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Archive for January 2008

Student government whacks student newspaper’s funding

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Every generation of secrecy-minded bureaucrats needs a breeding ground, a dark, dank place where they can perfect the ability to hide their machinations behind closed doors and retaliate against those who believe sunlight should trump darkness.

One such place, it seems, is the student government association at Montclair State University. Last week, it froze the funding it provides to The Montclarion because the student newspaper had the temerity to hire a lawyer to help it force the association to stop regularly holding closed meetings, a possible violation of New Jersey’s open-meetings law.

Karl de Vries, editor-in-chief of the weekly newspaper, said that the student government association also demanded that, according to the Associated Press, the paper “turn over correspondence between the newspaper and a lawyer The Montclarion had previously retained to challenge the student government’s practice of closing meetings to the public.”

Wednesday, amid a furor of criticism including statements from the nation’s principal professional associations of journalists, the student government association relented and temporarily restored the paper’s funding for 30 days.

The association should never have denied the paper its funding in the first place.
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Written by Dr. Denny Wilkins

January 31, 2008 at 11:59 am

Posted in Uncategorized

I am data; politicians micro-target me to get elected

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I earn between $50,000 and $75,000 a year. I have three degrees. I teach at a small Catholic liberal arts university. I own several cameras. I have two vehicles, one four-wheel-drive, the other high-mileage. I belong to two environmental organizations. I commute more than 10 miles to work. I contribute to three non-profit organizations. I am single. I buy clothes from Lands’ End and L.L. Bean. I collect Rotring pens and pencils. I play guitar and piano. I read science and detective fiction, purchased mostly from Barnes & Noble and Amazon. I have two iPods, one computer and two TVs. I have several credit cards. I drink beer. I once owned a handgun. I have a mortgage. I have voted since 1964 as an Independent or Democrat.

To our presidential candidates, I am not Denny Wilkins, an individual human being: I am a set of data points, one of about 168 million sets of data points collected by both the Democratic and Republican national committees. They are interested in me only because I am an eligible voter. Democratic and Republican presidential candidates will base their direct-mail, push-poll, robo-call and volunteers-knocking-on-my-door messages on computerized analyses of me as data. I will be micro-targeted by candidates’ campaign organizations for the sole purpose of producing a vote for a candidate.
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Written by Dr. Denny Wilkins

January 29, 2008 at 6:47 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

Hide your bong: New York to tax illegal drug sales

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The governor of New York, Elliot Spitzer, has decided to raise $13 million for his proposed $124.3 billion budget by requiring your local purveyors of illegal drugs to affix state tax stamps to your nickel bag of horse or the fixings for your evening speedball.

His administration says the program will enhance enforcement and tracking of illegal drug sales. Riiight. That surly-looking fellow slouching on the street corner each night will be sure to run right down to the state Department of Taxation and Finance to buy those tax stamps. Surely that will make law enforcement happy, eh? Good for the fuzz to know who’s selling the fuel for your bong, right?
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Written by Dr. Denny Wilkins

January 23, 2008 at 4:22 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

LA Times: Another editor out for refusing to make budget cuts

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Today I’d hate to be the managing editor of The Los Angeles Times, John M. Arthur, 60, or its innovation editor, Russ Stanton, 49. That’s because rumor has it they’re on the short list to be the next top editor at one of the nation’s finest newspapers.

If named, this is what publisher David Hiller will expect of either: Cut The Times’ approximately $120 million budget by 1 percent. That would mean firing people. If either wishes to keep that job, they’d better do it — because Hiller fired the previous two editors who refused to make cuts he demanded.
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Written by Dr. Denny Wilkins

January 22, 2008 at 3:36 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

Want a nice new top job? Quit your current job to seek it

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Let’s say I want a new job. I’m not rich or powerful, so my employer is hardly likely to allow me to take a few weeks off — let alone more than a year — to search for a new job. My employer expects me to do my job. If I want to look for a new job, I’ll have to do it on my own time — and probably secretly.

At the moment, there’s a gaggle of politicians who have jobs — important jobs — who are running around the country looking for a new job. And none of their current employers seems to be complaining all that loudly. They should be.

I am one such indignant employer. I’m irritated that the woman I hired to do a job for me — be an fully effective senator for the state of New York — is too busy seeking a new job that she’s falling down on her current job.

This isn’t a complaint solely about Sen. Hillary Clinton. Accompanying her on the campaign trail are other officeholders seeking a new job while supposedly working to improve the lot in life of the people who hired them to perform competently in their current jobs.
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Written by Dr. Denny Wilkins

January 19, 2008 at 1:06 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

I-35W bridge downed by design flaw; infrastructure issues fade from headlines

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Buried inside the nation’s news pages — lost among the big takeout stories about which presidential candidate said what to whom with what insulting effect, President Bush’s confusing trip to the Middle East, and surge and resurgence in Iraq and Afghanistan — was the reason 13 people died and 100 were injured when the Interstate 35W bridge in Minneapolis collapsed last year.

A weakness built into that bridge went undetected for 40 years because it involved a part so basic that highway departments and bridge contractors seldom considered it even when they reanalyzed a bridge’s capacity, experts said Tuesday.

The flaw: Undersized gusset plates. So, case closed? It wasn’t a portentous sign of a failing national infrastructure after all? Just a sad, tragic miscalculation by an engineer four decades ago?
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Written by Dr. Denny Wilkins

January 18, 2008 at 8:03 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

Quotabull

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You know, America is probably wondering why, why do you care? And one of the reasons we care about the suffering in Sudan is because we care about the human condition all across the face of the earth. And we fully understand that when people suffer, it is in our interest to help. And we also understand that when people suffer it makes it more likely that some may turn to the ideology of those who use murder as a weapon. So it’s in our national security interest and it’s in our — in the interest of our conscience to confront this, what we have called a genocide.

— President Bush at a Jan. 17 press briefing after meeting with Rich Williamson, U.S. special envoy to Sudan.
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Written by Dr. Denny Wilkins

January 17, 2008 at 2:58 pm

Posted in Uncategorized