women at Bryn Mawr mounted a Confederate flag in their dormitory as an expression of Southern pride and declined to take it down until angry demonstrations erupted.
“Students are often naïve about what that flag means to other people, that others may view it as very aggressive behavior,” Dr. Chang says. “This is why students come to college, to learn that their interpretation of a symbol may not be universally shared by everyone. By the time they leave college, they should understand what the repercussions may be.”
Echoing that view, Benjamin D. Reese Jr., a vice president and chief diversity officer at Duke, emphasizes that in a multicultural world, students need to understand the nuanced “difference between intention and impact.”...
Those who take a more expansive view of free speech insist that officials often overreact in their eagerness not to offend. The Foundation for Individual Rights in Education was quick to remind the George Washington University that even Nazi-style swastikas are protected by the First Amendment.
State schools cannot ban them under constitutional free-speech protections unless displayed in the course of an illegality, like vandalism or “a threat of imminent violence,” says John F. Banzhaf III, a professor of law at G.W. While the courts have given private organizations more leeway, he says, as a practical matter private colleges would also be subject to the constitutional law because their handbooks boast of respecting free speech."

Should We Charge Patients for Medical Research?; New York Times, 7/31/15

Ezekiel J. Emanuel, New York Times; Should We Charge Patients for Medical Research? :
"A FEW months ago, we got a call from a former oncology professor of ours. He had developed an experimental precision diagnostic test that he thought would be able to determine which chemotherapies would be most effective against a patient’s cancer. He wanted to conduct a research trial to evaluate the effectiveness of the new test. But there was one big problem: The research had no funding.
He wanted our view on whether it would be legal and ethical if he charged the patients about $30,000 each to pay for the research.
This idea is not as outlandish as it sounds. In the 1980s some for-profit companies and institutes charged patients for participating in research. Mostly they went bust. Recently, others have proposed that the rich buy places in clinical trials. And now scientists have begun thinking this may be a way to fund promising research ideas...
Despite some apparently good arguments, we disagree with this approach. While there is no law or rule that would prohibit pay-to-play research, and some research may be funded this way, as we wrote in the current issue of Science Translational Medicine, we think charging would be a mistake."