Reasonable Gun Laws Do Not Threaten 2nd Amendment Rights

NRA-graphic

Emotional testimony v. Cold hard facts!

I believe in the importance of the Constitution with it’s Bill of Rights to the proper functioning of our democracy. I also believe Second Amendment. Without a new amendment directly annulling it being being ratified, the government cannot take away the guns of law abiding citizens.

On the other hand, I do not believe that reasonable legislation intended to keep criminals from getting and using guns to commit crimes or to keep innocent civilians, particularly children, from being killed by guns necessarily infringes on 2nd Amendment rights.

Most of all, I believe facts are facts, and that looking beyond the biased, skewed rhetoric of entrenched sides to the actual facts, we may stand a much better chance of coming up with good policy on the matter. That is clearly illustrated in the graphic at the top of this post that appeared on a friend’s Facebook page today.  There was an emotional assertion made as a hearing that is contradictory to the facts.  The emotional assertion was repeated a lot in the media.  I didn’t hear it challenged until at least the next day. Continue reading

SAR Academic Freedom Media Review, March 31-April 6, 2012

The Scholars at Risk media review seeks to raise awareness about academic freedom issues in the news. Subscription information and archived media reviews are available here. The views and opinions expressed in these articles are not necessarily those of Scholars at Risk.

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Faculty union launches bid to shield Attaran
Andrew Duffy, Ottawa Citizen, 4/6

A Call to Respect Rights
Mitch Smith, Inside Higher Ed, 4/6

Don’t Touch My Textbook
Mitch Smith, Inside Higher Ed, 4/6

Amnesty International Urges Sudan to Release Student Activist
Salma El Wardany, Bloomberg Businessweek, 4/6

Ai Weiwei Ordered to Stop Self-Surveillance
Josh Chi, The Wall Street Journal, 4/5
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Do the Mashable Awards Matter?

Mashable.com is an outstanding source of news about social media, and I read it daily.  The Mashable Awards, on the other hand, are considerably less useful.  They used to be more so, but perhaps the pace of major new developments in social media and mobile computing has slowed quite a bit and competition is less stiff, but the winners this year, for the most part, inspire a big yawn.  I’d argue they’ve become the People’s Choice Awards of Social Media, awards that go to predictable recipients.  They’ve even got their own MashBash gala in Vegas.  (It’s sure to be a blast and I wish I could go, but it’s hard not to poke fun at it, since I’m using this metaphor.)

At the risk of sounding like an elitist, the People’s Choice Awards are really nothing more than a reiteration of what we already know from other sources.  They tell us that the public really liked certain artists, movies, records, tv shows, etc., last year and that they spent money because of it.  They are a popularity contest. Someone receives an award for “Best” Whatever, but it is really an award for Best Selling  or Most Popular Whatever.

Has it become the same with the Mashable Awards?  Is Facebook really the “Best Social Network” or is it merely far too many times larger than it’s nearest competitors for any other network to gather nearly enough votes?  When voting for a winner is open to the general public, how can anything but the the most popular apps and sites win?  Check out the winners in all the categories and decide for yourself.  Let me know what you think.  Do you agree with them?  Where do you go for the most reliable evaluations of Social Media or mobile apps?

I’m Sorry Facebook, I Just Don’t Love You Anymore…

In an article previewing the changes Facebook recently made public, Mashable’s Ben Parr indicated that Facebook was making the changes because it wanted to rekindle an emotional connection with users.

After years of dating, the magic between Facebook and its users has dissipated. It’s a natural evolution in any relationship, but now there is another suitor vying for Facebook’s users. And a lot of people think this suitor is easy on the eyes.
That’s why Facebook launched three recent changes: revamped Friend Lists, a real-time news ticker, and the subscribe button… But these changes are just the beginning. The changes Facebook will roll out on Thursday are designed to enhance the emotional connection its users have to each other through Facebook.

I can’t speak for anyone else, but this strategy isn’t working for me! My relationship with Facebook has never gotten old because like an insecure lover, it’s never stopped demanding my attention, to the point of provoking annoyance. I’ve given it a lot of attention, integrating it into my professional and personal lives, but it’s proven unpredictable, unsure of the terms under which it wants to participate. It’s time to cool things off. Since Facebook has so few concerns about private affairs going public, how would you like to read my Dear John Letter to Facebook?
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TV News and Reporting from Egypt

Dear Media,

Please stop marveling at how anything is happening in Egypt even though the internet is shut down and people can’t get on Twitter or Facebook.  You do realize that there were popular revolts before social media, don’t you?  In the latter half of the 20th century we had the Prague Spring in 1968, the Soweto uprising in 1976, the Paris riots in 1968, and even Tiananmen Square in 89. How do you think people coordinated the labor demonstrations of the 30s, the anti-colonial revolts of the developing world in the decades following World War II.  What about the French Revolution in 1789?  OMG?  How did they get anything done.  They didn’t even have land lines!

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Two Funny Things From CollegeHumor.com

I love CollegeHumor.com.  It’s been a long time since I’ve been in college, but it cracks me up.  I’m not sure how in touch with college kids it is, though.  I mean, how many 18-22 year olds know the music from West Side Story.  Anyway, here are two clips from the site I’ve particularly enjoyed.  There not new, both from the summer.  But they were brought up today, I looked at them again, and wanted to share.

Web Site Story

Googling With Bing
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Is Your College Just an Understudy for Harvard?

JHU Seal

JHU Seal

Ok, so some students at Johns Hopkins University are upset that a new movie The Social Network, is being filmed on their campus. Their beef is that Johns Hopkins is standing in for Harvard in the movie, which is based on the true story of Mark Zuckerberg, who is credited with being the creator of Facebook while he was a student there.  My first though was that they must have chosen Johns Hopkins because it is in Maryland and therefore at least a few degrees warmer than it is up here is in Massachusetts.

But it wasn’t climate of even budget that took the films’s producers to Hopkins.  It seems that Johns Hopkins was something of a second choice for the movie producers because it wasn’t possible to film on location at Harvard. The Baltimore Sun‘s article on the controversy is funny, albeit quite sarcastic.

The movie, like some Hopkins students, couldn’t get into Harvard, which has a longstanding policy against commercial filming on campus. So the production has opened some old college-admissions wounds.

“The general consensus is, a lot of kids are not pleased,” said Lorre Atlan, 20, a junior majoring in biomedical engineering. “It’s obvious they [the filmmakers] could get Hopkins and not get Harvard.

Apparently students all over campus are wearing Johns Hopkins t-shirts and hoodies, hoping one of them will get into a shot and be missed in editing so they show up in the film.

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When an 86 year old WWII hero talks, you pay attention!

Nothing I have heard in quite a while has stuck with me the way this old man’s faltering words have. His testimony was given back in April, but I just saw the video on a friend’s Facebook page today.

Just before I watched it some item online had once again brought up that reprehensible Louisiana judge who recently refused to perform a marriage ceremony for a mixed race couple because it wouldn’t be good for the couple’s hypothetical offspring, and my heart was heavy. How can such things still be happening in America today?

And then I watched this man’s haltingly delivered speech. He’s an 86 year-old war hero, a small town family man, and a Republican with a personal history of service to his country and his fellow human beings that few can match. He doesn’t fit the profile of a liberal social activist clamoring for the cause of the day. And yet there he was, standing in front of nearly 4,000 people to make a case for equality before the law. He did it for his son, but he also did it because he believes that freedom and equality are what this country is about and that these are the ideals he fought for. It’s truly moving.

CSM Columnist Argues Our Flag is Not a Prop

The Flag of the United States of America

The Flag of the United States of America

This is such a good piece about the symbolism of our national flag. Like the columnist, it has pretty much gotten to the point that if I see a flag displayed too prominently on an email or on a web page, I assume that the accompanying message is likely to be insulting and full of unsupported, reckless claims and attacks on the duly elected President of the United States.

How did the flag become this? It should be a symbol of our national unity, not a cudgel we use to beat those who don’t agree with us.

But Amy Hardin Turosak says it so much better than I in her piece “Our Flag is Not a Prop” for the Christian Science Monitor. It’s pithy, concise and to the point. She argues:

The flag must not be used as a point of argument but as a symbol of the solidarity that binds the diversity of our nation.

But, if you protest, you have a responsibility to protest based on fact. This is not a university football game. This is the future of our country.

This Land Is Your Land – Ryan Bingham from Ryan Hargrave on Vimeo.