Friday, October 29, 2010

Another Whistleblower punished

It has long been the Clarion Content's contention that America hates the whistleblower. It is one of the tragedies inherent in capitalism. The whistleblower is viewed as a downer, a party-pooper, somebody who refuses to get with the program.

We have another poignant, sad, story of a whistleblower who would not do what the program wanted her to do, specifically the State University of New York at Binghamton's basketball program wanted her to do. Change player's grades to make them eligible to compete. The New York Times reports that Sally Dear, an adjunct lecturer at the university, said the fallout of the scandal had deeply wounder her and continued to affect her. She has stated publicly that she received so much pressure to change her grading policy for basketball players that it bordered on harassment.

As the scandal has enveloped the university how has it played out?

The university paid a $1.2 million settlement to former basketball coach Kevin Broadus to resign. Broadus will receive $819,115 from the Binghamton athletic department and $380,884 from the general fund of the State University of New York. The payment exceeds the value of Broadus’s remaining contract and requires him to withdraw the racial discrimination lawsuit he filed in March and to relinquish his right to any other claims against the university.

Professor Dear? No million dollar payments to her for calling the basketball program on its cheating. Instead, she said in a recent telephone interview with the NY Times that she has not been assigned to teach classes next semester. Punished.

During Coach Broadus's brief tenure six players were dismissed from the team, including one who was busted selling crack. One player was allowed in consecutive semester's to take sixteen and then twelve credits of Physical Education, when the maximum in the second semester should have been two credits. The scandal forced the university's Provost to step down.

How does Professor Dear feel about all of this mess? She told the NY Times, "This is why people don’t blow the whistle. I understand. In my heart and in my gut and every fiber of my being I understand why people don’t blow the whistle, why people are afraid to tell the truth. My life has been a living hell since all this took place."

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Drill, Alaska? A reality check.

The U.S. Geological Survey issued a reality check to those who think that United States can get by without foreign oil. Mind you, those who think U.S. oil resources are/were sufficient are in a special minority of dreamers, right there with those who still think the Earth is the center of the universe and the tooth fairy is real.

Despite the fact that these folks aren't the sort to be swayed by facts or numbers, it cannot help their cause that the U.S. Geological Survey revised the amount of untapped oil reserves that it estimates are in Alaska and its waters down by 90% this week.

The Survey group's new estimate is 896 million barrels of oil are in the reserve, approximately 90% less than a 2002 estimate of 10.6 billion barrels. The good news natural gas reserve estimates were revised upward from 8 trillion cubic feet of gas to 61 trillion cubic feet gas.

Side note, the United States desperately needs more liquefied natural gas terminals. Imagine an America willing to invest in its infrastructure. Too bad, it is a dream, not a reality.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Can the Tea Party get out the vote?

The Los Angeles Times ran an article this morning asking that very question. In their view, the answer is unclear. They report that, "Up to now, the emphasis on the right has been on television ads, and conservative groups — including American Crossroads, founded in part by GOP strategist Karl Rove — have dominated...the push to get the nation's conservative voters to the polls is fractured and untested, with some "tea party" activists refusing to cooperate with more mainstream Republicans, in contrast to the unified and well-organized parallel effort by unions and Democrats, according to key players on both sides."

Is this for real? Or are they just trying to get their side hyped up?

It has long been the Clarion Content's contention that the media is missing the point when they say there has been a massive shift toward the Republicans this election cycle. We heartily disagree. There is simply much of the same simmering discontent that has been present for the last several election cycles. There is a massive undercurrent of unrest in American that spans the political spectrum. It has been seen through insurgent candidacies in both parties: from Howard Dean through Obama to Sarah Palin, the parameters have remained essentially the same even as the particulars have differed.

Will the Tea Party produce a big early fizz followed by a small pop, ala Howard Dean? Or will they have more of an Obama-scale effect?

The Clarion Content is now betting on big Republican gains in the House, enough to net a 20+ seat majority, while the Democrats hold on to the Senate by 2 to 4 seats.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

The degeneration of the American Male

The Clarion Content is not typically a fan of Bill Maher. We have no truck with the man, rather we have been little exposed, and have hardly encountered his work. We came across a most fascinating piece of his the other day on the Huffington Post.

The thesis, tongue only partially in cheek, is that white American males are really who is dragging the country into the toilet. There is a deterioration in the morality of America. Standards for civility have dropped off of the proverbial cliff. Maher uses Brett Favre's recent scandal as his whipping post, but he could have easily picked from half a hundred others.

He says that the white American male is threatened by the surge of immigration in the last thirty years that has left them heading towards a plurality with African-Americans, Latinos and Asians. As Maher puts it, "the president is black, and the best golfer is black, and the Secretary of State is a woman, and suddenly this country is way off track and needs some serious restoring."

Next, he flips this white male degeneration around and attributes to it the popularity of "Sarah Palin, Christine O'Donnell, Michele Bachmann; the lovely MILFs of the new right.." He goes on to put this popularity in context, "...and their little secret is that their popularity comes exclusively from white men. Look at the polling: minorities hate them, women hate them -- only white men like them. I'm no psychiatrist, but I do own a couch, and my theory is that these women represent something those men miss dearly: the traditional, idiot housewife...If an election between Obama and Sarah Palin were held today, and only white men could vote, Sarah Palin would be president."

An eyeopening social cultural perspective that dances on the nexus where the humorous, the absurd and the real meet. Good work, Bill Maher. Check it out here.

Incidentally another writer who works a fascinating pop cultural nexus is Stephen Marche. His brilliant "1,000 words About Our Culture" column can be found here at Esquire. Check him out!

Monday, October 18, 2010

Not polling cellphone users

Nate Silver

We saw a interesting note from Nate Silver, a baseball guy, a statistician and pollster that the Clarion Content has been following for some time. Silver, once an independent blogger, has recently been hired by the New York Times.

Try not to hold it against him, he still unearths some fascinating data. For example, last week he held forth on the effect on polling of the exclusively cellphone demographic. At least 25% of Americans no longer have landlines; of course, these folks tend to skew tech savvy and younger. Strangely enough, many American polling companies do not do any surveying of the only cellphone using set at all, dialing up only landlines.

None! Egad, a remarkable oversight.

Good catch, Nate. The answer of the pollsters is that they use demographic weighting to make up for the underrepresented. As Silver points out, "It’s always been harder to get men on the phone then women, younger people than older people, blacks and Hispanics than whites." However, Silver points to new study by the renown Pew Research suggesting that bias remains even after demographic weighting is applied. According to Pew the effect of the failure to include cellphones may result in a four percentage point bias against Democrats on the generic ballot.

Read the whole article here.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

From the front

Technology continues to outpace the government's efforts to limit and control knowledge about what is happening on the front lines of War. These two videos are from Afghanistan today, 10/13/10, here and here.

Thanks to Rantburg for the links.