Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Reading For Today

Content warning:  Rape

This story about cicada courting rituals is fun on its own, but it has a deeper importance for the study of what might be wrong in the academia and its research incentives.

We may not know all the facts about why these cicada researchers are still adjuncts.  But it's certainly true that the increasingly common "profit" model of universities rewards research with big overhead payments for the institution.

A horrible story about the consequences of cutting back on funding for the police:

Last August, a woman in Josephine County called 911 and pleaded with dispatchers to send police — “my ex-boyfriend is trying to break into my house. I’m not letting him in but he’s like, tried to break down the door and he’s tried to break into one of the windows.” The woman had good reason to be afraid of this man, as she told the dispatcher on the other side of the phone, this same abusive ex had put her in the hospital just a few weeks before. But the dispatcher has no one to send. Because the local sheriff’s department recently lost millions in federal funds, it laid off 23 of its 29 deputies and limited their availability to eight hours on Mondays through Fridays. The woman’s call to 911 took place on a Saturday.
With no deputies available, the 911 dispatcher transferred the woman to the state police — but they would not come rescue the woman either. In the words of the state police dispatcher, “I don’t have anybody to send out there. You know, obviously, if he comes inside the residence and assaults you, can you ask him to go away? Do you know if he’s intoxicated or anything?”
Eventually, the ex-boyfriend, a man named Michael Bellah, pried open the woman’s front door. Choked her. And raped her. After he was caught, he plead guilty to kidnapping, assault, and sex abuse.
But despite these dire circumstances, yesterday Josephine County voted 51 to 49 percent against a public safety levy for more law enforcement. The levy would have raised county property taxes from 59 cents per $1,000 of property value, the lowest in Oregon, to $1.48 for the next three years. It rejected a similar property tax levy increasing the rate to $1.99 per $1,000 shortly before the initial cuts 57 to 43 percent.
Josephine County might be a fiscally conservative place.  But I thought fiscal conservatives still fund the police.  This looks more like an obstinate belief that if the locals do nothing someone else will open a wallet.

Finally, Rush Limbaugh, slowly paddling his boat towards historical oblivion, has an interesting rant about the perfidy that is Liberals.  If it is worth listening (not quite sure), it is as a pattern of how a group is made into "the other" (and yes, the other side does it, too), but mostly for the way he sees powerful women as frightening, permanently filled with rage, always wanting more.  That bit begins at about 2:52 in the audio.  And yes, he turns Lois Lerner into a sexual character.