Category Archive 'Official Idiocy'

17 Apr 2017

Would “They” Go There?

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The Wall Street Journal reports that the Brown Admissions Office has lost its marbles.

Brown University in Providence, R.I. houses one of the country’s most selective undergraduate colleges. The Brown Daily Herald, a student-run newspaper, cites Dean of Admission Logan Powell in reporting that the school received a record-high 32,724 applications this year, and admitted just 8.3% of applicants.

Among those lucky few is the daughter of a Journal reader who is still trying to make sense of a letter the family received this week from Mr. Powell. Our reader’s bright daughter had already received news of her acceptance when a letter arrived that was addressed to her “Parent/Guardian.”

Oddly, the note referred to the accepted student not as “she” but as “they.” Dean Powell’s letter also stated that our reader’s daughter had no doubt worked hard and made positive contributions to “their” school and community. Our reader reports that his perplexed family initially thought that Brown had made a word-processing error. That was before they listened to a voice mail message from the school congratulating his daughter and referring to her as “them.”…

It turns out that the errors were intentional. Brown spokesman Brian Clark writes in an email that “our admission office typically refers to applicants either by first name or by using ‘they/their’ pronouns. While the grammatical construction may read as unfamiliar to some, it has been adopted by many newsrooms and other organizations as a gender-inclusive option.”

RTWT

17 Feb 2017

Inadvertent Irony at Yale

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Leah Libresco Sergeant Y’11 contemplates Yale’s renaming of Calhoun College, and observes that, in a peculiar way, the Jacobins and their toadies are really honoring John C. Calhoun.

Late last week, Yale announced that it would remove the name of John C. Calhoun from one of its residential colleges—but clarified that the name would not be expunged wherever it was literally written in stone as part of the building’s architecture. While the college will officially bear the new name of Grace Hopper College, honoring a pioneering computer scientist and veteran, to chisel off Calhoun’s name would be to neglect the “obligation not to efface the history.” (It would be expensive, to boot.)

Other than the physical presence of the name, there’s little else to erase about Calhoun. The drawn-out fights (and serial committees) questioning the appropriateness of Calhoun’s name miss how little tradition exists to be expunged—in Calhoun’s namesake college, or in any of the other Yale colleges.

When I was an undergraduate, John C. Calhoun went largely unmentioned and unthought of in residential college life. If the college had instead been named (as a puckish friend suggested) for William Barron Calhoun (Yale class of 1814, a lawyer and politician from Massachusetts, ardent opponent of slavery), nothing about the day-to-day life of the college would have been different.

Yale’s residential colleges derive very little personality from their namesakes, or from anything else. Freshmen are assigned to them randomly, which prevents the colleges from developing reputations (as “the arty one” or “the sporty one”). And Yale’s goal in recent years has been to homogenize the residential colleges even further, pooling money that alumni had given to their own colleges and distributing it equally, so that no college may have more or do more than another. …

Why have a namesake at all, if the college is not to be colored by his or her character? In my own college, Jonathan Edwards, there was never a mention of the Puritan preacher’s theology—except that our intramural team was called the Spiders, a reference to his “Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God” sermon. Jonathan Edwards’s theology exists for J.E. students only as a quaint, even comical, historical artifact. Why give a man the trappings of honor without ceding him any respect?

John C. Calhoun, in being removed, was awarded an odd sort of honor: His ideas were treated as relevant and dangerous. …

09 Sep 2016

You Mean They Weren’t There Already?

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tampon-dispenser

Brown University to place tampons and other feminine hygiene products in men’s bathrooms. The Mary Sue.

Hat tip to James Harberson.

15 Mar 2016

For the Yale Administration: Mountain Gorillas

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Tweet119

Reason link

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The Yale Administration recently piously removed three portraits of the former Vice President for whom one of Yale’s twelve residential colleges had been named for most of a century. John C. Calhoun’s first-half-of-the-19th-century defense of Slavery has been found to offend the amour propre of Yale students of servile descent, admitted typically on the basis of special favoritism.

04 Mar 2016

The Worst Thing Ever Happened Recently at Bowdoin

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MiniSombrero

Washington Post editorialist Catherine Rampell has the story.

On Saturday, two members of Bowdoin College’s student government will face impeachment proceedings. What heinous transgression did they commit? Theft, plagiarism, sexual assault?

Nope. They attended a party where some guests wore tiny sombreros.

Two weeks ago, some students threw a birthday party for a friend. The email invitation read: “the theme is tequila, so do with that what you may. We’re not saying it’s a fiesta, but we’re also not not saying that :).” The invitation — sent by a student of Colombian descent, which may or may not be relevant here — advertised games, music, cups and “other things that are conducive to a fun night.”

Those “other things” included the miniature sombreros, several inches in diameter. And when photos of attendees wearing those mini-sombreros showed up on social media, students and administrators went ballistic.

College administrators sent multiple schoolwide emails notifying the students about an “investigation” into a possible “act of ethnic stereotyping.”

Partygoers ultimately were reprimanded or placed on “social probation,” and the hosts have been kicked out of their dorm, according to friends. (None of the disciplined students whom I contacted wanted to speak on the record; Bowdoin President Clayton Rose declined an interview and would not answer a general question about what kinds of disciplinary options are considered when students commit an “act of bias.”) …

Within days, the Bowdoin Student Government unanimously adopted a “statement of solidarity” to “[stand] by all students who were injured and affected by the incident,” and recommend that administrators “create a space for those students who have been or feel specifically targeted.”

The statement deemed the party an act of “cultural appropriation,” one that “creates an environment where students of color, particularly Latino, and especially Mexican, students feel unsafe.” The effort to purge the two representatives who attended the party, via impeachment, soon followed.

Read the whole thing and be glad you went to college years ago, when the country was comparatively sane.

23 Dec 2015

Daily Mail: “Terrifying Cache of Weapons Found!”

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BritWWIIcollection-1
In the police van, we can see a nifty Bren gun, a kukri, several swords, a few rifles, some pistols, a bolt-action with a barrel bent 90 degrees, and… (everyone lick his lips) yes, there is a German MG42.

Poor Martin Johnson of Penistone, Yorkshire died young at only 51. He seems to have led a quiet and harmless life, but despite his misfortune of residing in the pussified and socialized Britain of today, he was clearly a sound chap with a keen interest in WWII weapons, who had successfully over the course of a lifetime (despite living under a hoplophobic tyranny) amassed a pretty nice collection.

Not very long after the unlucky fellow’s toes turned up his busybody neighbors were summoning the local constabulary to check in on him. The rozzers inevitably stumbled upon the old boy’s collection, and this being today’s Britain, they all had panic attacks and wet their pants. 100 houses were evacuated, because Yorkshire’s finest somehow convinced themselves that Mr. Johnson’s collection had WMDs. His stash (of doubtless long emptied and defused) WWII mortar rounds were assumed to be loaded with mustard gas!

The Daily Mail shrieked aloud over the “terrifying cache” of “potentially dangerous” trinkets.

Who knows? Certainly not Yorkshire cops or Limey reporters. Mr. Johnson may very possibly have had a completely legal collection of totally deactivated pieces. The odds certainly favor that likelihood.

If any of those rifles or pistols were functional, he would, if caught, have been jugged longer than a Muslim terrorist for mere possession. If those machine guns were not deactivated, why! the government would probably have also fallen.

Despite grudging ackowledgements by officialdom that Johnson’s cache of shells was found to be unloaded, the bomb squad evidently could not resist eliminating some WWII collectibles with a “controlled explosion.”

BritWWIICollection-2
Note that the Bren gun has been carefully labelled with a red tag reading “CAUTION FIREARM.” After all, someone might have mistaken it for a bicycle!

31 Aug 2015

But Who Decided That a Swiss Army Knife Was a “Weapon”?

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Swiss-Army-Knife

We have gotten used to reading about these little-kid-expelled-from-school-for-possession-of-a-pocket-knife happening in the suburbs of New England or California, but in Pennsylvania?

Recently a ten-year-old female violinist was expelled from the toney Valley School of Ligonier because the young musician was found to be using a Swiss Army Knife to remove broken strings from her violin bow.

Her parents consequently attempted to enroll her in the public school for their local district, but found her admission jeopardized by the report of her expulsion for “bringing weapons onto school property” from the young lady’s previous school.

All this nincompoopery is connected, in Pennsylvania, to a Safe School Act (passed in 1995, and amended in 1997 and subsequently added to) which in the case of a student expelled due to a weapon or drugs being brought on to school property, obligates other schools to apply the same expulsion. The parents are suing on the basis that these zero tolerance policies have inflicted on their daughter a “defamatory stigma.”

TribLive

Centre Daily Times

The Violin Channel

17 Feb 2015

New Jersey Justice: Retired School Teacher Faces Ten Years in Prison For Possession of Unloaded 18th Century Flintlock Pistol

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Flintlockpistol

Legal Insurrection has the utterly outrageous story.

When a 72-year-old retired school teacher faces a 10 year felony sentence (a likely life sentence) for possession of an unloaded 18th century flintlock pistol, one knows immediately that we can only be talking about a handful of states in which such a travesty can happen. In this case, not surprisingly, it’s the “Garden State” of New Jersey. (h/t Sebastian over at the Shall Not Be Questioned blog.)

Gordon Van Gilder, who taught in the New Jersey school system for 34 years, is a collector of 18th century memorabilia. He acquired a genuine antique flintlock pistol from that era, and had it unloaded and wrapped in a cloth in his glove compartment when he was pulled over for an alleged minor traffic violation.

Van Gilder consented to a requested search of his vehicle, and when asked by the officer if there was anything in the car the officer should be worried about, Van Gilder informed him about the flintlock in the glove box. Although not arrested that day, the next morning several patrol cars woke him at his home and placed him under arrest.

New Jersey’s draconian gun laws explicitly include antique firearms such as this 300-year-old pistol. Indeed, possession of a slingshot is a felony under New Jersey law.

Van Gilder is represented by Evan Nappen, a well-known attorney specializing in gun law cases, and thus is as well-represented as could be hoped for in this case. It was Nappen who successfully represented Philadelphia nurse Shaneen Allen when she was charged with unlawful possession of her PA-licensed handgun in New Jersey. The mother of two small children was ultimately permitted to enter pre-trial intervention rather than be subject to trial and New Jersey’s mandatory minimum sentence of 3 1/2 to 5 years imprisonment. That outcome, however, took direct intervention by the state Attorney General, likely at the prodding of the presidential-aspirant Governor Chris Christie.

(We covered the Allen story here PA Nurse Arrested on Gun Charges Given Reprieve and here The Memo that let Shaneen Allen — and Chris Christie’s political future — off the hook.)

Van Gilder will be fortunate indeed if Nappen can win him a similar arrangement. Even a plea agreement that avoids jail time but convicts Van Gilder of a felony would likely jeopardize the teacher’s pension he spent 34 years earning.

As Van Gilder states in the video [below]–”Avoid New Jersey. Don’t come here.”

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Via Bird Dog.

28 Oct 2014

Local News Highlights National Habit of Overreacting to Fears and Obsessions

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SchoolLockdown
A school lockdown in Connecticut

Regular readers may possibly recall that I am currently blogging from our vacation place/300-acre farm in Central Pennsylvania.

Yesterday, the sounds of low-flying aircraft were heard from our cabin in the morning, and when Karen went into town, late in the afternoon, to get mail from the post office, the small town of Tyrone was buzzing with stories of a shooting in our own neighborhood.

The 10/27 Daily Herald (serving Tyrone, Bellwood, and Surrounding Areas since 1866, but not on-line) reported:

State Police at Hollidaysburg have confirmed a shooting at 260 Van Scoyoc Hollow Road in Snyder Township this morning.

Unconfirmed reports say that a 13-year-old female Tyrone student has been shot in the chest or shoulder at her bus stop near the Tyrone Sportsman’s Club. Reportedly the weapon was believed to be a shotgun.

The Tyrone Area School District went on full exterior lockdown as a precaution.

The school web-site said: “Based on conversation with the state police we have been informed that there is no threat to the school. We are merely taking precautionary measures by instituting the secure exterior lockdown

Due to shooting in the community, which is currently believed to be a hunting accident, the district is currently in a secure exterior lockdown.”

State Police were still investigating the area with metal detectors and ran infrared by helicopter looking for possible suspects around the Sportsman’s Club at 10:30 a.m. The bus stop and a wooded area across the road were heavily investigated.

The victim has reportedly been taken to UPMC Altoona and is in stable condition. State Police and the Game Commission were still on the scene, the shooter was not located and no further information was available at the time of press other that it is believed to have been a hunting accident.

So… What struck me about all this was the craziness of a school lockdown off in the borough of Tyrone, miles away from the scene of a shooting thought to be a hunting accident. This kind of response typifies a contemporary style of “cover your ass at any cost” bureaucratic formalism which characteristically reacts, not so much to threats, as to memes, with preposterous and pretentious brain-damaged forms of completely useless gestures.

I needed, of course, to investigate the facts, so I phoned up the State Police in Hollidaysburg this morning, explaining that I was inquiring about the Snyder Township shooting in my capacity as an Internet journalist.

I learned that what happened was: a 12-year-old girl accidentally dropped a .22 rifle while in the process of putting it away inside her house. The rifle went off, and the girl was struck by a bullet in the abdomen. The young lady is recovering from her unfortunate accident in hospital.

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Oddly enough, some news agency was actually reporting the story accurately this morning:

Police: Girl, 12, shot after mishandling rifle

TYRONE, Pa. (AP) – State police say a 12-year-old girl was accidentally shot in the abdomen after mishandling a .22-caliber rifle in her home.

Police aren’t releasing the name of the girl who authorities first believed had been shot outside her home Monday as she left for school about 7 a.m. That prompted the Pennsylvania Game Commission to investigate whether the girl might have been wounded by a hunter’s stray bullet.

But police now say the girl had grabbed the rifle and was returning it to a safe when it fell and discharged in her Snyder Township home.

The Tyrone Area School District was on an exterior lockdown after the shooting, meaning classes operated normally but no visitors were allowed on school property. The lockdown was lifted about 11 a.m. Monday.

Police were continuing to investigate Tuesday.

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All of which demonstrates the propensity of all forms and flavors of American officialdom these days to react Pavlovianly to popular cultural memes (e.g., “Child Shooting!” — “School Shooting!”) demonstrating a pathologically overly-enthusiastic eagerness to wield authority, deploy personnel and equipment, play with gadgets and weapons, and to act out fantasies in public.

Yesterday, we had two government agencies sending armed men scurrying about the landscape, helicopters searching the forest with infrared, and a school system, miles away, undergoing lockdown (“Sorry, Mr. Jones, you can’t deliver milk for the school lunch today. We’re on lockdown!”), along with a grand search for an imaginary hunter, all in response to a one-party accident that took place inside a private home.

Perhaps we all tend to idealize the past. I could be wrong but, when I think back to when I was young, decades ago, I have a lot of trouble picturing the American adults I grew up among getting into lathers of this kind and responding to emergencies with so much panic and excessive overreaction in defiance of all the facts.

I do think that if somebody came along and said to Sister Daniel, the principal of St. George School in Shenandoah back in 1960, “Hey! you better lockdown the school. There has been a hunting accident over in Brandonville.”, Sister Daniel would have said, “What are you, some kind of a nut?”

28 Jul 2010

State Governments in Action

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The Massachusetts Legislature passed a bill intended to bypass the US Constitution and eliminate the function of the Electoral College in presidential elections.

Illinois, New Jersey, Hawaii, Maryland, and Washington have already passed similar legislation as advocated by National Popular Vote Inc.

Can’t you just picture the inevitable denoument in which, a few years down the road, the liberal democrat wins the Electoral College despite the conservative Republican gaining a majority of the popular vote, whereupon there is some serious scrambling in Massachusetts, Illinois, New Jersey, Hawaii, Maryland, Washington and so on?

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With its budget in bad shape, the state of Washington casually gave away an attractively located 10-acre island it purchased for $211,000 nineteen years ago, despite the fact that the island could have been sold for for millions.

12 Jun 2010

Saturday, June 12, 2010

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Rafting guide rescues 13-year-old girl on Clear Creek, Colorado without waiting for the authorities and is arrested for “obstructing government operations.”

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Honolulu Elections Clerk says he checked and there is no Obama birth certificate. Not exactly definitive proof.

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Wilder Publishing offers a booklet containing the texts of the US Constitution, the Declaration of Independence, and the Articles of Confederation with a warning label reading:

Parents might wish to discuss with their children how views on race, gender, sexuality, ethnicity and interpersonal relations have changed since this book was written before allowing them to read this classic work.

Hat tip to Karen L. Myers.

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Afghan President Karzai reported to doubt that America can win.


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